Yesterday was my birthday. It was also the hubster's birthday. We celebrate this like we celebrate all important days we share...our anniversary, Christmas, Thanksgiving...we ignored it. He doesn't speak to me and, in turn, I do not answer him. He never wished me a happy anything, sulked the entire time we were together and waited anxiously for me to give him a ride to someplace else, which I did, gladly. It was a business visit for him, but the business was interrupted with a birthday cake and much merriment. He told me to look on his Facebook page, as pictures and good wishes had been posted. He seems to have forgotten, however, that he "unfriended" me on Facebook, and told me so, because he didn't want his friends seeing me on his page. Superficiality is not one of the nicer traits he got from his parents. BTW, I found the can opener. Don't ask.
This left me with a birthday and no one to care about it. I was casting about for free things to do. Okay, mostly I was looking for places where I would GET things for free. I remembered Disneyland used to let people in free on their birthdays so I went looking. I know, I was 99.9% sure that Disney would give away Jack Shit, but I looked anyway.
I found that Disney, aside from warmly giving people the aforementioned Jack Shit, has raised their ticket prices. Again. For the second time this year. If you want to take your three year old to Disneyland, and said 3 year old also wants to go across the Esplanade to see Lightening McQueen in Cars Land (built because both the movies sucked and Disney was looking for a way to squeeze as much money out of a franchise they're beating like a dead horse, with about as much success, but it's at California Adventure which is a waste of a good parking lot anyway) you will have to fork out $119. Yep, $119 for a three year old. It will cost you $119 to get your three year old into a place that is too big for him to toddle through, too hot for him to safely stay outside in for more than 20 minutes, too mature for him to go on the majority of the rides (sorry...attractions) and too expensive for him to eat anything except the cheerio-o's in the sandwich bag you smuggled through the gates in your pocket because Disneyland expressly forbids anyone from bringing in their own food for fear they'll lose that 7 bucks they charge for a freaking TURKEY LEG from a cart.
Now, if you really LIKE being ripped off by a rat in shorts, you can buy an annual pass. Oh, Passport. Other theme parks have passes, Disney is special, they have passports, which, I guess, are supposed to remind one that when one goes to a Disney "THEME" park, one is going to an exotic land where only DINKS and rich people live.
Now, like an idiot, I Googled for information about Disney prices and such. Google is my friend, or so someone used to tell me, ad nauseum I might add. The problem with Internet searching, Google or no Google, is that your first two links will be paid ads and the next two pages will be crap that the bots find in blogs and on message boards which, while they feed the not inconsiderable ego of writers everywhere, offers little in the way of practical information like "How the hell much does it cost to get into freaking DISNEYLAND?" I discovered, finally, that it will cost you $649 to give your three year old a ticket good for a year.
SIX HUNDRED AND FORTY NINE DOLLARS FOR A THREE YEAR OLD.
Of course, that price includes parking, so it's justifiable.
In order to find this I ended up wandering through other websites and message boards. I came to the conclusion that people who populate these boards are mindless twits, largely bigoted against those who work hard and live from paycheck to paycheck and probably a lot of other people as well. I was, frankly, stunned at the arrogance and self-righteousness I was reading. Couples who have chosen to share their over privileged lives, not with children, the poor, the abused or the persecuted but with their cats, were opining with out and out disdain about the complete and utter fairness of what appeared to be a monumental price hike which is going to shut out those of more modest means by explaining that no one has a right to go to Disneyland, it's a gift given only to those of status who can afford it. If your three year old wants to visit Cars Land and you can't afford the price of a ticket please just shut the hell up because Disneyland is a place for the rich, powerful and gifted and you, obviously, don't qualify.
The fact that Disney peppers television, billboards, radio, movies, magazines, newspapers and toy stores with advertising designed to show your three year old that the only thing worthwhile in life is to dream of going to Disneyland and thus break their parents hearts when said parents are not well off enough to afford a $1200 dollar Saturday for their family of four (and God HELP you if you have to travel to get there) is certainly NOT Disney's way of extorting money from you because you can lock your kids up in a cage where no social interaction can possibly take place, or, perhaps, move to Lancaster PA, don black coats and hats and sell $1200 dollar quilts to unsuspecting tourists, thus removing the temptation known as a Disney ad. You can also get a cheaper pass which does not include parking (actually a good thing for that three year old you were considering putting behind the wheel) - or park entry on a whole lot of days one might be inclined to go to Disneyland. Days? Try weeks. But you CAN pay $469 for the pleasure of opening the Annual Passholder's special calendar on the interwebs and saying "nope, we can't use these today..." A bargain, no?
So far, my personal favorite is the comment made saying, in essence, that the price hike was a very good thing because this woman could afford the over $3000 a year it will now cost her family of five to renew their passes and, with all the people who will now be priced out of the place it will make their "experience" better. Since it will be better she won't complain to Disneyland as much and that will make Disneyland happy because, apparently, Disneyland management spends most of it's valuable time, not crunching numbers to see how high the prices can go before their guest's balls fall off from the twisting, but reading her letters and working out ways to make her "experience" better.
It's a Win/Win.
I don't know about you, but frankly, I don't want my kids anywhere NEAR people like that. Hell, I don't want to be anywhere near people like that.
So...here's my idea. Drive up to Los Angeles instead of Orange Country. Go to Griffith Park. Take the kids, take their friends. Take a picnic. Take them to the Observatory and show them the universe. Take them to the carousel and let them grab for the brass ring. Take them to the Zoo - it's not the greatest Zoo ever but I remember once standing absolutely enchanted watching a small herd of giraffes run...heads gliding in slow motion, bodies galloping like they were in the home stretch of the Kentucky Derby. Take them to the Autry Cultural Center and show them the REAL Frontierland. Take them to "Travel Town" and let them climb through actual train cars and engines. Go with them.
Next door to Travel Town is the Los Angeles Live Steamers. Here, on Sundays, you can immerse yourself in the actual Disney experience. Walt's scale live steamer barn, the one he kept on his property in an upscale L.A. neighborhood, is there, looking exactly as it did when Walt used it to house his own trains. Steamer enthusiasts run their trains on scale track here, through scale tunnels and up scale mountains and back again. They will let you ride for free, donations are appreciated.
Parking all over the park is free and you can have an entire Disney experience for less than 10 bucks a head if you like, including the hot dogs and potato salad. Not only that, the pretentious yuppies you don't want influencing your kids wouldn't be caught DEAD in a place that admits everyone.
Now that's a real Win/Win.