Heated Debate Ensues Over Present State of Disneyland

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Mickey Mouse at Toontown in Disneyland Resort

Credit: Disney

Disneyland has been home to many iconic attractions and locations since it first opened in 1955. After nearly 70 years of being in operation, guests have taken to social media to discuss the current state of this iconic Disney Resort. Some guests lean one way while others lean the other way. Which side do you stand on?

Disney Characters posing in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle
Credit: Disney

Disneyland Resort – Updates You Might Have Missed

Before getting into this heated discussion, let’s see what’s happened inside Disneyland over the last several months. It would seem that the crowds have disappeared throughout the resort, as crowd levels appear slightly slimmer than usual for this time of year. With children back in school and most of the country done with summer vacations, it would make sense that the parks feel empty despite attendance still holding steady. With Oogie Boogie Bash returning this weekend, it would make sense for a calm-before-the-storm moment.

Speaking of Oogie Boogie Bash, the event sold out not too long ago, leading to many angry and disgruntled fans hoping to catch the event sometime between now and the end of October. Still, the event will debut this Friday in just a few short days. Despite all the complaining, arguing, technical glitches, and website going down, Disneyland pushing back the ticket sales dates, queue lines not working correctly, and the entire ticket-selling event being a disaster,  Oogie Boogie Bash sold out quickly.

The newly opened San Fransokyo Bridge now open at Disney's California Adventure Park
Credit: The Entertainment Connection

A brand-new massive land has opened at Disney’s California Adventure Park. San Fransokyo, the fictional city from the Walt Disney animated movie Big Hero 6 (2014), is now open to the general public. The San Fransokyo Square is a newly introduced area at Disneyland California Adventure Park that offers an exciting fusion of the distinctive cultures of San Francisco and Tokyo.

Guests stepping into this unique zone are transported to a creative blend of these two iconic cities, resulting in a multicultural district that boasts vibrant sights, delectable cuisine, and engaging shopping experiences.

The space’s highlight is the captivating San Fransokyo Gate Bridge, a unity symbol linking the Square with the Paradise Gardens Park obelisk. This innovative addition invites visitors to indulge in a fully immersive and culturally rich atmosphere, where the beauty of both cities converges to create an unparalleled experience.

Aside from all these beautiful additions, guests ask one big question: Has Disneyland declined or improved since 2000?

The Disneyland Railroad entrance on a clear-sky sunny day
Credit: Disneyland

The Heated Debate: Has DLR Improved or Declined Over the Last Two Decades?

A Reddit thread on the r/Disneyland subreddit page posed the following question:

Is it controversial to say Disneyland is much better now than it was in the recent past?
by u/Happy_Lawfulness7758 in Disneyland

In the section where the individual explained their question, Reddit user u.Happy_Lawfulness7758 said the following:

Or is it actually considered the consensus, or at least a fair point? I read so much negativity about DL these days that I am not sure and I guess I need a sanity check.

My context is that I first went to DL in the mid 90s when I was a teen. My family moved from the East Coast so DW was what I was used to. To be frank, I was utterly unimpressed. DL just felt like a poorer Magic Kingdom, with no Epcot and MGM Studios (at that time) to boot.

I also remember it being just as crowded as now when we went (less rides and no 2nd gate to disperse crowds), and I dare say it actually looked more rundown and slightly dirtier than these days. We are talking about a park that was already 40 years old even in the mid 90s, so at that point how the park looks is purely a result of maintenance and care. The food kinda sucked too.

I guess it gave me the feel of an amusement park, rather than a resort like DW.

I’ve gone fairly consistently every year since then, and I think the parks are the best I personally ever remember them being. DTD and DCA truly make it a resort imo. GCH fits the theming and it’s as close as you can get without a hotel literally in the park. I love GE, and the recent renovation of Toontown is really cool. DCA has also had some great updates/improvements since opening. And of course the food is just incomparable to how it was before. So much better with many more options. And I love the year round events like Lunar New Year, Halloween Time, etc. And the food festivals.

Having said that, I do recall the 90s being a particularly bad time of cost cutting for the parks, and the 2000s was rocky for DCA. So maybe that clouds my view? Was it better than now back in like 60s or 70s?

A lot to read, we understand. The question is whether or not the iconic Disney Resort has declined or improved since the year 2000 but also since the 90s, 80s, and even 70s.

Turnstiles at the entrance of Disneyland Park
Credit: Norm Lanier / Flickr

Many Disneyland fans quickly jumped into this heated and possibly controversial debate. Some answers were logical and made sense.

I agree with you. I had a pass from 2010-2017 and the reason I gave mine up in 2017 was due to the insane crowds. Our daughter was only 2 at the time, but I remember saying enough was enough after being stuck around the hub when fireworks and Fantasmic! ended. It was a nightmare. I remember it took me 10 minutes to go from the pretzel cart outside of Big Thunder to the entrance queue of Big Thunder. That is normally like a 10 second walk. The idea of going to Disneyland surpassed the actual experience of being there to me.

– -FROSTY-one

It would appear that the crowd levels have declined over the years, as before, the parks were so crowded that guests could not enjoy the theme park with their loved ones fully. Other guests seem to agree that lower crowd levels have positively impacted the Disney Resort negatively.

No I’m with you on this. Going with my family in 2016 was horrendous. One night in early June we were there was grad night and you quite literally couldn’t move through New Orleans square. I know that place always gets crowded but this night was particularly awful, not to mention there were many groups of rowdy teens who decided they needed to sprint through everyone while also holding hands. 2022 was also notoriously terrible but I feel like that was still the “makeup vacations” as well. I was lucky to go again in May (extended relatives had an extra bed and I got to go if I paid for my ticket) and it seemed much more manageable. Still long waits for the E-ticket attractions but NOTHING like those years.

– kaylie_strongs

Guests wearing ponchos under the rain at New Orleans Square in Disneyland Park
Credit: Ed Aguila / Inside the Magic

But of course, there’s always the other side of things.

DL is good now, but personally I think that, in hindsight, 2017-2020 was a peak era from a consumer and passholder perspective . No reservations required. Free fastpasses if you were willing to walk around to get them. Maxpass was available with reasonable prices (including annual subscriptions for only $75 per year when it launched). Cars land was open and DCA was finally a legitimately good stand-alone theme park. Crowds sucked at times, but with Fastpass/Maxpass and visiting in non-peak times it was manageable.

– Doctor_Juris

What are your thoughts? Has Disneyland declined in terms of Passholder and consumer perspective? Are the crowds to blame for below-average guest experiences?

Please give us your two cents in the comment section below. 

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