Disney World, with or without kids, from a Gen Xer mom

Tl;Dr: Got kids? Go. No kids? Go. Its more important to enjoy the moment than it is to worry about what others think. Conversely, we should all learn to empathize about what the other person is going through, instead of staying in our own bubbles.

Disney World
Kids or no kids, its Disney World

So, a viral story has been making the rounds over the last week regarding an angry mom ranting about millennials taking over Disney World. Or, something. If you haven’t heard by now, the gist of the story is a mom, obviously frustrated with her day at the theme park, angrily posted about someone having the nerve to A) be on line to purchase food and B) being without child.

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This rant was actually made last year and made the rounds when it was first posted. It’s getting attention again after the above tweet and went viral, bringing with it the debate of whether or not its ok to go to what is considered a family theme park without children. Spoiler alert: it’s absolutely ok to go to a theme park without kids (not all family places are equal, I would argue playgrounds are a totally different story.) It may come as a shock to some but, Disney doesn’t care who’s at their parks as long as they’re paying customers. My thoughts on the matter, being on both sides, is there really is a lack of empathy all around for everyone else’s experiences whether on social media or in the real world.

First, I must admit, I’m not a millennial but a loud and proud Gen Xer mom of two. I’ve done Disney World with my two beautiful, awesome kids a bunch of times so I feel I can speak with some authority that there is nothing more awesome than being at the Happiest Place on Earth WITHOUT children. Or, at least without young children. Disney makes it rather enticing to bring little ones as under three go free. Though all kids are different, my experience has been it’s just better when they’re old enough to enjoy it.

That said, I could feel the frustration in the mom’s post. Her anger in the post is palpable. The irritation she felt in the moment can be attributed to so many factors: the cost of the parks becoming so astronomical, when one doesn’t have a “magical” experience, it becomes overwhelming. Kids heighten this frustration, especially when they are younger. Keeping them fed, comfortable, healthy and while also trying to create happy memories for them is exhausting. I felt great empathy with this mom when she ranted about the “millennial” waiting on line for a pretzel. On my little one’s first trip to WDW, and when she was still enthralled with Elsa from Frozen, we got on line to meet her and her sister Anna at Epcot. I could see the pure excitement on her face, the anticipation growing as we snaked through the line. I noticed some twenty-somethings in front of us sans kids who were giggling with some of that same excitement. My husband and I looked at each other with the “Really? Aren’t you a little old for a meet-and-greet? You’re the reason why my daughter had to wait fifty minutes to see her idol!” expression on our faces. Truth be told, we waited maybe an extra five minutes and my daughter got to meet Queen Elsa and was beaming for the rest of the day. Who else was beaming? The twenty-somethings that were in front of us. That joy my daughter got was the same they did. Who the hell was I to judge?

While there were moments where I’d miss the kids there were many more moments when the hubby and I would witness a toddler meltdown while secretly high-fiving each other ecstatically declaring “That ain’t us!”

On our last full day of our vacation, my teenager and little one decided they had had enough of Extra Magic Hours and refused to get up. My husband and I made the call to have them lock the door (we were on-property) and head to Magic Kingdom one more time. IT. WAS. THE. BEST. No worrying about feet hurting, who was hungry, who didn’t want to do what. We were there for maybe three hours and decided right then and there we’d come back for our twentieth anniversary, just us. That trip was simply amazing. While there were moments where I’d miss the kids there were many more moments when the hubby and I would witness a toddler meltdown while secretly high-fiving each other ecstatically declaring “That ain’t us!”

Disney World

After dinner Fireworks…with no kids!!!!

Our last trip was with the kids who were a year older and wiser. It was actually a great trip because they knew what they wanted (‘Ohana) and what they didn’t (Tower of Terror is a no for me and the little one.) Not that there weren’t arguments but there were far fewer meltdowns than there were really great moments.

On a side note: our next trip my little one will be ten which makes her an “adult” in the eyes of Disney (at least where food and park tickets are concerned.) Seeing as how much better it was as the kids got older, it really blows how much more you have to pay for child who, at that age isn’t really any older.

So this begs the question: who is Disney World “for”? As evidenced by all the Instagrammable foods & alcohol, merch and high end upcharges, Disney recognizes that the kids who went in their youth are the same ones coming back to relive their childhoods, and more importantly, spending money. Sure it’s primarily a family park but it’s more than that too: its part of people’s identity. As parents, we want to create happy memories for our kids. Our kids will then be the same kids who come back with either their kids or maybe just themselves. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing happiness, however we define it.

The other side of the argument, as a parent, is hoping those same adults indulging in their fantasies are aware of those families around them. I’ve seen over eager folks who pushed passed kids for the sake of their own experience. This is not singling out any one age group: I was waiting in line with my little one for the Haunted Mansion and this couple rushed in front of us to get to the Doom Buggies almost separating me from my child. An extremely stern look (and maybe a nasty word or two) let them know to back off but in a situation where we’re all excited, situational awareness goes a long way. This is in no way a defense of the angry mom’s post, rather just an attempt at empathy.

And that’s all this post was about: empathy. I’ve been on the receiving end of both a temper tantrum toddler and a completely unreasonable adult. Claiming however that anything belongs to anyone at the exclusion of the other is simply ridiculous. Perhaps the Angry Mom Ranter and the Millennial who tweeted could go on an all-girls trip to Epcot and drink around the world. A little mutual understanding is something this world needs.

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