By Kristi Alarcon, Editor
As your ankles roll through the crevasses of the train tracks on Main Street in Disneyland, the aroma of sugar-coated churros and turkey legs flood your nasal passages. You are at the happiest place on Earth, but others beg to differ. Is it really the happiest place on Earth? Why does a one-day ticket range from $104 to $150? Why does a one-day parking pass cost $25? To top it off, if you get hungry at the park, snacks and meals can range anywhere from $12 to $30. Do the math and that's almost a quarter of what your ticket price is.
You are left with this beaming question: Why are millennials more willing to spend an insane amount of money to go to Disneyland when there are other theme parks such as Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags, that are tailored for an older audience? The answer to that question is based on everyone's own personal opinions and experiences toward Disneyland, but there are a few reasons I believe that help answer this question.
For starters, the billion-dollar entertainment company resonates specifically to the millennial age category because they grew up with this brand. The Walt Disney Company has and continues to keep up with their shifting interests by including relevant popular franchises that are box-office hits such as, Marvel and Star Wars. Regardless of what age category you are from, Disneyland creates a uniquely immersive experience that allows visitors to share an emotional connection with Disney.
Anyone who wants to go visit either of the two theme parks is willing to pay the hefty price. Why is that? It's mind-boggling to think that a theme park catered to families are not family-price friendly. According to the 2018 Pew Research Center, about 81 percent of Americans live in middle or lower-income households. Which means that although people can't afford to go to Disneyland, they are finding ways to scrape up money and get a feel for the Disney magic.
"It's a place where the memories still live and give you an opportunity to make more"
Whether it is an annual pass or a one-day admission, some purchase tickets with reasons similar to owning designer brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga. Some people are wearing or experiencing these products to promote their socioeconomic status, symbolizing that they are financially stable. A pass to the park is an emblem being used to display to the world that you have wiggle-room money to spend, most especially when it gets posted on social media.
Reliving childhood memories may be another reason millennials are devotees of Disneyland culture.
“I get to reminisce all my family memories we had in the park. Even if they weren't tied to Disney, it was managed to be tied to the park because that's where the memories happened. It's a place where the memories still live and give you an opportunity to make more.” said Maha Manswer, Long Beach State student.
Visitors are feeling a sense of nostalgia once they set foot past the black gates and hear classical chirpy music playing throughout the entrance spewing into Main Street. They also get goosebumps from listening to the same whistles they heard when they were kids.
For many including myself, Disneyland might have not have been a recurring visit. Going to Disneyland once a year is a millennial dream come true, especially if you frequently watched Disney Channel. Now as I walk throughout the hallways of my house, I see photos of myself at the age of seven, sitting in the same light blue boats at “It’s a Small World,” appreciative that I’m allowed to go back and take an identical photo.
Although, many were not able to attend Disneyland when they were young due to financial or locality reasons. Disney is still enticing older audience members to create the childhood memories they never had. Disneyland had branded itself to be a childhood memory maker, bringing a majority of classic Disney films to life in the park and never fully changing them. Seemingly as if you picked up right where your childhood left off. It is a place where people don't judge an adult for fangirling over Disney princesses and purchasing the glitteriest Mickey ears on the store racks.
Lastly, Disneyland is a historical landmark that contains an abundance of history with every twist and turn you take throughout the 100-acre park.
Unlike Knotts Berry Farm and Six Flags where rides are constantly being torn down, renamed and remodeled, Disneyland holds a consistent theme. Although the rides appear outdated and sometimes even cheap, the same attraction and music that was found in the ‘90s and even the ‘50s can still be found today. In order to fulfill the need of change that some park visitors desire, Disneyland instead chooses a different route.
“They have a variety of updates year-around that are sometimes themed with seasonal holidays, others aren't, such as ‘90s Nite, Gay Days and Sweethearts Nite. They don't necessarily change the rides but they have a lot of event and food updates throughout the year,” annual passholder Manswer said.
Disney fan or not, you might find yourself drawn to the current Disney culture due to remakes of classic films, millennial-themed merchandise, food items and Instagram photo-worthy opportunities. The theme parks have and continue to be a millennial magnet. Whether or not you decide to attend is your choice.