I Still Hate Disney!

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A shoulders up image of the Mickey Mouse mascot from Disney World

I have been unapologetic in my hate for Disney worship. However, I recently found myself needing to bring my children with me on a work trip to Orlando, so I did what I previously considered unthinkable: I went to Disney. And it was as awful as I expected.

Let me preface this by saying that we went to Animal Kingdom, it was last minute, and we didn’t book anything ahead of time like Fast Passes. I know all of you Disney lovers out there are going to tell me that I would have had a 100% different experience if I had just done the planning. I disagree. But regardless, I was never going to do the planning because I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of traveler.

Our group was me, my mom, my almost-9-year-old twins, and my 4-month-old infant. Sticker shock set in when I had to pay $25 to park but was offered $50 preferred parking. Disney is built on what was once a wasteland of swamp and gators. Land is not at a shortage. The parking lot stretches for miles. The fee feels like an unnecessary money grab.

My next surprise was that the tram from the parking lot to the entrance was neither stroller nor wheelchair friendly. I had mistakenly assumed that Disney bent over backward for people on wheels. So we unsnapped the car seat from the stroller, unloaded all of the paraphernalia from underneath, collapsed it, and squeezed into the tram. There wasn’t even anywhere safe to put the car seat, just slippery benches. Color me unimpressed.

We entered the park at around 11:00 a.m., puzzling over our maps. The big kids just wanted to do rides. My mom was interested in seeing animals. We headed to Pandora, and on the way, saw a pretty cool anteater. Spoiler alert: that was the only animal we saw all day, despite the fact this park is “part zoo.” As we made our way to Pandora, I was overwhelmed by the plastic crappiness of it all. There was gift shop after gift shop selling trinkets. These stores must have outnumbered rides and attractions twenty to one.

We got in line for the Avatar boat ride.

I’m sure it has a formal name.  I’m also sure I’m not going to google it because I don’t want to be inundated with Facebook ads for Disney. The sign said the wait time was 85 minutes, but the kids could not be deterred. My mom went off to wait with the baby. A nice Disney employee told her that the baby could go on this ride, so she left the stroller and joined us in line. Lugging that car seat in line was killer –picking it up and putting it down three feet later (only to repeat the process in forty seconds.) Eventually, we all got really thirsty. I was grateful for the snack bar in the middle of the line but annoyed that the water was $5 a bottle. Yes, I know things are always expensive at theme parks, but it seems greedy.

The area where you wait in line is beautifully done and looks like the trees and flowers from Avatar. Of course, my kids wanted to touch everything. My daughter reached out to a fallen log and said, “Ew. Even the moss is fake.” I have tried to keep my Disney-disgust from my children. I never told them that I don’t like Disney, but apparently like mother, like daughter. My heart smiled a little. I’m not going to lie.

We ended up waiting in line for about an hour. I was pleased that the sign had been wrong in our favor. The boat ride was fine, but it wasn’t a life-changing experience. I asked the kids if they liked it, and my son said it was fine but it wasn’t worth the wait in line. He then said, “Can you please never bring me here again?” That’s a deal I’m confident I can make.

At this point, I texted a Disney-loving friend and told her where I was and that we all hated it. (After spending about $600 on tickets and parking alone, I wanted the day to be a good one.) She gave me excellent mom advice: go get a margarita. I didn’t because I was about to pump for the baby, but I appreciated that she knew what I needed. That said, I didn’t pay for entrance to the park to drink margaritas. I wanted to see some animals and ride some rides without hours-long waits!

Then I headed off to nurse the baby

I will say that the nursing mothers’ room is great, although it could certainly be larger or they could have more than one. There are two private rooms, and I was lucky to grab one without waiting. I pumped in privacy and snuggled my baby. There is also a larger room with about 15 changing tables and a few rocking chairs. I would be remiss if I didn’t praise Disney for at least offering this. Had this space not existed, I would have had to trek back to the parking lot and pump in the car, which would have been a lot less convenient.

I rejoined my family and learned that they wanted to go on the African safari, but the line was too long. We spent time in Dinoland where they found a couple of rides with really short waits. My daughter and I went on the Yeti ride as well–which is a real roller coaster and was very fun. My mom and son watched the River Lights show while we did that, and they loved it. We tried to get dinner at the Yak & Yeti, but it and every other sit-down restaurant were booked solid. No one wanted a $9 corn dog from a food cart, so we decided to head back to the hotel and grab dinner on the way.

Once again I was annoyed by the tram’s lack of stroller-friendliness. Also, instead of doing a full loop of the parking lots, they were just doing a straight line. This meant that instead of always exiting to the right and heading into the lot, people also had to exist to the left and cross over curbs and medians. I know it sounds like a small thing, but to me, the tram was a glaring example of a lack of courtesy. If nothing else, I expected better from Disney on that front.

Overall, my kids ended up having fun after their initial reactions.

They spent the next two days at Legoland, at a fraction of the cost, and loved it exponentially more. On some level, I’m glad we went because now we never have to go again. I’m still absolutely floored that at Animal Kingdom we literally only saw one anteater, but I’m thrilled that I can spend my vacation dollars on other things; without worrying that I’m denying them some quintessential American experience. There are a zillion and one vacations we can take that will be less expensive, more fun, and cater to my “just show up and wing it” planning method. So, I stand by my prior statements. I still proudly hate Disney!

1 COMMENT

  1. You’re a braver mother than I am. I have no interest in EVER visiting a Disney theme park, even if I was already in the area for other things. Thanks for taking one for the team here and reminding me why I’ll never bring my kids.

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