Why I Dislike #Disney Theme Parks but Love Their Movies

Category: Social Media Social Good Series, Weekly Columns

I grew up in Los Angeles and most of my birthdays as a child were celebrated at Disneyland. It was in Anaheim. It was the ONLY Disneyland. Ever heard the expression, “an e-ticket ride?” Well, in those days, Disneyland had A through E tickets (for each attraction) so you had to parcel them out and be careful not to use up all your E tickets, which were for the “best” rides (like the Matterhorn).

In those days, they had a very basic gondola that crossed over the park. And, in those days, it wasn’t crowded nor was the marketing completely in your face.

Now, I’m going to share the dirty little secret that no one is willing to express (out loud)!

I no longer appreciate Disney parks, though I do appreciate and value their movies and music. The last time I went to a Disney park was in Florida with my then young boys. It was horridly hot and humid and the lines were interminable. EVERYTHING cost a fortune and I hated every minute of it.

Since my boys knew nothing else, they showed patience waiting in those lines that they never showed for anything else. But, they too were exhausted and got to see/do only a few attractions after 10-12 hours of being there.

I have another BIG beef with Disney today. And, that is their “Moms Program.” It’s ALL over the Internet. Why is Disney about the only company that has excluded dads? WHY? Frankly, I don’t get it at all. They have junkets for the moms for everything and everywhere. All expenses paid. I see their posts ad nauseum. And, each time it’s another reminder that we dads are still often excluded.

So, now that I have bashed Disney, I’m going to reflect on my many great memories when, I think, Disney and Disneyland was great! Also, remember in those “good ol’ days,” Disney was close to the only game in town. No Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network.

Their two main television shows were “The Wonderful World of Disney” and “The Mickey Mouse Club.” Those days, the stars were wholesome and family accessible. Annette Funicello came from “The Mickey Mouse Club.” We know what happens to many of the young Disney stars today when they’ve “grown up.”

Today, their movies are highly commercialized but the acquisition of Pixar enhanced their reputation for excellent technique and story-telling. I believe Walt Disney would continue to be proud of his legendary film legacy and it’s well-deserved. He began with the AWESOME Sherman brothers and is successors expanded the music with wonderful contributions from contemporary artists. So, the ONE THING that has remained special, sweet, and truly wonderful is the Disney movie slate!

Among the “old” attractions at Disneyland that I cherished were The Tiki Room and The Carousel of Progress (which I believe was a transplant from a World’s Fair).

Mostly, I remember as a kid being sleepless the night before we went to Disneyland. I remember literally running through the park all giddy when we “finally” arrived, usually heading to the Matterhorn for early thrills.

It was sweet. It is no more…Okay, now all your Disney fanatics, let’s hear from you!

  • jack43

    You won’t get any argument from me. Been there. Done that. But (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) my daughter and her family took a ride on one of their “floating parks” – a Disney cruise. They couldn’t stop praising it. The youngest, six, wanted to stay on the ship for the rest of her life. Also, they were treated exceptionally well at the Disney World Resort while waiting to embark. The girls have food allergies (peanuts and gluten) and the kitchen staff went out of their way to take care of them. Also, the hotel staff upgraded them to one of the new Tiki village units at no additional charge. Other than that, I am in full agreement… [PS: When my brother heard about their vacation he commented “You wouldn’t catch me on one of those” – Of course he’s an old curmudgeon.]

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @jack43:disqus – I’ve also heard their cruises are first-rate…

  • David Weber

    EXCELLENT column, precisely the kind of column you do best.

    My memories of and reactions to Disneyland are identical to yours, from the sleepless enthusiasm the night before going there, to the indifference to the theme parks today.

    Regarding the former, I loved my annual trips to Disneyland, for all the obvious reasons. My favorite attractions were Tom Sawyer’s Island and It’s a Small World. The latter was unveiled at a World’s Fair in the early ’60s, which I also went to; and it was there that I first saw Small World. I believe you are correct, the Carousel of Progress originated at the same World’s Fair. I also recall that the C. of P. had a killer theme song.

    I remember the Tiki Room as an attraction, but don’t remember my visits to it, nor do I remember the theme song. Jungle Cruise was another very good attraction, especially when the boat captain pulled out a revolver and shot an alligator. In the early ’60s, the new-fangled technology of audioanimatronics was premiered on the attraction titled something like A Visit With Mr. Lincoln, which I enjoyed; and the technology was demonstrated in an episode of the Sunday night staple, Wonderful World of Color (a Disney vehicle).

    I have also been to Disney World in Florida, and Tokyo Disneyland. But Disney theme parks had jumped the shark for me as of my visit to the latter. I visited Florida when D-World was only about 2 yr. old, so there was some novelty there for me. The last time I went to Disneyland was in 1980, with a couple who fixed me up with a blind date for the day. It was tremendously boring; the interaction among the four of us was OK, but I was delighted when we finally decided to go home.

    A couple of times I have heard friends say that as an adult, the Disney theme parks are fun only when you go with your kids (or grandkids) because you sort of experience it again vicariously through their shining eyes. My lady friend has grandbabies and she has said that one day she would like us to take them to Disney World. I agreed just because; but I can’t say I am eager for that expedition to take place.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @disqus_dU5ulU60s7:disqus – watch my video at the top of this column where I sing both theme songs – to The Carousel of Progress and The Tiki Room!