Disneyland at a stroll (Part VI)

Amusement parks, crowd control and load-balancing.

Cory Doctorow
14 min readAug 15, 2021

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Guests are seen boarding/exiting the original Mad Tea Party in Disneyland’s Fantasyland in this undated photo from around 1960.
Evan Wohrman/CC BY-SA

This is Part VI in this series. In Part I, I opened the with news that Disneyland Paris is getting rid of its Fastpasses in favor of a per-ride, per-person premium to skip the line, and explored the history of Disney themeparks and what they meant to Walt Disney. In Part II, I explored Disneyland’s changing business-model and the pressures that shifted it from selling ticket-books to selling all-you-can-eat passes, and the resulting queuing problems. In Part III, I described how every fix for long lines just made the problem worse, creating complexity that frustrated first-time visitors and turning annual passholders into entitled “passholes.” In Part IV, I look at the legal and economic dimension of different pricing models for managing aggregate demand. Part V looked at the paternalistic misdirection and subtle design cues Disney uses to manage aggregate demand.

The human sensory apparatus is marvellously, terribly adaptive. Any stimulus quickly regresses to the mean. I share my office with our family’s laundry room and I have a little sticky note on my podcasting mic (“LAUNDRY”) to remind me to listen for our washing machine. The washing machine is incredibly loud, but after five minutes I literally can’t hear it.

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