In case you haven’t heard, Disneyland Annual Passes are about to be a thing of the past. People are sad about it. Just let them be sad!
Disneyland Annual Passes have been granting people access to the park on a year-round basis for many decades. I had one from the age of ten to about fifteen, but let it expire as I focused on High School and moved away for college. But for those five years, the parks were a central part of my life. It’s where my best friends were and where many of my best memories were made. It’s where my weekends and summers were spent and where we’d go after particularly stressful days at school and work. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.
While it’s been a couple of decades since I’ve had a pass, I’m still in touch with a lot of people I met at the time and hold those memories in my heart fondly. So when news broke and I checked out the trend on Twitter, I was pretty disheartened to see people dunking all over this community like they’d committed some horrific crime simply for loving a theme park a whole heck of a lot. Much of the criticism leveled at this group can be leveled at pretty much any group to varying degrees, but for some reason, Disney people have become the focus of their ire. It’s quite ridiculous.
One Twitter user sarcastically noted that ‘a lot of people just lost a vital part of their personality.’ What exactly is the problem with people having media that they love being a part of their personality, exactly? What’s the problem with being emotionally invested? I look at the social media footprints of some of the people hurling this criticism at them and I see that they, too, have things that make up a core part of their personality.
If these things – whether it’s sports, comics, books, politics, whatever – were suddenly taken away from them, they’d be pretty bummed about it. The extent of this sadness gets expressed would vary from person to person, with some maybe shrugging it off and some feeling completely devastated and aimless. While these critics would like to hope they are in the former group, I suspect some of them are throwing bricks at glass houses.
If you happen to be one of the people that can just shrug off something you love being taken away, I’ve got to ask, why does it bother you so much that other people get more emotionally invested in stuff than you? If people want to hyperfixate on something and it brings them joy without becoming detrimental to their life, why insist that they stop it? If they are spending money on an annual pass while skipping rent or starving their kids, yeah, okay, perhaps that deserves an intervention. But for the most part, people who hyperfixate are merely chasing that boost of joy those things give them and are capable of managing the things they need to manage. At that point, it’s really just mean spirited to crap all over someone else’s interest, no matter how intense that interest may be.
In a period of time where we are being weighed down by the stress of the pandemic and the insurrection, it’s even more important to let people find that joyful thing. They’ve already been without it for 10 months, so why mock them for having to let it go even more definitively now? If this had happened back in the year 2000 when I was in my Disneyland Annual Pass extreme, I would be clawing at the walls waiting for the park to open again. I would be heartbroken to have it cancelled outright like this. Further mocking would feel like salt on an open wound and I don’t know why so many people think this is an okay thing to do.
Another criticism I see of this situation is that these people are all ‘insufferable’ and therefore deserve to have their Disneyland Annual Passes cancelled. As someone who was part of that community for many years and still knows a lot of people in it, I can’t deny that there are a few Karens in the mix, but there are Karens in pretty much every group of people on the planet. I’ve encountered far more toxic communities than this and am baffled that this one seems to have a particularly bad reputation compared to those other ones.
Are there more Karens in this community than others? Possibly. With the rising cost of Disneyland Annual Passes, it’s perhaps pushed more humble fans away due to the expense, but this isn’t a trait that’s at all exclusive to this fandom, nor is it the majority of the people that remain.
But perhaps it’s not the Karens of the group that make these people ‘insufferable’ to people. Perhaps it’s the fact that this hyperfixation is something generally wholesome and G-rated while they’re adults. But, again, so what? If that’s not your thing, fine, don’t fixate on it. But it works for other people. People are not a monolith and our interests are going to vary. Some people may love gruesome horror films while others prefer retro cartoons. If you are so judgmental about what brings other people joy, perhaps you are the ‘insufferable’ one. You don’t sound like a particularly great person to hang around regardless of your interests.
The world is horrible right now. We’re all suffering and we’re all missing things from our lives. Now a group that’s already been separated from, yes, a core part of their personality for ten months is being told that the Disneyland Annual Passes that brought them so much joy before the pandemic are going away for an indefinite period of time.
These people include those who have likely lost loved ones, gotten sick themselves, or even work on the frontline. It also includes friends and family of Disney cast members, who have already been suffering without work for many months already. Disneyland was their escape. and they can’t use it don’t know when they’ll be able to use it again.
Be more kind to your fellow humans, please. We need empathy now more than ever.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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