Happy Place?

October 2022
Written By: 
Ashley Daniels
Photographs by: 

Brutal Honesty: the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Disney World

I know I’m going to burst some of your Disney World love bubbles, but I’m also going to confuse some of you because, as I’m writing this, I’ve already planned out a Disney vacation in October (which is happening now), so I’ll have to let you know how that pans out.

What I’m getting at is my love-and-hate relationship with Disney World as its milestone 50th anniversary comes to a close this year.

What I Hate

About four or five years ago, we booked a day for my family of five at Hollywood Studios. I remember waiting in the dark for the tram at the end of that long day feeling sweaty, tired, and defeated. I had expected this, as I knew I’d be walking for hours on end with my baby strapped to my chest when I wasn’t pushing him in an overloaded stroller.

But that’s not why I was defeated. It was because of the people pushing through and cutting my baby’s stroller off as we walked through a cattle chute to get to the Indiana Jones stunt show, only to squeeze into the back row under a useless celing fan. Is this what I paid for?

Add onto that a day of more of families wearing matching T-shirts and smiles stepping over the front tires of my stroller to skip ahead in line, hours of waiting beneath the hellish Orlando sun for a 60-second ride, and burning through our budget by buying drinks that cost as much as a meal and fans that sprayed water the boys could wear around their little necks. Was this the “Happiest Place on Earth” I remembered from childhood?

What I Love

Speaking of childhood, this is exactly why I (begrudgingly) love Disney World. The 50-year-old has been with us all this long, sparking this nostalgia we then want to pass onto our children.

And that’s why I swallow the things I hate about the kingdom of overpriced and overrated parks. The smiles and laughs from my children after each parade, ride, or show are priceless. I live and breathe on that, so I get sucked into the magic of Mickey Mouse and his motley crew of characters every time I visit. It’s exactly why we’re returning all over again in October. (I’ll let you all know if the magic has worn off for good this time). But I will have a mental checklist to prepare myself by:

  • Expect the heat without any whiff of a nearby ocean breeze (dress light).
  • Expect long lines (wear comfortable shoes).
  • Expect rude people (they’re everywhere, including this happy place).
  • Expect to pay an arm and a leg (it’s the memories that count).

And we’ll all live happily ever after.