Tuesday, 30 July 2019

In Defence of Childless Millennials at Disney

Over the last week or so, an old viral Facebook post resurfaced and attracted a significant amount of media attention with many news outlets jumping on the bandwagon to offer up their opinion. Since I do blog about Disney a fair amount anyway, I decided to share my own opinion on the whole child-free at Disney debate.

Childless millennials at Disney
Elijah Chan | Unsplash

Note: Thrice Upon a Dream has now moved to Wonder and Grey!

If you've yet to see the Facebook post, it basically consists of a mum ranting about her trip to Disney being ruined by these childless millennials who have the audacity to not only go to Disney World without kids but also waste their money on pretzels. It's completely ridiculous, contains a lot of expletives and its authenticity is questionable at best but the discussion surrounding it brought up that same old question: should adults visit Disney Parks without kids?

Notice how I said adults and not childless millennials? As a society, it's about time we stop making these sweeping generalisations and blaming everything on millennials.

The Misrepresentation of Child-free Adults at Disney

Even though it seems to be the "childless millennials" getting the bad press as usual, the reality is that adults of all ages visit the likes of Walt Disney World without children every single day of the year.

Disney is for everyone. It is not just for kids. It is not just for families. It is a place for dreamers of all ages.

There are a number of reasons why a child-free adult might be visiting a Disney Park without it being for nefarious reasons. You can't make assumptions just by looking at people because you don't know their story.

Perhaps their children are now adults and might even have children of their own. Maybe they are finally taking that once in a lifetime trip because their health is in decline. Maybe they struggled with infertility or child loss. Maybe they decided that they didn't want to have children or maybe they just aren't ready to think about such a huge life-changing decision yet.

In any case, these adults are not childless. They are simply child-free.

I hate the connotations that the word 'childless' carries. That life without kids is in some way an inferior life since you know, it's our true calling as humans to reproduce and all... It's 2019 and studies show that one in five women reach menopause without having children so maybe it's time to re-examine the societal norm.

My Life as a Childless Millennial at Disney

Sure I'm a mum now but that wasn't always the case. Before I had Mini, I was a childless millennial who went to Disney.

I actually managed to squeeze in two child-free Disney holidays before I became a mama and to be honest, I regret not going more often. It wasn't something that I'd even considered as a child-free adult until I found myself surrounded by others who went to Orlando every year. It didn't take long to convert me as I had very fond memories of the Disney parks from my childhood.

So I booked a trip to Walt Disney World with my best friend Mandy but since I was too excited to wait patiently for it, I ended up in Disneyland Paris first. It wasn't the best trip as it coincided with the terrorist attacks in Paris but the day and a half we got in the Disneyland Park was a lot of fun.

Me in front of castle at Disneyland Paris
Castle selfie!

And then only a few months later, I boarded a plane to Orlando for fifteen days of sunny adventures. It's more than just a theme park and I think that's why many child-free adults enjoy going to Disney World as much as they do.

Ironically, it was actually on my way to Disney that I came to the realisation that I wanted to have kids sooner rather than later. A baby, no older than six months, was sat across the aisle from me on the plane and while others did the typical groaning and rolling their eyes at the prospect of being stuck on a nine hour flight with a baby, I was just in complete awe at how adorable this tiny human was. That's when I knew I was ready to be a mum.

But, as you might already know, it wasn't an easy journey to motherhood and there were times when it felt like it wouldn't ever happen for us. In those periods of darkness, guess where I wanted to be? Disney.

RELATED: The Disney Tag

The Perks of Being Child-Free at Disney

So why do child-free adults choose to go to Disney? Well I recently ran a little poll on my Twitter to find out.

The answer will surprise absolutely no-one but child-free adults visit because they want to have fun just like anybody else who goes to Disney. It's that simple.

Even Darth Vader likes to have some fun every now and again.
Source: Tenor

Being child-free gives you a huge advantage when it comes to visiting the Disney Parks. Seriously.

You can do anything. You get to spend your time enjoying yourself instead of fussing over someone else. You can eat whatever, wherever, whenever and don't need to carry around a Mary Poppins bag containing a wardrobe's worth of spare clothes. If you want to buy something, you can just buy it.

As a parent, it's all about budgets, schedules and desperately trying to keep your young safe, clean and content. It can be incredibly stressful.

My Thoughts on THAT Viral Post

If I'm honest, I suspect that the 'angry pretzel mom' post was written by a cast member. I've been there. I've worked in tourist attractions and I've dealt with the entitled parent, more times than I'd like to admit. These parents are mad that there are queues. They are mad that everything is extortionate. They are super mad and they want their money back. During the busiest times of year, this happens several times a day.

But if I assume that this is a legitimate and genuine post, I'd say that the issue isn't the childless millennials. It's this parent's distorted view of parenting at Disney.

It's pretty clear that this mum has just arrived at Disney World expecting it to be full of happy families, princesses and larger than life mice. Beyond that, there's been no foresight.

I've actually seen this kind of mindset elsewhere recently and it truly baffles me how many people go to busy theme parks expecting there to be no queues especially when there are always queues in supermarkets. If you're not happy with a queue, you can choose not to ride that attraction or not to eat from that particular restaurant but if you stay in that queue, it's not anyone else's fault but your own.

There is one bit in the post where I felt empathy towards the poster. It's the bit where she talks about people giving her death stares because her three year old is having a meltdown. In my opinion, it's the most realistic and least ridiculous part of the entire post because it screams mum guilt.

If you don't have kids, you probably won't realise but childhood meltdowns are actually a really important way for a child to regulate their emotions. Even as adults, we have a breaking point but the difference is that we can regulate by practising self-care or taking a break. We might have a sweet treat, book a much needed holiday or just enjoy some alone time.

But that self-awareness takes years to develop and in the meantime, kids have next to no control over their situation or emotional well-being which leads to an inevitable meltdown. Once you add in an insane amount of sensory stimulation, crowds, long days and copious amounts of sugary snacks at a Disney park, you're pretty much doomed to have at least one emotional moment. It's not a sign of bad parenting, it's just child development.

With that in mind, I do believe that we as parents should ensure that down time is factored into the trip. Every Walt Disney World guidebook I've read stresses the importance of this and yet I often see parents argue that they've paid a lot of money for their holiday so why would they waste it?

What The Media Had To Say

I'm going to start with the notorious article from the New York Post. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, it basically spouts out an equally absurd argument that adults should be spending their time visiting new places and immersing themselves in culture. The author has apparently forgotten that popular culture is still culture. Some people prefer high culture and others prefer popular culture, there is no right or wrong way to consume culture. Criticising others on their choice to go to Disney when they could be at a museum is essentially classism.

Source: Tenor

On the other hand, Yahoo shared a similar view to my own on the viral post. Preparation is crucial when you're going to Walt Disney World. There's a reason why seasoned pros plan out their dining and Fastpass preferences long before the date to actually book them rolls around. When you add kids into the mix, it's even more imperative to get planning ahead of time.

Since Walt wanted his parks to be a place for everybody, we should just accept that everybody is welcome. If Disney isn't your cup of tea then fine but there's no need to tear others down because of it. Take some advice from Elsa: let it go and move on.

Have you been on a Disney trip without children? Feel free to share your magical experiences in the comments below!

4 comments on "In Defence of Childless Millennials at Disney"
  1. I saw your tweet about this on Twitter and couldn't wait to read this post. I completely agree with you on this! I am 22, don't have children yet, but I would definietly LOVE to go to Disney. I know a lot of couples that still don't have kids and have gone to Disney! Disney is for everyone. Thank you for touching this subject!

    Much love always,
    GABBY | www.gabbyabigaill.com

    1. Thank you so much Gabby! It's a wonderful place for people of all ages so it's really disappointing that some people genuinely feel like adults should be ashamed for choosing to go there if they're not escorting kids around. Adults are entitled to have fun and soak in some of that Disney magic just as much as the youngest dreamers.

      I hope you get to go soon! x

  2. Great blog post, I was shocked reading when that Facebook post and even more so now after reading that you think it's actually a "fake" post/person.

    It is awful what was written and my first thought was there are people out there that can't have kids and you are basically lumping them into one because they don't have a child hanging off their hip.

    I hate that the TV shows were weighing in on the debate asking should adults go to Disney without kids. Like how is this newsworthy, debating whether people should go on holiday to what is not a children's destination holiday.

    Also, and this is no disrespect to families, but who is more inclined to spend money? People without kids are a little more carefree when it comes to spending their money, whereas I feel families are a little more reserved because obviously it costs a lot to go on holiday as you basically pay adult prices for children.

    Overall, this woman needs to open her eyes and educate herself to the world before making assumptions and demanding that Disney World is only for her kids. You ban adults from Disney who will take the kids to Disney, haha!

    1. Thanks for reading Stefy! You make some really good points and especially about spending. Trips to Disney can be super expensive - we're luckily going while Mini is still free to travel, play, stay and eat (on the meal plan) but next time it'll be a lot more expensive so our purchases will definitely be more restricted. x