Before planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort in Southern California, it isn’t surprising that many people would want to know whether or not Disneyland is really worth all the money it takes to visit. Even if you have been to the Disneyland Resort several times in the past, changes do occur over the years which affect the experience visitors have inside the parks. Before letting go of all the cash it’s going to require to visit Disneyland, you may want to research further and decide if you feel it’s really worth it. Consider the following information when making your decision.
The prices just went up, AGAIN– The prices for park hopper tickets (tickets that allow guests to walk back and forth between both Disneyland and California Adventure all day long) just keep going up. Prices just went up again this month! Prices increase at least once per year. It isn’t just the price of the tickets that increase much more often than seems reasonable, but also food prices within the park, as well as the cost of parking (currently $15 per vehicle, per day). There are times during the year when discounts are available, but even with the discounts, the prices are high.
Rides seem to be less maintained than in the past – Having been to the Disneyland parks over 100 times during the past decade, our family really notices when some rides seem different in some way. During our most recent visit, in July of 2010, some rides were so rough that they caused us to have headaches (most notably, the California Screamin’ rollercoaster at Disney’s California Adventure). Ride breakdowns and unscheduled closures are also reportedly a consistent issue as of late.
A million Southern California Annual Pass holders make the parks very crowded – Disney has focused on increasing the numbers of annual pass holders in the last several years, which has increased the crowd levels tremendously during much of the year. Currently, the number of Southern California annual pass holders is reported to have passed the one million mark, whereas just a few years ago, the number was just a fraction of that amount. Times during the year which historically saw very low crowds, leaving a beautiful time to visit for those guests who enjoy a calmer experience, are no longer the same. For instance, for years many people scheduled their Disneyland visit to take place during September and October specifically so they would encounter a much less crowded park. Now that the Disneyland Resort adds lots of Halloween decorations, as well as special activities and seasonal foods, September and October days are sometimes more crowded than a day in the middle of Summer. The Fall crowd levels have been significantly increasing for the past few years, and will likely continue to increase. The last time our family visited during the month of September, we experienced heavier crowd levels than we did during a visit we’d made the previous August.
As of Summer 2010, there is a lot more alcohol in Disney’s California Adventure park – In an attempt to bring in more people, Disney’s California Adventure has undergone several changes. One of those changes has been to incorporate a rave-like experience, called GlowFest. Whereas alcohol used to be sold solely in restaurants (and pricier restaurants, at that, which meant that most people were not drinking in the parks), it is now sold at outdoor stations around California Adventure. According to guests who visited this Summer and then posted to public message forums afterward, the significant presence of alcohol in the park negatively affected their experience. I know this was true for our family, as well.
World of Color shuts down several rides at California Adventure at night – The new World of Color show at California Adventure means that some of the very best rides in the park (rides like California Screamin’, and Toy Story Midway Mania) are closed at 7pm. Granted, this is only during the time of year when World of Color is playing, but the park closes at 7pm the rest of the year, so either way, much or all of the park is closed down after 7pm.
After so many years, and so many visits, to Disneyland and California Adventure, our family really noticed a lot of negative changes during our most recent visit last month as opposed to previous visits. Frankly, Disneyland in particular just seems to be becoming too dated to justify the ever increasing ticket prices. It is a 55 year old theme park, after all, and many of the attractions still in operation today have been operating since the 1950’s. While I love many of these attractions myself, with all of the negatives that now go along with a visit to the Disneyland Resort parks, I have officially reached the point where I am no longer willing to part with so much money in order to experience them.
If you still want to plan a trip to the Disneyland Resort, look out for discounts (as minimal as they usually are), so at least you are not paying full price for your tickets. Otherwise, check out other theme parks in the area, as they are quite a bit less expensive to visit. If you read reviews for certain parks, like Six Flags Magic Mountain, you will likely see some negative posts. However, during our most recent visit to Disneyland, we honestly felt that the Disneyland Resort parks are now host to a lot of the same problems you will hear about at nearby theme parks.