It might seem an easy offer to resist spending your entertainment dollars on: California Adventure in Anaheim will reopen next month, charging $75 for visitors to be able to do not much more than walk around and buy food. The rides and shows will still be closed. Mary McNamara was skeptical, she writes in the Los Angeles Times, until a trip to the Downtown Disney area, which has reopened, with her daughers. Disney's wisdom was apparent. "Desperate for even the faintest tang of the Disney experience, thousands of us apparently are quite willing to settle for the elements of the Disney experience we normally complain about the most: waiting in line, overpriced food and the siren call of way too much Disney merch," McNamara wrote.
The reason is the pandemic. "After a year of hunkering down, there was indeed much joy to be had in the sight of tiny children in princess and space voyager costumes," she wrote, "in couples and groups sporting sometimes-but-not-always-matching mouse ears and in people looking excited about something other than getting a vaccination." Although much of what remains are the most buck-chasing aspects, McNamara also saw the benefits of a downsized attraction. This is more what Walt Disney had in mind, not just crowds flowing from ride to ride. What's left is his Americana image: people strolling down Main Street, ducking into shops, dancing at the Plaza Gardens. It works especially well now, for people "sick of our literal homes and longing for the more general definition," McNamara says. (You can read the full piece here.)