Is Disneyland REALLY the Happiest Place on Earth?

There are dream journeys, and then there are Dream Journeys. My top-of-the-line Dream Journey would involve a white-sand-beach, preferably isolated, or a trip to an old-world city, rich in culture and sophisticated chic. My kids would all be perfectly behaved, or cared for by nannies, or older, or not included. We would travel in the lap of luxury and be there for at least two weeks.

My short-term dream journey is a bit simpler and perhaps more attainable. I just want to take my children to Disneyland. I first visited Disneyland when I was seven, and it was truly magical. I have been there three times since, as well as Disneyworld once, and each time have left wanting to go back. Now that I have children, I want to go even more. I want to see the joy and wonder in their faces as their favorite storybook characters come alive. Graham wonders at the intensity of my desire; he has never been to Disneyland, so I cannot really explain to him how different it is from the parks he has been to: Great America, Marine World or even Legoland.


I've started thinking about this dream journey again because David Beckham has joined the LA Galaxy, Graham is finally interested in visiting LA again, and now that there's talk of the Galaxy playing an exhibition match with Chelsea this summer, he's more than willing to make the 5?6?7? hour drive from the Bay Area to see it. So if we do go to LA, how can we not make a quick detour to finally show our kids the Happiest Place on Earth?

But is this a dream journey in more ways than one? Will the reality of Disneyland always fall short of my expectations? Standing in line for an hour while you're smooching your boyfriend or chatting with friends is one thing, standing in line for an hour with three kids in tow is another. Paying $160 for a 3-day pass when you're single and making lots of money is one thing, paying $160 each for two adults and $130 each for three children when you're subsisting on a single income is a different story. Getting to the park at 8AM and staying till it closes is one thing, getting everyone ready before noon and dragging your kids around till they collapse from exhaustion is another.

Somehow I think the children will have a magical experience; whatever happens, a trip to Disneyland would be their dream vacation. I'm just not so sure anymore that it would be a dream vacation for us, the parents. How can I deprive them of this magical experience, but on the other hand, what's the point if we end up too stressed and exhausted to enjoy it? I'm aware of the pitfalls, but still I'm hopeful that we will all love it. After all, surely millions of families can't be paying tons of money to be miserable. I just don't know... to go or not to go? Is this my dream journey after all?


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13 comments, leave yours here:

Karen Travels said...

I have never been to Disney World or Land, but from what my roommate says about it, I think my (future) children will HAVE to go at least once.

Great Post!

Jennifer said...

I think it's great that your dream journey is to give your kids their dream journey!

Regina Clare Jane said...

Well, living 2 hours from Disney here in FL and visiting there with kids (my nieces and nephews) and by ourselves, I can truly say it's an exhausting experience either way! But- and this is a big but, it's still so much fun! Just take things slowly, rest when you need to, drink plenty of water, eat and have fun! There is just no way you can go and NOT enjoy yourself- it really brings out the kid in all of us!
There are days and times when you don't have to wait hours in a line for a fie or ten minute ride- all it takes is a little prep!
I do hope you get to go, Bongga mom- it's really worth it in the long run- oh, the memories you'll have!

david santos said...

Hello!
this work is very good, thank you
have nice wkend

paris parfait said...

I think you'll have a great time, because watching the children have fun - despite the long lines, expense, etc. - will be joyful and you (and they) will always have fond memories of your visit.

Mardougrrl said...

I also have fond memories of visiting Disney World (not Disneyland yet, although I lived in CA)...you are right, watching your children's faces light up is like getting to enjoy something twice!

KG said...

Being a parent myself, I can completely identify with your dilemma. We haven't faced what you're facing yet, but we know it's just around the corner...

Even if you go and it's not what you expect, you can still have fun. Even if the lines are too long, just have as much fun as you can. Your kids will probably love it! I've never been — am I the only one? ;)

I hope that whatever you decide, you feel good about your decision and have so much fun!

Becca said...

Having been to Disney World more times than I can count, with childnre from ages 5 to 25, my advice is certainly to go. My other best advice to you is do not try to see everything! Pick and choose wisely in the parks, and leave before the children get completely exhausted. If you can go during an "off season," when there are fewer crowds, even better. Don't feel pressured to do too much, and every one will have a better time.

Hope your dream journey is a dream come true!

whitney said...

I've never been to Disneyland, but I'd love to return to Disneyworld sometime. It would definitely be a dream journey, but I can also see your point about how this trip would be different than the other times you've been there. I think overall, though, it would be a godo experience for you all.

Jone said...

I love Disneyland. Was suppposed to go in January until we got there and the weather was too cold and windy to be outside all day at Disneyland prices, I bet it will be a blast for you and your family. Can't wait to go with grandchildren,

megnificent! said...

We took our three kids in 1996? to DisneyWorld, in Florida, because we live in N.C.
They were three, five and seven (I think) and we did a five day hopper-pass and even included Sea World, and a day trip to Cocoa Beach, where their daddy lived for a short time in the 1970's while his dad worked at NASA. We found their old house and even visited an old neighbor, that still lived there.
We had a fantastic time. We had a pretty tight schedule, but managed to spend a two day stint at a water park (Blizzard Beach) because that's what the kids liked.
I remember, my husband and his brother getting sick from spinning out of control on the Alice in Wonderland Teacups!! Priceless.
Plus, one good thing about kids under 12 is they eat free at many hotel packages, with a paying adult, and I clipped Sam's Club cereal box coupons for "one free kid, with a paying adult" , which we were able to use with all three of our kids; cortesy of our aunt/uncles with only one kid; since there was a two kid per coupon limit! Hey---that coupon was worth $49.50 per kid X three!!! $150.00!!
We had a great time.
Go for it; but plan wisely! Take lots of pictures! Put some on your blog!!
Meg from NC.

Liza's Eyeview said...

Go!

We love Disneyland. My kids and I have only been there once (hubby 3x) and that experience was so great we're hoping to go back there this October. We went in Oct. 2005, stayed at Disneyland hotel for 10 days. It was our 10 year wedding anniversary, and yes we splurged. We don't go to trips often so this was the grandest of all :)

Don't think twice, just go :)

gautami tripathy said...

May your dreams come true. Have a great journey!

Journey within the mind