I took my kids to Disneyland yesterday (my wife was out of town) and learned a few important things.
- September and January are the optimal times to go to Disneyland if you wish to avoid crowds.
- A stroller is an annoyance to everyone but the person pushing it.
- The Indiana Jones ride hurts.
- My kids are cool.
Ok, so I already knew #4, but the others were kind of new – well, actually I had ridden Indiana Jones on a prior trip and had forgotten how bruised one can get. It’s a fun ride, but it’s fun that hurts.
Regarding attendance, I noticed some interesting (at least to me) things about the way Disney takes care of business. For example, although attendance appeared down, they did not want it to seem so. As we were walking through the park, there was every indication that the park was full. The lines for food seemed about right and the lines for rides were spilling out of the entrances to the rides. However, I noticed that only a few of the windows at the food counters were open and most of the lines for the rides were fairly straight shots into the ride rather than the famous Disney twists and turns around ropes, chains, and poles. I started asking employees if attendance was down and the typical answer was, “not for September.” One employee actually was willing to admit that September and January are their slow months. She attributed September slowness to “back to school” and January to “the rainy month.” We were able to ride 15 rides, take in a show, and eat lunch and dinner in about an eight hour period. We arrived at 9am and planned to stay until about 10 or 11pm, but by 5pm had done everything we wanted to do, so we left for home.
Most of the people who were at Disneyland yesterday were in Fantasyland. We cut through there a couple of times on our way across the park. The lines were really long (winding around) and strollers were everywhere. It looked like the pictures I’ve seen of China with all the bicycles. Almost all stroller drivers expected everyone else to yield (probably appropriate, but still annoying – and, yes, I did purposely observe their driving habits). As we passed through I expected to see happy families (this is the “happiest place on earth” after all), but instead I noticed that very few people were actually smiling. It was hot, kids looked tired, and parents looked bored. Some fun!
As I mentioned, my kids are cool. They had a great time, were polite to everyone, said thanks at all the appropriate times and to all the appropriate people, appeared genuinely grateful for the day, took turns at all the times they should have done so, and were patient in the lines (as they should have been, since our longest wait was 20 minutes at Space Mountain – no other line was longer than 15 minutes). Actually, at one point I mentioned that the line to one ride looked kind of long from the outside and my kids looked at me and (almost) in unison said, “it is Disneyland, dad. What do you expect?”
Their mother has raised them well.