What used to be a treat reserved for a special few has become sort of a right of passage in today’s parenting circles…
“When are you taking the kids to Disney?!,” moms will ask each other online in mommy groups, while waiting in the hallways to pick up, or any time an extended break period is on the horizon at school. There are people who make careers out of Disney vacation planning and Facebook groups dedicated to insider tips and tricks. Let me say this before I go much further: I’M NOT JUDGING DISNEY ENTHUSIASTS. Y’ALL DO YOU!
I’m just saying that, unless something changes (like my kids become entirely new people) I’m never taking my kids to Disney and here’s why:
1. It Costs HOW MUCH?
For the price of one Disney cruise for four people, I could rent a beach house in Charleston, SC FOR. SIX. WEEKS. Let me say that again. A beach house, literally sitting in the sand, yards away from the ocean for a month and a half, in my favorite place on God’s green Earth. All that for the same rate as a week at sea with grown men and women trying to pay back the loans on their performance degrees by living on a boat dressed up like mice. Yeah, but that’s a cruise. Okay…The parks aren’t much better. A few years ago I had a friend who worked as one of the aforementioned travel planners and she casually quoted me a trip for three kids and two adults at a mid-level resort on the Park, with a dining plan at around $4,000 for six nights and seven days. That’s three weeks in Charleston people. Plus…
2. You Have To Get There
Taking a car trip over three hours with children should really be the litmus test for “could you withstand torture for long periods of time or would you crack and give all your intel away?” From my home office where I am currently sitting, it is nine hours and 29 minutes to the gates of the Magic Kingdom, which with boys who have the bladder control of a bus full of 80 year olds the second their seat belts snap into place, and an SUV that gets 16 MPG highway, would really end up being somewhere around 27,464,528 hours, by my exact calculations. During every trip anywhere at all, somewhere around hour two, there has already been at least one fist fight and my car smells like road kill although I am positive I didn’t hit anything.
“Well you could fly!” Yes. I could. I could also take all my clothes off and run down I-40, but that sounds more sane than taking three kids seven and under on a plane.
3. Y’all Can’t Even Act Right at Dollywood
For as long as I can remember, I had season passes to Dollywood. After his retirement, my papaw worked there for “something to do” so I quite literally grew up there in a lot of ways. Naturally, when Maddox and Walker were around three and four, I wanted to share in the magic of Dollywood with them. Except…taking them to Dollywood is misery. No one wants to go to the same places, ride the same rides, see the same shows. No one wants to eat the same foods. It’s too hot. The water rides are too wet. (Not making that up. That is literally a thing that was said to me this summer.) Everyone is on a hunger strike until we get there and suddenly my kids turn into ravenous starved creatures on the hunt for every food. Rides that were fun the last time are now terrifying to even look at. A few hours in, I kick myself for trying to take them to a theme park for the day.
I cannot imagine this same scenario after $4,000 and 10+ hours of travel time in a park that is a million times larger and a million times more crowded. I like to have some semblance of relaxation on my vacations, even if it comes in tiny five minute bursts of looking at the ocean before I have to jump up and tell the boys they can’t put seaweed in their pants. Shlepping around a theme park for a week, married to our itineraries lest we miss anything we paid for and planned for sounds terrible.
4. They Don’t Remember Anything
Maddox has actually been to Disney with his dad about three times. His dad went to college in Florida and has several friends and family members there, so it has become something they do on their summer vacations together. When Maddox got back this last time, I asked him what he did: “I swam in the pool! In the part that goes to four feet!,” he told me. “That’s great baby, but…like…what did you do at Disney?” “I don’t remember. We rode some ride with a bunch of creepy kids who talked about the world being small.” Cool. His dad booked one of the nicest hotels on the Park where they stayed for three nights, and all Maddox remembers of the trip is swimming and It’s A Small World, and I totally relate to that.
When I was about eight, my mom and her husband at the time, took my two step-sisters and me to Disney World. I remember fighting with the girls in the back seat because I got stuck on the side of the car that always had sun coming in the windows and it wasn’t fair. I remember the last night there it was my turn to sleep in the top bunk, but I fell asleep early and no one could lift me that high, so one of my (awake) step-sisters got to sleep in it instead, and I was so furious I woke up in the middle of the night and tried to drag her out by one leg under the guard rail. (I was very sweet and shy as a child.) We rode Peter Pan. The pool was made of salt water, not regular “pool water.” That is literally all I remember. We were not rich by any means and I’m sure my mom saved like crazy to take us all there and all I remember are those four things. Yikes.
5. It’s a Better Trip When You’re Older
Purely opinion here, but I went back to Disney as a 17 year old and you know what I remember to this day? Every single thing. It’s still magical and mind-blowing as a teenager or a young adult, plus you can do more. I could ride every ride and there was no screaming and fighting over what to see and do. I ate when I felt like it and I saw shows when I wanted, and at night I watched fireworks and thought that it was a really neat place to be. I was about to be a college freshman and thought I was too cool for 99.9% of everything, but something about being there and experiencing it on my own terms was really joyful and fun. In two days, I planned to see and do all I wanted, and when we left I wasn’t burnt out at all.
Being able to take ownership of my time there cut out all the drama I deal with now as a mom herding the boys around while trying to get input from them as to what they want to do. Plus, this time the trip was part of a graduation gift from my family and it felt really special and earned versus just another vacation.