Monday, February 05, 2007

My older son has gone to HK Disneyland today, a school trip, it is. He didn't want to go. He said Disneyland is small, crowded, and you have to wait ages for everyting including food. He asked me if there are any illnesses that only last for one day. I said, why'd you ask? He said, can you please tell my teacher I will be sick on that day so I don't have to go to Disneyland. Maybe you can take me to Ocean Park instead? I said, no worries, and no Ocean Park. If you don't want to go, I'll just tell your teacher you don't want to go. Everything will be fine. You can save your one-day illnesses for when you are in paid work, darling.

Only that, on the note the came home about the trip, there wasn't a "no my child is not going" option. Every child is expected to pay $245 to spend a day in Disneyland. He was told that the school has already paid for every child in his year and the school cannot get the money back. The school did not volunteer information as to the exact purpose or contents of the trip, apart from the fact that this is supposed to be related to a writing project they have been doing at school, one where they have to write a chapter book about a "fantasy quest". You don't see the connection? Nah...I don't see it either.

There is nothing fantasy-like about HK Disneyland. When I was there, I fantasized about being somewhere else. Apparently my son agrees with me.

After phone calls and emails and notes, eventually, the harrassed teacher told us that this is part of Disney's education programm, tailored for school children. They are going to hear all about swirling tea cup and the 3-D fantasia show and the Dumbo ride. Some kind of guided tour, I guess. The kids will probably be told how the attractions are designed, and the process by which these designs become actualized. I don't know. I'm just guessing.

$245... you can buy a very decent piece of steak and a quality knob of french butter to fry it in. I can buy a couple of highly educational books for my son also, such as, Poker for Dummies and Murderous Maths. Ach well, life is full of surprises. Maybe he will actually learn something. Maybe he will actually enjoy his trip. Amen.

3 comments:

Brian Donovan said...

Jeebus, what a scam! Let me get this straight - the school paid $245 per head to Disneyland in advance and then asked parents to reimburse them?

Disney gets guaranteed money and visitors (not easy to avoid sending your child, as you found out) and parents foot the bill ... wonderful. I'd be shocked if there wasn't some sort of sweetener for the school, or at least whomever amongst the staff 'sold' the trip to the head/management.

Pierre said...

And get this, Mr Donovan. Kids who have bought year passes (apparently quite a few of them have) were told that they CANNOT use those passes for this trip. Parents complained, quite rightly, and henceforth another note arrived saying kids should bring their passes along to the trip, and the school will have to negotiate with Disney "to see what they can do".

Brian Donovan said...

I just wanted to post a link here for you to the recent story in The Standard about falling visitor numbers and spending at HK Disneyland:

HK Disney falls short on promises

I think that this probably explains their push to drag kids into the park by the school-full.

These outings, I'm sure, feature a stop at the gift shop(s). Many parents will give their kids spending money for the visit - possibly more than they'd spend if they went as a family since they won't want their children to seem 'poor' compared to their classmates. Even better, without parental supervision, they may hope that the kids will spend every dime they have in their pockets on Disney junk.

Despicable. My wife is a primary school teacher and is prepared to block any effort by Disney to use her school to rope in more visitors.

Thanks for giving us the heads up.