The Price Tag of Magic and Dreams: Comparing the Cost of a Disneyland Visit with Other Family Fun - Part 1 of 5

"The most important thing brought about in the past quarter century of motion picture history is the recognition that amusement, recreation, mass diversion, is no longer a dispensable luxury. Family fun is as necessary to modern living as a kitchen refrigerator."

- Walt Disney

You work hard to save up those precious coins for family entertainment. Make sure you get your money's worth by doing the research to get the best value for your family.  CC Lic:
You work hard to save up those precious coins for family entertainment. Make sure you get your money's worth by doing the research to get the best value for your family. CC Lic: | Source
CC Lic:
CC Lic: | Source

Budgeting for the Dream

Summertime means vacation time, and for many families, a dream vacation would be one that involves a trip to Disneyland. Unfortunately, the rising costs of park admissions combined with the strangling economic crises of late have made a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth seem an almost unattainable goal for mere mortals.

Back when Uncle Walt was planning and designing Disneyland, he envisioned it as a clean, friendly and entertaining environment where kids and their parents could spend the day together as a family, having fun, sharing good times and maybe even learning a little something in the process. It was not his intention to wring out every last penny from guests who came to visit his park; he wanted families to close their day with a little something still in their pockets, the better to draw them back for a return visit.

Walt was once quoted as saying, "A word may be said in regard to the concept and conduct of Disneyland's operational tone. Although various sections will have the fun and flavor of a carnival or amusement park, there will be none of the 'pitches,' game wheels, sharp practices and devices designed to milk the visitor's pocketbook."

Got milked? CC Lic:
Got milked? CC Lic: | Source

Sadly, Walt's ideal of offering affordable family entertainment seems to have taken a back seat somewhat as the post-Walt years have flown by. The cumulative costs of visiting, dining and shopping at the park have all risen sharply year by year. It's no secret that a modern-day visit to Disneyland does seem to milk the pocketbook faster than a dairy relieves ol' Bessie of her liquid goodness. But to be fair, Disneyland is not alone in raising prices, as your local gas stations and grocery stores will testify.

For most families these days, a greater amount of the household budget needs to be allocated toward everyday expenses, gasoline, health insurance, and other costs, leaving a smaller piece of the income pie for vacations and getaways. So, with budgets tightened for entertainment, how do families decide which diversions will receive their hard-earned cash?

Up, up and away...  CC Lic:
Up, up and away... CC Lic: | Source

One method to help decide is to take the grocery store approach. Grocery stores help shoppers price compare by posting the cost per ounce for each product right on the item's price tag on the shelf. Families can adopt a similar approach for weighing their entertainment options by considering various forms of family entertainment, and breaking down the costs of what those amusements cost on an hourly basis.

In Part 2 of this series, more ways to measure the value of family entertainment will be explored, and a cost analysis comparing other forms of entertainment with a Disneyland visit will begin with a breakdown of the per-hour costs to take your family out to the movies.

© M.S. Ross - All Rights Reserved

Your Family Fun Time

Has the economy impacted your family vacation plans? Are you foregoing vacations in preference of shorter, smaller scale or less expensive family outings and entertainment? If so, do you derive sufficient relaxation, family bonding and recreation fun as you used to from family vacations? How has your family reacted to such changes? 

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