Recently I came across this article by a mom explaining why she and her husband wouldn’t be saving up to take their children to Disney World any time soon. She made the following five points rationalizing that decision:
- “We don’t want our children to feel entitled to a Disney World vacation.”
- “We don’t want our children to view a trip to Disney World as the pinnacle event of their childhood.”
- “We don’t want to succumb to the pressures of a high consumerism culture.”
- “We don’t want to “keep up with the Joneses.”
- “We want our kids to explore the world more than Disney World.”
Initially I had two thoughts: First was (shallow, I know), “Fewer people in the parks, YAY!”. After that, I had a deeper reaction…Why write the article at all? If you, like me, took a few minutes to check out the many reader comments, this lady was highly criticized. People got really ugly! What made her put herself out there attracting such hateful words in the first place? Unlike the article’s haters, I can understand how this mom might want other moms in the same boat to know they’re not alone in their desire to maybe not take their children on a Disney vacation now or ever. If she’s genuinely afraid of inadvertently turning her children into entitled materialistic jerks, she needs to stick to her guns. She knows her family best.
As I’m safely on the other side of child rearing, I have a different perspective than many of the article’s harsh critics. I didn’t feel judged by the author and I’m 100% positive a trip to Disney World was not the pinnacle event of our offspring’s childhoods. They had amazing personal accomplishments that challenged them physically and mentally. Things that required dedication and hard work that made them (and us) proud and developed strong character. Things that had nothing to do with family vacations. Vacations were for de-stressing, reconnecting, and having tons of fun.
Visit Disney Parks (if you want to)!
Now that Megan and Joseph are adults, I can tell you that vacationing at Walt Disney World did not turn them into materialistic victims of a “high consumerism culture”. Their Disney vacations have made them hungry to keep exploring the world, experiencing new adventures, and facing challenges. They also learned the value of saving and budgeting for travel. AND they had fun, their parents had fun, and we have many happy family memories that will last forever.
Through the years, I never felt we were trying to “keep up with the Joneses” – most of our friends and neighbors were not Disney travelers. We were the oddballs (until I found the Disney fan community, you guys are the BEST!). We live very simply, grow our own veggies, drive the same vehicles for 10 years or more, and value hard work.
When the kids were growing up, we did without things like video games, a trampoline, a backyard pool, etc. in favor of saving money for travel. Collectibles like Pokémon cards and Beanie Babies were sadly a firm “no” in our household. Disney travel was our absolute favorite, so we let Disney show us the world via cultural experiences in Walt Disney World and on Disney Cruise Line visiting countries like Spain, France, Italy, Denmark, and Norway. Also, we had enormous amounts of fun.
I am completely excited for the article’s writer who will be spending her savings on a trip to Costa Rica with her family. I admire their commitment to serving the less fortunate and know first hand the value of teaching children about other cultures and languages. One thing that struck me about the article was the point the author makes about how going to Disney World may indicate someone would do so to “conform to societal pressure”.
Is it true? Do you guys take Disney vacations because of guilt? Does the pressure (if it exists) make you think your kids will be maladjusted if you don’t take them to Disney World? Will they have unresolved childhood issues? Feel deprived and unloved? I fell in love with Walt Disney World as a newlywed having never had the chance to visit as a child. I turned out pretty well and never felt slighted by parents who chose to take me to Sea World (among other places) instead. We started taking our children to Disney World simply because we ourselves love it there.
If you think about it, societal pressure on Disney fans is often exceptionally strong. We frequent Disney vacationers take a lot of flack from coworkers, family, and friends that do not understand what the draw is…How could we possibly want to return to Disney World or Disneyland? Raise your hand if you’ve gotten the eye-roll accompanied by, “What? AGAIN?” on more than one occasion.
One last comment (because I can’t help myself) – The article’s author believes, “This culture is one that demands we spend money on this toy and that gadget and this “magical” trip. We don’t want to give into that pressure.” I say, part of healthy childhood play should include plenty of time to pretend, play make-believe, and dream about being a veterinarian, a hero, a princess, a circus performer, a builder, a policeman, a dancer, a teacher, a banker, or even an Imagineer. Indulging in these playtime fantasies in no way supports a materialistic, consumerism culture. If you want to buy or make toys and costumes that support healthy play, don’t over think it. You’ll be fine and so will your kids.
Now it’s your turn! What say you? Do you find Disney vacations detrimental to healthy childhood development? Do you favor certain other types of travel? If you’ve taken your children on a Disney vacation, was it the highlight of their entire childhood? Did it make them feel entitled? Are they spoiled or materialistic because of Disney travel? Less apt to give to their community? I’m biased and I’d really like to hear your side.