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Disneyland — Tips for the Reluctant

Jada and Mom at Disney
It’s final – we’re taking the kids to Disneyland. It won’t be the first time for our family, but the kids are now 10 and 14. With one tween and one full-fledged teen, Duncan and I feel the need to go while being seen with us is still only mildly embarrassing for them.
Jedi Connor
We’ve found a rental condo, which is a little more expensive than our usual mid-priced hotel, but still way cheaper than the Disney resorts. We’ll be across the street from Disney, so no shuttles to and fro. We’re also looking forward to having a kitchen, allowing us to eat breakfast in our jammies — a travel must.
Still, I harbor a lingering reluctance anytime I contemplate a Disney trip, which makes me feel a bit odd — like having an aversion to chocolate or cheese, or the scent of freshly cut grass. Call me peculiar, but I’ll take a crumbling, draughty castle over a sparklingly scrubbed theme park any day. Disney also teems with the things I’d rather avoid when I travel – crowds, lines, and blatant commercialism.
While I’m sure I’m in the minority, there has to be someone else who feels the same way. So,fellow ambivalent Disney-goer (I know you’re out there), here are the strategies I’ve honed over the years to love Disney more:

  1. If the commercialism is bothersome, give school-aged kids a souvenir budget to stick to, and talk about it before the trip. Remind kids that what’s important are the memories, and that photos help keep those memories alive. It’s not about the stuff. It’s a lesson they can take with them well beyond Disney.
  2. Admit it – it is fun. Channel your inner kid. If possible, travel with another family or grandparents. That way, two adults can hop on a ride together once in a while, and aren’t limited to your child’s favorites. Trade babysitting in the evenings, so adults can head out for some slightly more grown-up Disney fun:
  3. The crowds and lines? Surrender to it. These are standard elements of travel and not unique to Disney. Don’t think crowded — think lively, energizing, festive. Lower your personal space requirements, if only for a few short days. To minimize the stress, see this handy chart that details the best and worst times to go to Disney World. Be sure to factor in the weather, too.
  4. Don’t try to see everything. If the family needs some downtime, go back to the hotel midday and head back out a little later. Don’t be ruled by the fear of missing out. Stay in the moment, and don’t adhere to a strict itinerary. This can be a challenge for the goal-oriented.


Still reluctant? This New York Times journalist reluctantly visits all 13 Disney parks as a way to better understand the hype.

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