I have a cousin who recently admitted to me she has never taken her children to Walt Disney World. Her girls are 18 and 16. She told me this as if she needed to confess. Then she launched into her many reasons why her kids have not seen “the world.” “Well, Cousin, as you know I hate to fly. And the heat! OMG, it’s really hot in Florida. And the crowds. I don’t know if I can deal with both heat and crowds.” My cousin will look at her girls, now two nearly grown adults, and think if she has deprived them of a childhood rite of a passage. She’ll look at me, knowing how much of a Disney nerd I am, seeking absolution. She truly believes she has done her girls a disservice.
My brother is an interesting sort. He brought his two boys to the world when they were just grade schoolers. He will readily tell me how much he hated the whole experience. How he can’t believe people will throw their money away. How nutty people must be to want to go there multiple times. Then he’ll look at me and say in a low tone, “What’re you gonna do? You have to bring the kids to Disney. So I did.”
Its funny how I know people who are compelled to pour out their regret or their annoyance regarding taking the kids to Disney World. Sometimes I’m the absolver of your sin; “It’s ok you didn’t take them when they were kids. Maybe they’ll go when they’re in college and its spring break.” Sometimes I’m on the receiving end hearing every miserable moment of your Disney World vacation like somehow it was my fault you waited 30 minutes in the heat for Space Mountain.
Has a trip to Disney World become an essential element to a child’s upbringing?
Are children somehow ‘harmed’ if they don’t experience it?
Are parents experiencing a kind depression if they fail to make the trip?
I don’t have the answers to these questions. I’m not entirely sure anyone does. There are many opinions on this issue just from my family and friends. Some will proudly admit they have never been to Disney and have absolutely no plans to go. EVER. It’s like some kind of badge of honor to admit you have never gone. Yet the opposite is also some kind of achievement; you brought your kids to Disney, sweated through long lines, ate bad quick service food and lived to tell the tale.
My husband and I felt that bringing the girls to Disney was something you are supposed to do as parents. His parents took him as a kid. My parents did too. How could we NOT take the kids to Disney? We both viewed the trip as an adventure, as a family journey that the girls will remember for many years. I knew that taking them at age 8 would be magical. They were still young enough to believe the characters actually lived at the Magic Kingdom. Although we endured exasperating heat and we made some poor food choices, overall the experience was wonderful. I still have beautiful memories of the event. Is this because I am a Disney aficionado? If I’m honest, I didn’t take the kids to Disney because they needed to go or asked to go. Truthfully, I needed to go. My family came with me to Disney.
I think people go to Disney for many reasons. They go because they think the kids really want to go. Or they KNOW the kids really want to go. I wonder how many parents are ready to admit that they plan a trip to Disney because the urge to go is coming from something deep inside themselves.