Childless Millennials Aren’t the Walt Disney World Problem. Clueless Parents Are.
A good time with kids at Disney must be planned like a military offensive — precise, strategic, and uncompromising.
Last week a very frustrated mother and Disney World patron found notoriety after and f-bomb filled rant about “IMMATURE millennials” ruining it for everyone at the happiest place on earth. The unnamed mom of a three-year-old named Aiden dropped unholy fire on childless women in “slutty shorts” who apparently bought up all the mouse-shaped pretzels, made lines too long, and exacerbated the plight of the park-going parents with cranky kids. But a close look at the rant shows that the mom in question is probably pointing the finger in the wrong direction. It appears her bad Disney times have less to do with Millennials and more to do with her own crappy planning. She clearly didn’t get the memo: A good time with kids at Disney must be planned like a military offensive — precise, strategic, and uncompromising.
There are some clues to the mad-moms lack of forethought. For one, she laments how Millennials will never know the exhaustion of chasing a three-year-old around the park. Also, she whines about having said three-year-old in line for three hours while the kid gets cranky and suggests mothers with kids should be able to skip all lines. All of this suggests she made the classic Disney World parenting mistake in assuming she could just show up whenever and have a blast. Ah, the naiveté.
Before my children took their first trip to Disney World last year, our planning had started 365 days in advance — no exaggeration. I’ll admit my wife and I wouldn’t have done that on our own and the above mom’s pitfalls were only partially her own making. What it boils down to is that she didn’t have a Disney travel ringer in the family. We just happened to be lucky enough to be traveling with one — an aunt who was a bonafide Disney pro. You know, the type of Disney patron to understands the parks are full of hidden Mickeys embedded in the architecture and has found most of them.
Long before we’d considered packing, the pro brought over an 830-odd-page tome titled The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. Published annually, the book rivals War and Peace in its length and describes, in detail, the attractions, when to visit them, tips and tricks for scheduling a day and which rides were appropriate for which ages. It also addressed where to get the best food and souvenirs for the best prices, and deep logistical considerations about strollers, storage and navigating the park.
The research and planning for Disney World were intense and far more in-depth than any trip I’d ever taken with my wife and kids. But it was very much worth it, particularly because we visited on New Year’s weekend, one of the busiest days in the park.
We hit the Magic Kingdom at “rope-drop,” that moment the attractions open, with a solid plan of attack. Between our Fast Pass reservations and short lines at the opening, my preschool and first-grade children rarely had to wait in line for more than 20 minutes. Stroller rental meant that we didn’t have to chase them through the park and they weren’t exhausted too early. We saw enough to leave at noon and go back to the hotel for the busiest hours at the park, allowing everyone to recharge. And despite the fact that there were so many people at the Magic Kingdom that they had to close the gates by 10 am, we had a damn good time and saw all we wanted to see.
Were there Millennials in slutty shorts in the park that day? Yes. They were also having a damn good time too — in part because Disney World is set up for them, with bars and ‘Gramable settings and romantic dark rides at their fingertips. Also, they didn’t need to plan as much as we did. Childless Millenials have a distinct advantage in the park in that they can be more nimble about hitting up attractions and the only person that has to deal with getting bored in line is themselves. Also, considering their good time is for themselves alone, they have more incentive to plan a trip they will dig. It’s not about making memories for Millennials, it’s about having a blast and maybe making out on Pirates of the Carribean. Sounds like a good time to me.
Nevertheless, my family and I had a blast too — because of our careful and meticulous planning. The Millennials didn’t get in our way and we didn’t get in theirs.
We also saw parents who were miserable. They were the ones stuck in the three-hour line, waiting for a 3-minute Seven Dwarfs Mine Car Ride, their children hanging from them like exhausted, heat-stricken monkeys. We saw the look of desperation in their eyes as we walked by in the Fast Pass line, trying not to meet their agonized gaze. You could see them penning venomous social media rants in their head.
The fact is that Disney World can either be the happiest place on earth or hell on earth. And the difference between the two has nothing to do with the kind of people attending. It has everything to do with planning, time management, and execution. If you have a bad time a Disney World there is really only one person to blame: yourself.
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