A World Beyond Disney

A Former Member of the Mickey Mouse Club

I'm probably going to hurt some feelings here, by taking a jab at revered American icons, Disneyland and Disney World -- by saying that it makes me want to puke whenever some people talk about it being their "life dream" to take their family to these entertainment parks, both here and abroad. So, before you label me anti-American, let me explain myself.

It's not that these amusement parks aren't fun and worth seeing, it's about using your time with your children, to introduce them to places and things that are real, and not artificial. It's also about age appropriateness in the timing of when you visit these parks.

Additionally, it's about teaching your children about the reverence of what is natural in nature vs. over-stimulating them with artificial high-thrill activities. Moreover, it's about the real cost of visiting these types of entertainment venues.

In over 110 degree weather, on July 17, 1955, my parents took us to the grand opening of Disneyland. We were among the six thousand who had bonafide invitations, among the other twenty-two thousand, some of whom showed up with bogus counterfeit tickets. This grand opening was two weeks into miserable California heat wave, in a time when air conditioning was not central, or common place, neither in your home or your car.

As history has recorded, this was at a time when the local plumber's union was on strike. There were only a couple of water fountains that worked in the park, and they had very long lines. One of my strongest memories, being a child, was that walking around that day was sticky and you had spongy gunk on your shoes.

My mother had worn shoes with small heels, and her shoes kept getting stuck in the newly laid asphalt streets, which were melting in the heat. My baby sister cried almost non-stop in the blistering heat, while my harried father took us on some of the rides. Thirsty, hot, in danger of heat stroke, I believe we stayed about three hours tops, before returning home.

Everybody loved Walt Disney and his visions for the "happiest place in the world." The experience was all part of the euphoria that living in that era encompassed, as we had high hopes for wonderful world filled with opportunities. Despite our first experience, my parents encouraged my younger siblings and I to love everything attached to the word "Disney."

At home, everyone had been glued to The Wonderful World of Disney for the past nine months on ABC. Like many other families, parents, children, and even our grandparents all settled in to watch TV together, the adults and children equally interested in the same program. It was the highlight of the week when Walt Disney appeared upon our screen.

However, despite fond memories of the "happiest place in the world," today as a mother and grandmother, I have a very different view of what these parks and other entertainment parks have become and what they represent.

Disneyland Opening Day - July 17, 1955
Disneyland Opening Day - July 17, 1955
Early tickets to Disneyland included separate tickets to get on rides.
Early tickets to Disneyland included separate tickets to get on rides.
Just Like This Little Boy -- My Brother Wore His Davey Crockett Hat By Day and Slept in It By Night
Just Like This Little Boy -- My Brother Wore His Davey Crockett Hat By Day and Slept in It By Night

Hazards At Theme Parks

Any place where there are lots of children, also means there are lots of opportunities for accidents, minor and serious. Understand that accidents and even deaths, at these places are downplayed in the news media. It's not good for tourism to allow the public to know the facts. Living here in Florida, there are so many things that people coming from outside the area, are not aware of when they visit our popular theme parks.

First, they are usually unaware of the high crime that exists in and around both all of the theme parks and the hotels and resorts. They are also unaware that many of the outlaying hotels and motels, are also homes to the homeless families under Florida's welfare system.

Visitors to Central Florida, are certainly unaware that some of the motels are where newly released prisoners and sex offenders live. Moreover, they are unlikely to know that even visiting any local shopping mall, or big box store near these attractions -- makes them a target for professional panhandlers, thieves, and sexual attacks.

Even though you are on a vacation, parents need to be aware of the unpleasant hazards, that despite all precautions these parks take (They truly want everyone to be safe as they do not like to get sued or have bad publicity). Here are some tips to consider while at the theme parks:

  • Always ride with your children
  • Remind them to keep their hands, arms, and legs inside the ride
  • Always make sure they use the safety restraints
  • Don't expect a child to know how to act on a ride, they may become scared and do the unexpected
  • It is safer to ride in the middle of the rides and in the middle of the seats
  • Older children should not babysit the younger children on rides or in the park
  • Children under the age of seven, are supposed to be accompanied by an adult at all times
  • Don't let your children climb on fences
  • Don't let your children climb on artificial rocks, etc.
  • Don't let your children climb on railings
  • Don't let your children stand on fences
  • Don't let your children stand on cement planters
  • Remember to strictly adhere to the height restrictions on rides. I know this is hard. However, what price do you put on your child's safety, if the ride is designed only for people of a certain height to ride safely?
  • Set rules before you go about safety concerns

Additionally, please remember that the nearby motels, hotels, resorts, and vacation homes have their own safety issues. Not to put a damper on anyone's grand plans, some common sense prevails when visiting tourist destinations, some of these include:

  • Understanding that children can and do drown in the pools and need to be carefully supervised
  • It is not safe for your children, and even your teens to be unsupervised anywhere on hotel, motel, or resort properties
  • Your valuables, luggage, cameras, etc. should not be left in your rooms unattended
  • Your valuables, luggage, cameras, etc. should not be left in your vehicle when you are not in it
  • Not everyone staying in these hotels, motels, and resorts are nice people

The Issues of Age Appropriateness When Visiting Theme Parks and the Timing of Your Visits

First, there is the issue of age appropriateness when visiting these kinds of entertainment parks. Occasionally, for children over the age of five or six, visiting theme parks such as Disney World and Disneyland can be a nice escape from reality, albeit an expensive one. Having lived ten blocks from Disneyland, and living near Disney World for a number of years, I have the following observations:

  • Far too many well-meaning young parents are breaking the bank, to take very young (still in strollers) infants and children to such entertainment parks. Those children will never remember going there for the most part. Furthermore, question what are they remembering, if they do remember something. Then, ask yourself if this is it something real or of value?
  • Sadly, you see over-tired parents and children arguing, crying, and having melt-downs all over these parks. Then, ask yourself if this is really all that much fun, or are you too emotionally invested in the expensive "fun" of it all, to be showing your too young children a good time?
  • Particularly here in Florida, it is hot and humid and the lines are long. This isn't bonding, this is torturing your children and risking heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Often taking very young children to these parks, is more about what young parents perceive as what they should do, or what they think everyone else is doing. It's about them, not the children or even what is best for their children.

Additionally, there is merit in waiting until your children are old enough to appreciate, or truly remember visiting these parks. It's not a whole lot of fun for a child, when you are too little in inches to ride on the ride, that everyone else in the family is going on.

I'm not advocating not going to entertainment parks, just pointing out that the timing of this activity should be more carefully considered with respect to age.

Note: Remember, if you have older children, certainly take them to theme parks, but making other arrangements for your babies and toddlers.

Another consideration is the timing of your visit to such parks. There are certain times of year, that are not desirable for visiting these entertainment venues. For a more enjoyable trip, be aware of the typical weather and the craziness of visiting in the middle of summer, if you are used to a more temperate climate.

Another time to not visit is during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays (despite all the heavy advertisement of special events), not only because it is more expensive, but because it is more crowded. The lines will be longer. The prices of everything will be exaggerated.

Also, this is when many local companies sponsor special Very Merry Christmas discounts, locals with out-of-town relatives are chauffeuring them around, and Central Florida is invaded by masses of UK and foreign tourists.

Additionally, other times to not visit with younger children -- is during Bike week, Gay Pride week, or Spring break.

I'm not saying anything bad about these groups, only pointing out that visiting with impressionable children during times of "adult" play, may mean that you'll find yourself and your children exposed to public rude or inappropriate very public displays of affection and behavior -- that you may not want to have to explain to your children. Otherwise very nice people can forget when they are in "party" mode that children are present.

Swimming in Deleon Springs State Park's Cool Cool Waters
Swimming in Deleon Springs State Park's Cool Cool Waters
Exploring Deleon Springs State Park Old Sugar Mill (Where Each Table Has It's Own Grill for Cooking Pancakes)
Exploring Deleon Springs State Park Old Sugar Mill (Where Each Table Has It's Own Grill for Cooking Pancakes)

The Issue of The World Beyond Disney

The issue of the world beyond Disney theme parks and all other entertainment parks for me, boils down to one simple question -- What are you and your children missing out on, by making these American icons your whole or sole vacation destination?

If you have your heart set on visiting the Disney parks or other large theme parks, try to balance the experience with other types of low key and absolutely fun natural experiences.

Just a few examples -- How many of you, saw the real Florida, when you visited Disney World? Did you go to?

  • DeLeon Springs State Park
  • Blue Springs State Park
  • Hommassas Springs Wildlife Refuge State Park
  • Sebastian Inlet State Park

Or did you?

  • Ride an air-boat, not in a little park, but a real air-boat on Lake Toho (West Lake Tohopekalgia)
  • Go horseback riding

There are literally, thousands of places in both Florida and California to visit that have more value and are a lot less expensive. Speaking of expense, here's the real scoop on what dollar costs you will be incurring at Disney parks:

The Real Dollar Price of Visiting the House of Mouse Type Amusement Parks

For a family of four, the typical vacationing family spends about $500 per day between the cost of accommodations, foodstuff or meals, tickets, and souvenirs. That works out to be about $3,500 for a week of artificial fun. (before airfare or other transportation).

Considering that this is time often wasted by quite a few hours waiting in lines for the privilege of this expense, you have to question just how much fun you are really having. With the use of credit cards, many people don't realize until too late, how much this trip can actually cost them.

Add the fact that many people, don't have the ability to pay off their charges in the month they make these charges, with interest rates and minimum payments -- it's just another trap to keep yourself in debt perhaps for years to come, all for the sake of a few days of "fun." If you are paying for this vacation (or any vacation) on your credit and can't afford to pay it off fully immediately or at least within a couple of months -- you can't afford to go.

Disney World 3-D Google

Seabastian Inlet State Park - One of Florida's Many Treasures Where On One Side You Have the Atlantic Ocean and the Other Side You Swim with Manatees
Seabastian Inlet State Park - One of Florida's Many Treasures Where On One Side You Have the Atlantic Ocean and the Other Side You Swim with Manatees
Hommassa Springs Wildlife Refuge State Park
Hommassa Springs Wildlife Refuge State Park
Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park
Typical Vacation Home -- Outside Looks Can Be Deceiving -- Seldom Will Pictures Show That Nearby Houses Are Within Six Feet On Both Sides
Typical Vacation Home -- Outside Looks Can Be Deceiving -- Seldom Will Pictures Show That Nearby Houses Are Within Six Feet On Both Sides

Vacation Homes

There are thousands of vacation homes near Disney World and all of the other theme parks here in Florida. Most of these homes are owned by UK residents, German nationals, or absentee American owners, thanks to the former boom in speculative investments in Florida real estate.

The owners usually visit once or twice a year, and have a property management company rent the home to vacationers for the balance of the year. There is a revolving door in terms of ownership, when many of these owners realize that their property may sit empty most of the year.

Some of these property management companies aren't even in the U.S. Some of them are big real estate corporations that are really in the competing business of selling vacation homes. Some of them sub-contract out the cleaning, mowing, repairs, etc. to the revolving population of self-employed businesses that are often here today, and gone tomorrow.

Despite heavy advertising, mailing addresses, and the fact that the airport is in Orlando, Disney World and all of the other theme parks are actually in Kissimmee, Florida. Sprinkled among these vacation homes are a few (very few) full time residential owners. Local owners quickly get tired of vacationing families who are in party mode 24/7.

The family or adults who are staying in the next house and most other surrounding houses, may not be someone you should trust around your family. You don't know who they are and there will be a constant change with people moving in and out. With absentee owners, there is no oversight. Children are not safe being outside alone in these neighborhoods, no matter how nice the area seems.

The vacation homes are cheaply furnished, usually include a pool, and can sometimes afford a savings in terms of being able to feed your family, convenience, and privacy. They can be convenient (less than thirty minutes to the parks during the day, and even less commute time at night).

Where you can run into trouble with these homes, is that:

  • Most owners are not local, and if anything goes wrong it may be impossible, if not difficult to get the problem remedied. Often these property management companies may not be reachable. The few local owners may not be responsive, in times of an emergency, such as plumbing leaks, etc.
  • Most of these homes are equipped with security alarms which can, in times of power outages (a frequent occurrence in Florida thunderstorms) go off at an ear piercing volume, that are difficult to turn off.
  • These homes may not be very clean. The bedding may not have been changed, etc.
  • Property management companies "butch cut" the lawns, so the sound of lawn mowers, and other loud maintenance equipment is a daily and early morning occurrence. The more often they mow, the more money they can charge the management companies.
  • You may not have any legal recourse, once they've gotten your money, should you encounter an impossible situation that necessitates you moving to other lodging.
  • Nearby restaurants, groceries, and big box retailers are all aware of the "tourist" factor visiting among them, and prices will be jacked up on just about everything.
  • These homes and the area attract many professional panhandlers who will be approaching you for money at stop lights, in stores, and even at your door.
  • There are a large number of homeless men living in the wooded areas nearby, behind stores, etc. Expect their presence, they will even follow you in the parking lots and stores pleading their plight.
  • All of these neighborhoods by law have retention ponds, some of them very deep, and all of them have alligators. Don't be fooled just because you didn't see one. Do not feed the alligators (it is both illegal and dangerous). Do not allow your children to play near the water or in the water, especially near evening time when the alligators feed or early in the morning.
  • Lastly, be aware the water outside these homes (including the sprinkler system) is gray water, recycled waste water. Not fit to drink, or allow children to play in.

Until We Rode Through This Tree and I Took a Picture of Him Beside It -- I Never Knew My Dad Was Small (He was 6'4")
Until We Rode Through This Tree and I Took a Picture of Him Beside It -- I Never Knew My Dad Was Small (He was 6'4")

The Gift of Real Experiences

Giving the gift of real experiences to our children, and knowing the difference between that and high tech entertainment parks, is something we all should take a closer look at.

Sometimes, growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, being blessed with young and energetic parents was the best of all worlds. In the post World War II economy, gas was cheap and the travel bug was alive and well in our home.

Every Friday evening, when my parents came home from their jobs in the avionics and aerospace industries, a weekend adventure was about to begin. They were avid fishermen, backpackers, experienced outdoor campers, and rock hounds. Because of that, the likelihood of us staying home on a weekend or holiday, was next to none.

As a result, we were given the gift of experiences and memories that have transcended ourselves into re-gifting those events with our own children and grandchildren by continuing to share what's real and natural at every early ages.

Infant and Child Carrier Style Backpack
Infant and Child Carrier Style Backpack

Backpacking

While in many of my earlier hubs, you'll read about rural life in other parts of the country, I was born and primarily raised in California. I was an infant the first time I went backpacking, riding on my father's back on weekend hunts, and day hikes for in a never ending quest for fishing spots and rock-hounding expeditions.

Back then they didn't have the canopied infant backpacks (or front baby carriers) sold today, but my dad did build his own papoose style carrier.

A couple of years later, when my brother came along, these trips continued, but had a different focus as we spent a more leisurely time with frequent stops to count pine cones, examine rocks, seeds, tadpoles, insects and the like. Learning to sit still, and absolutely quiet to observe nature as we watched squirrels and birds was a big part of the experience.

Perhaps, this is one of the missing keys to stillness that so many of today's children don't seem to know. Throwing pebbles in streams, and laying on your belly watching trout swim, are all early memories.

By the time we were in grade school, we were seasoned veterans of backpacking and carried our own small lightweight homemade bags, that my grandmother made for each of us.

Fun Can Be Learning Valuable Life Skills Like Team Work
Fun Can Be Learning Valuable Life Skills Like Team Work

Communing With Nature

Many of our childhood adventures took place all over California and nearby western states. My parents found that communing with nature gives your children rich experiences in appreciating nature.

Additionally, it taught us life skills that can't be duplicated by merely reading books, lessons in the class room, seeing movies, or watching television.

Free From Artificial Distractions There Is No Greater Place to Strengthen Family Ties
Free From Artificial Distractions There Is No Greater Place to Strengthen Family Ties

Becoming Amateur Geologists

 

We learned to be amateur geologists at an early age due to our parents being avid rock hounds. This is a wonderful family activity is low cost, low key, and a great bonding hobby for the whole family, as it has no real age restrictions -- even the youngest and oldest can enjoy and learn from this pursuit.

Participating in this hobby we learned to observe, compare, and classify rocks, even as toddlers. We each had our own magnifying glasses. Early on, we talked about colors, shapes, and how rocks looked compared to other rocks. We spent hours sorting our "finds." We traded them among ourselves and our friends. We gave them as gifts. We painted them. We glued them on plywood boards, labeling them by type and location found.

As we got older we were taken to gem shows and museums, and spent a lot of time looking at reference books trying to figure out what kind of rocks we had. It made studying earth sciences in school a lot more relevant to us, than our peers who only read about earth's treasures.

I Collect Rocks

Few Memories Can Compete With Catching Your First Fish
Few Memories Can Compete With Catching Your First Fish

Teaching Your Children How to Fish

Fishing offers families still another way to bond and form life long good memories that are free of modern day distractions. Fishing is a laid back sport and you are competing with short attention spans, and children who live in a world of immediate indulgence and high tech gear.

However, if you start out in small spurts of fishing experiences, keep your tackle, rods, and reels simple to fit the age of your potential new fishing enthusiast, you'll quickly turn this into fun that they beg to do. Once they've caught their first fish, they'll generally be hooked on an activity that promotes and teach patience.

Additionally, if your children are slightly older, (assuming you are near the ocean) taking them out on a party boat, for a half day fishing experience, will almost always make this an enjoyable escapade.

Remember children are more prone to motion sickness. The keys to having this be a enjoyable leisure interest, is to monitor not eating junk food prior and during the trip; deciding to make this first trip during good weather; and staying in the center of the boat, where it is more stable.

Sightings of bears are not unusual in Kings Canyon National Park.
Sightings of bears are not unusual in Kings Canyon National Park.

Let's not forget about California. No hub could possible cover all that is to be seen in any state, especially California. Here are a few of the places every child alive in America should see at least once:

 

Yosemite National Park

We all have John Muir, Steven Mather, and Horace Albright to thank for preserving Yosemite National Park for future generations. While I grew up in a time when unrestricted camping was allowed, the number of visitors to this park today, doesn't allow for unsupervised camping without permits and is restricted to certain areas of this park.

My strongest memories are of black bears, which are still seen both day and night in Yosemite National Park. The magnificent waterfalls, over two thousand varieties of plants and wildlife, make this the ideal family classroom for both fun and learning.

I believe every American should visit there at least once in their lifetime. If you aren't the "camping" type, there are many fine lodges and cabins run by the park service.

Yosemite National Park - Open Road

Yosemite Lodge

Redwood National Park

Where else can you see both gray whales and elk in the same day? It is here among the most awe inspiring trees that I first learned about endangered species. At Redwoods National Park you can see (among other endangered and threatened species):

  • Bald Eagles
  • Brown Pelicans
  • Chinook Salmon
  • Steelhead Trout

Additionally, only here will you truly grasp breath of the large and smallness of nature and learn how each needs each other.

Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park

Aside from the giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park, the Mineral King portion of this national park is the closest thing we have in America to visiting the Alpines. There are ample words to describe the magnificent scenery, the water falls, the caves, valleys, and wildlife and flora.

As a child, contemplating just one of those trees left a unforgettable mark upon my heart and mind. To understand that some of these trees are thousands of years old can only be accomplished standing at the foot of one, looking up and realizing how far and close heaven can be at the same time.

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park while two separate parks they are connected in terms of locality.

Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park

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Comments 39 comments

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America

Wen I was in elementary school - I don't remember what year - I saw a bear cross the highway in the Smokey Mountans just as in your picture! I'll never remember that. However, I remember nothing of teen visits to amusement parks - I hated them.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Hi Jerilee - I think you have material enough here for three hubs! Having said that, I agree with you that real experiences are worth far more than the plasticised theme park version.

I always enjoyed the Disney cartoons, but at no time in my life did I want to see people in Mickey or Donald costumes. When I was very young, they were scary, then later they were just ugly and clumsy. They only work as animations!


Benson Yeung profile image

Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

Hi Jerilee,

I also hate these theme parks. Nonetheless, I still go once every few years as my children obviously enjoy them. The trip was somewhat justified when I look at my daughter's photo taken with Minnie mouse when she was two. We still can't find a better photo of her than that one. (She is now eleven)


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States Author

Thanks to all!

Patty - I didn't hate the parks as a young teen. They were inexpensive and Disney often gave free tickets to Marines at nearby Camp Penelton who were more than willing to pay for young naive pretty girls to get into the park and spend the day to them. It was a favorite pass time for skipping school - that looking back, probably wasn't a very good idea. So often the memories our children "think" they have are a result of us telling them the cute things they said or did, or showing them pictures.

Paraglider -- TMI is one of my faults! As soon as I finished the hub, I concluded I could have summed it all up in "There's more to life than what is found in an amusement park!"

Benson Yeung -- As a mother and grandmother I too, get rooked into going from time to time. I haven't been to the Disney one in Hong Kong yet, but no doubt my newest granddaughter (born March 2, 2008 in HK) will at some time want to be taken there.

If I have to go to a theme park, I prefer ones more on the order of your Ocean Park. One of the things I wanted to convey in this hub, is that there is so much more to see than the usual tourist spots in any place you go. Just like there is more to HK than Victoria Peak, the nearby Tian Tan Buddha, etc.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

Jerilee, I agree. A theme park in 100 degree weather is torture. Two years ago I took my daughter to Six Flags of St. Louis, and they wouldn't even let us go in the water of their wading pool. Later that evening, we had lots more fun in the motel swimming pool. This summer, for a vacation, we just checked into a local hotel with an indoor swimming pool.

My daughter goes horseback riding every week. We have woods behind our house. We don't need to go anywhere to have fun. And because of Bow, we can't afford to stay away long.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States Author

Any child who learns to ride a horse has been given one of the greatest gifts. Horseback riding lessons that included caring for the horse (right down to mucking the stalls and bathing the horse) were a major turning point for my granddaughter's maturity. Just as important as taking her on frequent trips to many other countries to see the world beyond her norm. Sometimes, it's a lot of fun to just be a tourist in your own town. Thanks!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I thought this was a great Hub, Jerilee.  I couldn't agree more with you about the timing aspect in terms of a child's age.  Knottsberry Farm, the Disney parks, even Six Flags were all wonderful experiences, because my daughter was just the right age to enjoy them, and I enjoyed seeing her have a good time.

I'm so sorry you have to remember opening day at Disneyland with recollections of being hot and thirsty and sticky...and your poor mom!  As a child on the east coast at the time, I know I gladly would have given up my prized baseball card collection to be there on that opening day.  And wouldn't I have been sorry?

I haven't been to a theme park in years, and have no desire to go.  I think they are very different now.  From the information in your Hub, I can see that young parents have a lot of thinking to do to keep from going broke or putting their families in danger.

Thumbs up!


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States Author

Thanks! I'm hoping the hub will inspire young families to thoroughly think through the expense and timing of such an experience and make it one of a wide assortment of childhood experiences, rather than the "all defining" experience.


pgrundy 8 years ago

What a great hub! You have won a special place in my heart with this hub, since all my kids (now grown) can recite nearly word for word my anti-Disney rant, and it isn't just the theme parks that bug me, it's the merchandising, the films, the whole ethic that emerges if you squint a little and see what Disney is really promoting--be a good consumer, stayed hyped and distracted, always be happy and never acknowledge any sadness or pain no matter how glaring it might be.

Perhaps the most egregious example of this was their recent use of third world child labor in some of the factories that make children's clothing for their chain of stores. Ironic doesn't touch it. And look how they've distorted fairy tales--they made the Little Mermaid live happily ever after for Chrissakes. In the original Hans Christian Anderson story her feet bleed when she walks and her voice vanishes--eventually she disappears into seafoam, all for the love of Prince what's his name--you can't sell crap with THAT story can you?

Oops...I'm drifting into it...the rant I mean. It's a tape at this point.

Fantastic hub, Jerilee! Five stars!


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States Author

Thanks a lot Pam!  Your hubs are among my favorite to read, so your compliments rate high with me. 

Years ago, I worked with one of Walt Disney's former original cartoonists and friends.  From what I learned from that wonderful elderly man, I'd like to think that old Walt Disney, himself would not be happy with recent changes in "his vision."  

My humble opinion, watching what's happening here lately in our local news --  is that Disney theme parks and other such venues are hurting financially, along with the rest of us.  They are making a bunch of changes that my Fortune 500 market research background shouts in my ear, as trying to get a "fresh" look in a hurry in the face of falling profits.  Somehow, I can't feel quite so bad for them, except the employees who depend on them and the local economy that can't exist without the tourist industry. 


starrkissed profile image

starrkissed 8 years ago from Arizona

This is a fantastic hubpage. Very well written and very valid points. I am 22 this year and I went to disneyland for the first time at age 20 and to Disneyworld at age 21. I found neithe much appealing and both are good at breaking the bank. I seriously cannot understand why parents take their children when they are under the age of 3. Just like you said -- they are not going to remember. Honestly, I might take my kids once in their life, but it will be when they are in their early teens and will remember it [of course, I don't even have children yet, so I have plenty of time lol]. Teaching them how to fish and going on other trips to more realistic destinations is something I'd definitely consider doing over Disney. Honestly, I wasn't missing out on much by not getting to go to Disney at a younger age.


Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 8 years ago from Florida

I remember my trip to Florida.  My parents were smart about it.  We spent one day at Disney, and the rest of the vacation was spent visiting historical sights, seeing the Everglades, and a few other things.  We also visited with family and collected sea shells at the ocean.  Collecting sea shells sticks more in my mind than a lot of the theme park, though I still want to take my daughter there some day, despite the outrageous costs, the huge crowds, and and everything else involved. It's a little easier now that I live fairly close.  


2patricias profile image

2patricias 8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

What a wonderful Hub. Pat writes - my parents took me to Disneyland at the end of the 1950s, when I was about 8. As we lived in Nebraska, this was a huge treat. My only worry was that my youngest sister was still in a stroller and that she would not be able to remember it. I still do remember it as a wonderful experience.

My own (English) kids have never been too excited about Disneyland, because they grew up in a different time and place, when theme parks are quite common.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States Author

Thanks to all!

Starkissed - You are right, you didn't miss much.

Anna Marie Bowman - Your parents were indeed smart in the way they planned your Disney trip. My adult children and grandchildren still love collecting shells at Sebastian Inlet and Sanibel Island here in Florida. There are several great shell museums here too.

2patricias - Maybe theme parks are too common, probably why so many of them here are struggling or closed down. I'm thinking its more that they've outpriced themselves for the average family.


lover of myself profile image

lover of myself 8 years ago from Southeast Texas

You know i hadn't even thought about not visiting parks during bike week, and gay pride , i always tried to avoide them during highschool funcutions(nothing like a ton of un supervised chidlren to drive you mad). I also would have to agree with you whole heartedly, as to why in the world, a family, would make taking their family to Disney, a life long ambition. They world is full of places, fun, exciting places to take your chidlren for free, or for less the cost of any commerical themese park. Not only will they get more out of it, but the memories will far outlast meeting Mickey.

As a child my mother took me to Disney in Ca. and i hated it, the lines where long,t he prices where to expensive(not that i was paying, but i did take notices), and the other visitors were at most times rude, out of their own fustrations.

I'll take Yellowstone, Ft. Smith, Ok and the Alaskan Wilderness to take my family, any day over Disney.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States Author

My sentiments exactly, especially on Yellowstone. Have traveled all over the world and Yellowstone trips have been some of my favorite.


abowie profile image

abowie 8 years ago from San Francisco

First off I want to say I respect your opinion and on some of these issues. I was tall for my age and was able to ride rides earlier than other kids so that wasn't as much of a problem for me, but it can be upsetting for smaller kids. That being said, life isn't fair. Children need to also understand that there are limits for a reason. You aren't tall enough to go on a ride because it isn't safe. Same goes for drinking at an early age. It isn't appropriate and more parents need to explain that to their kids.

I belive that too many people are going to these parks at peak times and end up hating it. Look at the disney blogs and go on the websites. You can get good advise on where to stay, where to eat and when to go. Did you know that all of the plants in tomorrow land are edible? My parents made it a point to point out these neat little facts to us and to show us why Disneyland is very different than other amusement parks.

I also agree about some kids are simply too young. Children don't start developing memories until about 3. Life is easier in a park without a stroller.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States Author

Thanks!  I just mainly want people to think long and hard about visiting such venues with too young children, and during peak times.  Lots of "bargains" to go cheaper, but many of them have hidden costs.  Lived in and out of here for many years, still sadly see tourists staying in places, locals know aren't what they look like on the surface.  A lot of the blogs are written by visitors who lucked out, those who have their own businesses to promote, etc.

Sounds like you were lucky to have intelligent parents who pointed out facts.  The fact that you understand what many parents don't -- that life isn't fair -- says a lot about how great your parents did with you.  Wich more parents today were capable of that.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

My former Step Daughter used to go on and on about how since going to Disney (before I came along), she never wanted to go anywhere else for the rest of her life. I used to get really frustrated and try to point out to her that there are loads of places in the world to see, and an artificial, man made place is not something that should be your ultimate ambition.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States Author

You are so right, that's exactly my sentiments! Thanks!


anne.moss profile image

anne.moss 7 years ago from Israel

We are planning a visit to the US in the coming year (might be postponed, we'll see). We'd love to see Disney (CA, as this would be a west coast trip), but we made a point of making it the last item in our trip, so that the kids won't get over saturated with trills. We want to see lots of nature reserves and natural attractions too, including Yosemite even.

I agree, a theme park on a hot crowded day is a total nightmare. We don't even go to our local ones in summer or during holidays, and triple checked on the dates on our American trip ;) I never thought about the gay pride week, but I don't think that one would bother us much.

Scary about the alligators - what exactly are retention pools? I had no idea alligators in the backyard were that common in Florida!


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States Author

Thanks! Sounds like you have a very sane plan for vacationing with children.

By law, every community in Florida has artificial ponds built into the development. We get a lot of rain during the rainy season and without them the streets would be flooded. Basically, if you dig a hole in Florida, you'll have a pond fairly quick. Additionally, natural and man made lakes are everywhere in every community here, so there are many many alligators. It's probably 2 blocks to the lake from our house, yet an alligator was found in one of the empty houses just the other week. They also if hungry enough will go looking for small dogs and other warm blooded food.


Wuksachi Staff profile image

Wuksachi Staff 7 years ago from Sequoia National Park

Hi Jerilee. Wow this is great! Personally I love Disneyland, but you make an excellent point about all those parents who bring their toddlers that can't even walk, let alone remember what little they actually can experience. I do plan on taking my children there some day, but not until they're old enough to appreciate it, and they will most definitely be seeing Yosemite, Sequoia, and all the other wonderful (not to mention CHEAPER!) sights this country has to offer. Very nice work!


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States Author

Thanks Wuksachi Staff! I'd love to see someone do some hubs on Yosemite, Sequois, etc. that tell the public some of the more interesting history and facts about such places.


Camping Dan profile image

Camping Dan 7 years ago

Actually this is a great hub and there is a world beyond Disney. I recently remarried and my new hubbie has two small children who have been to D World and nowhere else. My kids on the other hand have been to almost every national park out west, oh and D land as a side note.

Needless to say his children are jealous of the tales of snowboarding and surfing and want to do that way more than a return trip to Disney.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States Author

Thanks Camping Dan! Sounds like a great way to strengthen the bond by planning a new experience for all. I've been a step-parent and I think people often forget what having an extra person to love you and show you need things and ideas can do for a child.

I'm afraid some people took my hub as bashing Disney, which was not my intent, just wanted parents (especially those with very young children) to consider it something that needs to be age appropriate and something that should just be one of many types of experiences in growing up.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

I've never been to Disney theme parks, and never will. I'm very happy to fall into the "disney bashers" camp, even if you aren't doing it!

The word "disney-fied" is often used here as a critical term - meaning faked, sugary-sweet, unreal.

For example:

"Staff at The Real Mary King's Close were left stunned after the legendary Scottish film icon made some scathing comments on the attraction in his new book, Being a Scot.Owners were bemused at his description of the Royal Mile attraction, which has around 170,000 visitors a year, as "a Disneyfied haunted-house experience"."

http://news.scotsman.com/seanconnery/39Haunted-hou...

"It's essential if Arsenal is going to be respected. This is not going to be an American coming with no understanding of Arsenal looking to make it in to a Disneyfied version of Arsenal."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/leagues/...


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States Author

Being a grandmother I took the middle road on this topic and I don't want to be run out of town. LOL  Personally, to me it's a waste of money.  Yes, it can be a fun day, albeit an expensive one.  Far more better things to do with your children that are real and evergreen.

Largest number of visitors here in Florida to the theme parks -- those from the UK. Something that the locals don't understand in terms of why.

Good perspective, thanks!


JJRUBIO 7 years ago

I love your writing and your hubs and I think that its kinda funny that my mom and you were both at the opening of Disneyland....did you meet Walt Disney too? My mother did since her step father was the main Photographer/reporter for the Orange County Register and he was sent there for the story to be in the Newspaper. Anyways- I love Disneyland and everyone is entitled to their own opinions but I can see why you wrote the article. But Disneyland is still my Happiest place on earth!


BrianS profile image

BrianS 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

Totally agree with the sentiments of this hub, the real world beats the fake world hands down. Never been to Disney World and never will despite the peer pressure one feels from time to time.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States Author

Thanks BrianS! It's amazing that there is real peer pressure out there about this American icon and not the pressure to see our real treasures.


Jennifer profile image

Jennifer 7 years ago

I know so many people who take there under 3 year old children to Disney. Waste of money, never going to remember it, etc. I can't believe it. My kids are 10, 8, 6, 4 and while I think it would nice to go someday, it is not my dream and there are so many other (real as you put it) places in the US that i want to show my kids first. So chances are good that we will never go. Great hub!


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States Author

Thanks Jennifer! I don't necessarily think Disney is wrong, just a huge expense that isn't worth the effort for very young kids. So many other places to see and things to do that are real and lasting memories.


lefseriver profile image

lefseriver 7 years ago from Northern Minnesota

Great hub and as a former Disney employee in cash control, I agree it wasn't the happiest place on earth. It was interesting to learn how Disney operates behind the scenes as a business. Each ride ends with a store of that theme. Have also been to Yellowstone, Yosemite, King's Canyon, etc and agree that reality is better. :)


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States Author

Thanks lefseriver! I'd forgotten about the rides ending in a store.


talfonso profile image

talfonso 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

I still favor Disney, but this Hub is great - especially during this year when the Ad Council is doing its PSA campaign on having kids visit forests!


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 6 years ago from United States Author

Thanks talfonso! I OK with Disney as long as it's a conscious decision and more in favor of taking children who are old enough to go on the rides and remember the expensive event.


my life dream 6 years ago

Fabulous hub. Couldn't agree more. The "life dream" should be something a tad more close to one's own soul, rather than Disney's!


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 6 years ago from United States Author

Thanks my life dream! I certainly agree.

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