Aspen Times Weekly Escape Artist: ‘Lessons from the Happiest Place on Earth’
After four days in “The Happiest Place on Earth,” there are a few things that are worth mentioning:
1. Let me start off by admitting, I’m a Disney fan. I love the movies, and I cherish my own childhood memories of visiting the Magic Kingdom as a kid. So let it be known, I’m coming at this with a little bias. For kids, Disney is the coolest place imaginable. Everything is geared toward their enjoyment and happiness. They can make their own decisions, and for the most part, it is safe, so here a little freedom is possible. Generally speaking, we let the kids rule the days at Disney. They chose the rides, where to eat and what to do. A true break from the school, ski, chores, and the routine of home.
2. My kids are ages 8 and 5, and this was the perfect time for them to visit. They were able to enjoy every ride (the more exciting rides one must be 44 inches or taller) and they will be able to remember the experience. Riding a roller coaster for the first time with our kids and seeing the thrill — bordering on panic — on their faces was priceless for us as parents. And for our kids, to hear their mom screaming with laughter at the drop of Splash Mountain reminded them (and us) that their parents were once kids, too.
3. Stay at a Disney resort. This choice is worth every penny. Inter-resort and theme park transportation, the Magic Band that allows you to charge things to your room, and the ability to take a break in the middle of the day to go “home” for a swim, lunch or just to relax, never having to touch your car, etc., keeps the “World” experience going.
3. If you are staying in Disney World, Fort Wilderness Campground is the best choice with kids. I’ve stayed in many different resorts at Disney World and the best, by far, is Fort Wilderness. This is a 700-spot, meticulously maintained campground that begins at $40 per night for up to 10 people per spot. You can do the math, but it is by far the most affordable way to stay. If you don’t have a camper, or can’t commandeer one from your parents like I did, you can stay in a tent site, or rent a cabin (for more money, of course) on the campground property. Benefits include wide open spaces to play, nighttime outdoor Disney movies, campfires, swimming pools, bike riding, horses, water sports, you name it. It’s an adventure in itself.
4. If the people in Disney World are an actual cross-section of the United States, the health epidemic we’ve all been reading and hearing about is the darn truth. Living in Colorado, and especially the Aspen area, you forget at how healthy of a lifestyle we all live — until you get to Main Street U.S.A. I couldn’t get over how overweight the majority of parkgoers were — especially the children. If parents who physically abuse or neglect their children are punished under the law, why not those who are killing their children with hundreds of extra pounds? It was so sad to see kids, no more than 12 years old, being pushed around, or worse, using electric carts to get around Disney because they were too heavy to walk. And it wasn’t just one or two people — the minorities were those who seemed fit and healthy. We are in big trouble, no pun intended, if this is really what America considers normal.
5. Yes, Disney can be a headache for adults. The crowds can be overwhelming, and the food can be terrible. But for our kids, they are oblivious to all of the things that bore us silly adults. It is a memory that they will always cherish. Kids need to be kids, and for all the adult activities we drag them to — even if they will someday appreciate these experiences, too — childhood goes by so quickly, kids deserve to be kids. And there is no better place to celebrate all that is fun about being a child than with a coonskin cap and a fast pass to Space Mountain.
Amiee White Beazley writes about travel for the Aspen Times Weekly. Reach her at email@example.com or follow her @awbeazley1.
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