With the demise of the Soviet Union and the transition to capitalism
in most of the former communist countries, it is becoming increasingly
difficult to point to real-world examples of the differences between
capitalism and socialism – until you go to Disneyland.
In market economies goods are rationed by price. If prices are
flexible, queues will not appear. Now consider Disneyland. In Disneyland
scarce goods--rides on the Disneyland attractions--are rationed
by a first-come, first-served basis. As a result, Disneyland patrons
frequently face very long lines for the rides. And whereas in the
Soviet Union queues were regarded as a symbol of failure, queues
at Disneyland appear to reflect the relative attractiveness of the
There is some evidence that gray markets are developing; introducing
market prices in place of time spent waiting in line. Disney is
selling hotel packages and special entrance tickets that allow visitors
to enter Disneyland an hour or two before the official morning start.
Guided tours at an additional cost provide reserved seating at other
attractions. Some corporations that sponsor exhibits are getting
special access to rides and exhibits.
Do gray markets and special access signal the demise of Disney
socialism? Not yet. Disneyland is still doing well and customers
are not yet writing their Congressmen.