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Mickey is out of step with reality

08 August 2010 by By ANA VECIANA-SUAREZ

In these tough economic times, as the recovery gets stuck like a glob of super glue on the tip of one's finger, Mickey has bamboozled us into giving him a raise. And it's not a mousy one, either.

Disney has hiked its ticket prices. Again. The one-day pass to Walt Disney World in Orlando jumped to $82 from $79, a 3.8 percent pop. Selected packages spiked, too, including the seven-day pass -- up 5.6 percent. On the other coast, Disneyland in California jacked up its prices to $76 from $72 for a single-day ticket.

I'm obliged to report, for the sake of fairness, that a parking pass in Orlando remained at $14. Disney offers deals to Florida residents during certain times of the year, too.

Wowee, Mickey, I'm really impressed!

Seriously, you big rodent, you, the time has come to put Fantasyland in the rearview mirror. You and Minnie and Pluto and Donald need to turn off Main Street and onto Real Life Road for a few days. Eighty-two buckaroos is a lot of money in the best of times, but when wages are stagnant and unemployment hovers at double digits, that's highway robbery.

Just to pass through the gates, it now costs a family of four more than $320. Factor in the sky-high price of food and drink, and a weekend with The Mouse can set parents back a week's salary. This most recent hike tops a similar one implemented last year at a time when deflation -- as in lower prices, Mickey, lower -- had become the buzzword. For a park that wants to attract families, for a company that is said to have its floppy ear to the ground, Disney has sure missed the monorail.

A spokesman said Disney continues to be ``a great entertainment value.'' For investors, I imagine. For the rest of us, it's a luxury.

My son and daughter took their families to Disney World in December, and the lines were so long (they couldn't afford the Fastpass) that they rode a total of three rides. Do the math -- $79 divided by three. Ouch!

But, by golly, Jiminy Cricket, I don't mean to pick on theme parks. You can easily drop a couple of Ben Franklins on nosebleed tickets to a Britney Spears, Billy Joel or Elton John concert -- and that's before those ridiculous handling fees.

Sports tickets aren't much of a bargain either. Single tickets for the Miami Dolphins range from $45 to $700, according to the team's website. The Florida Marlins are more affordable, with tickets beginning at $11.

The point is that certain kinds of entertainment are far beyond the reach of most families -- and completely out of step with today's realities.

Then again, corporate hubris may not be such a bad thing. Theme parks, concerts and games aren't groceries or electricity. They're not necessities. We buy -- or don't -- into the experience because we want to. Maybe it's time to keep our hard-earned money.

Just the same, it might qualify as a brilliant business move if just once a boardroom executive recognized that goodwill matters more than greed, that a reduction can sometimes be a gain. Here's a suggestion, Mickey: Roll back the prices. In a small, small world, gratitude can go a long way.


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