If you are the type of park guest who scoffs at $63 adult one-day-one-park general admission, $3 churros, $10 pins and $18 light-up Dream ears, I can only imagine what type of thoughts go through your head when you see the bottoms of many of Disneyland's fountains and waterways covered with a layer of bronze. After many guests feel as though they have already handed over their wallets to get in and be well housed, fed and merchandised, how could anyone be so stupid as to throw away even more money?
Leave it to the power of urban myth, which in this instance stems from European folklore. Back then, water was a source of life and often a scarce commodity. Therefore, the idea that a wish would be granted came from the belief that water contained deities or had been placed there as a gift from the gods. People believe that the guardians or dwellers of the well would grant them their wish if they paid a price. After uttering the wish, one would generally drop coins in the well.
Today however, selfish as we are, I venture to say not many of us throw coins as gifts for the deity in thanks. It has become something of a pastime, and a guiltless one since pennies are nearly worthless. Certainly nobody feels bad about losing a bit of heavy change they've been carrying around all day. Usually the goal is one of two things: trying to aim for something, like a barrel or a cup, or actually making a wish, with varying amount of belief that it will come true. And guests are much more likely to throw coins if they see someone else in the act, or if there are a lot of coins already.
And now here are my Top 10 Coin-Dropping places in Disneyland Park. There are more, but these spring to mind.
10. Pirates of the Caribbean, waterway around the queue. After finding all that treasure with Captain Jack, what are a few pennies?
9. Mali at the Tiki Room Gardens. This brings new meaning to the "gifts from the gods" idea of wishing wells, doesn't it? Be nice to Mali and reward him next time.
8. Ariel meet-and-greet pool. Now without jumping fountains, guests make do with jumping coins. Watch out, King Triton.
7. Innoventions, around the clock sign. Wow, I guess there's a penny for every person who's been in there!
6. It's a Small World, waterway outdoors. Again, a pastime mostly for those in the queue above. My mom swears she doesn't remember any coinage until recently, but I vouch it was always there.
5. Waterways at Toontown. There's something about this place that attracts coin-throwing in droves. And not just Minnie's wishing well, nor just the fountains; it's the lake around Donald's Boat and Gadget's Go-Coaster that gets 'em too.
4. Submarine Lagoon. It's recently been cleared, but it's a long line, and guests lined up around it apparently need something to do to pass the time.
3. Snow White's Scary Adventures Dungeon. Not a water feature, but this area is teeming with coins. The objects below - goblets, scales - are just asking to be aimed at.
2. Big Thunder Pond. I actually like the effect because it looks like gold, which is the whole reason the mine train got built in the first place. The wood ramp with water flowing at the end has been scraped free of coins, but in years past it reminded me of the arcade game with all the tokens.
1. Snow White Wishing Well. Finally a place where coin-dropping is encouraged. And all the money is donated to charity.
Is this practice harmless or a form of vandalism? Are guests merely wishing their (unfulfilled by the Year of a Million) dreams will come true, or are they trashing the beautiful water features of Disneyland? Jiminy Cricket and the fireworks show strongly encourage wishing upon a star instead, so I believe that is Disneyland's official stance. Snow White's wishing well is perhaps a means of satisfying an overwhelming urge to get rid of pocket change so that guests won't do that elsewhere. After all, I'd hate to be the person who has to dig all that coinage out, whether or not the water gets drained.