Bonnie Henry: Mickey and Minnie, the rodent billionaires

2013-06-16T00:00:00Z Bonnie Henry: Mickey and Minnie, the rodent billionairesBonnie Henry Special to The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Just about every day now, I send up a silent hosanna along the likes of: "Thank you, Oh Great One, for allowing me to raise my children before texting, sexting, Facebook, rap music and 'Gangnam Style.' " To that I must now add, "the exorbitant admission price for theme parks."

Don't know if you saw the little news tidbit a few days back about how Disneyland and its neighboring Disney California Adventure Park were raising the one-day admission prices to $92 for adults, $86 for kids under age 10. Oh, yeah, no discounts for seniors or the disabled. And parking? That'll set you back another $16.

Holy Mickey!

OK, so help me with the math here. Assuming you've got a mom, dad, and two kids under the age of 10, it'll cost ya $372 (including parking) just to enter those what-must-be diamond-encrusted gates, another $200 for meals and crappy souvenirs.

When Disneyland opened in the summer of 1955, general admission was $1. Period. Granted, you still had to pay extra for most of the rides and attractions, ranging by the 1960s from 10 cents for the carousel to 85 cents for the Matterhorn Bobsled. Even so, most folks could see and do everything they wanted for about $10, tops.

By 1963, admission had skyrocketed to $1.60 for adults, $1.20 for kids. Parking, by the way, was a quarter.

The Matterhorn was the big attraction the first time I hit Disneyland as a kid back around 1959. Must have had to stand in line 90 minutes or so - which is nothing compared with today's reported five-hour waits for some attractions.

Fast-forward a few years and I was back at Disneyland with my own kids. By that time, around the mid-'70s, it cost $5.95 for a 15-ride ticket book, including admission. Rides were divided up into categories A through E, with the best rides, like the Jungle River Cruise, designated as E rides. For some perverse reason, It's a Small World was also considered an E ride.

Naturally, we went with the 15-ride ticket book, although my mom, who was with us, didn't use up one of her E-ride tickets. My husband, ever the bean counter, teased her about it for years.

Today's $92 ticket to the California Disney parks now includes just about all rides and attractions, which no doubt has folks scrambling hither and yon through the park to get their money's worth. ("I don't care if we've been here 13 hours, Madge, we're not leaving until we've gone through the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.")

Then there's Sea World, or as a friend of mine once described it, "Disneyland with fish." One ticket also gives you full access to the park, which results in, "Hurry kids, the minute Shamu finishes, we have to run to catch Dancing Waters."

I don't remember what we paid in the distant past to visit Sea World, but today's tickets are going for $88 for adults, $80 for kids under 10. Parking's another $15.

True, the tickets allow you seven consecutive visits to the park. Gee, how many times do you have to get wet from a whale?

My first theme park experience wasn't really a theme park at all back in the mid-'50s or so when we visited Knott's Berry Farm. Begun as a tea room and berry market back in the late 1920s, the farm was still pretty simple when we visited, as I recall. I remember eating a wonderful chicken dinner, then going out to some outdoor arena where someone led us in a few choruses of, "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain."

No roller coasters. No water rides. No admission price, either. That didn't start until 1968, when they started asking for one whole dollar.

Today, one-day tickets are $60 at the gate, $30 for kids and seniors.

Parking is another $15, though it's free if you're only there for the Chicken Dinner Restaurant and don't linger more than three hours.

Wonder if the chicken's as good as I remember. And if anyone still sings, "She'll be Comin' Round the Mountain."

Bonnie Henry's column runs every other Sunday. Contact her at Bonniehenryaz@gmail.com

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