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An Honest Look At Disney World, Through The Eyes Of A Regular Guy

By Sierra Black |

Would you do Disney?

The New York Times has a brilliant essay in their magazine this weekend, taking an honest look at a family visit to Disney.

This isn’t your standard glossy mag travel writing fare. He answers real tough questions, like where an inveterate stoner can get high at Disney World, and how to build a tent out of one of their ubiquitous ponchos.

I doubt I’ll ever set foot in Disney World with my kids. My sense of self-preservation is a little too strong for that. Both my parents have threatened to take the girls to Disneyland, and as far as I am concerned they are welcome to do so. Without me.

But I loved this essay because it gave me a sense of what I’d be in for if I ever did assay the Magic Kingdom with my family.

I wouldn’t be fiendishly searching out disused maintenance paths to toke up in. That’s not my speed. But I’m sure I’d be looking for escape routes just like this guy was. He writes:

Unless you are very, very strong, the time will come when you Disney, and our time had come, unrolling like a glaring scroll in the form of I-95. It was a Saturday. The next day would be Father’s Day. This whole voyage, it turned out, was billed as a Father’s Day gift to me and Trevor, which in my case was like having been shot with a heavy barbiturate dart and bundled off to your own birthday party.

There are few things I can imagine enjoying less than being at an amusement park with my children. Amusement parks were bad enough when I was a child. Now, as the adult responsible for two fairly sensitive and high-need little girls, I’d like to spare us all the dramatic meltdowns sure to follow whatever fun Disney World has to offer. Not to mention that my idea of fun does not include being accosted by giant talking mice, or having to pose for photos with princesses.

It’s not even clear that Disney is that much fun for the kids. It’s an icon of fun, the picturesque fantasy of the perfect family vacation. But what is it like in real life? Again, as John Sullivan tells it:

There is deep yearning at Disney. What you feel when you’re in the state we were in and all of your emotional pores are wide open is yearning. There is something at stake here, for the families, in terms of that knife edge between joy and disappointment. So when you see people whose kids are definitely not having fun, but are standing in place and screaming, having to be dragged along by their leash-harnesses, there’s a throb of empathetic sadness. They are not having a good Disney.

I looked at Mimi. Was she having fun? I thought so — she was smiling. But I knew there were times in my own childhood when I must have seemed to my parents like I was having a blast, while being inwardly tormented by some irrational worry. Ah, youth!

This essay was a great vicarious ride through Disney from the point of view of a family like mine: people who like books more than roller coasters, yet somehow wound up in the theme park to end all theme parks. I enjoyed the read, but I think I’ll keep my distance from the actual park.

Now seriously, if you’re at all curious about what it’s like to be at Disney World, or want to know more about the weird history of the park, go read Sullivan’s essay.

Photo: Loimere

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About Sierra Black


Sierra Black

Sierra Black lives, writes and raises her kids in the Boston area. She loves irreverence, hates housework and wants to be a writer and mom when she grows up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sierra's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “An Honest Look At Disney World, Through The Eyes Of A Regular Guy

  1. Nicole says:

    “Both my parents have threatened to take the girls to Disneyland”

    “There are few things I can imagine enjoying less than being at an amusement park with my children.”

    Yikes. You sound like a barrel of fun. Lighten up.

  2. Rosstwinmom says:

    A father who smokes pot instead of spending time with his family is not a regular guy. No one I know acts like that. No dad I know is trying to get out of amusement parks with their kids. They know it is fun for little ones, and that makes it fun for them. Parents do things they don’t want to now and then. I wouldn’t say that is a typical view of a day with the fam at Disney.

  3. Laura says:

    Oh my god, I love this essay so much! Honestly, having to deal with the types of parents who love and obsess about Disney is one of the things about parenthood that scares the crap out of me. I adore this guy’s honesty.

  4. Tricia says:

    My parents never took us to Disney, so it is not something you have to do. I took my kids and even though it is exhausting, we had a fun time being together. Why don’t you just do something you know you’d enjoy?

  5. Michal says:

    I would to Disney land & Disney world & Ep. center & I though it was fun so liten up & enjoy it whit your kidos

  6. Heather says:

    I agree with Nicole. You sound miserable.
    My husband and I took our kids to Disney World 2 months ago. We didn’t do it because we love Mickey Mouse, pushing a stroller though crowded theme parks, or paying close to $4 for a popsicle. We did it for the KIDS! That’s what it’s all about! It is something I treasured as a child and I wanted to share it with my children. Experiencing Disney World through their eyes made it all worth it.

  7. Amanda says:

    I have never been to Disney and have no desire to take my 3 kids. Glad to hear I am not the only one! Really don’t understand the mass appeal, when there are many other great destinations around the country that are way better with less hype.

  8. Amanda says:

    I would suggest waiting until kids are in elementary school to take them to Disney. I think that’s when the entire family would be able to enjoy it. It is NOT a place for babies and toddlers. Honeslty, the best time I ever had at Disney, though, was on an adults-only trip to Epcot. Eating and drinking your way around the “world” is a lot of fun.

  9. Shannon Mac says:

    I read this last week and sent it to everyone I know, posted it everywhere, etc. I LOVED it. While I’m not sure I would be thrilled to find my husband smoking pot in public, the rest of it rang pretty true. As we await (one more month!!) our first child, the Disney question has come up. As two Floridians living less than an hour from the mouse house, we’ve always had a health hate for Disney. It’s just consumerism at it’s worst! If when this little boy is older, he’s dying to go, I’ll let a grandma take him. You won’t catch me there!

  10. Becky says:

    We Disney-lovers encourage haters to stay away. Please don’t crowd our lines and restaurants. Please don’t take our favorite parade and fireworks watching locations. Please keep your depressing attitudes far away from our happy place. Not everyone gets Disney or Disney family vacations, and thank goodness!

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