Whether I’m with moms at the park, friends, or family members, I often get the question, “Why do you take such young children to Disneyland?” They often go on with comments about how the children won’t remember the trips, that it is too overwhelming, or it is too much trouble. I’ve even read message boards and discussions in which parents have called parents like myself “selfish” for dragging my kids around the “Happiest Place on Earth” at such a young age.
To answer the question of why, I must respond with a question in return… Why not? I love Disneyland. As stated by Walt Disney in his opening day speech, “Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, dreams, and hard facts that have created America…with a hope that it will become a source of joy and inspiration to all of the world.” With a foundation and dedication like that, why would I not take my children to Disneyland? While I know that some are disgusted by the cost of Disneyland in general, I appreciate what it stands for and what it has represented in the lives of millions of visitors who have passed through the turn styles in the past 53 years.
Disneyland represents the dreams of youth and the flight of imagination. Disneyland is a place of wonder and the actualization of childhood dreams. At Disneyland, a grown man can wear a Goofy hat with ears without judgement. At Disneyland, a mother can croon and swoon at a princess with her daughter without feeling silly. At Disneyland, husbands and wives fall in love all over again while enjoying a carefree day without the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
Having worked at Disneyland for more than five years and having attended the park with my children countless times over the years, I can honestly say that there is rarely a visit when I don’t feel a lump in my throat or tears welling in my eyes when my children marvel at Mickey Mouse or gasp with delight when a parade float passes us by. I never tire of seeing my children squeal with delight or stare in wonder at the singing birds in the Enchanted Tiki Room. I never bore from watching my children enjoy my own favorite spots where I created memories with own family as a child and as a Cast Member back in college.
And while the baby will not remember these early visits and while my older son may only have vague memories of the visits in his preschool years, I will always know that I provided them with a childhood filled with wonder. I will always know that I gave my children the opportunities to experience magic and imagination. I want my children to be children as long as possible and I am happy that Disneyland is part of that experience.
My critics will say that I am spending a lot of money on something my children may not remember. I feel very fortunate that my family is able to purchase annual passes and very fortunate to provide my children with the Disneyland experience. I know that Disneyland is a big corporation and I admittedly do not agree with everything it does, but I do believe in Walt Disney’s original dream of a clean and safe park where adults and children alike can have fun together.