Sunday, June 21, 2015

Microcosm of the Wider World

Disney World (and its cousins) in the Second Gilded Age.

How theme parks like Disney World left the middle class behind

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. ...

“If Walt [Disney] were alive today, he would probably be uncomfortable with the prices they’re charging right now,” said Scott Smith, an assistant professor of hospitality at the University of South Carolina whose first job was as a cast member in Disney’s Haunted Mansion. “They’ve priced middle-class families out.” ...

Disney park admissions revenue has grown about 10 percent every year for the past decade, to total more than $5 billion in 2014, financial filings show. (That’s not including park food, drinks or merchandise, which brought in another $5 billion.) ...

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.

Ah, but that was a couple of lifetimes ago, back in the time of Lyndon Baines Johnson. When CEOs only made twenty times their average employee's salary ... instead of the three hundred times that occurs now. And somewhere along the line, this became the norm and everybody just accepted monster salaries as an immovable reality of American (global?) life.

Which might, come to think of it, explain why there is so much seething discontent in the world. When 99.8% of the population has to live on the food crumbs dropped by the Chosen Few, unhappiness tends to bubble to the surface.


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