Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Why I Disagree with this Anti-Disney Blog Post

This morning I read an article on The Humbled Homemaker titled Why We're Not Saving Up to Take Our Kids to Disney World. And while I completely understand that not everyone likes Disney World and wants to go there, I think that some of her reasons for avoiding Disney World are based on incorrect assumptions.

Here are some of the reasons why The Humbled Homemaker and others argue against a vacation at Disney World:

1. "Our kids won't remember the vacation or appreciate it at such a young age." 

The Humbled Homemaker writes, "Yes, we do want to take them one day (when they are much older and will hopefully create real memories and appreciate it more."

I disagree with this logic. First of all, kids DO remember experiences at a young age. Especially if you take video and photos of an event or trip. My daughter still talks about her cruises on the Disney Magic when she was 2 and 3 years old. Does she remember every detail about the trips? Probably not. But she recalls the experience as a whole and associates the trips with happy memories.

I also think that when kids are young on trips, the adults experience joy in watching their kids experience something for the first time. And that creates precious memories for the parents!

There is something so magical about watching a young child at Disney World who believes she is really meeting Cinderella and Mickey Mouse!

My oldest son's first time at Disney World

2.  "Disney World is all about consumerism and materialism."

The Humbled Homemaker says that "Disney is big money." And while that is mostly true, it doesn't have to be.

So many people who are thinking about going to Disney World or going on a Disney Cruise will look up the all-inclusive price on the Disney website (that includes on-site accommodations, tickets, and the meal plan) and faint at the price tag. But that's not the only way to experience Disney.

In 2010, we spent 8 days at Disney World on a small budget. We used airline miles to fly to Orlando for (almost) free. We shared a 4-bedroom off-site condo with extended family members, and our cost was less than $60 a night. We ate breakfast and dinner in our condo to save money, and brought snacks and our own water into the parks. We took two rest days where we didn't go into the parks at all, and instead relaxed and played at the resort. We all still had a blast, despite not spending a ton of money on that vacation!

Our last two times at Disney World were very short trips--two days at the parks in 2012 and one day in 2013. Not over-the-top expensive and still a pleasure. A Disney vacation doesn't have to last a whole week.

To cut down on the cost of "stuff" at Disney, we have asked for Disney gift cards for Christmas for our kids. We found that when our kids have their own money and budget for souvenirs, they make better choices. Disney doesn't make it easy with a gift shop at the end of every ride, but with a little planning ahead, it doesn't have to break the bank.

My kids don't remember most of the toys or souvenirs they have purchased on our vacations (well, except for that build-your-own light saber, that was pretty special.) They remember the experience as a whole.

On our last big vacation, a cruise on the Disney Fantasy, we were open with our kids about the cost of the vacation and the sacrifices we were making to afford the trip. We explained that we couldn't go to the movies every weekend, or go out to eat all the time, if we wanted to take the vacation. After having these discussions, I think my kids really started to understand about budgeting and saving.

(See my tips on finding ways to save money on a Disney World vacation and a Disney Cruise).

3. "Disney World isn't educational and doesn't expose my kids to other cultures."

I see and hear this argument often. The Humbled Homemaker's blog states that she wants her kids to have a "passion for embracing other cultures and learning other languages."

I argue that kids do get exposure to other cultures and languages at Disney World, to an extent. The Orlando Sentinel reports that 18 to 22 percent of visitors at Disney World are international. That means 1 out of every 5 people in line is from another country. Talk to them!

On our last cruise, we met and spoke to several families from other countries. Also, most of the crew members are from other countries and have a wealth of knowledge.

I remember a specific instance on a trip to Disney World when I was about 10 years old. My family was at EPCOT for the day, but we waited too long to make a dinner reservation. The only sit-down restaurant available was the one in Morocco. My parents made the reservation there, and I was not looking forward to it. However, much to my surprise, I actually liked the food and the whole experience at the restaurant. And I remember that my family talked to our server and asked her a lot of questions about her country (the cast members in each EPCOT country are from their respective countries on a short-term contract with Disney).

Disney World can also be as educational as you make it. Do you want your kids to learn about the physics and engineering behind the rides? Enroll them in one or more of the Disney Youth Education Series (YES) classes. Even without the classes, you can learn about animals, animation, science and other countries at the parks.

4. "We don't want our children to view a trip to Disney World as the pinnacle event of their childhood."

This is one of the main points on the Humbled Homemaker's blog post. I guess if a family never left home and the only time they did was a trip to Disney World, then yes, maybe the kids would remember Disney World as the pinnacle event of their childhood.

While my kids would love to go back to Disney World or on a Disney cruise any day, they also ask us if we can go back to that small cabin we visited a few years ago. And they ask if we can go to our neighborhood pool.

I went to Disney World several times as a child, but I certainly don't view any one trip as a pinnacle event. I do, however, remember our family vacations as a whole and have very fond memories of them. Some were better than others, true. But what I remember most is spending time with my family and having adventures.

An encounter with Eeyore

Disney World (and Disneyland and Disney cruises) are not for everyone. And my kids won't grow up with Disney as their only vacation destination for sure. I understand the Humbled Homemaker's desire to visit Costa Rica instead (I've never been there, but would love to go someday).

But my opinion on Disney or any other destination is this: Don't knock it until you're tried it! Or at least researched ways to make it more affordable/enjoyable, etc. (And please don't visit Disney at a peak time without getting any fast passes or research of crowd levels and peak might never try that again!)

What's your opinion???

Yes, we do want to take them one day (when they are much older and will hopefully create real memories and appreciate it more! - See more at:
Yes, we do want to take them one day (when they are much older and will hopefully create real memories and appreciate it more! - See more at:
Yes, we do want to take them one day (when they are much older and will hopefully create real memories and appreciate it more! - See more at:


  1. Nancy, I really enjoyed your post. While I'm not a huge Disney fan, I do understand the appeal. My kids absolutely love it, so we will go there many times, I'm sure. It helps that we live in Florida, so the cost isn't outrageous. And you are right, there are ways to do it on a budget.
    I actually agree with your points. The consumerism argument is a bit overblown. While Disney is in it to make money, so are other places you go to. The hotels, resorts, cruise lines etc. are there to sell you the experience. It's up to you what you make of it. Ditto for "culture" argument. I think we as parents tend to overcomplicate things. I know I'm guilty of that. The whole point of traveling with kids is to have fun together and create memories. Does everything have to be a learning/cultural experience? Not really.

    1. I so wish we lived in Florida! Not just for Disney, but also for the beaches and the proximity to the Caribbean. Maybe you will become a bigger Disney fan the more times you.go. :)

  2. Brilliant! Humbled Homemaker seems to be formulating choices and opinions based on unfounded theories and honestly probably is a staunch liberal or has a lot of liberal friends and is looking down at the whole idea of a Disney vacation because if they go her kids will grow up being superficial republican consumerists. In the meantime their kids are yawning during their eco-friendly working vacation at some "organic" blueberry farm up in Maine with a bunch of other upper-middle class guilt ridden suburbanites from NJ.