June 24, 2017

"Never have I ever felt more grateful for my limited responsibilities in life than when I was wandering through the Magic Kingdom watching other families roll their eyes and sometimes yell at each other."

"With every child’s tantrum I witnessed, I felt more at peace. Someday, I’m sure, I will have to peel a screaming toddler off the ground outside Peter Pan’s Flight. On this trip, however, I only had to answer to myself and to my boyfriend, who agreed that we should definitely try a wine in every country at Epcot. It was perfect, unexpected Zen."

From "Go to Disney World Now, Before You Have Kids," by Allie Jones in New York Magazine.

If the travel idea is go where you can see other people struggling under circumstances that do not afflict you, then why not visit prisons and cancer wards? I guess the key is that children are a very particular kind of circumstance.

You might be troubled by the impression that children are wonderful and the meaning of life and that you ought to get to that real life soon so you can live and do all the things people do with children like take them to Disney World.

If that's how you're thinking, a trip to Disney World without children could work well. First, it would prove that you can go to Disney World without having a child first. Second, it would help you see that there's good and bad in having or not having children. It's not that you'd learn that children afflict you like prison or cancer, but just that it's a mixed experience, a different mix from life without children.

57 comments:

Mary Beth said...

WDW is great without (young) children, especially during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival in the fall.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

WDW is great with young children.

Expat(ish) said...

I am not a big fan of crowds - not scared or freaked out, but wary and always a bit too much aware of exits and open spaces.

So WDW and the like are tough for me to enjoy.

Having said that, I think the magic age for my (3) kids was when they were old enough to walk all day and wait in line without too much B&M. But not so old that they disappeared into their phones at all times.

Now they're basically all adults and I'm thinking it might be time to go back, since they can pay for their own food.

-XC

TestTube said...

While the Disney experience is sufficiently entertaining on its own for many adults, I find taking a child to Disney -- or many other amusement parks -- multiplies the fun.

Amusement parks just aren't as much fun without a child.

Ah, here I am, in a location where various theatrical productions and rides exist which are intended to amuse me, an adult.

Look, there is a person in a large mouse costume, who will pose with me for a picture. I note with approval that the person portraying the mouse does so in a highly competent and theatrical manner. I salute his or her professionalism.

Here is a mechanical devices intended to convey me through a series of tableaux. It is a well designed mechanical device, and may, through its motion, induce various sensations, mostly through a clever manipulation of my inner ear. Perhaps there is an activity to engage in while the device conveys me. I admire the large amount of thought, skill, and artistry that obviously went into the design and construction of both the conveying device and the tableaux.

There are also places to purchase mementos of my visit to the amusing location, as well as beverages and food to sustain me during my experience.

Unknown said...

Interesting take. I've been 3 times in 3 years with my son. Greatest 3 vacations of my life. Recently went a fourth time as a newlywed without my son. It was fantastic. A different type of fantastic. I saw the kids melting down of course. I did point it out with a small, humble chuckle (happened to me previous 3 trips of course). Without kids is a certain type of special. But you must be ready to take in the beauty if you go without kids. I personally was not ready to take in the beauty as a young adult before kids. So I'd modify her recommendation. Go as a still young'ish adult a few years after taking your children.

The new firework show at magic kingdom is shockingly good. I was pumping my fist in the air as the pre recorded track gave a wonderful motivational speech.

Otto said...

"bad having children" - The start of fascism. But me a tikkunista- yes you.

rehajm said...

Getting blitzed in the Epcot Biergarten is guilt free.

The Vault Dweller said...

When I read articles like this I wonder if this has more to do with the author and similarly situated people trying to make themnselves feel better about not being married with children. Among my own social circle as more and more people started getting married and then having children those who weren't, especially the women, tended to distance themselves from the married with kids crowd. Now obviously children limit what people can do to an extent, but I got the feeling at least part of it was to not feel bad about being reminded that he or she was not married with children.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

If the travel idea is go where you can see other people struggling under circumstances that do not afflict you, then why not visit prisons and cancer wards?

I hear testicular cancer support groups are a great place to meet people...

Rusty said...

WDW
The place where people without imaginations go.
And kids
Yeah. I've been there. More times than I care to count.
My daughters love it.
I'd rather have an MRI.
The Universal Studios tour is better.

Ann Althouse said...

"Having said that, I think the magic age for my (3) kids was when they were old enough to walk all day and wait in line without too much B&M. But not so old that they disappeared into their phones at all times."

I took my sons to Disney World, Epcot, MGM, and Universal many times in the 80s and 90s, in the pre-mobile phone era. (My mother and sister lived in the Orlando area.) Smart phones would be really helpful for dealing with the lines! Seems to me, you just need a rule that you're only allowed to get the phone out when you're waiting in line. That would be ideal. Waiting in line would become desirable.

TestTube said...

Actually, now that I think about it, having at least one child meltdown is an essential part of the amusement park experience.

Wouldn't be the same without that little bit of real-world drama.

BudBrown said...

My most magical moment at WDW happened when after getting in the car with the 12 year old and the 2 six year old nephews and breathing a sigh of relief and then noticing I'd left the lights on some guy rolls up on a golf cart contraption and asks if I need a jump. You betcha.

Expat(ish) said...

@Ann - Phones would have been good for splitting up at a ride - we got stuck n a terrific line at "Its a small world" and I would have been much happier having a seat for an hour. But no way we'd have managed the logistics. Plus my wife would have killed me.

While the kids were growing up we didn't do much electronically out of the house - no TV in the car, no game boys, etc. Big into car games (I-Spy, bingo, etc) and books.

So our kids were pretty good about the lines.

-XC

Ambrose said...

So much of New York magazine is an attempt to convince Manhattanites that their life decisions were superior ones.

AReasonableMan said...

My wife and daughter recently went to Universal Studios and Harry Potter World. They spent 12 hours a day on the rides for two days straight. It was two of the best days of their lives, no doubt in part because I wasn't there, casting shade.

Personally, I'm looking forward to Bob Dylan World, with the Nobel Speech ride as a centerpiece. If DollyWood can be a thing there is no good reason why Bob Dylan World should not exist.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

People actually used to visit institutions for the insane and/or mentally ill. I would think to enjoy schadenfreude--a great word with no English equivalent I know of.

Eleanor said...

When I travel without kids, an amusement park isn't even on my radar. I'd rather visit a new city or explore a natural environment. Waiting in line for an hour for something that lasts a few minutes has little appeal. I'd rather drink wine on a veranda overlooking a beautiful vineyard instead of watching crowds walk by in an amusement park. My parents took my kids to WDW. My son and his wife have been there w/o kids, but only because her mom has a timeshare. They were pretty bored.

Earnest Prole said...

Hell is other people's bratty children.

TestTube said...

Amusement park melt-downs are the best sort of meltdown, really.

No boiling over after years of unspoken resentments.

No emotional breakdown in the face of cancer, or bankruptcy, or infidelity, or drugs, or some other problem that will never be fixed because it is, essentially, unfixable.

No long slog coming to terms with the harshness and unfairness of life

No sinking feeling that the root cause is staring back at you from the mirror, and all the self-help books in the world aren't going to solve it.

Just someone who is hungry or thirsty or tired, or overstimulated, or maybe all four. A fifteen minute break to have an ice cream, and they are all smiles again, pulling on your hand, eager to get their picture with Mickey and Minnie.

One of the few times in the real world where problems actually do get wrapped up within thirty minutes.

jerpod said...

I remember a family vacation when I was a kid, mid-to-late 60s, my dad took us all on a tour of a working Colorado prison. They apparently offered public tours. Didn't seem weird at the time, but it does now. Maybe you can still take a prison tour?

Joseph Brandon said...

Best way to get the Disney experience? Take on =e of their cruises. If you have kids, Mickey keeps them busy. If you go without kids, Mickey keeps the other people's kids busy. Win win situation. Beautiful ships, great food and shows and if you are adult only, don't worry, the kids on board don't get underfoot like you would think they would

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

I smell a milllenial . They are determined to remain children so the don't have to suffer adulthood. The writer is describing the joy of being an empty nester. Just intentionally skip that slave state of raising children work.
They are dumb as rocks.

buwaya said...

The whole point of living is kids, for the vast majority of humanity.
Otherwise, why?

Bill Peschel said...

Agree with the cruise. We won a four-day trip courtesy of McDonalds. It was amazing to have every need taken care of. The kids were occupied and well-behaved, we saw great shows and movies. I could even go on deck at 2 a.m. and get a damn good cup of coffee.

At the end, the Disney bus dropped us off at the airport, and we sat in a crappy café drinking watery coffee, waiting for our flight home. I felt like crying.

Couldn't take any trips to Disney World. Couldn't afford it. Well, yes, we could have gone into debt, like friends of ours. But I retired from journalism at 52 to write books. And the kids don't seem to miss not going to DW.

AReasonableMan said...

buwaya said...
Otherwise, why?


Ad majorem Dei gloriam?

Paddy O said...

Before we had kids, I went with my wife to Disneyland and California adventure, got a 2 day pass. Got on every ride we wanted at Disneyland on the first day. We went in late February, because we could. Had an entirely lovely dinner at a table by the railing in the Blue Bayou. Then California Adventure started off the next day, got on rides multiple times. It was a wonderful time.

So, it's not really all that exciting of a story to say that a couple without children went to a Disney Park. What's interesting is that it's framed as a comparison to other people, as if her fun resulted as a measure of other people's not fun. Meanwhile when I went during our childfree days, I was enchanted with being with my wife, and loved being in our own little bubble of bliss. My joy came with being with her in a fun place, not by comparing how much better we had it than others.

And then years later, we went with our kids, a 10 month old and an almost three year old. Yes, our kids had outbursts and yeah there were some rough patches, but that wasn't the whole day. It was amazing seeing the joy and exciting in my daughter's eyes, seeing Disneyland for the first time, meeting Minnie Mouse in a thoroughly delighted state of bliss. The whole day was a wonderful experience for me, who grew up not too far from Disneyland and so had gone there often. I saw it again with a bounty of joy, and saw parts and places I hadn't before.

Those two visits were very, very different experiences at the same place. But both are amazing memories.

surfed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
surfed said...

Rat World. The fucking Rat that ate Central Florida and destroyed one of America's most beautiful small cities that was Orlando. A wonderful place of small city lakes everywhere. I hold that fucking god damned Rat and his soul destroying rat fucking corporation responsible for destroying the once great State of Florida. Orlando is now an ugly over populated hell hole of everything bad about America. Rat World, Shamu World, Universal Hell World and the rest of their ilk are destroyers. Please do not come to Florida to spend your money there. Starve the Cancer of Florida that Orlando has mestastisized into. A sad sad legacy to a once great State.

surfed said...

I'm not through. Pestilence. Disease carrying pestilence of urban overcrowding, maddening traffic that makes L.A. seem logical, urban strip mall blight, clueless tourists wandering outside of the Orlando gulag. That a Class 5 hurricane would land with the predestinated fury of a storm driven John Calvin rooting out sin and degredation. I'll stop. I don't feel better but I'll stop.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Eleanor said...
When I travel without kids, an amusement park isn't even on my radar. I'd rather visit a new city or explore a natural environment."

Same here. And I agree that this article is an attempt to make people feel better about not having kids. Everyone knows that there are moments when kids aren't a lot of fun - when they get bratty and fussy and tired and puke up the hot dog and grape soda they had for lunch. Congratulating yourself on being childless because you don't have to deal with the messier, more trying aspects of parenthood strikes me as both mean-spirited and missing the big picture.

I've escorted my nieces and nephews to amusement parks and it's much more fun to be on a roller coaster next to an excited 10 year old who is screaming her head off with delight - even if 10 minutes later she is squabbling with her kid brother.

Amusement parks, like Christmas and Halloween, are better with kids.

AReasonableMan said...

surfed said...
Rat World.


Preach it, brother. Although technically he is a mouse.

rcocean said...

My Dad had a wonderful time at Disney world. He spent all day smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and talking to other adults, while we went out and stood in line and went on rides.

He'd probably be arrested for child neglect today. But he just expected us to go out and do our thing without his supervision.

And we had a wonderful time when we took our daughter. But we only went once because she's more into "real life" as she later put it.

mockturtle said...

I never took my kids to Disneyland--they went later as adults with their children--but I enjoyed the hell out of my kids. And still do.

Seeing Red said...

Universal is the big kid park. I suggest they go there. Or both. I've always loved Epcot. Make sure u rent a boat for the fireworks. Daughter just came back said Avatar ride was heads above Harry Potter World. And HP was magical.

Seeing Red said...

If u don't want "crowds", go to WDW in September. The kids are in school, and we've found. there's more English and central/South Americans. Airfare is cheaper and so are the Disney hotels.

Seeing Red said...

And Mickey's not sO Scary Halloween and Universal's Fright Nite are really fun! But Universal requires a fast pass or you will never get thru all the haunted houses. This was last year's vacay. Both parks in 1 week we were exhausted. Included food and wine event.

Seeing Red said...

ITA with Paddy O. Besides I tell most crying kids I meet there's no crying in Mickeys House! My teenager had a totally different experience. Great birth control for teens! So it might depend on ones mental age.

Unknown said...

Ann, lines no longer exist. Fastpasses are amazing. You only need your phone to get the next fastpass. Four times, including summer and haven't waited in a line over 15 minutes.

wwww said...

I remember a family vacation when I was a kid, mid-to-late 60s, my dad took us all on a tour of a working Colorado prison. They apparently offered public tours. Didn't seem weird at the time, but it does now. Maybe you can still take a prison tour?


My dad took us to see Argonne National Labs. We were about 8 and 4. He took us twice! I don't even think kids are allowed in now. I was impressed with the scientists & their long white lab coats. There were some diagrams on the wall, but not much else to see.

I was disappointed I couldn't "see" the atoms or the atom splitter. This also didn't seem weird at the time, but it sure does now. I wish my Dad was still alive so I could ask him why we went to Argonne and not to a Cubs game. Maybe he just wanted to visit.

But we also went to Disney World. Visiting Argonne makes for a better story now, but Disney World was a lot more fun.

Bruce Hayden said...

This is a point of contention with my partner. She firmly believes that I committed some sort of child abuse in never having taken my kid to Disneyland/world. She, of course, took the four they were raising together multiple times, and even took a friend each once. It just never worked out for us. And, my kid turned out great, regardless. I don't think that they would have traded the month at camp every summer for several days at a Disney resort one year. But, guaranteed - next time "Disney" comes up in any context, I will hear about why I was such a horrible parent.

bagoh20 said...

I cannot think of a single thing about Disneyland that recommends it. Children will force you to go, but nothing there is especially fun, interesting, educational, tasty or a value. Its all pain and no gain for me. It makes me hate reproduction, children, capitalism,and humanity in general. That is a heck of an accomplishment.

And there seems to be a lot of poop, and pooping. Who needs that?

surfed said...

@bagoh20 - spot on.

Tom from Virginia said...

I went to Disneyworld with my wife, a year before my first child was born. I remember thinking as we left "if we never have children, I'll probably never come here again." And 27 years later, I've never been back. My kids often lament they are the only children in American who've never been to Disneyworld.

Mark said...

The thing is this: This chick DID go to Disney World with a child -- herself.

Mark said...

I've been to both World and Land. And each was incredibly meh. Lots of that had to do with the overblown hype about the places.

Cedar Point was always great though.

n.n said...

When I was young, childhood was a perpetual dream and distant memory.

Pianoman said...

Mrs. Pianoman and I are huge Disney park fans. We've been to WDW several times, and don't have kids.

People-watching *is* one of the things we enjoy. It's fun to see other families having a good time at the parks.

Disney's cruise ships are broken down into three "zones"; one for smaller kids and their parents, one for teenages, and the other for adults only. Disney recognizes these three distinctive demographics, and they tailor their cruise ships accordingly.

It's a misnomer to think that Disney theme parks is only about kids. They are an *entertainment* company for everyone, not just children.

Lucien said...

When I was young (late 70's / early 80's) we went to WDW every year, the week *after* Thanksgiving, which is when the park was emptiest. Adults and children loved it. My sister and I would never have dreamed of pitching a bitch-fest as modern children do today, because my mother would have whipped our asses.

We still tell the story of how at Cinderella's Castle six-year old me ran across the pavement to hug Minnie Mouse. She kneeled down and opened her arms to receive my hug and return it. It never even occurred to me it was a girl in a costume - it was her! Those WDW employees sure know what they're doing and it remains a great memory.

I'd take the Pirates of the Caribbean ride again and again and again. My mother got tired of the Yo Ho, Yo Ho song after a while and would sit outside having a drink while I kept circulating on the ride.

Take your kids to WDW by all means. And spank them if they get out of line (better yet, do that before you get to the park so they know how to behave).

cubanbob said...

The EPCOT beer and wine is alright but even in October when its held it's hot as hell in Orlando. As a Florida resident when my kids were young I drove to WDW so many times I could do the drive blindfolded. They loved it and that is all that counts.

David said...

Children are satisfying because they are a lot of trouble. It's called commitment and responsibility. Certainly having and raising children is not the only way to express those values, but people who are puzzled about why people would embrace the bother are missing something important.

Today's theme seems to be "stunted adults." Or perhaps "children living gown up's lives."

Nancy Reyes said...

This is an "ain't it awful" propaganda piece against families with children. I'm old enough to remember when the press encouraged "mom and apple pie" values: Now mom is cast as evil or stupid, and apple pie makes you fat. Go figure.

So we now read propaanda to enoucourage one to be selfish, and write things like this to justify your selfishness. But remember, those kids will be paying for your social security someday.

Unknown said...

Writers like this want to wait to have kids until they are "ready". But you are never "ready". The experience of being a parent changes you, you grow. It is a blast in spite of the crying and whining--at least it was for me. And waiting too long often leads to the inability to have children. Ladies, if you think you can have kids when you are in your late 30s and financially secure, don't count on it. Biology does not cater to your needs. Babies want a mother who is in her early 20s, not 38, not 42.

Freeman Hunt said...

Someone took me on a date to Disney Land once. I don't remember anything about any children, but then, that was over a decade and a half ago, so I don't remember much of anything about it.

Went to Disney World three times as a kid. Loved it, of course.

Freeman Hunt said...

Epcot is especially magical for a kid, I think.

MadisonMan said...

I suspect the author really only saw things that reinforced her beliefs. The family with well-behaved children? Didn't make much off an impact on her.