Moms Without Blogs has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dragging the kids through Disneyland OR Oh, the Magic!

It was the summer of 1975.  My brother was 8, I was 7 and my lil' bro was 5. My baby sister had just started baking in the oven but my parents didn't know it yet.  Standing in front of our green Pontiac station wagon outside our brick Southside Chicago home in our denim leisure suits (yes, all of us), we were on the brink of a family vacation.  

A dream vacation.  

To Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

My parents had to skimp and save for years to send us on that vacation. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and my dad made a modest salary working at Campbell's Soup in Chicago.  I wonder if they thought about whether it would all be worth it.  I mean really worth it.  A week long vacation visiting the Happiest Place on Earth.  The airfare, the hotel, the books of ride tickets that had to be purchased (including the infamous E-ticket), the meals out at restaurants, the souvenirs.  

In my 7-year-old brain, it was totally and utterly and perfectly worth it.  

We stayed at the Polynesian Hotel, one of the Disney hotels.  I remember swimming in that lava-rock-themed pool with multiple waterfalls to dip under and a rock slide that dumped you into a frenzied pool of happy splashing.  I remember walking through the lobby and having Goofy tug at my pigtails.  I remember taking the escalator up to the Monorail Boarding Area where the sleek train whisked us directly to the park.  I remember surveying the shelves of the park's souvenir shops carefully considering what trinket would become the physical memory of this magic I had experienced. 

I felt special.  I felt privileged.  I felt tingly all over.  I was seven.  And I was in heaven.

But were my parents?

I have, just this evening, returned from two-days at Disneyland in Anaheim.  It was a weekend hosted by my in-laws who are notorious for hosting special little events and getaways.  (Need I remind you of that fabulous TBT? Yes, the in-laws.)  Since my dude was spending some time with a few of his old college friends for the weekend, the kids and I were invited to a two-day Disney extravaganza with Grandpa and Grandma.   

As I sit and write, mere hours after returning and only an hour after all of my three crazies have fallen asleep, my brain feels like a pile of mud. My body feels like I've run a couple of marathons and my mood is well, mixed.  To say the least.  

My muscles hurt from wrestling El Destructo, my 21-month-old, just too many times back into his stroller or into his diaper or away from the pool or into his highchair at too many restaurants.  My brain is muddled and flooded with too many emotional tug-of-wars with The Love Fairy, my brilliantly, stubborn 4-year-old, as she shrieked and cried when she didn't get her way.  Yet, my heart is filled with gratitude and pride when I think of CR, my 6-1/2-year old who walked everywhere for two days straight without so much as one complaint and who tirelessly sung "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to get her lil' brother to sleep as he cried and rubbed his overtired eyes in his stroller.  

One minute I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown when The Love Fairy and El Destructo chose to spontaneously combust at the same time for no logical reason, and the next minute I had tears welling up in my eyes as I watched The Love Fairy meet Belle at a Meet-the-Princess Dinner and stand proudly by her side for a photograph.  

The highs and lows of a two-day trip to Disneyland are unrivaled in the parent sphere.  And all the while, as both headaches and heart swells existed side-by-side, the wallet was opened again and again for tickets, hotels, meals, snacks, souvenirs, and the like.

And although most of the dime was not MY dime, I am still left wondering, is it worth it?

All around me, I saw parents bargaining with overtired kids, standing in endless lines with crashed-out kids on shoulders, protecting their little ones from those damn scary characters that freely roam the restaurants waiting to pounce on their unsuspecting prey, and opening their wallets for the next overpriced Disney thingamabob.

Is it worth it?
I'd like to believe that my kids are catching real glimpses of Tinkerbell's fairy dust in the Anaheim air and that their little minds and hearts and souls are tingling, like mine once did, with the beauty of unexpected magic most everywhere they turn.

But now that I'm the parent, I'm having a little trouble gulping down the Disney Kool-Aid and accepting the blatant gouging that seems to be going on when it comes to anything Disney. Sure, we all want our kids to experience the magic but at what expense?  At the expense of hard-earned wages?  At the expense of our mental sanity?  

An autograph book for $14.95?  A pen for $5?  Two scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast for $19.99?  An entry ticket for $80?  A too-cramped hotel room for $400? A bottle of water for $3? A Mickey-Mouse ice-cream bar for $7? A crappy hockey-puck of a hamburger and fries for $10?  

Is it worth it? 

And the lines keep getting longer. Despite this economic downturn, the people keep coming. Opening their wallets.  Searching for the magic.  

I need to ask my parents how they felt on that dream vacation of mine as a 7-year-old impressionable brain.  Because that 7-year-old would definitely have told them it was worth every single penny they saved.  And then some.

Will my kids feel that way?  And if they do, when they will be able to tell me? When they will be able to vocalize their feelings to let me know that they did indeed see and feel the magic? That it was worth me dragging their tired asses from Toon Town to Frontier Land all for the sake of childhood memories that might last a lifetime.  That it was worth me digging deep for unknown slivers of patience to endure yet another meltdown of epic proportions all in the name of childhood wonderment.

All I can say is I'm hoping I'm gonna hear the news sometime soon 'cause I don't know how many more of these Disney trips I can take.

Because you see, as the weekend ended, my father-in-law surprised us yet again.

With annual passes. 

God, I hope they'll be worth it.


  1. When we were kids we never could imagine the pain our parents has to go through. We realize only now, when we have our own kids!

  2. They LOVED every minute of it. It WAS qwoth every tantrum and headache. and when your kids are older and have blogs er I mean kids of their own, they will look back on those to days and remember how wonderful it was

  3. I vote that it was worth it! As they get older, it will get easier. I have fond, fond memories of taking my kids to experience the magic. And they have fond memories, too.

  4. Ugh! I've been there, wrangling the stroller child, everyone over-tired and over-sugared...

    I don't know, I think it's totally worth it when they're old enough to remember, but MAN it's tiring - good job MOM!

    Annual passes...tee hee :)

  5. First of all, your in-laws rock.

    Second, hell-to-the-yes it was worth it - for them. But honestly, you scared the pee out of me.

    Luckily we can still cancel our nights in Disney World for July. ;-) But I wouldn't for a million bucks. As Hubs says, we're going to strap on our helmets and enjoy the ride.

    You did good Mama!

  6. I wholeheartedly believe it's worth it.

    And I'll keep telling myself that as we go stay at a Disney resort for SEVEN NIGHTS in freaking JULY.

    Yup. Because I'm an idiot...but it'll be magic.

  7. Lee, it's like childbirth - the pain fades and only the good memories remain...

  8. I'm gonna go with Under the Influence here. Since I have no little ones, but I've been on brink-of-tantrum two-week trips with my mother to lands both foreign and domestic every year since college, I can assure you that the horrific parts fade away and only the good stuff is remembered.

    Until you go somewhere again...muahhhaaaahhaaa!

    (But seriously, your kids ADORED the trip. Season passes...hmmmm...I wonder if the special will get lost if it's so accessible?)

  9. Your little one's soooo think it was worth it.
    I guess it's something we just have to endure and get a rite of passage.
    Way to go....& good luck w/ the season passes YIKES!

  10. It is a delicate balance for sure. As for is it worth it, I don't know yet.

  11. My parents didn't take me until I was 15! My mom was always to scared to fly and she finally bucked up at 15 & 13 for us. It wasn't quite the same! We'll be taking our spawn again in the next year.Fun.Fun.

  12. I hope it is worth it as I've talked my hubby into going next weekend! My kids are a bit older and I think they'll have a blast. I loved it when I went at 8! My fingers are crossed!

  13. We've been to Disney World 3 times now. And each time, I vow I never want to come back because it is so exhausting, so mind-numbing, and the kids just fight all the time, etc.

    But then, after a while, I can't wait to go again because I love it so much.

    It's kind of like a husband. Can't live with him, can't live without him.

  14. Standing in line, over and over again, to ride a two-minute attraction,while trying to keep your kids from killing each other. Parent hell.

  15. It's worth it.
    It is.

    Think for one minute how you felt as a child. In the magic. In the moment. Obilvious to the COST of the whole darn thing (and Disney was just as expensive then as now.)....remember? Remember thinking 'anything is possible here'...remember feeling like you wanted every day to go on and on? Remember? ....those are priceless memories. Worth every penny your parents paid.

    And your kids will feel the same way too. And very soon. Maybe even when they wake up- they will tell you.

    And annual passes? I am smiling. It means I have a good chance of bumping into you at the park. I will look for the exhausted mom...with a look of 'wth?' in the check out line buying a friggin princess wand for $ should be easy to spot. Oh and me? I am the one smiling from ear to ear walking with her boys. And loving every dang minute of it.


  16. Some of the best family memories I have are of our family going to Disney World in Fla. Now then, are they Mom's favorite memories...probably not. What goes around comes around...for's totally worth it:)

  17. Oh my. How sobering. I feel your ambivalence to my core -- I will be there soon. Because the grandparents are talking about doing the same thing with my little ones.

    I never went to Disney World. I don't even have memories of wanting it, perhaps because it was so completely out of the realm of possibility. But as a result, my adult desire for the experience probably rivals the degree of your gratification as a child. I have always said, "I REALLY want to go to Disney World!" But, my gosh, the spectacle you describe represents everything I think we should question or work to change, as Americans leading a too-extravagant and wasteful lifestyle. And in these times!

    I have to conclude that it sounds like it wasn't worth it. I think one of the ways you might guage whether it was worth it for your children's sake is to see how they behave in the wake of their wonderful trip -- are they talking about it a lot? Asking questions? Wanting Disney stories? Asking to go again (god forbid)? Except for the 61/2 year old, it seems your kids were a little young for optimal enjoyment and minimal parenting angst.

    Thanks for the preview, though, it is very much appreciated.

  18. Oh Lee - you have such a way of painting an incredible picture with words and oh how we can all relate.

    I'll be interested in hearing what your parent's perspective is this many years later. As mentioned above, for them maybe only the good memories were preserved (as it should be).

    The annual passes ... I would have to say that is equivalent to someone giving us their goldfish as a party favor for one of my kids playdates. No thanks.

  19. We are going to Disney in Orlando in August.. and to be honest.... it's my idea of hell. Crowds, heat, foreigners, and cartoon princesses...

  20. It must be worth it for grandpa there to splurge! My mother says it is a grandparent thing, and that she love the sparkle in the kids eyes when she spoils them like that. So hopefully your kids will totally dig it, and respect it as much as you did! :)

  21. For what it would cost us to go to Disney, we could go somewhere all inclusive that would have a built in nanny. Wolf REFUSES to even consider Disney. He mumbles something about commercialism, materialism, and twitches. Personally, I think it has to do with the giant rodent. Our children will forever be deprived, cause Disney won't happen. If we ever have that kind of money, we're going for the tropical vacation with the nanny!

  22. I have to say, I'm now re-thinking our idea of possibly taking the kids for a few days this summer.

    But really, you touch on an issue bigger than Disney (can anything be bigger??). As parents, we can't possibly experience these "magical adventures" like we did as children because when you're a child you're totally OBLIVIOUS to the cost/stess/planning/responsibility involved. Your kids felt safe and carefree with you (and Grandpa and Grandma) and, I'm sure, their trip was magical. Just as yours was when you were seven.

    As for a yearly, no thanks! :-)

  23. oh lord, i probably shouldn't weigh in on this, as i am metaphorically still having contractions, waiting for my water to break.

    awesome post, though. lots to think about. but if you have annual passes, you probably won't be able to come to africa with us.

  24. i am CRACKING up at your description of El Destructo! that is awesome! i feel for you i do- my dad works for disney world- almost 15 years now. i can go for free when ever i want but have only been a handful of times over the last decade, because of the sheer madness. my only advice is go back on thanksgiving day- it is practically empty- or at least the fla one is. and the weather is perfect.

  25. Theme Park Enthusiasts here. The season passes will totally be worth it - you can ride the rides and go home. No over priced hockey puck purchases needed :)

  26. We just went in March for the first time with our little one. (He was 19 months old) So no...he did't get it at all. But we had a fun family vacation and got to spend some much needed time together. We broke it up into a couple of days with a "rest" day in between. We ended the week with Sea World which we all enjoyed the most! I'm already looking forward to doing it again! (Several years from now) :)

  27. disneyland is NOT for the faint-hearted!


Related Posts with Thumbnails
Blog Designed by : NW Designs