Should The Happiest Place On Earth Be For All Ages On Earth?
The media has recently become awash with stories about an angry mom who was not very happy during her recent trip to “the happiest place on earth.” She went on a Facebook rant, calling for childless adults to be banned from entering Walt Disney World (WDW). She insists WDW is a “family with kids-only” venue.
A New York Post article by Johnny Oleksinski sides with her. What is disturbing about the Post article is that it takes the message to another level. It compares choosing to visit the new Toy Story Land to an internal desire to return to the womb. The article goes on to point out that adults should be using their money and energy to explore the real world not a fictional one.
When I read the article calling for WDW to be restricted to groups containing kids, I was concerned that articles like this could ignite a movement. Could the opinion displayed in the New York Post article actually escalate into some sort of action? I was apprehensive of a lot of the rides as child, and especially the thrill rides. It wasn’t until well into my twenties, I learned to appreciate rides like Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for the thrilling experiences they are. For this reason, I actually find adults can possibly have more fun at WDW than kids. I have seen quite a few people over the age of 18 at WDW having more fun than some of the youngsters I’ve seen!
If WDW was in fact only intended for kids, why does it feature attractions like Dinosaur or Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which are far too intense for children? Children are in fact restricted from many of the rides due to height requirements. Why are there adult-quality restaurants like Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe at WDW?
Why would Disney provide offerings like the Highway in the Sky dining experience, where guests enjoy a five course meal complete with cocktails spread out among the Monorail resorts? Something tells me there won’t be any Mickey Ice Cream Bars on that menu. Even during the 1990’s Disney offered Pleasure Island, a complex of nightclubs where every night was New Year’s Eve. And what about restaurants like The Boathouse located in Downtown Disney, which has a menu that features a Lobster Clambake which is priced at $38? There are even guidebooks especially designed for visiting WDW without kids.
Beware my fellow Disney millennial advocates, the angry mom’s words may come back to haunt us. Is it possible for Disney to give into demands such as this? There may also be a politician or social movement that could attempt to bar childless adults from entering “the happiest place on earth.” As I write this, this controversy is surfacing yet again on Reddit. It seems a person’s girlfriend invited her sister and new born baby along on what was supposed to be a child-free trip. While this incident actually is more of a relationship problem, the controversy over a “child-free Disney trip” is perpetuated.
This has a lot to do with personal taste. I have been white water rafting in Colorado, I have been on a gondola lift through the mountains of Colorado. I’ve been from the beaches in California to the ski lodges in Vermont. I’ve been hobycatting (a small sailboat) in the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve been to an array of museums in Manhattan. They come nowhere close to the breathtaking experience of Soarin. I’ve experienced Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and a number of other Broadway shows. Sorry Johnny Oleksinski, they possess no where near the same magic as the Disney fireworks shows. Does this mean I’m overstimulated? Does this mean I have no respect for certain kinds of culture? Maybe, but that’s my choice.
In Times Square there is a huge tower that is laced with giant screens and a giant Coke-Cola sign. Give me that Times Square tower over the Eiffel Tower or Grand Canyon any day. The lights, energy and building-sized screens of Times Square sends more chills down my spine more than attractions like the Eiffel Tower or Grand Canyon ever could. And that’s reality “magic,” not the Magic Kingdom “magic.”
This logic can extend well past the gates of WDW. What about other “fictional worlds” like Universal Studios and Six Flags? What about “fictional world events” like Comic Con, where the clientele actually consists mostly of adults?
This is more than just some adults not understanding other adults. Make no mistake about it, this is a political and potentially moral issue. This actually has very little to do with Disney, or nonfiction versus fiction. It is about whether or not there are age limits.
It is about whether or not you should be mandated (by society and/or law) to be interested in other cultures. It is about whether interest in fictional worlds is in fact the same as a desire to return to the womb as the New York Post article claims. It unfortunately has the potential to escalate into a debate about whether an interest in things like Disney takes away from your intelligence or pursuit of other “real” venues.
Why are some people so concerned about where other people go on vacation? One reason is that there are plenty of people who were perhaps deprived of things like Disney vacations in their own childhood and use this platform to channel their jealousy. These are the kinds of people that may fuel this anti-childless adult in Disney movement. One may wonder if this may be the driving force for some people like the angry mom or other social figures or politicians to capitalize on.
Talk of laws or rules that would ban adults from visiting WDW may sound far-fetched, but after all, a few years ago, if someone had told me there would be a war on bake sales I would think this was inconceivable. Under the leadership of politicians like Michelle Obama and Mayor Bloomberg, there was legislation which attempted to control what the public ate or drank, including the ban of bake sales in schools.
It has been said that in the name of religion, one can justify anything. With this it is the same principle: in the name of social engineering you can justify anything. However, as this article points out, Walt Disney himself called for his parks to be designed for visitors of all ages. I am concerned about what effect the angry mom’s rant could take. But it turns out, a few million people including Walt Disney agree with me. Looks like it is a small world after all.