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Disneyland/world - is it really THAT great???

post #1 of 75
Thread Starter 
Now that dd is 3.5, *everyone* - and I do mean everyone - keeps telling dh and I that Disneyland is the end-all-be-all of vacations for families with young children. Apparently everyone just has SO MUCH fun, their kids talk about it for forever, etc. etc.

I'm pretty skeptical though. Dd doesn't watch TV or movies, plus I generally try to avoid Disney characters and the like. She knows about a few of the characters (b/c you can't escape it!), but she's not that familiar with any of them. She does enjoy kiddie rides, but whether or not she'd be interested enough to wait in long lines for them remains to be seen.

I mean, I'm sure she'd enjoy it, but would she enjoy it any more than going to the zoo? Or to her favorite park? Or to the Children's Museum? And then there's the cost, OMG. I cannot even believe how much it costs.

I'm asking because I think dh's parents might propose a family trip there soon, but I'm just not convinced that it will be quite as much fun as everyone says (or worth the money).
post #2 of 75
I have noticed also that everyone and their brother seems to have gone with their young kids that I know. I think I went when I was 6 or 7 but I can't remember any of it. I do think it's an experience I want my kids to have but I plan on waiting till they are a little older to have it.

They have plenty of fun at the local theme park for a fraction of the cost and with Disney I think it's about the whole experience and one I would rather have remembered than just seen as a fun day.
post #3 of 75
I'm sure there are a lot of people who absoluetly love it, but dh and I have no plans to ever take our kids there. : I went twice as a youngster, and loved it at around age 6 (sister was 2.5 and did not enjoy herself on that visit - many many tantrums!) and was very disillusioned as an 11-y-o. Parents who have taken their kids recently report that every ride or activity ends with a walk-through kiosk with stuff for sale - that is the exit to each exhibit. And long lines to get in, junk food everywhere, lots of noise, and, well, disney! Seems to me a set-up for too many struggles. I'd rather go to the beach...or...
post #4 of 75
We always thought that we would never bring our kids to Disney, or even let them watch disney movies. My have things changed. We went to Florida for a wedding in Feb. And made the trip to Disney. I can tell you that we really had fund and DD loved it. We didnt get there until 12 noon. Brought all of our own food and drinks, so we didnt have to pay top dollar for our meals of the day. We did buy Ice Cream...Huge cone for like $2.50 each, not bad. Our day was confined to "kiddy land" which included Dumbo, Teacups, Goofy's Rollercoaster,Peter Pan, and a few others. We meet a few "stars" and left. We didnt stay for the parade that night, becuase it wasnt the lighted parade and just a character parade. I had dd bring her bank and she bought her one souviner, a princess hat As we were leaving the park. I told her taht we were not buying anything until we were leaving. In the little kid part , I didnt notice any kisosks at the end of the rides, although we did ride lelo and stitch at teh very end and where it was located was like that.

I can tell you that I never plan on going back, but we had a great time while we were there.

post #5 of 75
Totally lame. Not worth it. Lots of standing in line. Too much money for hype. I was not impressed as a child when I went and never intend to take my kids.

Go ahead and go if you can afford it easily but it's just not that great IMO
post #6 of 75
I absolutely love Disneyland. We went once a year as kids, and I continued to go as an adult! I can't wait to go with my kids once they are older. Ds1 is 4, and I think he is too young.

I don't think it has to be about the characters or commercialization. I was never all that into the characters as a kid - I just loved the rides. And while our parents would let us pick a few souveniers or treats, it certainly wasn't a free for all.

I like it much better than other amusement parks I've been to. It's cleaner, the rides are more creative, IMO, it is very well run and organized - I just really enjoy it a lot. I love the whole atmosphere, and always found it very magical.

As far as waiting in lines, we always went at very off times. My parents would take us out of school the week before Thanksgiving and go. Or else we would go on a Wednesday in the dead of winter. We never went in the summer or on a weekend.

It is definitely expensive, though, which is why I want to make sure ds is older and more likely to enjoy it before we go.
post #7 of 75
In answer to the OP, yes, yes! YES! It really IS that great! I adore Disneyland! Went once as a child (age 8) and have gone many times as an adult (18, 20, 22, 31, 34). Like the sign says as you walk in, it is "the happiest place on Earth"! I know I am in the minority here on MDC but I love Disneyland.

I think age 4 or 5 is a great age for a first trip, unless your child is painfully shy, then maybe 6 or 7. When they are young, it is very magical (still magical for me but I am a big kid I guess) - when they see Mickey or Ariel, it is real to them. No place does it better than DL - the rides, the characters, the gardens, the themes. Hot or cold, wet or dry, morning or night - I think DL has something for everyone.

Originally Posted by kristi (kd)
dh and I have no plans to ever take our kids there. : I went twice as a youngster, and loved it at around age 6
If you "loved it" why wouldn't you let your kids have that same experience?

Parents who have taken their kids recently report that every ride or activity ends with a walk-through kiosk with stuff for sale - that is the exit to each exhibit.
I went most recently last year. Not every ride ends with stuff for sale, actually very FEW end that way. Small World does. I can't think of any others that do.

And long lines to get in
OK, I'll give you that one! :LOL But if you go during the off season, and midweek, and get there right at opening, you can get those lines pretty short! We went in late August, midweek, at the front gate at or near opening and rode even the big rides with a 5 minute wait. As the day goes on, the lines get longer - so go back to the hotel and swim, have lunch, take a nap, then head back to DL in the cool of evening for the parades, fireworks, etc.

junk food everywhere
I actually found that there were many healthy choices. Many of the stands had a large variety of fruit. Sure, they sell hot dogs and chicken nuggets. But I think that you could eat fairly healthy if you checked around to see what area was selling what you wanted. Now I won't pretend to defend the prices....
lots of noise, and, well, disney!
Disneyland in general - just walking down the street - is no louder than walking down the street at home. Some of the rides are very noisy - but they have signs that state that before you enter. Also, you can go to the library and get a GREAT book for anyone going to DL - it is called "The UNofficial Guide to Disneyland". Has the loudness factor, scariness factor, motion sickness factor for every ride in the park, as well as age ranges for who might enjoy it.
Yes, you will find Disney at DL. Also you will find the cleanest, smoothest running, upbeat place to vacation IMO.

I think it is a great place to take a family vacation. It is also very easy to take a baby if you have a younger sibling in the family. I nursed all over DL and never had anyone bat an eye. It is clean. You can rent strollers. I used to think anyone I saw at DL with a baby was nuts. Now I figure they must have had an older child, on a ride with the other parent. I have since been twice to DL with an infant (when dd1 was 4 and dd2 was little, and again when dd1 was 7, dd2 was 3, and dd3 was little). Both times were a blast. The older two are counting down the days til dd3 is 3 so we can go again.

If you have relatives who are picking up the check, I'd go in a heartbeat. You will all have a great time. Make sure and have the grandparents babysit so you and dh can have a nice dinner in the restaurant connected to Pirates of the Carribean - have a Monte Cristo sandwich for me!
post #8 of 75
Obviously, Disneyland isn't that big a deal here (UK) because we don't have one :LOL We've got a great amusement park without the corporate behemoth stuff. Anyway, I was taken to EuroDisney when I was about 12 and I HATED it. I absolutely loathed it. So I won't be making the effort to take my kids across the channel or over the Atlantic to get them to Disneyland because to me, it really wasn't that great.
post #9 of 75
I've never been to disney land, but am planning on taking my dd on the disney cruise. Mainly b/c I've never been on a cruise either and it would be like killing two birds w/one stone. Also, my dd is 5 and is not big on theme park rides. We went to a local carnival and she was afraid to get on everything. I think it is just a stage and eventually she'll build up enough courage to get on the rides, but it's not something I'm going to push.
I always hear how nice the cruise is, so I think we'll do that instead probably next year or the year after.
post #10 of 75
Small World doesn't end in a gift shop. We went last month, right after it reopened and it exits right next to the entrance and stroller parking. In fact, I only remember a couple of rides that end in gift shops. I actually commented to dh how nice it was to not have the pressure to buy all the time like at other parks. The lines weren't too bad. I guess it wasn't super-busy when we went, and with the Fast Pass, the longest we had to wait for a ride was about 25 min.

In response to the OP - I do think theme parks are different than the zoo or the museum or other attractions. We get free passes to Geauga Lake, a local theme park. We've taken the girls since the twins were toddlers, it was free and something different to do. They absolutely loved it. Their response was much different from the zoo (we are annual members there) or the botanical gardens, or any of the museums.

We took everyone to Disneyworld last month and the older three had a terrific time. They loved meeting the characters, even the ones that they didn't know (it took them a while to figure out why there were mouse ears everywhere, as far as they're concerned Disney is about princesses, not Mickey Mouse). They talk about it every day and keep asking me when we're going back.

I went to Disney a lot as a child. After a certain age I started to find it a little tame and boring, and much preferred parks like Busch Gardens or Cedar Point. But going back as a parent was different. Yes, the rides were tame, but there was only 1 ride in the whole park that the girls couldn't go on. There were only a couple others that we couldn't take the two younger girls on. I may not appreciate the tame and boring rides that much, but it's got to be better than sitting on a bench all day (what my mom did) waiting for the riders to go through the line.

We will be going back in a few years. Once dd4 is walking and holding hands and we can get by with one stroller, we'll go back.
post #11 of 75
We've had some fun times at WDW, but i don't think it's a 'must do' for anyone.

I lived in CA for a time and everyone who visited wanted to go to DL, Sea World, the Tar Pits, Universal etc so we did all that multiple times. I think DL can be fun- the rides can be fun, but it's yucky to battle the crowds. We tended to take our tourist friends to DL on a Wednesday that was not connected to local school vacations and it worked out fine. I rememver riding Space Moutain about 10 times in a row. lol If i rode once today, I'd be sick for a week. Ah, the body at 22.

WDW is different- bigger, almost always crowded. I've takne the kids many times as we have many relatives in Fl who like to make sure the kids go. We always bring in food, but there is fruit, water, and other nearly healthy (although not organic) things to eat. Some of the resturants are not horrible. If you take it slow, let the kids leads, not make it some big huge deal, go when it's less crowded etc., it's pretty much just another day outside for a child.

I think one can skip Disney altogether and be better for it. :LOL That said, it can be fun if done with the right attitude, and not with tired, hungry children, & not with the thought it's some incredible right of passage. On one of our trips to WDW, all my kids (3 and 4 at the time) wanted to do was ride the Merry Go Round in Fantasy Land. So we rode that ride, played with the little plastic toys in the nearby gift shop (which I did not buy), ate our snacks and went back to our hotel for a swim. Of course we had passes from my inlaws, so there was no pressure to "Do WDW". My oldest son and dh stayed and did the bigger rides, but I took the little ones back to the hotel. No biggie. Everyone was happy. My kids didn't know the characters, but did enjoy the sights, but in their own way, in their own non-pressured time.

I am always freaked by crying children whose parents are trying to make them have fun. Give the child some protein, take it out of the sun. Go take a nap and swim in the hotel pool.

ETA-- As far as buying stuff. When they were small, they could choose one thing under a certain price to buy during the whole vacation. That was it. Now, they never want anything, and if they do, they have their own money to buy it. Sometimes kids, like adults, just want to look at stuff, not nec buy it.
We've had some very impressive talks with our kids about the conflict between going to a park that employs zillions of locals, but has torn up the land, and allows their crap to be made by imprisoned children. Life is one long series of conflicts. :
post #12 of 75
I live in Nebraska and so a trip to Disney World was a once in a lifetime type thing. My kids had been bugging me and so I talked to my dh about it (think we were just living together at the time) and we agreed to take them three years from then. Well that was 5 years ago. We went 2 years ago last January. I was DREADING the trip. I thought I would hate it. My mother and my inlaws also came.

And it was THE MOST FUN. I literally had more fun than I had on my honeymoon . I really was ready to hate it and I loved it.

I really hope we can go back someday. Oh, yeah, my kids were 8, 10, and 11 at the time, and I am glad we waited til they were old enough to enjoy the same rides we went on and can remember it so clearly.
post #13 of 75
I grew up 20 minutes from Disneyland so I just love the place. It doesn't compare to any other park I have ever been too. Now I live 2000+ miles away from it but I still intend to take my kids there and Disneyworld too. It's not for everyone but I loved it as a kid and love it as an adult.

When I was a child and my parents took me we were allowed 1 item...for a reasonable cost. So if we wanted something in the morning we weren't going to get something later. So we had to really decide what we wanted as a gift from Disneyland.
post #14 of 75
I personally LOATHE Disney World. I took dd once when she was 4 1/2.

It was insanely crowded and horribly, atrociously expensive. The gift shops are EVERYWHERE (I did feel like they were at the ends of a lot of rides as well as a few of the stroller rental places containing small gift shops within) and everything is down at kid level so its impossible to try to avoid. My dd, who rarely asks for things ever and never has tantrums, screamed and tantrummed for things at the gift shops multiple times per day that we were there. It is so loud and crowded. And I saw more kids hit, slapped, dragged, screamed at by their parents than I'd see if I were to spend a month in Wal-Mart. There were some enjoyable moments and a few good memories, but largely we were overstimulated, tired, cranky and generally stressed out. I think I can say with certainty that I will not ever be returning. Its just not for us.

A few months later we took a vacation to the beach. Stayed at a crummy little cabin and did nothing but chill at the beach, take naps, play and eat and it was the best, most fun and relaxing vacation ever and cost a quarter of what WDW cost.
post #15 of 75
I went to Disneyland, Disneyworld, and Epcot in my late teens but have not taken my kids. It would have been a nightmare with DS at 3.5, but I imagine it depends on the kid. My sister had fun at Disneyland; she was around 10. That's the age I would take my kids, though we are talking about starting things like Europe and the Grand Canyon, and driving across the States at that age... FWIW, I liked Epcot best.
post #16 of 75
Keep in mind that there is a big difference between Disneyland (in California) and Walt Disney World (in Florida). Disneyland is the original, but it is much, much smaller, with 2 parks. I haven't been there yet but am dying to go. I'm actually thinking "Hmm... when I travel to China, maybe I can add a day at Disneyland Hong Kong to the beginning of the trip..." :LOL

I go to WDW in Florida every year for a week - I'm a graphic designer, and WDW is my creativity recharger. I love it, and can't wait to share it with my kids! It NEEDS several days, because it is 4 MAJOR big parks, 2 waterparks, several golf courses, 2 minigolf courses, a sports complex, a shopping/dining complex, a nightclub complex and many beautifully themed resorts. It's around 45 square miles!!! I absolutely LOVE WDW, but it has to be done right. If you choose to go, plan ahead and read up on what is there - Magic Kingdom is like Disneyland (but a bit more spread out, I think), Disney Studios is focused on movies and Hollywood, Animal Kingdom has attractions and live animals (with some of the most beautiful, spacious habitats I've ever seen - everything is carefully themed), and Epcot has two sections, future world (focused on communication, technology, the sea, agriculture, space) and World Showcase featuring pavilions of many countries with people who actually are FROM those countries working and performing there. I think there is a lot of educational opportunity in Epcot and Animal Kingdom especially. Go in the off season. Be at the parks when they open in the morning (lines are short then), use Fastpass, and take an afternoon break to recharge - come back in the evening - WDW is especially magical at night. Consider exploring the resorts - rent a boat, go for a walk, go horseback riding, ride a surrey bike. In the past 5 years I've never waited more than 20 minutes for ANYTHING at WDW, usually less than 10 minutes for rides. It can be done! (What CAN'T be done is seeing everything in one trip. That's where people tend to stress themselves out.)

Yes, the characters are everywhere (and fun to meet and get autographs from, btw), the food is expensive (although they are working hard to offer more healthy choices), and there are tons of gift shops. With prior planning (and limits set on buying) it can be a great vacation!

The original reason Disneyland was built in the first place was because Walt wanted to provide a clean, friendly, wholesome, safe place where families could have fun TOGETHER, because he disliked sitting on the sidelines watching his daughters ride rides at fairs and such, that he couldn't get on with them. (Yes I know, it's become a money maker and marketing opportunity - but it is still much nicer, cleaner and friendlier than any other park I've been to!) All the rides at Disney parks are such that parents can ride WITH their kids. Where else can you snorkel with sharks, eat authentic food from several countries, see a Japanese drum performance and a celtic rock band, ride in a simulated mission to space, wander through a botanical garden, see how food might be grown in a space colony, learn how movies are made, see amazing live shows, ride a well-themed roller coaster or two, see rhinos and giraffes just feet from you, see an incredible fireworks show, awesome parades and Cirque de Soleil all in the same day? (Ok, so you'd need more than a day, but you get the idea!)

Your kids won't be missing out on a critical part of childhood or anything if you don't take them, and if they want to go as adults it will still be there. But if you plan ahead so you can do it in a relaxed way, follow your kids lead and most importantly let YOURSELF be a kid for a while, you'll probably have a great time! (I'm going in November, but am ready to leave NOW!)

The Unofficial Guide to WDW is really, really great, and I've found the Passporter guide to WDW helpful as well. Passporter.com also has message boards with people who can help you with just about any question. (The Passporter authors recently had a baby, and seem to be AP parents as well!) Allearsnet.com is the most complete website I've seen about WDW, including sections about dietary restrictions, special needs, a stroller FAQ, and taking kids of different ages. And I love to talk about WDW, too! (Obviously, based on the novel I just wrote. : )
post #17 of 75
The first time I went to DL, I was *shocked* at how much fun it was. My parents were not the Disney types, so we never went as a children. I was also prepared to find it insipd. And while some of it was, it was loads of fun. :

As far as WDW, we go a lot and it never gets dull. Everyone looks forward to our visits to inlaws & WDW. We esp have had fun at the water parks.

Of course I'm ashamed and all.
post #18 of 75
I lived in Florida for 25 years, was born there in fact. I never been to Cali, but I know all the parks in Florida like the back of my hand.

Disneyworld is the IT place to go for small children. I would say up to the age of 10 or 11. They also have some very amazing resorts. Grand Floridian is quite nice (I believe it is the one with a pool that is more like a moat/river.) I have been to all the resorts unless it is newer. If you are into camping or willing to stay in a cabin, Fort Wilderness is a blast.

For older kids or adults = Disney, Orlando cannot compare to Busch Gardens of Tampa, Florida. A blast, I still love it there. But not intended for small kids.

I have been to Busch Gardens, Disney, Epcot, MGM, Universal, etc more times than I can count. Disney is kiddie, the resorts are nice, but the amusement park is very kiddie. Epcot is more fun for an older crowd. I wouldn't waste my time on Universal or MGM, I found them both very lame, unless you have a large budget and time to spare of course. Then it's a lot more fun then sitting in a hotel room.

You only live this life once. Enjoy everything life offers if you can afford it.
post #19 of 75
We go to WDW yearly. My parents have a timeshare and being a SAHM I don't have excuses like work or school that my siblings do. For us it's mostly a time to spend with my parents. It's a lot of walking for my folks and dd and everyone seems to need a nap at a different time. We try to limit the amount of time at Disney and spend several days just hanging out at the timeshare. I even plan a character meal in a hotel so we don't have to enter a park but dd still feels she was at WDW. dd doesn't know most of the characters but has a great time. She's really into rides and such. We also do SixFlags once a year as well. We've really limit how much food we buy. My folks often buy dd WDW stuff at thrift stores and those beachwear shops. dd might ask but she knows she won't be buying much at WDW.
It wasn't fun for dd till she was 3.5. Before that the rides we too rough and/or too loud. We go in the off time (less crowds less heat). We would have never gone this soon or this much if it wasn't for my parents. The only way we would have ventured that far south was if Dh had a convention there.
post #20 of 75
Well, I'm another of the "WDW Junkie" crowd! We can't afford to go every year but I would LOVE it if we could!

My first trip to a Disney Park was DL in CA. My uncle took me while I was in 10th grade. The thing I remember most about that trip was how CLEAN the place is! I'd been to many amusement parks up until then, and am used to cigarette butts on the ground, coke cups, napkins, etc etc, and just the general grimy-ness of amusement parks. But I was surprised at just how immaculate Disneyland was! In fact, I remember laughing to myself b/c I saw a cast member (what they call their employees) with one of those broom/dustpan-on-a-stick things, and I was wondering what the heck he was doing! There was nothing to sweep up!

My first trip to WDW in FL was right before my senior year in high school, and I FELL IN LOVE with the place! It's not just the rides, but the whole atmosphere! There's nothing like it in the world! And WDW is huge! Magic Kingdom is akin to Disneyland. But there's also MGM and Epcot. (Animal Kingdom wasn't open at that time.) I was 17 years old, and I had a BLAST!

My next trip was on my honeymoon in 1996. Poor DH didn't know what he was getting into! He agreed to a honeymoon in WDW to make me happy, but he was surprised at how much fun he had!

Our next trip was in May, 2000, for SIXTEEN DAYS! (This was pre-kids.) This was my gift for getting my master's degree. We were there over 2 weeks and STILL didn't see everything! And DH and I still had so much fun!

We haven't been since, b/c our son was born the next year. But we've already got our vacation fund building in the credit union, and you can bet it's earmarked for a trip to WDW! I don't want to go until everybody in the house is potty trained, :LOL but I am SOOO looking forward to watching my kids there!

FWIW, we don't watch the Disney movies, either. My kids watch very little TV.

If you go in the off season, the lines are non-existant. On our trip in May, 2000, we walked on to the vast majority of attractions!
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