Minnie Needs a New Pair of Shoes at Students’ Expense

Midterm season’s soul-shattering realities were made only worse this quarter thanks to Disneyland’s decision to increase the general price of their park tickets and parking passes earlier this month.

Peak traffic and weekend passes were bumped up five dollars each to $124 and $110, respectively, while “value” tickets were hawked up two bucks to sit at $97. Parking will now cost you a cool Andrew Jackson (20 dollars? Yeah, 20), and sadly, the SoCal resident discount only applies to three-day ticket purchases. Before committing to UCI, I entertained the idea of visiting Disneyland at least once a year. Now, just breathing in the park’s air seems too bougie for my blood.

The increases are, of course, instated for good reason. Higher priced tickets reduce traffic in the park and prevent guests from swimming through crowds of people to find Space Mountain, delivering a customer service experience that will no doubt guarantee a future ticket purchase. This business strategy has proven effective as, according to the Themed Entertainment Association’s annual report, the park’s yearly guest intake increased from 16.7 million guests in 2014 to 18.2 million in 2015; however, UCI students are not being shown the love they desperately need.

College students’ reliance on Disneyland as the pinnacle of Californian theme parks enables the management to raise prices and take away discounts as they please — Disneyland knows kids will buy tickets regardless of their cost and is capitalizing on this fact. The park has cut ties with most Californian college ticket offices (including ASUCI) and does not offer its own student discounts.

It is well-known that attending college is a universally expensive undertaking. Make Lemonade, an online financial planning website, estimates that the average class of 2016 student graduated with $37,172 in student debt. And, while planning a trip to Disneyland is a rather poor investment for someone in this financial situation, it is also a harsh reality for many stressed students looking to have a good time with friends. The park’s cash flow is, and will always be, among its highest priorities, most certainly above the wants of teens and young 20-somethings across California. However, the previous existence of student discount breaks makes their present absence painful and confusing.

I am not asking for Disneyland to cut a huge chunk off of ticket prices solely for students’ benefit. When they actually offered student discounts, tickets were only ever cut down by a couple dollars, and, although such a small amount can hardly be called a discount, it showed students that the park was trying to offer them some reprieve from the financial nightmares of college. Taking away a one-percent price reduction is a slap in the face, broadcasting that even the smallest amount of money is more important to Disneyland than the financial troubles of college students.

At this point, I would happily take the old one dollar markdown even if it was only valid on certain days. Implementing a conditional price drop such as this would require some research on Disneyland’s end — depending on whether or not they like college students running around their park, management would have to plan these days around school schedules — but would definitely entice more students to visit. SheerID, an online student verification service, reports that 32 percent of students agreed that a ten percent student discount, when offered by any vendor, would sway them to make a purchase.

With multiple new attractions coming to Disneyland in 2019 (Star Wars Land!), there is still time for the park to make these changes before overcrowding becomes a nightmare; if not, I will at least have graduated by then and be unable to gripe about not being offered a dollar off on my exorbitantly expensive ticket.

Isaac Espinosa is a second-year electrical engineering major. He can be reached at imespino@uci.edu.