Blog as therapy, Volume Twelve Million
Bunch of quick thoughts

Disneyland, how I love it so (and whoa, this got long and introspective SORRY)

This was our third trip to Disney since having kids. Third. I have shame about this, Internet, and I need to hash it out. 

See, TRULY cultured people do not like Disneyland. And even the people who DO like Disneyland wouldn't prefer it over, say, a national park, or a great American landmark, or a ski trip or a road trip. Not THREE TIMES. 

And I think of my parents, who found jobs in Europe for the prime purpose of their kids getting to see Europe. And how they always ask if we're driving on our trip and then I say we're flying and then they say, "But you see so MUCH when you drive!" and I think "But... that's less time I have in Disneyland."

Many of my growing up memories are traveling memories, but it serves me well to remember that we didn't do our first big trip until I was nine and my youngest sister was five. (Five kids in five years, y'all. I was not quite five when my youngest sister was born. Shall we have a moment of silent respect for my parents?) I know we did smaller trips (they took my brother and me to Disneyland when we were 1 and 2!) but nothing big until I was nine and we road tripped to Dallas to visit my grandparents. I am positive my affinity for cities and utter dread of driving to Spokane was born on that trip, when on hour seventeen zillion of driving through a Southwestern desert I thought for sure we would run out of gas, die of thirst, and become bleached white bones for some archaeologist to find in the future. 

Then the summer I turned 10 we moved to Sicily and every weekend after that I was sitting in the back of a van getting car sick on Italian streets, on our way to yet another ruin, another cathedral, another historical town. When we moved to the Air Force base on the remote Portuguese island in the middle of the Atlantic we got an extra free plane trip per year - the island was THAT small and mental illness-producing for adults - and we went to Spain for Christmas, London in the summer. I had an aunt and uncle in Germany and when we moved to northern Italy they took us skiing in Austria over Christmas break. I went to different countries on sports trips. We flew back to the states every summer to visit family, and we almost always made a point of spending a few days somewhere interesting on the East Coast. All of this to say that traveling was the NORM in my life for a long time and now the best place I can think of to share with my kids is a THEME PARK? 

If I could take my family anywhere I wanted, for sure hands down no contest we would be on an airplane to Italy right this second. We would spend half our time eating and half our time wandering around beautiful cities. But plane tickets are nearly double what they were when I was in college. And there are five of us. And Phillip doesn't get three consecutive months of vacation. It seems... difficult. 

Next up would be New York. Or Chicago. DC. Big cities with lots to see and do. 

Then Hawaii. We loved Hawaii. We went there with kids! It was for a wedding, otherwise we probably would have deemed it too expensive. I never thought I was a laying-on-the-beach-all-day person until I went to Hawaii, but now I have seen the light. And it is beautiful and makes the water sparkle. 

I hate camping. I don't especially like being outdoors, although I appreciate the outdoors as a backdrop to something else going on, like a concert or theater in the park, or something like that. All the mountain sports that my part of the world so enjoys are not really my thing. (Those Austrian ski lessons were totally wasted on me.) I APPRECIATE the Grand Canyon without being excited to go there. So my kids are sort of up against their mother's unfortunate distaste for scenery as the purpose. 

And then there's Disneyland. After the second time Phillip was all, "Let's go to southern California and... DO SOMETHING ELSE." Which... yes. I am a fan of sunshine. I like the beach. A vacation rental in San Diego sounds great. But I felt SAD that he didn't want to go back to Disneyland. And that he thought Sea World or Legoland would be just as cool, because NO, THEY WOULD NOT. This time I floated Disney as something for Emma, because we loved seeing Disney through our other babies' eyes, and Emma is 2 and a half and therefore still free, and hey, maybe we could bring the in-laws along as a sort of MIL retirement celebration?!

Which is how we went again and I secretly got my wish: more Disney. Because I LOVE THAT PLACE. It is not cool. (Unless you are there. When you are THERE it is the HEIGHT of cool to be wearing one of those lanyards with the million pins and the special pass identifying you as a Frequent Disney Visitor. Oh, I was jealous.) But yeah, not really that cool. People want to spend all that money on something more meaningful or cultured or whatever, but I just want to walk down Main Street and hear the music and see the colors and the castle and the perfectly pruned trees and feel happy because it IS the happiest place on Earth, dammit. 

But I realized something else this time. Phillip had a way better time, namely because the big kids were big enough (and willing) to go on the big rides. I refused to let them try the giant roller coaster in DCA, but everything else was pretty much on the thrill ride table. Several times I let them go on ahead while I stayed back for a repeat parade viewing with Emma, or even just walking around pointing out the Mickeys with Emma. I realized that I could go to Disneyland and not ride a single ride, but still feel like I got my money's worth. I love the parades. I love the constant live singing and dancing. I love the crazy water shows. We caught the last half of Fantasmic this time and HOLY COW THAT WAS AMAZING. I love how clean it is and how everyone at the park is trying to make sure you have a good time. I only encountered a few less-than-cheery employees, and that seemed to be a matter of catching them at the end of a long shift than anything else. I love how easy it is to take care of your kids' needs. I love that it's big, but not too big. I love the feel and mood of each "land". I love the fakeyness! I even love the crowds. Honestly. (I am someone who was sort of sad she didn't go to the Seahawks victory parade, not because I wanted to see the players but because I thought it would be so awesome to be in the middle of that ecstatic crowd.) 

Anyway. I know it's as lame to be ashamed of my penchant for Disneyland as it is to HAVE a penchant for Disneyland. Own your uncoolness, etc! If it helps I am now planning (over a year in advance) a trip to Italy - we're planning (hoping) to tag along with my folks when they go back for a high school graduation next June. And Phillip and I are trying harder to get out more with the kids (despite the disaster that was Victoria). There's a way that Disney feels easy and known and a sure thing, in a way that even a trip to Hawaii doesn't. I don't think I feel AFRAID of going new places with the kids necessarily... I know that Phillip is often apprehensive about managing our family and I am apprehensive about his apprehensiveness. I think, actually, I just really like Disneyland. 

I have specific thoughts about this trip. I thought I would write them here (tips and new things and such) but I ended up writing THIS instead (sorry) so if you are going soon and interested, email me. I'd be happy to bore you via email instead. 

 

ETA: I feel compelled to add a quick acknowledgement of the fact that I am blessed beyond measure and not everyone gets to go to Disneyland and for God's sake shut up about not liking your Austrian ski lessons, POOR YOU. I will shut up. Apparently this post is mostly about how it sucks that *I* am not a teacher for American schools on military bases overseas and therefore cannot See The World for cheap, even though 1) I don't want to be a teacher, nor would I be any GOOD at teaching and 2) I don't even think we should HAVE those military bases anymore and 3) THANK YOU, MY PARENTS. Okay, NOW I am shutting up.

Comments

Steph

I am SO pro travel and experience and culture that I can be a bit judge-y about it, which is ironic because I am usually NOT judgemental and keep my opinions out of peoples' choices. Apparently my trigger, though, is whether they are getting 'enough' passport stamps. I AM WORKING THROUGH THIS. And, I have worried that having a lot of kids would mean that I can't take them around the world. I am working through THIS, too!

Despite all that I wrote above, Disney is FUN. Not surprisingly, though, I like Epcot best. ;)

HereWeGoAJen

I looooove Disney. Love it. Disney is magic. We went in January and we will probably go back in April.

I get what you mean though. I lived in England for four years in elementary school and we traveled all over Europe. I feel like my kids should have the same experiences. But I don't know if they will. Matt is so giant and I don't feel like he will fit in Europe.

Also, my family has jokes about going to yet another "castle, cathedral, or Roman ruin."

Lori

Having just returned from my husbands 3rd assignment overseas, I can assure you that you can no longer travel for cheap in Europe. The Euro made that a distant dream long ago, so you can rest easy on that one! I am all for seeing beaches in the US!

Michelle

But you like what you like. Personally even though it costs a gazillion dollars, we have to Hawaii 4 times, 2 of those times we had 2 yr old in tow. And I loved it! I would go every year if we could afford it. And we plan to take the whole family to Maui next year for our 10 yr anniversary.

And I went to Napa 3 times before I got married and had kids. It is so pretty and peaceful and oh yes, the wine! I can't wait until I can go again.

I think getting a family of five to Europe or whatever is hard and costly.

Um, now that I think about it. I've been o Disney 4 times too. So don't feel bad bout it.

k

I also don't care for the out of doors. T calls me an indoor cat.

Angela (@Aferg22)

We went to Disney world in 2012, and on our second night there, my husband and I were talking about what we would do "next time we were here." My son was 5, so he was the perfect age, and it was just magical. Disney really knows how to do customer service, except for one really fancy restaurant in Epcot (What's the deal, Canada!)that was running behind on reservations, and didn't even really act like they were sorry about it. Anyway, we are going back next year in February, and I am already getting excited about planning it.

Don't feel like you shouldn't like going to Disney. People that look down on others for what they enjoy are just too snooty to be bothered with.

Julie

I adore Disney. I have lots of travel spots on my very long list, but Disney will always be on it, no matter how many times I've been there (and not the other places). I haven't even been there with my kids yet! (That's up for 2015, so send me ALL your thoughts & tips.)

You gave your kids a wonderful time that they will remember. And that's what it's all about. You're a great family.

Christina

I love Disneyland and I'm just like you, I don't need rides, I like walking around and shopping and parades and stalking characters. Sadly, the last time we went was over a school break and the place was jam packed and my introverted family was so unhappy with the crowds that now when I say "It's time to go back to Disneyland!" FOUR of them say "NO!!" quite emphatically. This is especially sad for the youngest who very much wants to go back. I'm already plotting a return trip after the older two are out of the house. :)

Leah

Please do a post about tips and tricks. I want to take my son next Jan/Feb. When should I book and how do I find a really good Disney agent?

april

You have readers who spend EVERY WEEKEND (me) at Disney (world, not land). So I think we feel the love too. We can go and just ride the peoplemover and carousel of progress and watch the animatronic presidents and other randomness and be perfectly happy. I love it.

sara

I am so with you here. I'd take my kids on an international trip in a hot minute if we didn't have to spend $1500 a pop for five people to get to Europe..but I would be ecstatically happy to have a week at Disneyland every year. And no, every single person in my life, it is not TOO LONG TO BE THERE. My teenager is feeling like enough, already, about the Disney..maybe I'll leave her behind next time :)

And Leah, check out disboards.com. And be prepared that in January and February, otherwise awesome times to be at Disneyland, many of the major rides are down for refurbishment. If that would matter a lot to you or your son, to miss something like Splash Mountain, you might want to think of a different time.

Sarah in Ottawa

Europe with kids is hard, yo. We went to Rome with Teddy when he was 16 months, and he mainly chased pigeons in piazzas and yelled in churches for the echo. We took Teddy and Veronica to Barcelona when they were 3 and 1.5, and feeding them was a challenge. Travelling in North America with littles is so, so much easier. And way cheaper.

I have always loved Disney. I went to high school during the "2nd golden age" -- the B&tB, Aladdin, Lion King era, and was Disney-mad. My parents were/are not, so I didn't make it to a Disney park until I was in University. But oh! Dave and I both loved it. And since two of my nieces are working at WDW this summer, we're planning a trip there right now. My kids are going to go out of their minds. These parks really bring out the wonder of childhood, so no wonder you love them. You are not alone!

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