Mice, dogs and wizards, oh my!

When you think dog, you’re probably not thinking Snoopy. And when you think of all your favorite movies, you think of Netflix before Universal Studios. But when you hear mouse, there’s one name that never escapes Chapman minds.

The name’s Mouse, Mickey Mouse.

While many Chapman students have never even been to Knott’s Berry Farm or Universal Studios, Disneyland is a part of many students’ everyday life. Sporting his cherished brown and yellow Disneyland letterman jacket, sophomore computer science major Michael Brutsch showcases that familiar yet passionate relationship so many Chapman students seem to have with Disney.

“Disneyland is a whole other world once you step past the gates, a land of imagination and fantasy,” said Brutsch.

Everyday students can be seen wearing Disneyland hats, crewnecks, shirts, and sometimes even the iconic mouse ear headbands. You can even see a few Mickey Mouse clad butts at undie run from time to time. What you don’t see too often around campus are Knott’s Berry Farm shirts or Universal Studios Hollywood gear.

The three theme parks vary in types of attractions and settings they create. Knott’s has more ‘extreme’ roller coasters with rides such as Ghost Rider and Accelerator, which reaches a speed of 82 miles per hour in 2.3 seconds. Disneyland’s rides are a bit more mellow, aside from a few big rides such as Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain, and focuses more on the experience visitors have at the park. Universal Studios also focuses largely on the experience with much fewer rides than both Disneyland and Knott’s, but features quite a few visually focused attractions.

Senior athletic training major, Jamie Ralph, explains that when deciding which theme park to go to you should consider what all three have to offer.

And then go to Disneyland.

“If you’re going to a theme park you should think about what you want to get out of the experience. If you want roller coasters, go to Knott’s. If you want a fantasy land, go to Disney. If you want more of a spectacle, go to Universal.  And if you want all three, go to Disney,” said Ralph.

Disneyland may have all three, but it also has high prices.

Knott’s Berry Farm is twelve miles from Chapman as opposed to Disneyland’s six miles, but a daily ticket to Knott’s is $72.00, whereas a Disneyland day pass on the least expensive days is $95.00 and a whopping $155.00 for a park hopper day pass. The price difference between the two becomes even more substantial when it comes to annual passes with the most expensive pass for Knott’s still being $125.00 less than the cheapest annual pass at Disneyland.

Photo by Phydend at English Wikipedia. Knott’s Berry Farm Entrance in Buena Park, CA.

You would think that price gap would make those extra six miles seem a little less daunting, but Disneyland still holds its position as number one in Chapman hearts. Disneyland employee and undeclared freshman Krystal-Jo Weiss attributes Disney’s success to the theme park’s dedication to making sure visitors are given the complete experience.

“Disney gives guests an immersive experience. It’s not just the rides, it’s going through your favorite movie and being part of the story,”  said Weiss.

If it’s going through your favorite story that brings Disneyland its success then it better watch out. Universal Studios now features an attraction with a story that millions of people around the world want to be immersed in.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened on April 7th and may pose a threat to some of Disneyland’s business. While Disneyland is over twice the size of Universal Studios Hollywood and receives far more visitors, the new Harry Potter themed attraction is one of many new attractions Universal Studios Hollywood has built in the past few years that may be luring visitors away from “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Since 2012 Universal Studios has opened Transformers: the Ride 3D, the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride and Super Silly Fun Land, and Fast and Furious: Supercharged and Springfield, a city block modeled after the setting of the TV show “The Simpsons.”

This swift increase in attractions has triggered a swift increase in attendance at Universal. Disneyland meanwhile remains stagnant in attendance rates when compared to Universal Studios Hollywood  annual attendance rates in Los Angeles Times article, “Harry Potter could make Universal Studios a real rival to Disneyland.”

Photo by Lindsay Rawls. Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Photo by Lindsay Rawls. Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios Hollywood.

“From 2010 through 2014, Universal Studios Hollywood saw annual attendance rise by 1.8 million visitors, or 36%. During the same period, Disneyland’s annual attendance increased by about 800,000 visitors, or 5%,” stated the LA Times.

When it comes to prices, Universal and Disneyland are the same price for a weekday general admission pass. Disneyland’s annual passes are still much more expensive than Universal’s with the least expensive Disneyland annual pass priced at $329.00 compared to Universal’s $119.00. Chapman students just going to an amusement park for the day are usually going to stick with Disneyland in this case. With Disneyland being closer it would actually end up being more expensive for students to drive to Universal for a smaller park.

Not all students feel this way though. Senior screenwriting major, Carlotta Harlan, wouldn’t be so quick to chose Disneyland now that Harry Potter world has arrived at Universal.

“The Harry Potter series is what made me want to be a writer. Having the opportunity to visit the world that inspired me so much as a kid means more to me than anything at Disneyland ever could,” said Harlan.

In the end, each theme park in the area has benefits and drawbacks regarding price and attraction. Just remember, if you want to pee your pants going from zero to eighty miles per hours in a matter of seconds, Knott’s Berry Farm is the place to be. If you want to hug a giggly, six foot tall mouse with gloves, Disneyland it is. And if you want to chased by dinosaurs and mummies alike, Universal is your destination. One thing to know is, if you’re looking for a rad letterman jacket, there’s no place like Disneyland.

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