Over the past year, Walt Disney Imagineering and the Disney theme parks have announced ambitious plans to help make Disney attractions more inclusive and welcoming to all. Disney is dropping racist depictions from Jungle Cruise, ditching gender conventions in its employee dress code and changing spiels to eliminate gendered language.
Even a company that sells nostalgia as much as Disney does must recognize that it’s not 1955 anymore. Disneyland has prospered for more than 65 years because its stewards have worked to maintain the parks to the standards of the day and not those of a discarded past.
At the same time, some of Disney’s business decisions are making it harder for its theme park crowds to reflect the diversity that park leaders are trying to welcome with these design and operational changes. The resort’s attractions and cast might be more welcoming of a representative cross-section of society, but the parks’ ticket prices are making it harder and harder for Americans from all walks of life to visit.
Disneyland tickets broke the $100-a-day barrier years ago. But few visitors were paying that kind of money to get in. Thanks to aggressive use of annual passes with monthly payment plans, many Disneyland fans could get their average visit cost down to less than a movie ticket. That slammed the parks with wall-to-wall crowds on most days, however, leading the resort to end its annual pass program earlier this year when it was facing capacity restrictions to…