12/30/2006

Day of the Rat

What tragic human characteristic is it that compells some people to brave danger, to jump onto the grenade to protect the battalion, to take on armies of alien invaders armed only with a toothpick and a witty rejoinder?

I made the dubious decision of taking the family to Disneyland last week, to spend some quality time with my wife and kids and five million of our closest friends. Like many soldiers, I was fortunate enough to survive the onslaught, but I will bear the emotional scars for life.

The horror began with the traffic dance just getting to our parking place, followed by the many lines we stood in until we finally got into the park. After 50 years, I am sure that the minions of the Rat could figure out how to optimize this and make things flow more smoothly, so I can only suppose that this preliminary torture is done on purpose to either heighten the anticipation or train us for what's to come. After all, soldiers do not simply go running into battle wielding a gun for the first time; there has to be some kind of Boot Camp to prepare them. Numbing us to the pain of waiting in long lines and strengthening our bladders proved essential in the day to come.

The next point of pain came with the admission prices. I am someone who still balks at the prices of a movie and looks back nostalgically to the costs years ago when I worked as an usher in a movie theater (and thus got in for free). So the idea of paying $63 for any activity that lasts only for the day is mental and financial torture. Add on the ticket costs of the rest of the family (all of whom selfishly insisted on getting into the park as well) and the pain was excruciating.

Of course, that one single ticket price gets you into rides throughout the day. Being a math guy, I calculated how far that ticket price went in terms of rides and minutes. I figure that $63 is distributed evenly among all of the rides I waited to get on yesterday, bringing the per-ride and per-minute cost way down to, let's see ... $63. For each of us.

My wife pointed out that it's not the rides per-se that you are paying for at the park; it's the experience. The experience of spending all day in lines with huge crowds, apparently.

As ever, I am an optimist and I figure it's not a total loss. When the kids ask to go again sometime, or ask for anything else at all, I'll remind them that we went to Disneyland that Christmas in 2006 and that memory will have to do. I plan to get mileage out of this for decades.
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