We went to Disneyland last week!
I would have figured the boys were too young at 10 months and 2-3/4, but Eleanor’s parents won some Disneyland tickets in a raffle, and we were planning to be in Anaheim, CA (home of Mickey Mouse) for Thanksgiving anyway so… we went!
The kids had fun – well, Joshua has fun pretty much everywhere – and they did very well.
Johnny met his first beauty-pageant-winning teen girls. He was a little embarrassed. (See picture above.)
They both loved meeting the life-size characters. Minnie Mouse even played a little peek-a-boo/hide-and-seek game with Johnny for a few minutes until the crowd appeared to get her autograph. He really enjoyed that. In fact, I was impressed with the way the actors played their characters. Most of them really seemed to be enjoying themselves and were giving it their all, which the kids really appreciated.
Actually, even though the lines were really long on the day before Thanksgiving at the end of the 50th anniversary party year, the kids really enjoyed themselves.
Of course, it was a huge overload. We were there from about 10 a.m. to about 6 p.m., and both boys took a nap in there, but it was just too much to take in. I mean, you go from your normal life in a world that is mostly designed for adults and is mostly utilitarian to a world designed to be a child’s fantasy… except for the huge lines and great expense (but I’m getting ahead of myself here!)
Johnny couldn’t get to sleep until about midnight, and then he kept waking up with nightmares. I think he was just trying to process all of the overload.
The picture on the right seemed to symbolize that part of the experience. Heck, even I was feeling that way.
So let me say that everyone was very friendly and the experience was very positive overall.
But, of course, the undercover pastor was checking out the scene too.
While I was there, I had a feeling that I remembered… I was eventually able to pinpoint it as the feeling when I came back to the United States after my time in Mexico. It was culture shock! Now granted, Eleanor and I don’t live in the upper-middle-class, SUV-saturated world that many of the Disneyland “guests” come from, but that wasn’t everyone there…
Everything was just over the top. My brother-in-law told me that they spend $300,000 each night on the special 50th anniversary fireworks show. (I haven’t been able to verify the number.) Even if it’s only a tenth of that, it’s enough for a family to live on for a year. Yikes!
It just felt so… decadent. In some ways it was like the last days of the Roman Empire. I even felt a little guilty being there, knowing what I know from my ministry about people just barely making it or not quite making it. People were starving and living in cars while we played in our own private world. What does this teach my boys?
To be perfectly honest, I’m conflicted about it. I want my kids to have great, fun experiences. We’re not going to go to Disneyland every weekend or even every year. It’s not so bad to have a treat now and then (even if it costs $56/day for an adult to set foot in the park), right?
I guess the answer is the same one that comes up so often when we try to live responsibly as Christians. We’re called to do what we can and to use what God has given us responsibly. But I can cut loose every so often and give my kids a treat and get to see the big smiles and looks of wonder that Disneyland brings to their faces – as long as we teach them good stewardship and the importance of loving and serving our neighbor too.
(More on the Disney operation later!)