The Price Tag on Magic and Dreams: Comparing the Cost of a Disneyland Visit with Other Family Fun - Part 2 of 5

In Part 1 of this series, the challenges in affording a family vacation to Disneyland were examined. Also, the question was posed of how families on tight entertainment budgets can decide how to most effectively allocate their hard-earned funds for the best return. The object is to choose a form of entertainment that pleases each individual member of the family, creates a fun and relaxed time of recreation for the family as a unit, and brings about the best value for each dollar spent on the diversion. One method of determining value already discussed was using the grocery store model of cost per ounce, and translating that into cost per hour of entertainment. In Part 2, other measurement views are considered and an entertainment cost comparison begins.

Another barometer to implement is somewhat more esoteric and difficult to measure, but by no means is it any less important: the pleasure quotient. Take into account not only how cost-effective each pastime is, but also how much pleasure your family will derive from the experience, both in immediate gratification and in the long-term pleasure to be gained in recollecting a special family experience over the years. Consider how strongly and how long childhood impressions last in the heart and mind. As your spouse and children think back upon happy memories from a family vacation, those dollars invested in that trip continue to pay off, making the cumulative enjoyment of the experience effectively longer. The appreciation and fond recollections continue even when it's decades after the event itself.

When staring that hefty Disneyland price tag in the face, it's easy to see only dollar signs and not the value obtained from a family visit to the park. There are certainly other entertainment options that are far easier on the wallet. Or are they? If the initial price only is concerned, then, perhaps yes. But if you're interested in getting as much value from each dollar as you can, it's worth comparing a Disneyland visit with other family entertainment options.

Note: Parking prices at entertainment venues vary so greatly that they will not be included as part of the computations in this series. However, estimated parking fees are listed for reference purposes.

Compare Entertainment Costs: Movie Theater

Your first challenge is to find a movie that all members of the family will enjoy, that meets your parental requirements of appropriateness for your children. With the exception of "family friendly" titles released during the Christmas season or at the start of summer, this leaves most movies off the table as viable options. Now remember, the challenge is to find something each member of the family will enjoy, not merely a kid film that parents endure for the sake of the child's enjoyment; this requirement will likely leave even fewer contenders, if any at all.

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Assuming you've found an acceptable film, pull out your wallet and get ready to fork it over. General prime-time adult-priced movie tickets (which is the price charged many who are not yet adults) tend to average around $10.00 each (a little less in some areas; up to $15 in big cities). Add in drinks ($3 to $7) and snacks ($5 to $11) for another $9 to $15 per person. Consider that most movies run between 90 and 120 minutes long, not counting all the previews and commercials and accusations of piracy patrons have to endure prior to the feature film they just paid for. Now, the math:

$10 (ticket) plus $12 (a middle-ground price for snacks) = $22

Divide $22 investment by the length of the film (say, 105 minutes) = 22 cents per minute

22 cents per minute times 60 minutes = $13.20

Hourly cost for the Movie Experience: $13.20 per hour.

Theater parking prices vary wildly from nothing at all to $35 if you're in a large metropolitan city.

Important question to ask yourself: How many films have you and your family seen that have resulted in fond recollections years later of family interaction enjoyed at the movie theater? Note that this question is not about the movie itself, but about what the movie-going experience brought about in strengthening, celebrating and enjoying your family dynamics, which is the point of a family outing.

Part 3 will examine the costs of one of America's favorite pastimes, taking the family on an outing to the baseball park.

© M.S. Ross - All Rights Reserved


Art Inspires Life

What movies have you and your family seen together that spurred a memorable interaction? Perhaps a film inspired a lively debate or brought about some family action based on the topic of the movie. What movies, if any, inspired your family to interact more with each other? Was it a phenomenon with long-lasting implications?

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