Or is the worst traffic in Southern California found on Disneyland's Main Street USA after the fireworks?
Disneyland is the world's second-most popular theme park, trailing its younger sibling, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. But Disneyland crams its nearly 18 million annual visitors across 85 acres, while the Magic Kingdom has 107 acres to accommodate its 20 million annual visitors. On a visitors-per-acre basis, Disneyland might be the most crowded major theme park in the world.
Which makes getting around the park even more difficult when people slow or stop in the middle of pathways, instead of going with the flow of traffic. In recent years, I've noticed that, more and more, when people slow down at Disneyland, it's because they are looking at their phones instead of looking where they are going. That's the topic of my Orange County Register column this week: Are smartphones becoming a problem at theme parks like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm?
Years ago, I had a gig as a contributing editor for the American Statistical Association, in which I wrote an article called "Is Using a Cell Phone like Driving Drunk?" for a prototype publication called Inference Magazine that the ASA was considering launching. (There's no evidence the magazine went anywhere, and I never heard from them again. My bad, I guess?) Anyway, the gist of the article was that research showed the distraction that drivers felt while using their cell phones was comparable to the level of impairment associated with the minimum blood alcohol level to be arrested for DUI. It didn't matter whether you were using a hands-free phone or not. It was the conversation that was distracting, not holding the phone.
The flip side was that most people who actually are arrested for DUI blow way over the legal limit, making the answer to the question yes... or no...depending upon how you define it. Which is pretty much the answer to anything in statistics.
But the obvious impairment associated with using cell phones has led many states to ban texting while driving or even just holding a phone in your hand while behind the wheel. If you want to keep traffic moving safely, you've got to get drivers off their phones.
I think the same applies for people on foot, as well as behind the wheel. Yet with its new Maxpass system, Disneyland is encouraging people to use their phones more often while in the park. And Disney loves to promote the fact that its theme parks are the most Instagrammed places on Earth. You need to be using a phone in the park to do that, obviously.
So Disney isn't about to ban mobile phone use in its parks. Nor should it. Mobile phones are immeasurably valuable to a traveler. But theme park fans should use some common sense and courtesy along with their phones. Put the thing away while power walking from land to land, and step to the side — out of the flow of traffic — when you need to swap a Maxpass or Fastpass+, post to Instagram, or check your messages.
I know. Calling for people to treat others around them with some courtesy? Yeah, right. What are the chances of that?
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