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4 Easy Ways to Upset a Theme Park Fan

The politics of Disney

Image: DisneyThe last thing Theme Park Tourist wants is to get into a political discussion. In fact, that’s the last thing that anybody wants these days. The internet has a toxic climate with regards to politics. You’re either red or blue, conservative or progressive. Nobody seems to want to meet in the middle now.

In broadcast media, Fox is notoriously red while Disney is blue. What happens when a Fox fan is a Disney lover, too? Well, some of them feel irritable about various positions taken by the company. In 2017, Disney closed down the Hall of Presidents for updates including the addition of President Trump.

Rumors suggested that Disney had no intention of re-opening the attraction with him in office. Obviously, these rumors were wholly unfounded, but they got spread as truth. It’s the problem the company faces due to its perception in certain circles.

Image: DisneyOne of the touchiest subjects along these lines is the recent update to Pirates of the Caribbean. Disney took out the infamous auction scene, which is pretty tasteless albeit at least somewhat historically accurate.

Cynics decried the move, espousing their belief that it’s political correctness run amok. They maintained that the original version of Pirates of the Caribbean was sacrosanct.

Disney fanatics pointed out to them that this wasn’t the first change in the attraction stemming from its non-familial tone. A prior scene showed a terrified woman hiding from a would-be assailant. Disney modified it when the cultural zeitgeist indicated that they should.

Image: DisneyIn a way, it’s the same issue that The Simpsons has faced due to the “Problem with Apu”. Something may seem fine for years before suddenly becoming awkward and uncomfortable…like a Jello Pudding Pops commercial from the 1980s. Disney isn’t being politically correct to remove something tasteless and replace it with more appropriate subject matter. They’re being socially responsible…but they take a PR hit for it anyway. The social media era is rife with unreasonable backlash.

Price increases

Image: DisneyThis topic falls into the same category as upsells. Disney fans love their park visits and resent anything that threatens them. One of the biggest challenges is inflationary pricing at Disney theme parks.

While the cost of living for American citizens has remained stagnant for the body of 30 years, Disney prices have increased at a fairly constant rate. In recent years, annual price rises have become almost automatic.

The raised prices aren’t just for admission tickets, either. The most recent example is a shocking spike in the cost of many Disney snacks and beverages. In an extreme example, the price of a churro went up 17 percent overnight. During a three-year period, Mickey Ice Cream Bars increased 33 percent. And a bottle of water at Walt Disney World now costs more than a 12-pack at your local grocery store.

Image: DisneyAgain, Disney is a business that must turn a profit. Customers are really feeling the squeeze, though. When I started writing for Theme Park Tourist in 2014, the Parks & Resorts division earned $15 billion with a net income of $2.7 billion. By 2018, those numbers had increased to $20.3 billion and $4.5 billion. Yes, Disney’s theme parks are making 35 percent more (or $5.3 billion more!) than just four years ago.

Are theme park tourists footing the bill? In a literal sense, the answer is yes. Has Disney raised prices too often in recent years? I guess that answer depends on whether you are a Disney stockholder. The corporation is undeniably earning much more money today, especially in their Parks & Resorts division.

Are park officials right to raise the cost of all phases of Disney vacations on a regular basis? I guess that answer depends on the size of your wallet. No matter how you feel about this, the touchiest of all Disney subjects, the sad truth is that it’s not going to change anytime soon.

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