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Curmudgeon’s Travel Guide: Disneyland

Disneyland Castle and statue of Walt Disney

Travel Warning: Disneyland may not be for you if you are introverted, frugal, prone to motion sickness, or parent of children under the age of two.

I am all of the above.

We had our first taste of Disneyland last summer, and at the end of the first day, Lucy begged not to come back. Her favorite ride? The shuttle bus that dropped us at the gates.

To my Disneyland loving friends: no offense intended. I love you, and your love of the -Land. Let’s still be friends. In an offering of goodwill, I’m placing Pros before Cons.


  • Shows: The music is vibrant, the actors are talented, and shows are altogether quieter and cooler than the rest of the park. After our first day at Disneyland, we started planning our time around anything theatrical.
  • Disney Characters: Peter Pan was winsome, Alice and the Mad Hatter were hospitable, and Maleficent was contemptuous. Brilliant.
  • Family: Let’s be honest, Disneyland is only as fun as the people you’re with. We won the kinship lottery; the people were IDEAL even when the destination wasn’t.
  • The Teacup Ride: This makes the list because it’s the only thing that Lucy enjoyed—and she enjoyed it a LOT. She (and consequently, we) rode six times in a row. On the pros/cons ven diagram, this falls solidly in the middle.


  • Noise: Auditory litter is everywhere. As soon as you enter the gates, the tinny sound of old-school Disney music advances from all sides. It’s a sensory onslaught. My two-year old clung to my leg for the first two hours. As for me, I went to the restroom often because it was the only place that didn’t play music.
  • People: I actually love people, but my first impression of Disneyland was hordes of bad smelling people making poor financial decisions whilst posing for photos. “Are they actually enjoying themselves?” I wondered. In retrospect, I believe that they were. We’re not all frugal introverts with a proclivity for motion-sickness.
  • Creepy children’s rides: Turns out that most of the kids rides are dark, loud, and mildly psychedelic. Special recognition goes out to It’s a Small World. It’s loud, obnoxious, and quite possibly the most culturally offensive piece of American culture in Disney existence. Our two-year old literally passed out on the ride, a mental escape that I found enviable.
  • Toon Town: It’s not as cool as a splash pad, or even a decent park. Long lines, hot plastic figurines, and non-interactive Disney relics. Only one thing produces water, and you’re not supposed to touch it. (At this point in our trip, I was reviewing the cost of entry and making a mental list of Better Things To Do with One’s Money).
  • Food & Souvenirs: Pink Mickey ears are $35. Churros are $4.95. A character balloon is $10. Here again, my inner economist spent a lot of time calculating Better Things To Do with One’s Money. To my fellow skin-flints who can’t fork out money for dole whips and churros, I commend packing your own food and beverages. Oh, and buy your stuffed Mickey at the local WalMart—he’ll be $5 instead of $25.


Will I go to Disneyland again someday? Yes, maybe.

Can I honestly recommend it to a friend? To extroverts with glittery personalities and ready cash, ABSOLUTELY.

To all others, I recommend the beach, the Santa Ana Zoo , and the Aquarium of the Pacific.

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Jenny Harris
Jenny is a star-gazing, book-clubbing mother of two. She has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which is mildly comical (but also a boon in parenting and relationships). Her kids will attest that she’s crazy about reading aloud, time out of doors, and creative play. Her family’s goal is the “abundant life,” as prescribed by Jesus. You can read more posts by Jenny here.

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