For those of you who do not know me, I am a pretty big Disney-phile. My first trip to Disney was when I was 11 months old, and I’ve been in love ever since. Okay, so obviously I don’t remember that trip in particular, but the point is that Disney has been a part of my life since I was very young. While I’ve gone to Disney once a year for the past 4 years and continue to try to go once a year, it’s pretty clear that going to Disney World as an adult is nowhere near the same as going as a kid. Here are the main differences that I’ve found:
First off, I never remember being tired of walking around Disney as a kid. Ever. To be fair, we also had a stroller that I know my parents used to haul me around. But even when I got too old for the stroller, I never remember waking up and whining about yet another day traipsing around and standing on numb feet for an hour to go on a five-minute ride.
Now, I get off the plane at 10 am, and I am ready to fall asleep on Main Street USA by 2 pm. Suddenly all of those shows in Hollywood Studios where you’re sitting in the AC for 20 minutes are way more appealing than standing with a bunch of screaming kids in line for Space Mountain. Disney energy is no match for the aging human body.
Speaking of which, the days of eating nothing but Mickey-head popsicles and dole whips are far behind me. While I used to be able to last all day on a large order of fries, now if I let myself get the slightest bit dehydrated or go more than like two hours without eating, I feel sick for the rest of the trip.
Also, the more you eat in the parks, the more you start to realize that there’s really no point in eating anywhere but Epcot. But even with a park-hopper pass, bouncing back and forth between parks is time-consuming and irritating. Sure, the monorail was cool and almost daredevil-esque when you were a kid, but now it’s just a sweaty sky tube where you’re shoved in with a bunch of people, some of which might be tempted to talk to you. No thanks!
One of the definite upsides of going to Disney as an adult is that the cast members can allow their façade to slip, even if it’s just a little bit. When we went to Disney for our senior trip, I remember approaching Belle and plunging into conversation about her life in the castle, being friends with furniture, etc. Belle couldn’t break character, of course, but her photographer could.
First, when we handed him our phones so that he could get our pictures with Belle, he took selfies instead and jokingly handed us our phones back. We laughed and started talking to him about how we were there for senior trip, and he asked us about our post-high school plans. I still very clearly remember when my friend told him that she wanted to go into marine biology and he said that he thought marine photography would be a good profession. He followed this by saying in a tortured voice that my friend should go into that and not become a Disney photographer like him.
Then, my favorite Disney moment: a few years ago, I went to Disney with my mom and some friends. My mom was treating us to the Akershus princess breakfast in Norway (highly recommend for all of the princesses and the cheesy potatoes…the price is frightening, but if you want to see all of your favorite princesses in one place, it’s the only way to go).
Side note: I feel the need to note that when I ate here for the first time, I had to specially request Mickey waffles. When I went back to Disney last year and had breakfast there again, they had started bringing out the Mickey waffles automatically with the other food. And this is how I learned that I affected change in Disney World. Changing lives, one Mickey-shaped food at a time.
Anyway, once we had had our fill of cheesy potatoes and Mickey waffles (that needed to be specially requested), the waitress brought the check and waited for my mom to sign it. As she started signing the check with what may have been a bit too much vigor (that’s just what cheesy potatoes do to you), her elbow connected with my right boob. So, of course I looked at my mom and jokingly yelled, “You elbowed me in the boob.”
This situation is funny enough, right? It has accidental violence, cheesy potatoes, and boobs, after all! But no, it gets better. The waitress looked at me and sassily said, “You liked it.” The look on her face was AMAZING. You could tell that she had surprised herself a bit when she said it, but she was happy to be at a table of all adults who would actually appreciate her humor, as opposed to a table with kids and parents who might’ve reported her to Disney’s highest court: Walt Disney’s frozen head. She was, and to this day remains to be, my hero.
While the interactions with the cast members have become more entertaining and genuine, the interactions with the characters have become increasingly uncomfortable. Do you remember seeing Mickey Mouse as a kid? Or maybe your favorite villain? Your brave five-year-old brain who had idolized them for so long knew exactly what to say and how to act. Your rambunctious self could easily speak to the princesses about talking to woodland creatures or trying to evade death by evil step-mothers, but your adult self is stuck trying to understand how to make the polite conversation you’ve been working years on developing.
It may just be because I’m an awkward person — or rather, that’s exactly what it is — but now that I’m older and the illusion is basically shattered, I never have any idea what to say to the characters. All of my usual topics for conversation go out the window because they can’t break character and actually talk about their lives. I end up mentally yelling at myself, “Renata, be interesting. You’re talking to an imaginary princess from an imaginary land in Disney World, dammit!” And I just end up smiling at the character until they suggest we take a picture together or have security escort me briskly away.
Last but not least, let’s talk about that merch! You know all of those stuffed animals and toys you asked your mom for and she said no because they wouldn’t do anything but take up space? Well, she was right, but now you can buy them anyway! You’re in control of your wallet, so who knows how much Coco merch you’ll end up buying? There’s only one way to find out! Disney is not only the happiest place on Earth, but also the most expensive…and full of stuff that you will never need, but suddenly want more than anything else in the world.
Do you really need that 4th pair of Minnie pajamas or that painting of all of the villains playing poker? Hell no! Are you going to buy them anyway? Hell yes!
Which reminds me, if I’m going to go this year, I had better start saving. Back in November, I decided that I would take a break from Disney this year…but now that I’ve been home for over 3 months, I have fully forgotten how much I hate the heat, waiting in lines, and children. Needless to say, I was bitten by the Disney bug. And unlike the tick that actually stuck to me last time I was in Disney, this one can’t just be picked off my butt.