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A Mouse (Pre-Computer) and an Ultimate Example of Technology Screwing Us

Larry Wines: Disney began to fear that some poor, unwashed kid, who was not an offspring of a wealthy family, might be able to ride with Mr. Toad or see the Haunted House with a ticket bought for some other kid.

The Disney theme parks, which have, in recent years, become horrendously overpriced, have employed a variety of schemes to maximize profit regardless of whether that compromises the experience of the visitors that pay for all of it.

disneyland surveillance

Quick background: it's been at least 25 years since Disneyland started routinely violating maximum occupancy limits. It's cheaper to write a daily check to the City of Anaheim fire marshall to pay the fine than it would be to turn visitors away because the park is legally full. So that's what Disneyland has been doing. Every day for at least 25 years, since we first learned about it. Earthquake, or some emergency that requires rapid evacuation? Good luck.

Disney began to fear that some poor, unwashed kid, who was not an offspring of a wealthy family, might be able to ride with Mr. Toad or see the Haunted House with a ticket bought for some other kid.

Then it came out that "multiple park/multiple day" tickets were being policed as "non-transferrable." So, if you buy yourself or your family a ticket to spend a day in Disneyland and a day in its companion, California Adventure -- or multiple days in one or both -- and your flight home leaves before you use all those days? Well, a rational consumer would do what a lot of people were doing: giving or selling the ticket, with its remaining days, to some grateful person who is still there and can use it. So Disneyland began to require i.d.'s, tied to the name printed on the admission ticket. (Even a one-day ticket required a printed name and i.d., being deemed non-transferrable. To get into an f'ing amusement park.)

Well. That worked with adults. But children do not have i.d.'s that can be produced like an adult drivers license. So Disney began to fear that some poor, unwashed kid, who was not an offspring of a wealthy family, might be able to ride with Mr. Toad or see the Haunted House with a ticket bought for some other kid.

Now they are invoking biometrics. Fingerprint scanners, electronically tied to the name on the ticket. For kids as young as three years old.

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Of course, any such system can be connected to any kind of tracking system for future marketing: "Bring your kid back to Disneyland! He loves the Matterhorn! He rode it three times when you were here last (while you and your wife were on Space Mountain). We'll give you THREE no-wait, front-of-the-line passes for the Matterhorn for only 20 bucks extra!"

Of course, such tracking is not limited to in-house capabilities. Such data is routinely sold, all over the world. So prepare to get bombarded with email offers for Disney toys and enticements from other amusement parks. And rental car and flight deals to get to those amusement parks. And motels to stay near them. And restaurants to eat near them. And timeshare condos to stay in, because the fools who bought those things can never use them during their designated week of ownership. And evening babysitting so you and your partner (or date, or whoever -- they'll know) can visit the nightclub you got the e-coupons for. Huh. Full circle. Used to be E tickets were for the best stuff at Disneyland. Now, electronic monitoring at Disneyland will get you bombarded with e-coupons for endless piles of crap you don't want. Based on every move you made. Or make. Because you'll still be in the system, even after you leave. Just wait. It's coming, because it's profitable for the greedy bastards tracking your every move.

Oh, and if they encounter pushback with making you stick your finger in a reader? No problem. They'll just go to retina scans and catch you while you're standing in line. Or they can use vascular pattern readers that hide easily under countertops and read the unique pattern of each person's veins in the backs of your hands.

M-I-C-K-E-Y, O-U-S-O-B.

Welcome to the future of ultra-mega-giant corporate greed, monitored and enforced by technology. How long before this turns-up on a day pass for a city bus near you?

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God, how I hate the 21st century.

Larry Wines