Disneyland is truly magical. Nibbling away at it for 50 years, Mickey has really perfected the process of managing enormous crowds, and crafting an incredible backdrop to enhance the user experience. Scenic facades obstruct every view of industrial Anaheim so that the eye cannot see past the Magic Kingdom. Even the staff's costumes and the waste baskets' decorations are interesting and contextual for their locations. Furry critters entertain you at the breakfast table, and their nightly parade--watch it as many times as you can from different points along Main Street--is followed by fireworks that will ruin your July 4th.
My family and my sister's weren't the only ones there for a last hurrah of summer, so Line Management was top of mind. The FAST-PASSes (reservations for the rides) worked great in the California Adventure Park, the newer part of Disneyland that has (i) better rides than the original Magic Kingdom park (and a great stage performance of Alladin), (ii) a direct entrance from the Grand Californian Hotel, and (iii) much shorter lines.
But FAST-PASSes don't work well in the Magic Kingdom park--the reservation times would stretch out 6 or 7 hours, and each ticket can have only one outstanding reservation. So even though the kids really wanted to ride Splash Mountain, none of us were up for the 90 minute line. Who has time for this?
Fortunately, our kids were creative, scientific, and motivated. They "scanned the ports," discovering an unmarked Singles Line with a 2 minute wait. They also observed that the passenger logs careening through the mountain have only single seats anyway. So we rode the attraction three times in a span of 25 minutes.
As we left, we saw the same poor souls in line, with little progress to show. My son asked me why they don't do what we did. So as we walked along the line we shared our observations, repeating, "TWO-MINUTE WAIT IN THE SINGLES LINE! TWO-MINUTE WAIT IN THE SINGLES LINE!... "
I guess I didn't expect all of them to move, but I was surprised to see NONE of them budge. They heard our words, they looked, and they just stood there. Having already invested 30, 45, or 60 minutes in their folly, cognitive dissonance clouded their faculties. They didn't even dispatch a family scout to investigate our claim. They just stood their ground, silently and creepily resigned to their fate.
As we approached the beginning of the line, finally one man perked up at our news. Animated, he turned to his group to re-consider their strategy. I couldn't hear the content of the consultation, but a few seconds later he visibly slumped, quietly and literally falling back into line. Oh well.
Skepticism is hard when it demands the concession of long-held notions. The more time and energy invested in a belief, the more challenging it is to shake it. I have seen entrepreneurs bang their heads against the wall 5 years after the market ruled against them. And we have all seen how hard it is to acknowledge even overwhelming evidence that vacates age-old mythologies.
I'm so glad my kids are smarter than that. Thanks to their critical thinking, we all enjoyed a couple extra doses of Disney magic.
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