We aren’t saving up to take our kids on a family vacation to Disney World. Here is why–and what we are saving for instead!
First of all, I would like to make it clear that I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with going to Disney World.
I went several times as a child, and it was great, family-friendly fun. My parents coupled the visits with business trips my dad had in Florida. We spent a few days at the beach while he was in meetings, and then we headed down to Disney. They even pulled us out of school in mid-October to do it. Back then, it was bliss.
My husband also has fond memories of going to Disney World with his family. His grandmother helped pay for them to go.
But my family is not currently saving up to take our kids to Disney World this year or even in the near future.
It doesn’t mean we won’t ever go, and it doesn’t mean we don’t want to travel with our children. (Quite the contrary, in fact.)
Lately, I have been burdened by the societal pressure to take a trip to Disney World. It doesn’t take too much poking inside the blog world to find families who view a trip to Disney as a must-have.
Yes, some families can simply go and have fun and enjoy family time. But, for others, it seems to be a sole purpose in life–to the point that families are going into debt over Disney!
I just don’t think it has to be that way.
There are several reasons why we are not planning on taking our kids to Disney World anytime soon:
1. We don’t want our children to feel entitled to a Disney World vacation.
The media often elevates Disney World as being something every child should be entitled to experience. That should come as no surprise. We live in an entitlement culture.
This doesn’t mean that every family to takes their kids to Disney World does so out of entitlement, but we want to be extremely intentional to guard against this.
We don’t want our children to grow up thinking that life is all about their personal entertainment.
2. We don’t want our children to view a trip to Disney World as the pinnacle event of their childhood.
Not only does our culture preach Disney as something every child should experience, but it also portrays a trip to Disney World as the ultimate childhood experience.
We do not want our children giving Disney this high priority place in their lives. Yes, we do want to take them one day (when they are much older and will hopefully create real memories and appreciate it more!), but we do not want them to ever view it as being the highlight event of their childhoods.
3. We don’t want to succumb to the pressures of a high consumerism culture.
Let’s be honest: Disney is big money. Even though I am OK with our daughters playing princess, sometimes I do wonder if we are feeding this consumeristic, materialistic culture too much all ready.
This culture is one that demands we spend money on this toy and that gadget and this “magical” trip. We don’t want to give into that pressure.
We don’t have TV in our home (just Netflix), so our girls thankfully aren’t exposed to commercials for Disney-like toys. When we visit family who do have TV, they go crazy over whatever the commercials advertise because they want it! (Yes, those marketers are very savvy to hit our children in order to get to us!)
There are many families who save for a trip to Disney World and are careful to guard their children from falling into a more materialistic mindset, and this is how we hope to do it one day. For those of you who have done Disney this way, I applaud you!
4. We don’t want to “keep up with the Joneses.”
I always thought this expression was funny when I was a kid because my mom’s maiden name is Jones.
We simply don’t want to emulate our neighbors. Yes, many families go to Disney World because it is their dream vacation. And that is good for them.
But it’s not our family’s dream vacation. A one-day vacation? Yes. But it’s not something I want to do just because society says we have to keep up with what the family down the street is doing.
If everyone were jumping off a bridge, would we do it too?
No. We want to be counter cultural.
For us, that means skipping Disney–for now.
5. We want our kids to explore the world more than Disney World.
All of the above reasons we are not saving up to take our kids to Disney World is secondary to this one.
The number one reason we are not planning a trip to Disney World anytime soon is because we’re saving up to take our kids to Costa Rica instead.
Now, some of you may be picturing us on an exotic vacation to a pristine Costa Rican resort.
Not so much.
You see, my husband and I met while doing missionary work in Costa Rica 12 years ago. Even before we met, he and I both had a desire to serve internationals, whether in their home countries or in the U.S.
We want to instill that same love in our children and hopefully ignite in them a passion for embracing other cultures and learning other languages.
So, this year, we have made it a goal to pour a lot of this site’s earnings into a summer trip back to Costa Rica. My husband and I returned to the United States after serving in Costa Rica (two years for him and one year for me) back in 2004, and I haven’t been back since! (He has gone back on several short-term trips.)
We will celebrate our 10-year anniversary this summer (which is quite the accomplishment itself!), and we are excited about the possibility of taking our children to the country where we met.
We want our girls to experience how children in other countries live. We want to take them–and us–out of our comfort zones.
Along with exposing our girls to the Spanish language and Costa Rican culture, we are looking for missionaries to partner with while there.
Eventually we want to take our children to other countries as well, but we are starting with Costa Rica first because we are familiar with the country, culture and language, and we feel it will be a starting point for international travel with our family.
That grandmother that helped pay for my husband’s childhood trips to Disney World? She was also a major influencer on my husband’s desire to partake in international missions.
I think Gramma would say it’s OK to put Disney World on the back burner for now.
Should everyone delay Disney?
Please do not read this post in judgement of those who do take their kids to Disney World.
Each family has to determine their own family culture and values and what is best for them.
Many, many families (probably yours!) can take their children to Disney World without giving them a sense of entitlement, without making them feel like this is the ultimate childhood experience and without feeling the pressure to consume more and conform to societal pressures.
(Other families have free time shares, grandparent funding, etc., so they can go to Disney without even having to save up!)
I simply want to encourage you to think through these things before just spending all of your savings–or going into debt!–over a trip to a place that may not be the best decision for your family.
We want to take our girls to Disney World one day–just not now.
We hope that when they’re older, we’ll be able to help them see that Disney isn’t something you’re entitled to. We’ll point out that their friends in other countries (like the ones we hope they will meet this summer in Costa Rica) may never get to go to Disney World.
By the time we eventually take our girls to Disney, we hope they will be old enough for us to teach them that a trip to Disney World is not the pinnacle event of childhood and that we are not just doing it to “keep up with the Joneses.”
We have good friends who have already gone to Disney and have worked to address these areas with their children.
In fact, some of our friends took their three children to Disney World right before Christmas this year. Their children knew it was their Christmas gift. The family then spent Christmas day serving the homeless in a local soup kitchen.
That’s the type of Disney experience we want our girls to experience–one day.
Update: We finally did take that trip to Disney World in October 2019–and it ended up being a truly magical vacation. While we are glad we waited, we would go to Disney all over again (and hope to do so again within the next few years! Honestly, I enjoyed Disney more as an adult than I did as a kid! Read all about our budget Disney vacation here.
Want to foster a spirit of gratefulness and generosity in your kids–instead of consumerism? I HIGHLY recommend the book Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch. It rocked my world, and resonates so much with the way my husband and I hope to raise our three girls! You can get the book on Amazon here.