I am currently running a travel competition at my work where we are giving away a $5000 travel voucher. On our Facebook page we ask people to like our post promoting the contest and to comment about where they would go if they won. The amount of people that reply that they would take their kids to Disneyland is staggering. I am honestly shocked that if given the chance to go anywhere in the world, that such a large number of people would choose Disney Land. What is this obsession with Disney Land?
The media often elevates Disney Land as being something every child should be entitled to experience. Disney Land is viewed by many as the ultimate childhood experience. I am not judging people who spend years saving to go to Disney land (well at least I’m trying not to). I just want people to realize that, contrary to what Disney Land wants you to believe there are many other lands worth exploring.
Foreign Lands Over Disney Land
Why not give your child the gift of being able to experience another culture? Of exploring another country. The opportunity to see the different ways people around the world live. Of trying new food that they would never find at home. Learning how to say ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ in another language. If I was going to spend $5,000 on a trip I would prefer to do something that engages the minds and imaginations, broadens horizons, expands cultural knowledge, and ignites a passion for embracing other cultures.
Being able to see and experience another culture will open your child’s eyes, get them out of their bubble, and get them thinking more critically. It will make them realize that not everyone lives the same and that’s okay. Not everyone looks the same and that’s okay. It’s by being exposed to the world that diversity is understood, appreciated, and celebrated. It’s by being exposed to the world that ignorance and prejudice will be replaced by love and compassion.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts” – Mark Twain
Importance of Exposing Your Child to Other Cultures
Take your children to India or Africa. Let them see firsthand how others live. A lot of people take for granted what they have because they do not truly understand how fortunate they are and how small their problems really are. These are the trips that will really impact your children. These are the experiences that will change their lives.
Yes at 5, or 6, or 7 years old a child will not be able to appreciate this type of trip. But they truth is, that at that age they won’t be able to fully understand, appreciate, or remember any trip. So why not save your money until they are older and bring them on a trip with substance.
By going to Disney land your kids will see other mostly white north American middle class families. This will give them no understanding of how the rest of the world lives. This will not make them appreciate what they have or how lucky they are. People who travel more tend to be more tolerant, understanding, and patient. They realize that not everyone has the same opportunities as them and become more grateful and thankful for the life and the opportunities that they do have.
“Seeing how other people live and learning to appreciate the blessings and gifts of our own lives is one of the most valuable lessons that foreign travel can provide. Sometimes they are people who speak other languages and come from foreign countries. Sometimes we see people who look significantly different from us. All these experiences are opportunities for us as parents to teach our children first-hand about the differences that exit in the world and to teach them not to fear differences, but to celebrate, expect and cherish them as something that adds color and depth and beauty to our lives.” – Rabbi Steven
Does Disney Land Have a Monopoly on Family Fun? No.
Disney Land does not have a monopoly on fun and memories. So, get that out of your head. You think your kids wouldn’t enjoy seeing lions on an African safari? What about snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef? Or visiting the floating markets of Vietnam? Or going on a dog sled ride in Finland? Does that not sound like fun and memories to you?
So again I ask, what is this obsession with Disney Land?
Overrated. Overcrowded. Overpriced.
If you’re fortunate enough to have the financial means to take your children on holidays, then take them somewhere that will challenge their assumptions. Somewhere where they can experience a new culture. Somewhere that will inspire them and spark their sense of adventure and wonder. Give your children a trip with substance and meaning.
Think through these things before just spending your savings–or going into debt–over a trip to a place that may not be the best use of your time and money.
Stop taking your kids to Disney Land. They deserve more than an over-priced, over-crowded, and over-rated theme park.
There are so many beautiful places to see in the world. Disney Land? No thanks!