A Week of Happy?

Brilliant display of fireworks over Disneyland castle

Should you visit Theme Parks on Vacation: Is it a good idea?

I’m mixed in my opinions about the Disney parks as a destination vacation. This ambiguity arises out of my extensive experience as an undercover reviewer, and the many mini-dramas I have seen played out before my eyes on the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

I grant you, there is indeed an element of magic in the parks, even for the most hardened soul. I think it’s the combination of plants, flowers, shops, mostly-friendly attendants, props, displays, structures, and of course the shows and attractions.

It’s all orchestrated and fine-tuned to present an inviting atmosphere that feels good and fun.
The fact that each park is so different from the others makes the vacation options seems broad and exciting. You can choose between Animal Kingdom and Epcot and Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom or you can do what many long-distance vacationers do, which is buy the pass that allows you access to all the parks.

There is so much to do—between the rides and attractions and shows—that even if you have a full week, it’s not enough time to do and see everything.
Which brings me to what I often observe from under my invisibility cloak: frustration, impatience, disappointment, and fatigue.

I see families who have spent literally thousands of dollars looking at each other like they are on the “Most Aggravating Place on Earth.” They arrive with bright eyes and great expectations, small kids in tow. They get to the first ride—say, Dumbo—and discover that the wait to get on the 1.5-minute ride is 60.5 minutes.

And here is where I see the joy starting to dissipate.

And the pressure setting in.

When people start realizing how much time they will spend just standing in line, you can see reality dawning. They have just maxed out their credit cards to spend half of each day on their dream vacation standing in line with squirming children who, by mid-afternoon, are hot, hungry, tired, and vocal about all of the above.

No wonder the negative feelings start mounting.

I was in a gift shop at the Happiest Place on Earth with about 500 other park visitors because outside the skies had just opened up and dumped out bucketloads of rain. A husband and wife walked by me. The wife had two small tow-head boys by the hand.

The husband turned to her and I heard him say,

“All I’m saying is that I can’t take this anymore.”

No, he wasn’t talking about their marriage or anything that dire. He was referring to their situation—probably the rain, the crowds, the little guys, and the fatigue. I could see the look on her face, that said, “Oh my gosh. Are you kidding me? So now what?”

You see enough of that kind of thing and you just wonder about the wisdom of selecting Disney as your be-all and end-all vacation. So very expensive! With so much potential for disaster!

On the positive side, I’ve seen families also do it right. They leave when the kids get tired, go back to the hotel, rejuvenate, and then return.

They aren’t wigged out about the money spent or the length of the waits. They are relaxed about all of it and have a great time.

And thus endeth this mixed review.