I have to hand it to Walt Disney. Hasn’t even been 100 years and a child’s visit to one of his parks is as much an American institution as say, baseball. Or marriage. Or having the kids to begin with.
Of course you’re going to take your children to Disneyland or Disney World, OR BOTH! You’ve learned every lyric to Bear Necessities, Let It Go, and Moana. Visiting, is but a proper graduation. Really, it feels like going to Disney is due for just about any big event:
“You just got a big promotion at work! What are you going to do now?”
I’m going to Disneyland!
We’ve seen the commercials and can hear the celebration in our heads. But what the commercial never captures is all of us five minutes later. The uncomplaining, quiet, sulking you. Knees pressed to your chest, staring at some corner and steadying your breath as you think of the otherwise sterling education you would have been able to afford for your children if only you’d have only invested the money more wisely.
I’m furious, panicked about the small fortune I’m about to spend, and excited all the same. I am feeling the joy in my children’s eyes when they see Mickey Mouse or their favorite Disney Princess. And though Jen and I have specifically sworn to raise American women –not princesses– we’ll watch our girls light up with reverence when Ariel “swims” by. We will get lumps in our throats just the same.
But for all the mild panic attacks, somewhere along the way, we discovered something quite interesting. Quite by accident, we found that there are indeed moments, every bit as magical, but with a distinctly different price tag.
Walt Disney, is but AN imagination. And like you and me, he –and every Imagineer since– has taken their inspiration from somewhere. We think that “somewhere” can be found in a National Park.
Seeing Bambi. Your toddler’s face will fall into a confused rapture. But wait till you see how they look when they see Bambi’s mama…
And to stumbleupon Chip and Dale. You purposefully stop because you know the poor kid wearing that suit is dehydrated as hell but desperate to light up your kid’s universe. But wait until your kids meet Chip’s wild cousin, climbing out of a crag in the mountain.
To feel that iron fatherly pride as you brave Pirates of the Caribbean with your kids snuggled in the crooks of your elbows. But wait until you see their excitement; searching for buried treasure in the eye of an old skull.
I love the world Walt Disney has imagined and created for our children.
But we go to the wilderness to see our children imagine and create worlds all their own.
Happiness is found in a Park. Hope we see you out there.