When I was a child, I never went to Disneyland. Our vacations (Mom, Dad & Me...all my siblings were grown) consisted of driving across the country to visit relatives or following my Dad around entering Bass Fishing Tournaments. Exciting...I know.
Now I can't say that all my moments were memorable, but it seemed like the minute school got out we were off and traveling. My Dad hated traveling through any city above the population of 10,000 and my Mother was (and still is) the WORST back seat driver imaginable. We would travel hundreds of miles out of the way to avoid a city. This meant that I got to witness wondrous sites like the world's largest ceramic pickle and the entire state of Nebraska at 25 mph on the highway because the deer were so thick.
Now that we are traveling with the kids on a regular basis, every year Bubby and I discuss Disneyland. Every year we turn it down.
Bubby and I went to Disneyland as adults. At the time, we just had Ice-J and Christian. Bubby had a conference and I decided to tag along for fun. Aren't we the worst parents in the world? We went to Disneyland and DIDN'T take the kids.
The first morning we went down to breakfast, I clearly remember Bubby saying, "Why does Minnie Mouse keep coming over to our table? I just want to eat my fucking pancakes."
That night when we dined at some WAY over-priced version of a New Orleans Bayou inside the park, it was so dark you could barely see your food. All you could hear were crickets and see pretend fireflies lighting up in the dark. I ordered a glass of wine and the server said, "We don't serve alcohol at the Happiest Place On Earth." How could it possibly be the Happiest Place On Earth if I couldn't get a buzz after a day full of scary Disney characters, standing in line for hours and experiencing the most hokey underwater submarine ride that someone actually imagined?
The next day, I sat near the entrance just inside the park and watched the adults with their kids. No one looked very happy. Because the area when you first get in or leave the park is lined with Disney merchandise, all I heard were whines and cries from the kids. "MOMMY, I WANT THAAAATTT!" I have never in my life seen so many childhood meltdowns in one location in one day.
Sensory overload? Merchandise overload? Disney Character overload? What was it that left a bad taste in my mouth and why was everyone so freaking unhappy?
When weighing a vacation, I really want to fill my children's heads with information and wonder. I want them to learn about the Earth, other cultures, animals, cities and that Way Down In Mayberry is a very small slice of a town in a quiet state and that life is MUCH bigger than Mayberry. Can they get it at Disneyland? I haven't ruled it out yet, but when I think about educational and fun VS an expensive carnival, it starts to weigh heavy on my mind. Next week we fly to the Ocean with a week full of kite flying, treasure hunting, aquariums and just plain digging in the sand for hours on end. Hopefully in the process, they can see that the world is so much bigger than themselves. I know the Ocean with its overwhelming vastness always put things in to perspective for me.
Will my children have hours of couch time with a therapist as adults because we never took them to Disneyland?
What was your Disneyland experience as a child or what were your children's experience at Disneyland?