A few years ago when we lived our “normal” lives in suburban New Jersey, my husband and I would laugh to each other about those crazy people making their yearly trek to the land of Disney.
We felt they were crazy to spend so much time, money and effort….and for what? A few days of overpriced mediocre food and entertainment. We even chose not to expose our children to the mayhem until they were well past their fifth birthday. Even at that point we were hesitant.
We spent a week annually over the next couple years doing what we had chastised others for. Cramming more “fun” in each day than we should have. Needing a vacation for our vacation each time.
We began living a different lifestyle a few years ago, one with no house, only a home on wheels, no lawn to mow, only the national, state and county parks as our back yard. And guess what we did. We bought season passes to Disney. As declared Florida residents we were able to purchase season passes for our family for Christmas at the resident’s rate. This is only a few dollars more than a three day pass.
We have visited all fifty states and toured their capital buildings over the past couple of years. With that being said, Florida and the Keys are one of the places we perpetually visit. The temperate weather and proximity to the coast just draw us in. Orlando is a central stop over place for us when we travel vertically through the state. While we were in Orlando, a couple afternoons a week after work and school, we would head to Disney for a few hours.
We each had a favorite park. Being able to go at your own pace makes a world of difference. We would spend time in line discussing what we had learned or read or heard recently. Our son especially is inquisitive and can spend hours debating and discussing with his dad. Sometimes we would talk about Disney’s marketing or how they paid so much attention to detail and customer service. We talked about the employees and what we thought their perspective would be. Are they thankful to have a job? Will they strive for more? What about the people behind the scenes?
We also had time to notice others around us and be so thankful that we weren’t rushing or under a time schedule. We talked about how stress can bring out the worst in people even when they are on vacation. Some of the parents truly did not know their childrens’ limits. Many children did not notice or appreciate the effort and funds their parents had put forth. I am sure they all were striving to have a memorable time in the happiest place on earth. It was a great learning experience for our children.
We were able to do all the extra things families rarely have time for. Our kids scoured the countries in Epcot for clues to a scavenger hunt. It brought our attention even more to the intricate details such as tiny flags and smoke coming from a chimney.
They helped Merlin pursue villains in the Magic Kingdom. This search had them follow a map to secret portals which showed them another world entirely. They cast spells with the cards they were given. The technology and interaction were another topic we conversed about.
My children had time to stop by Paris and purchase a French pastry with a gift card their Grandma had given them. They could ride favorite rides over and over again. If a line was too long there were no melt downs. We would just get to it on another visit. Delayed gratification was enforced.
I would say over the year we strolled among the crowds on about twenty occasions. If it was too congested for us we just made our exit. I have learned for me slowing down to smell the roses or in our case ride the roller coaster is the best option. I never imagined our attending an amusement park could facilitate relaxing family time. By the end of the year we had spent countless hours with our children, really listening to them, sharing with them. This may not be the best alternative for every family, but for ours it caused us to not just be together, but consciously be together and notice why we love our lifestyle so much.