There’s always a breaking point, isn’t there? The world is a septic tank, but you’re doing okay numbing with food, substances or online shopping. Then, something relatively meaningless happens — unexpected pickles on your chicken sandwich — and it flips the switch.
It’s not about the sandwich, but the sandwich is a release valve for impotent rage.
Today, that sandwich is Disney. I will project all sadness, confusion and acrimony for more important geopolitical affairs (do I need to list them?) onto Mickey Mouse.
On Wednesday, the Mouse House announced it was retiring its FastPass, which allowed anyone with a ticket to get through a line faster. A new service called Disney Genie will curate itineraries for visits to Disney World and Disneyland. For — wait for it — a fee, guests can upgrade to Genie+ and use the Lightning Lane.
If you don’t speak Disney, allow me to translate. It used to be free to skip the line. Now, it will cost $15 extra per person, per day, in Florida. At California’s Disneyland, it’s $20. Other parks like Universal already charge for this, but it was cool that Disney didn’t relegate families with less money to the back.
To quote Gaston’s left bicep, there’s a lot to unpack here.
First of all, put some respect on Genie’s name. He was a jovial blue friend who granted wishes, and no one WISHES TO SPEND MORE MONEY AT DISNEY. The real Genie (he is real in our hearts!) would simply give us the tools to self-actualize and then expel Jafar to a cave.
Second, Disney, how dare you. Let’s forensically examine the cost of a magical family vacation. There’s razzle-dazzle involved in Disney ticketing, and doing the math requires Stephen Hawking-like abilities. Please, Disney people, don’t write with tips to save. I am trying to help you!
A plain old ticket for one Disney World park, with no bundles, passes or discounts, costs $109. Multiply that by four, carry the two, factor of six … mmhmm, that’s approximately $1 million.
Then, there’s food. Sure, you can pack snacks. But little Elspeth and Ambrose are going to scream for a Mickey Mouse ice cream and a glow-in-the-dark Pandora bubble tea. You have to get a Dole Whip. And, you know, it’s PROBABLY the 84th anniversary of Snow White being poisoned and held prisoner or whatever, and there’s a special $12 commemorative cupcake.
That’s $2 million. What about souvenirs? One does not walk out of Disney without a pair of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ears, a replica of the rose from “Beauty and the Beast,” a spooky tote bag from The Haunted Mansion and four things featuring Baby Yoda. I don’t make the rules.
Where are we? $3.4 million? Have we factored in hotels? Airfare or gas? Character breakfasts? Ponchos? Bandages? Legal fees? Therapy?
Oh, but people will pay. Have you ever spent 90 minutes waiting for Slinky Dog Dash with a child striving to reach developmental milestones? Desperate parents will link Disney MagicBands to whatever credit card has room and look the other way.
Yeah, no one is forcing anyone to go to Disney. It’s a private business, they can do what they want, blah, blah, blah. My god, just let me have this. Have you opened the news lately? We need a distraction, and …
Wait. Was this Disney’s move all along? To get us thinking about how long it’s been since we’ve had a turkey leg on a curb? To imagine children smiling? Does the happiest place on earth know we need cheer, even if it means drowning in a toxic cycle of commercial spending?
Sigh. Here’s my AmEx. No, not that one. The gold … yeah, that one.
Stephanie Hayes is a columnist at the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. Follow her at @stephhayeswrites on Facebook, @stephhayes on Twitter or @stephrhayes on Instagram.