How do you pay for your theme park trips? I'm not talking about whether you set aside money or borrowed it, but rather how you completed the transactions. Did you use a card? Your phone? A MagicBand or other device? Or did you take it back old school and pay cash?
A New York Times story describing Sweden's attempt to become a cashless society has been making the rounds this week. That got me think about how little cash seems to get used in theme parks anymore. Disney, especially, might not yet technically be a cashless vacation destination, but it's getting close.
Not only that, but you can visit Walt Disney World without a credit or debit card these days, too. If you are staying on site at Disney, you buy your meals in advance by using the Disney Dining Plan, though you still will need to tip if your plan includes table service restaurants. But you can charge that and your other in-park purchases to your room, using a MagicBand. Even if you are not staying on site, you can use Disney's official app to pay for order and pay for counter-service meals, leaving your credit card at home.
It's been years since I visited the Shootin' Arcade in Frontierland, but that's the last place I can remember in the parks that didn't accept payment with a card or MagicBand. Since you don't need cash pretty much anywhere on a major theme park visit these days, fans have responded by embracing the ease of just using cards (or those MagicBands) to pay for everything they buy in the parks.
Disney gave up on its Disney Dollars because so few people were using cash in the parks anymore. And Universal Orlando's attempt to mimic Disney Dollars with paper-script Galleons in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter died pretty much at birth due to the trend away from cash.
But using cash to pay still offers advantages. It's easier to stick with a budget when paying with cash, especially for children. Once you've spent your cash, you're done. There's no going into debt by buying more than you should when using cash.
Paying with cash can get you out of table service restaurants more quickly, too — assuming you have the right denominations to cover the tip without needing change. There's no time wasted waiting for the server to run your card.
Cash also gives you privacy. No one is tracking your purchases when you use cash. Ironically, using cash now actually can be safer than using a card or your phone, since there's no account to hack or misuse. All it takes is a retailer to make one unauthorized charge on your account for you to start using cash again with that business. I also suspect that — in an increasingly cashless world — the risk of getting robbed at random for your wad of cash is declining since so few people actually carry one anymore.
The Times story said that just eight percent of the United States economy is conducted in cash anymore, compared with 10 percent in Europe and just one precent in Sweden. And those percentages are declining. But is the lower limit zero, or is there some segment of the economy when cash will either be necessary or at least the preferable way to pay?
So how much are you using cash these days?Tweet
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