The True Cost of Disneyland Resort VIP Tours [Alt-Disney]

Photo by Gabriel San Román

Lines at Disneyland? Leave that to the mouse-eared plebs! Skip past them with walk-up access to popular attractions even on the most crowded days. That’s the privileged experience offered by Disneyland Resort VIP tours, which start at $2,975 for a minimum of seven hours with up to 10 friends. And according to one former cast member-turned-author, it’s a peek into how the world of wealth changed the American Dream. 

Before brokering huge financial mergers and starting a Silicon Valley private-equity firm, Christopher Varelas worked at Disneyland’s Café Orleans in the 1980s. He returned for a family fun day and recounted the VIP treatment in his new book, How Money Became Dangerous: The Inside Story of Our Turbulent Relationship With Modern Finance. 

In an excerpt published in Business Insider, Varelas admits to feeling a “pang” of guilt when entering Pirates of the Caribbean through its exit while others suffered in a humid queue. A concierge guided his group as they enjoyed all the rides within six hours. Varelas’ family was even treated to front-row parade seats at the park—without having to claim a curb for more than an hour beforehand. 

“The Disney VIP hostess is just one manifestation of a growing societal trend,” writes Varelas. “As increasing numbers of people become wealthy, they look to spend that wealth, accumulating all the material things one could want. But what to do with their excess wealth? More and more often, they spend it on better access—the other line.”

For him, that desire for exclusivity and access comes in many forms—including the recent college-admissions scandal. It’s a yearning, Varelas says, that has usurped old-timey values of merit. 

Giving a simpler view, PopSugar published a story last year on whether VIP tours were worth it. Breaking down the cost by guest came out to quite a bit more than the $100 someone would pay for a single-park ticket on a busy day. With prices as they are now, the VIP tour averages out to $297.50 per person in a 10-member group. 

But at what cost to the American Dream? 

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