Disneyland gets ready to Rock Your Disney Side with another 24 Hour Party as ticket prices go up again

Written by Andy Castro. Posted in Dateline Disneyland, Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort

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Published on May 19, 2014 at 5:44 am with 151 Comments

About Andy Castro

Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy writes the weekly Dateline Disneyland column, which can be found every Monday on MiceChat.

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  • Westsider

    Every year they raise prices due to record crowds, and every year people claim they are dumping their AP because of it. Some might actually do that, but obviously there are more consumers who buy an AP. For those who leave, there are two people waiting to take your spot.

    And every year I’m baffled at the commentary. Yeah, a price hike stinks. For anything. But do hardcore Disneyland fans do anything else in SoCal? Have they ever priced out a day at Universal Studios with FastLane access? Been to Sea World lately and used QuickQueue? Have you ever tried going to a Clippers, Chargers, Ducks, or Angels game for 3 hours? Have you ever bought a ticket on the Catalina Express? Or priced out a seat for the LA Philharmonic at Walt Disney Hall? Or a good concert at the Greek or Hollywood Bowl or Honda Center? Or a seat for Pageant of the Masters this summer in Laguna Beach? Rented sea kayaks for the afternoon in La Jolla lately? Visited two good museums on Wilshire Blvd. for the afternoon? Ever price out a Saturday ski lift ticket at Mammoth?

    Do Disneyland fans have no exposure to ANY local entertainment or cultural attraction besides Disneyland???

    Are people really that provincial and sheltered and uneducated? Or is it just selective memory that prevents them from remembering how much the hundreds of dollars they shelled out for the half-decent seats at Honda Center last month?

  • Rex Dopey24

    what a bummer

  • HauntedPirate

    A couple of things.

    1. Profits from the Theme Parks aren’t just funneled back into the Theme Parks, a lot of their profits are used to off-set weaker divisions within TWDC. Yeah, some of the profits are reinvested in the parks, but the percentage reinvested compared with the percentage of profit funneled elsewhere is heavily tilted towards elsewhere.

    2. AP’s. The logic behind the elimination of lower-priced AP’s is simple, and was stated in the artlcle – Those guests tend to visit more often but spend less $$$ than non-AP-holders.

    The ticket price increases are nothing but a money-grab by Disney. And as has been stated repeatedly, they won’t stop until attendance levels off and/or drops, that’s just Business 101.

    We’re a family of 6, all currently AP-holders at WDW. We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to take many trips over the past 10-12 years, for a variety of reasons, and we’ve had AP’s for roughly 6-7 of those years. But the reality for us is, prices in general at WDW are quickly approaching a level where we’re going to have to start looking at reducing the number of days we visit each year, reducing the amount we spend at the parks, or simply start having non-park days when we visit. Even being AP-holders, food prices have gotten outrageous. We took a long weekend about 2 weeks ago, and I noticed several price increases, particularly on my favorite treat – Mickey Ice Cream Bars. The increase was “only” a quarter, to $3.75 from $3.50 per bar, but that also represents the 3rd increase in prices in the past 3-4 years, when bars were $3 a piece. That’s a 33% increase over 3-4 years. Meals have gone up in price a similar amount. Other snacks, drinks, etc., have also increased at a similar rate. When you take a step back, you realize how much these “little price increases” add up very, very quickly. An annual Disney vacation is starting to become out-of-reach for a lot of people. And while it’s pretty well known that WDW is really catering to the first-timers, those of us repeat customers generate a decent chunk of revenue as well.

    The biggest weapons guests have are their wallet, and word-of-mouth. Disney only responds to the first one, but the second one can have a major impact on the first one. Utilizing both of them is the only hope for those who want to curb the price increases, whatever their reason(s) may be.

    • tooncity

      Hey Disney Religious Freaks Read this.

  • HT77

    Today I sent a letter to Suzi Brown at Disney. It’s my open letter here for you. Dissect (as folks on message boards are wont to do), but know that even us shareholders think that the prices are getting out of hand.

    ****
    Dear Suzi,

    I hope this email finds you well.

    I have been a Disney fan for a number of years. I remember my first day walking through the gates at Disneyland Park, and how struck with wonder and awe I was at the magic being created around me. The escape from the real world – something that was all on its own, unparalleled by any experience that the theme park world really had to experience. Yes, there were other theme parks with larger attractions, but it always felt as though it was extraneous noise – never the show that Walt Disney, the founder of the park had envisioned when he put together his theme park for families. It was missing the magic, the story, the vision. Most often, those theme parks were overpriced for a level of quality that was slightly better than the traveling carnivals that would come to town.

    As I grew up, my love of Disney continued to flourish. So much so that a friend bought me a share of stock in Disney as a birthday gift. It was one of those stocks that was purely decoration, but something that made me feel something for this park that had so many memories attached. I was an owner of something I believed in, something that stood for something, a company who while recognizing they were a business, also recognized that they were doing a huge service for those out there who still believed.

    Over the years, I’ve watched the development of the company continue to evolve, to change, to do its best to adapt, and with that comes the annual price increase.

    Today, one such price increase was announced yet again. And it’s this price increase that is causing me to write.

    Walt envisioned the park as a place where families could come to have an experience, to create memories, to deepen those relationships within their own relationships. It’s a prevalent theme in almost every Disney movie – family, the need for belonging, the desire to know that one is loved. The case could even be argued that the movies that carry the Disney name which do not feature those themes don’t do as well. It’s something that resonates deeply with the core fan base, new and old alike. We all want to find our place, to know we’re worthy, to be right where we belong.

    The price increases have been something that most likely has been a result of union wages as well as the normal everyday operating costs needed to run a behemoth such as Disney. Certainly, no one would begrudge Disney from staying profitable.

    However, what’s happening is that Disney is slowly pricing itself out from the family business and into the elite business.

    Case in point – the recent Club 33 expansion. What was always a “secret” society for well-to-dos as well as VIPs is slowly encroaching onto the area used for the every man. It’s becoming something that is representative of the company and the culture at Disney as a whole.

    The price hikes reflect this as well. A family of four of two adults, one teen, and one young child currently comes to $378 for one-day’s admission.

    As a family of six, growing up, our family would have had to pay $564 for a one-day adventure to Disneyland’s park.

    By no means were we rich, but we never considered ourselves poor. We had our needs met, we had food on our table, we had clothes on our backs. We were the epitome of the middle class, doing our best every day, buying some nice things, and moving forward.

    But if you consider all of the other expenses factored into life in general, a $564 price tag for a one day experience is astronomical. That doesn’t factor in the cost of travel, the cost of hotels, the cost of food, the cost of any souvenirs, the cost of anything else.

    Disney is pricing itself out of accessibility to the normal family. Instead, it’s becoming a playground for the super rich – further separating itself from the people who make up the bulk of their consumers.

    The rich, the privileged, the ones with more means often take for granted the themes and lessons taught by Disney because they’re able to escape whenever and wherever they want. The normal, everyday families are not. Those escapes to a place full of wonder, of magic, of enchantment, of thrills gives you a chance to feel as though you’re part of something special – and it equalizes you.

    No matter if your family is poor, middle class, rich – we’re all on equal footing and can experience the park without having to worry about whether or not we can afford to go on rides, or have a character interaction.

    But now, it costs so much to be able to do anything at the parks, families I know have commented to me on more than one occasion that they are looking elsewhere to take their hard-earned dollars to spend. They simply don’t see Disney as a value anymore. And I hate to say it, as someone who believes in the Disney dream, that I’m starting to find myself in that camp. It’s no longer about the core mission, the core values that Disneyland was built upon. Instead, it’s about pricing itself out so the average family of three or four can’t experience the wonder and magic that awaits them.

    As Walt Disney said, “To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”

    I do not believe that Disneyland is my land anymore. A fairy-tale land that has been taken over by the plutocrats. And for the first time as a Disney stockholder, I am ashamed of this company. The belief that they will always do the right thing is quickly waning.

    Sincerely,

    Harry Turpin
    Disney fan (for now) and stockholder

    • Carrie317

      Wow Harry that was quite a speech. It was extremely well written and thought out. My husband and I used to live in Vegas and were annual passholders at Disneyland about 10 years ago. We moved to Florida and now possess APs for WDW. We cannot believe how much the prices have gone up out there. It is almost the same as here if not more. The odd thing is our pass includes 4 parks and 2 waterparks, no blackout dates and parking. I would not be able to justify having a pass out there anymore. The crowd levels have gone up, the number of rides in refurb at any one time have gone up, the food prices have gone up – all with no regard to any kind of current rational inflation numbers. I believe our last pass which was a premium one was like $299. In ten years, it has doubled? Seriously??? That is insane. Everyone has their right to spend their money on whatever they choose, it is just sad that a company takes people’s Disney nostalgia for granted and is constantly robbing their pockets.

      • HT77

        Thanks Carrie. I appreciate the kind words! I feel your pain.

    • angle

      Nicely written, and I certainly think you articulate how many people feel about the current situation. It brings up a question that I’ve been trying to work out for some time now.

      It seems to me that lots of companies are intentionally skewing their products & services to appeal to a higher and higher income bracket. While we can all bemoan this trend, it at least makes logical sense that a for-profit company would target the audience that has the most disposable income to spend.

      So how is it that places like Disneyland are experiencing record attendance numbers? If the vast majority of people attending the park were truly in the upper income brackets (by definition, a smaller, “elite” group of people) the attendance numbers should be decreasing, not increasing.

      As others have pointed out, there’s no reason Disney would not raise admission prices as long as capacity crowds are willing to pay it, and it’s arguably necessary to do so to keep the attendance numbers within their functional limits.

      There’s a discrepancy between what you’d think would be true (declining numbers as only the wealthier people can afford to go to Disneyland) and what’s actually happening (record attendance numbers). So what’s going on here? Anybody have any theories as to how this is possible?

      • tooncity

        Disneyland capacity has been decreasing because if the closures of attractions. Not because more people are visiting the park. As a stockholder of this company for more than 30 years, I know. This is bogus information that is being put out by various propaganda channels. Stop defending people who are charging more for less and less. That’s just ignorant.

    • Westsider

      Did you really send that letter to Suzi? You do realize she’s just a spokeswoman, right? She has no decision making power, and she doesn’t even work inside the parks in a way that could have any impact on day-to-day operations.

      She works in a cubicle in TDA. Her job is to receive talking points from the executive steering committee, and then she wordsmiths them into appropriate sound bites to be delivered to the media via email and PDF files. She doesn’t even meet most media in person, it’s just emailed responses to their queries on a particular story.

      She belts out a few press releases each day, and if she’s feeling plucky she’ll make a Starbucks run to Downtown Disney. No one ever asks for her opinion on strategy or operational direction for anything. I’m sure she’s a nice person, but she has about as much decision-making power as TDA’s elevator repairman and the mailroom clerk.

      • Disneymike

        Gee Westsider, how about instead of demeaning Harry’s sincerity in submitting a
        what appears to be a heartfelt letter to Disney’s spokesmouth, you point him in the right direction? Maybe a little nice CM instead of the usual grumpy CM?

      • Westsider

        From the Disneyland.com website, letters may be addressed to:

        Disneyland
        P.O. Box 3232
        Anaheim, CA 92803-3232

        You could address it to whichever executive you wish, but do realize it will all end up in the same TDA cubicle run by the Guest Communications team of hourly CM’s sorting letters and sending form replies.

        Is that nice enough? Or do you want me to lie and say that someone in TDA really cares about your concern over the price increase they just approved to help deal with record crowds and consumer demand for the excellent product they sell?

    • DisneyLover66

      Harry, You wrote a clearly passionate and intelligent letter. Someone will definitely notice it. I love Disneyland, and it’s great to connect with people who share that same passion.

  • holierthanthoutx

    To everyone who is complaining about the price increases:

    Do you serious want to go to a Disneyland that is packed to capacity every day?

    Do you want to have to wait hours to get in, because the front gates have been closed due to capacity crowds?

    Do you want to have 120+ minute waits for every attraction in the parks?

    Do you want the FastPasses to run out by 10:00 a.m. for every attraction in the parks?

    This is what you get if prices are low. This is what you get if 5 million people in Southern California have annual passes. This is what $150 annual passes would look like today.

    Personally, I’m happy to pay a bit more to be able to go to a less-crowded Disneyland. I’m happy there might once again be a concept of an “off season.” The passholder situation has just gotten out of control, and it’s a very good thing that Disney is doing something about it.

    • tooncity

      Your facts are wrong.

      Disney has been closing attractions at a 4 to1 pace; to building them. That has cut capacity, leaving more people on the paths instead of waiting in a line. In addition, The park is crowded because of FP. Now they’re going to add MBplus so you won’t be standing in line for an attraction but a line for a overpriced ticket from Disney World. Pressler, Eisner and the latest stooge Iger have just ruined this place.

      Stop talking you look stupid!

      • jcruise86

        Now it’s time to say good-bye
        to Too-oo-oon-city.
        M-I-C. . .

        Seriously, your tone undermines your points.

      • tooncity

        Tough to argue with facts. Add something useful.

      • Marko50

        Here’s something useful – probably to anyone except you, tooncity. When people talk about Disneyland’s capacity, they’re talking about how many people are in the park – how many clicked the entrance turnstiles. THAT is fact. It has nothing whatsoever to do with what they can, can’t, will, won’t or are capable of going on inside the park, at least in this discussion’s context. THAT is fact, even if there is nothing to go on inside.

        Get a clue.

  • daveyjones

    if park admission had kept in line with inflation from 1982 (when ticket books were eliminated), today it would cost $29 to get in.

  • Mousecat

    Once upon a time, Disneyland had so many attractions they were able to accommodate more than 85,000 guests in one day. That would be almost twice the number that would fit in there today. It is not that more people are going. It is because there is a lack of capacity for the existing crowds. Build something for people to do and they would not be in the walkways.

  • indiginerd

    Thank you so much for these updates. Really outstanding work and much appreciated.

    I’m scared of what the parking situation will be this Friday, or I’d probably bring my family to the resort. I know my daughter would love the Frozen sing-along in the Muppet Theater. They should do that type of thing more often. Daytime regular Muppet 3D show, night time – sing-along screenings. The attraction capacity is so under utilized right now and Frozen mania is so high – add in special appearances with Olaf and Sven and that place would be packed every night for multiple screenings.

    If I was 15 years younger I would definitely be braving the all-night event. I hope it’s a fun filled (and logistically smooth) night as can be for all who attend. And yes, hats off to the CMs for taking on the insane workload this weekend.

  • jcruise86

    Best comments section ever! (Kidding–partly.) Then again I like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “War of the Roses.” And when when a couple at a restaurant table next to me is having an argument, I feel like I owe a surcharge. An entertaining mix of thoughtful and horribly inappropriate comments–even one Hitler reference–though that was in a comment about comments.

    On one hand–when I was a kid–going to a Disney park meant more to me than my birthday. And taking my daughter to Disneyland accounts for many of the very best days of my life. On the other hand, if you have a library card (or if you can get one), you SHOULD be set for many hours of high quality entertainment. And if you’re in or going to visit Southern California, check out this thread and one it links to:

    http://micechat.com/forums/disneyland-resort/192703-visit-these-places-d-land-s-california.html

    And thanks again, Micechat god Andy Castro, who usually doesn’t seem to read these posts. Maybe he’s too busy making fantastic updates for us.

    And one final word! Knotts! :)

    • jcruise86

      (^ ^ I posted that ^ ^ before I read the 4:30 post from Tooncity, who, by calling a fellow Micechatter “stupid” decreased the my interest in this thread. I wouldn’t mind if his “stupid” thread were edited, and then if my objection after that (which would make less sense) and this post were all deleted into whatever the toons were dipped into in Roger Rabbit.)

      • jcruise86

        ^ ^ And by “thread” I meant “post.” Oops.

      • tooncity

        How obtuse of you.

        All of my posts are responses to ME being attacked for having a truthful, honest, actuate and factual opinion. Being told to leave and to get off a chat that belongs to nobody is arrogant and inflammatory. Many of the people on this board are the people who are responsible for giving Disney carte blanche to continue to be obscenely tone deaf to it customers. The bleeding heart Disney religious freaks keep giving this company a pass.

        My opinion is just as valid as anybody else’s. I don’t appreciate the many attempts to devalue me as a human being.

        A little revolution now and then is a good thing.

      • Kenny B

        Tooncity

        You say your stating facts – your stating opinions. You’re being short, mean and bullish. Everything that has been directed at you is warranted due to your name calling and ill behavior. Someone makes a general positive remark about DL and you respond with “So you like that Dated and Neutered Tomorrowland”. You have been out of line numerous times in this thread, acting like a bully who can’t take what he dishes out. Your a troll, and not a Disney Shareholder.

        Good day.

      • ayalexander

        tooncity, you are going to speak of people devaluing YOU? You bully everyone! I asked you to leave the site because its better than having you stay here and name call, bully and undermine people. You mock people, you make fun of them and you purposefully start problems. You did all this before people asked you to leave. And you know what? No one has reverted to name calling on you. Yet you name call on others. You are not a victim, you are an instigator.

      • Marko50

        No, I have to disagree, ayalexander. I have definitely called tooncity names. After he has, of course, but I guess two wrongs etc. And I think I may do it again – tooncity, you certainly have a right to your opinion. But you spare no opportunity to hammer it down people’s throats. Guess what? People tend to not like things hammered down their throats. That includes both your opinions as well as raised prices.

        As for those opinions, you are apparently the only one who thinks they are “truthful, honest, actuate and factual “. And you tend to jump all over people who don’t react the way you want them to (read: everyone else).

        Now who looks obtuse? I think it’s the person who won’t listen to others. I HAVE listened to you, both in this thread and others. I don’t agree with you (ever, I believe) and likely haven’t reacted the way you would have liked. But I HAVE listened.

  • Cyette

    Excellent update, Andy, I enjoyed this update thoroughly.

    Kudos to all the commenters here (most of them) as well. Extremely well-thought out, passionate, and personal stories and I could relate with so many of you.

    We have raised seven children and have never been able to afford taking them all at once to Disneyland, but that’s okay. We’ve enjoyed our humble existence and I never felt “due”. So, in my golden years, as it were, it’s just my husband and me, and we still can’t afford to come from out of state all the time. And it’s okay! It’s life. We each have our own paths and challenges. And yep, if we were locals, you bet we’d be saving up our money to get those APs.

    Truly, I am delighted this could be the beginning of smaller crowds. The few times we’ve gone in the past few years have been overshadowed by long lines, crowded intersections (example: Hub to Adventureland; Cars Land, you name it) and the feeling that we never could truly relax and wander around and delight in the ambience that is Disney Magic.

    Costs are rising, like a few have mentioned, for everything. Welcome to 2014 and beyond. It’s going to be the reality for generations, I guess. I continue to see tremendous value in the fireworks, the shows, the truly great attractions (GREAT, museum-worthy, right?) and the Cast Members, who despite their hardships, continue to make total strangers’ days.

    I’m still down with it all. I still believe. Let’s hope your good suggestions fall on hearing ears, and truly, if DLR is no longer working for you, find a new passion. No amount of mudslinging is going to change the course of the executives in charge and the cost of doing business.

    • tooncity

      So you like that Dated and Neutered Tomorrowland? Where Disney has closed every last thing that moved. Did you know, that in the world of collectibles, anything that is 25 years or older is considered VINTAGE. All of Disney’s e-ticket type attractions are vintage, except Indy, which will be vintage very soon.

      fireworks are nice but you can go anywhere to see them for free.

      Crowds are the creation of Disney. They have closed 30% of attractions without replacement s over the last 20 years. They’ve added Fast pass, so you’ll spend less time in an attraction line, so you can spend more time buying overpriced $10 hotdogs.

      Carsland was a give to fans. it was a fix to a bad decision that was costing the company money. The lack of attendance created a better attraction. that’s what I want. Less attendance so Disney will build Disneyland attractions. replace that horrible tomorrowland. To Not spend the money on that awful Magic Bands Plus, which is coming our way.

      Yes, costs are rising as I get a increased Dividend check every years. As a stockholder I love it. As a fan, it’s wrong to take some much and give so little in return. it’s bad business.

      If you just keep spending with asking for more, everybody loses. You’re letting your love blind you.

      • ayalexander

        Stop attacking people. You have no right to humiliate and undermine people. You are being a bully and you are trying to get under people’s skin. Its okay to have an opinion, but it seems whenever someone has an opinion that differs from yours, you bully them for it. Stop calling people ignorant, stop calling them saps, stop calling them stupid, asinine, and fools. You have no right to talk to people that way. This is a fan site for people who LIKE Disney and other parks. Not for haters. And you shouldn’t be talking since you are a Disney stock shareholder, you have no right to tell us how we spend our money and vacation time when you own a share of Disney. Stop bullying people. And stop trolling the site.

  • SpectroMan

    I’m thrilled that the SoCal pass is on furlough, and may be laid off entirely. It’s ruined the parks by filling it with non-spending folks who otherwise would have no entertainment.

    As much as it would suck for those of us used to visiting often, eliminating all passes and reverting the day admission price to, say, about $60, would probably create the best guest experience. Question is: what would it do to Disney’s profits?

  • Jabroniville

    Good Lord! There’s ACTUAL FROZEN MERCHANDISE AT DISNEYLAND?!? Where did you find it?! There is literally NOTHING at Disney World aside from those cheap sugar cookies with an edible logo printed on them!

    Good thing I got my stuff when the movies came out, and before it became a MASSIVE craze.

  • danielz6

    I haven’t had an AP since Carsland opened in 2012, and I can’t see myself renewing any time soon. Going to Tokyo really opened my eyes to what a Disney park should be. They were on the right track with DCAs expansion but they should have continued. They saw the massive success, but still shelved all the plans for whatever reason. Having half of disneyland under tarps and construction walls falls terribly short of that standard, all the while raising prices is border line insulting imo, Especially when you consider that it only costs 64 bucks to get into the best theme park in the world. You can really see how they are taking advantage of us. And when I can enjoy universal and sea world for only 84 bucks the entire year It’s an easy choice for me. There are so many entertainment options, I’ll pay the Disney premium price when they decide to give me a premium product again.

  • marytown1

    What no one is mentioning here is the WAY in which the SoCal Pass suspension was done. No notice. The few CM friends I have did not know it was going to happen either.

    This leads me to my beef: We’ve been AP holders for 6 years. I save bits throughout the year and purchase the SoCal Pass for the entire amount, because, quite frankly, who needs yet another bill or transaction to keep track of, plus the feeling that you are done, and paid off. This is not easy for us, but my son really loves going. Anyway, this year, the hubby has been working a lot (a good thing) and not able to go to the park very often, and somehow missed his renewal notice. Also, note there is now NO expiration date on the back of the AP, so when this press release went out Sunday, we thought, ok, ‘let’s renew now’, not realizing that we were out of the 3-month renewal window by EIGHT days! Guest Services CMs and supervisor wouldn’t budge and let him renew on the phone.

    So, now, we really can’t go as a family. Our son has special needs, so we go for what, 4-5 hours at a time (with the DAS making it tougher as well), and paying $150/day for hubby does not compute, nor $519/year as a lump sum, for someone who does not go as often as our son and I do is a no-go. Yeah, yeah, the numbers are psychological, yes, and as some of you have said, it breaks down to small amounts per visit, but you also have to add in food costs in the parks.

    I believe that Disney is making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for families to be able to go. I think this is a foreseeable mistake. Kids are the ones who grow up loving the park, coming backs as young adults, and again as parents. There is a generational through-line being cut by charging unaffordable rates for families with kids. It may be a “value”, but not doable for most even as an expenditure for a great once-in-a-while trip. It’s almost twice as much as Universal for a day entry (more than three times as much for the annual), and I believe it will hurt them in the long run.

    I have to agree with some other posters that the monthly payment option had a lot to do with the flood of passes being purchased. Universal doesn’t have a payment plan, and things seem to be relatively under control except in tourist summer. When we had a pass for Uni, we went all the time. This is my opinion, but it does seem to correlate.

  • Dr. Shrinker

    For everyone complaining that it’s “greedy” or “not fair” for Disney to continue to raise prices without notable improvements to the park, this picture says it all:

    As long as people keep paying, they’ll keep raising prices. We stopped renewing APs a couple years ago; we planned on using 2 or 3-day tickets if we felt the need to visit, but frankly, when you stop going regularly, it stops seeming so important to go. Plus, the last couple visits were so unpleasantly crowded that they really turned off our whole family.