It is a perfect day in Walt Disney World. My five-year-old has waited FOREVER for this day, and his little heart bursts with joy as we walk through the gates of the Magic Kingdom and get our first glimpse of that iconic Cinderella’s Castle. He sees one of the many characters that are led through the park for pictures and autographs. OMG! It is Winnie the Pooh! His fave! We run over to get his picture with Pooh.
Out of nowhere, three millennials wearing Mickey Mouse ear headbands push my child out of the way to get to Pooh first. You read that right. Three grown adults felt that it was okay to cut in front of a child to take a picture with a man/woman dressed as a character from a kid’s show.
Later that day, we spotted a craft table set up for kids to sit and color pictures of their favorite Disney characters. After waiting fifteen minutes for a turn at the table, my child was getting antsy, and I decided we should just move on without getting to sit and color. He was upset that he didn’t get his turn after waiting so long, but I explained to him that sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Oh, did I mention that the craft table occupants were all over the age of 20? Tons of kids were turned away from the crayon table because a bunch of adults wanted to color a picture of Donald Duck.
When I was doing research for our trip, I came across a Disney World themed blog written by a child-free millennial couple. In their review of a special dinner package where you can pay to eat dinner with Disney characters, they had the nerve to give the dinner a bad review. Why? There were too many kids running around, being loud. Dear sir and madam, you went to the Mickey Mouse dinner. What did you expect?
These scenes repeated over and over again on our trip to Disney this fall, and that’s why I’m here to officially declare:
Child-free millennials, you’re ruining Disney World!
Before I continue, I feel that several prefaces are in order.
Preface #1: I get it. With everything going on in the world today, this is a total champagne problem. Boohoo, I can afford to take my family to a super expensive vacation spot. Trust me when I say, I am fully aware of how blessed I am to even know that millennials are ruining Disney World. The ability to know that millennials are ruining Disney World reveals that I live in a socio-economic bubble of prosperity that many people will never experience. I’m Catholic, so guilt comes very naturally to me. Be assured that as I write that millennials are ruining Disney World and know it in my heart to be a truth, I still feel kind of guilty for complaining about it.
Preface #2: Disney World is EXPENSIVE, like hashtag-sell-a-kidney expensive. Anyone willing to pay one hundred dollars for a ticket to the Magic Kingdom should get to ride “It’s A Small World” as many times as they want regardless of their age. If a thirty-year-old man wants to wear a Johnny-Depp-style pirate hat and ride Cinderella’s Carousel, who am I to deny him? Life is hard, and we all need a little escape from reality sometimes.
Preface#3: I love Disney World, and even if I didn’t have kids, I would probably still want to go every once and a while. Procreating isn’t a requirement for visiting Mickey Mouse. Also, this post is in no way commentary on one’s right to choose to not have kids. I support your choice to live lives free from mac and cheese every night and stepping on Legos with bare feet.
Whatever your views on child-free versus parenthood, or how old is too old to wear a custom-ordered-from-Etsy adult sized Elsa costume (I’m looking at you, 45-year-old woman at Epcot who made her husband wear a Kristoff costume complete with fur-lined hat on a 95 degree hot day.), can we all agree that Disney World is a place inherently for children? Its 27,000 acres are filled with flying elephants, an actual princess castle, and tea cups big enough to sit inside, all headed by a talking mouse. (Fun fact: Mickey has over 290 different outfits including a light-up tuxedo!)
The fact that it is so child-centered is one of the reasons I fell in love with this place. The people who work here (Disney calls their employees “cast members.”) go above and beyond to make your child’s experience a great one. I can’t even count the ways cast members have made my kids feel special. They are very democratic with their special treatment, too, making sure to spread that Disney magic to every child there. As much as I love Disney magic for myself, I know that it is time for me to step back and let the kids (not just my kids, but all kids) have their turn.
So when I see hoards of adults running to get in line first for kiddie rides, beating out the actual children the rides are meant for, I can’t help but sigh. How did we get here, millennials? I know, I know. We are too hard on this generation, and they tend to get blamed for everything. But still. . .