When I moved to Los Angeles it was a novelty being in close proximity to Disneyland. Growing up in Maryland, Disney World in Florida was 900 miles away so it was a full on vacation trip to visit. Living in California and having Mickey Mouse’s house a “quick” drive down the 5 seemed well, pretty magical. Except then I went there on a date with my girlfriend (now my wife) and it was lame. I mean, I’m a grown ass man who just paid a bazillion dollars to wait in line for a fortnight to ride a flying plastic elephant. One and done. Oh Mickey, you are so not fine. So not fine it blows my mind. Hey Mickey. Hey Mickey.
Then, a few years later, my son was born. Anyone who knows me is aware that the arrival of Frankie 4 immediately caused me to enter an alternate universe. Black was white, left was right, and Disneyland was calling my name like Will called his mom from the upside down. Hence, when he was exactly 21 months old, I dropped a bag of money in Goofy’s hands and made off with a couple of annual passes for me and the wife. For those not in the know, you don’t need a pass or ticket for kids 2 and under. (Side note: Frankie is now cryogenically frozen at age 2 and will remain so until I tire of Disneyland).
I didn’t skimp either. I copped the big baller pass with no blackout dates. You don’t tell me when I can and can’t go to the Magic Kingdom. Since it was Thanksgiving weekend, we booked three nights in a hotel next to the park and treated ourselves to a little staycation. Over the course of that weekend I believe we went to the parks 5 times. I say “parks” because the pass is actually good for both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure (occasionally referred to as “DL and CA respectively). We explored each in an effort to see what we (the grownups) and he (the child) preferred in the way of rides, food, and lines. Turned out, we liked California Adventure better than Disneyland. I think I’ll save the comparison for another post, but suffice to say that California Adventure is underrated.
Over the course of the year we made the occasional trek to Disney. And by “occasional” I mean that I personally went 44 times. Yes, you are reading that correctly. I went to either/both DL or CA FORTY-FOUR TIMES. That’s like I made 11 visits 4 times. Or that for every 10 visits I went for one extra visit x 4. Or like I went 1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1, never mind.
Suffice to say that I went a lot. One of those times, the final visit before the passes expired, was a date night with my wife. We went just us so we could finally ride the grown up rides. Oh, and one of those trips was a man-date with my buddy and Superior Podcast co-host, Hal Sparks. It’s a very manly thing for two grown dudes to do. It is. No seriously. Shut up. And the wife and I went with other families on two occasions. The rest of the trips were either all three of us, or just Frankie and Daddy.
I know it all sounds crazy, but part of being Bad Ass is getting your money’s worth. Check out this math.
$1,049 Annual pass covering both parks.
$244 2-day pass covering both parks
($122 per day)
So, to average my annual pass out to the standard cost I had to visit 8.6 times.
However, I visited 44 times.
$1,049 divided by 44 visits = $23.84 per visit.
But wait, there’s more!
Parking at the parks is $20 per visit, but it was included with my pass. That’s an additional $880 I did not pay.
Take my $23.84 per visit, and subtract the $20 parking fee I did not pay and you get:
$3.84 per visit!
I won’t even try to calculate how much I saved with the 20% discount on food and merch, but it’s significant. Truth be told, I’m not even sure the math I outlined above is accurate because I’m terrible at math. The point is, I spent a shit ton of time at the Disney parks and my average cost was insanely low because I am a genius.
How, you might ask, does one end up going to DL/CA so many times? Easily. Every time I took my son I forgot about the outside world. Ol’ Walt knew what he was doing when he created this immersive experience that envelops you in magic with a seamless setting, smile-inducing rides, and more junk food than you can shake a gut roll at. So on any given weekend day, when we had nothing else planned, I ̶f̶o̶r̶c̶e̶d̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶s̶o̶n̶ asked my son if he wanted to go to Disney. And he always ̶d̶i̶d̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶h̶e̶ ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶t̶o̶l̶d̶ shouted an enthusiastic yes! Sometimes we went and stayed for hours, going on ride after ride if the lines weren’t too long. A few times we barely spent more than an hour because the park was crowded. It didn’t matter. What mattered is that we were having fun. We were experiencing, on a very regular basis, something that most families dream about doing every few years, if that.
This isn’t something we’ll do forever. In fact, we haven’t even renewed our passes and they expired three months ago. I’m sure we’ll do it again but I certainly haven’t decided when. Right now we have memberships to the Natural History Museum, the Kidspace Museum, the zoo, the Aquarium, and a local play space called Adventureplex. We even bought an annual pass to Legoland recently. It’s not like we don’t have plenty of things to do.
It’s just that none of these places compares to the emotional attachment I have to taking Frankie to Disneyland. I know that he’ll look at the pictures when he’s an adult and think, “That’s nice, my parents did fun things with me when I was little.” However he won’t remember actually going there, but that’s not the point. Because I will.