Just got back from a full seven days at the “happiest place on earth.” (Technically, that’s Disneyland’s slogan, although we regularly use this term to refer to all Disney properties and specifically Disneyworld in this case.)
We went as a family every other year to WDW when the kids were younger and both of my kids have made short trips there separately. We all still love it — it’s part of our family DNA. (My husband and I grew up going to Disneyland as kids. Our kids had Disney-themed nurseries. My oldest’s first word was “Mickey.” You get the idea.) We are already planning our next trip in two or three years depending on where we are.
How can a family enjoy Disney while also valuing simplicity and [semi]minimalism?
Lesson 1: Don’t get sucked into the consumerism of it all. Japan has a love for all-things-Disney which means I was able to find Disney-themed merchandise very easily and inexpensively before I left for the park. I worked hard to limit my purchases but still ended up taking four official-Disney-themed baseball hats with ears, six embroidered sweat rags, three hand fans, and three character-themed cooling towels. We used some of it during the week, but — with few exceptions — didn’t use what we brought and won’t use any of it in our normal life. I discovered I did like the cooling towel and could definitely use one in my daily life in Japan (during the summer) but the Cars-themed print limits its usefulness. (Grade: C+)
Lesson 2: Don’t succumb to FOMO (fear of missing out). Because we’ve been to Disney several times and still have plans to go, I have no fear that missing something this time means I’ll never see/experience it. I chose a few highlights (as did each member of the family) and made sure to enjoy those while passing on things that either had long wait times or were otherwise inconvenient. (Grade: A-)
Lesson 3: Know yourself (or your family in this case). This is always evolving as my kids are now adults. At this point in our lives, the dining experiences are a much larger part of the fun than they were in the chicken-nuggets days. (Grade: B)
Lesson 4: Find the Middle Way. I struggle with honoring my values of simplicity and environmental concern when we vacation regardless of how we vacation. Because I’m not an eco-adventurer (I’ve mentioned before that I’m an “indoor cat”), it’s often difficult for me to be 100 percent comfortable with my vacation choices. I appreciate comfort, thoughtful details, all-inclusive pricing, and family-friendliness. One of the lessons I’m learning in many areas of my life right now (vacationing included) is that something (or someone) can be less than 100 percent of what you want and still be valued. (Grade: B-)
[Semi]minimalism — whether vacationing or in life — continues to be about identifying what is really important to keep, while letting go of what no longer sparks joy. Our lesson from this vacation: keep the Disney, let go of the t-shirt.