... I'm old enough to remember Disneyland ticket books and $2 admissions. And when the parks were accessible to people without taking out second mortgages on their houses to do it. ...
There's been a rejoinder that points out how the cited article was a wee bit off. (And I should have noticed it myself). ...
... I had decidedly mixed feelings as I read an article in the Washington Post:
How theme parks like Disney World left the middle class behind
By Drew Harwell June 12
When Walt Disney World opened in an Orlando swamp in 1971, with its penny arcade and marching-band parade down Main Street U.S.A., admission for an adult cost $3.50, about as much then as three gallons of milk. Disney has raised the gate price for the Magic Kingdom 41 times since, nearly doubling it over the past decade.
This year, a ticket inside the "most magical place on Earth" rocketed past $100 for the first time in history. ...
But looking closer at the article, I found two math errors. ... Here is the letter I sent [to the Post].
Dear Reader Rep,
I am writing to call attention to the inaccurate (or at best misleading) story and graph in the story on Disneyland.
The story says:
When Walt Disney World opened in an Orlando swamp in 1971, with its penny arcade and marching-band parade down Main Street U.S.A., admission for an adult cost $3.50, about as much then as three gallons of milk.
This number is highly misleading because today's $99 admission includes unlimited rides, and the 1971 admission included no rides whatsoever. Instead, (when I was a kid) we had books of A- through E-tickets, or just E-tickets -- an additional amount that always totaled more than the amount of admission. ...
In the story's graph, the "price" jumps in 1982 because 1982 was when (according to Wikipedia) admissions included unlimited rides. So the 1982 price is not directly comparable to the 1971-1981 price. ... Estimates [are] that the actual net cost in 1971 was $10.25, or almost 3x as much as your newspaper reported:
So yes, Disney pushed through a 65% price increase ($59.88 to $99) in an era when the real price of air travel, computing, TVs and other products fell. (California and Northern Virginia real estate probably increased faster than inflation during this period).
Still, the claim the price went from $3.50 to $99 is inaccurate, since today's readers would assume the admission prices would include unlimited rides (as it has for the past 40+ years). ...
So does everybody get this?
The big D.C. newspaper neglected to factor in the cost of ticket books, part of the Disneyland park-going experience through 1981. "Pirates of the Caribbean" was an E ticket (top drawer ride experience); the horse-drawn trolley cars on Main street a lowly A (bargain basement ride).
The phrase, "That [fill in blank] is definitely an E ticket!" means something to older people. But you have to be a seasoned citizen for the sentence to have resonance.
So Drew Harwell, author of the Post article, was a bit wrong in his analysis. And we can now all sleep better knowing he's been called on it.