The last time we went to Disney World, my family brought along five cell phones, three Mac laptops, two iPods, and two iPads. Given all those devices, it would be rather hypocritical for me to give the following advice without admitting up front that we are a family deeply wired into technology. Planning a first trip to Disney World? The one thing you need less of on your Disney vacation are electronic devices.
Having just said to dump your phone and put away your ear buds, there is a definitely a place for electronic products on a Disney vacation.
Some people actually have to check in with the office using their computer on vacation. I checked my e-mail daily so I wouldn’t return to a pile of 450 e-mails, which I knew would only add to my DDS (Disney Depression Syndrome) upon my return to reality. You may not like it, but you might have to spend a necessary portion of your vacation tied to a computer for work.
Our drive to Orlando is eight hours one way not including stops. I am very grateful for the electronics in my children’s hands as we journey to Disney. We have a DVD player in the car, for which I’d like to thank the Ford company and my car payment-making husband for aiding my travel sanity. If you’ve ever had to punish or babysit arguing children trapped in a car, you know what I mean. It’s nice to let the kids watch a movie or play some video games while you make your way to Disney.
I was actually glad my teen daughter sent 958 texts a day on vacation, because she gets bored in lines and has a tendency to start trouble with her brothers. I was glad her brothers had an iPod in line, because when they get bored, they start telling Tosh.0 jokes and punching each other on the arm. Phones and games are great babysitters and distractors at Disney, and let’s face it, quite often we need that, especially when it’s hot and crowded. As many of you frequent visitors know, it’s hot and crowded at Disney, quite often.
Sometimes a phone, game, or a computer can be a work necessity, a fabulous luxury, and a sanity saver.
But there are a lot of people electronic-ing their vacation away with their eyes glued to a screen.
Children and teens today don’t experience the same Disney World I did in the 1970s. There were no electronic devices to entertain me then, so I stood in long summer lines and looked at every plant, every stone, every building, every food cart, and on and on and on. I looked at everything around me. I touched the cool stone walls in the que to Pirates of the Caribbean ride and heard every note of every song. I felt the t-shirts, touched the jewelry, and I spoke to Cast Members. Occasionally I even spoke to my brothers, when we weren’t punching each other on the arm.
And that’s one reason why I have the love of Disney I have today, because I spent hours totally immersed in the entire Disney experience.
I didn’t have my nose buried in an iPhone or my ears blocked while I listened to an iPod. I looked at everything, listened to every bit, took every minute in and stashed it away in my long term memory. I could find any ride in the Magic Kingdom all by myself by the time I was eight. My kids today? If they really need to get somewhere, they’ll ask a Cast Member for directions or use a Disney map app. on an iPhone. They haven’t seen it all.
What did I notice on my last Disney vacation? I watched all the birds in the Tiki room; my teenage daughter texted through the whole show. I listened to every part of the speech on the Peoplemover; my son listened to the headphones attached to his iPod. I walked on the shores of the Grand Floridian beach, listening to the sound of boat horns and watching the gentle waves. I walked right by a mom and her two daughters seated side by side, in silence, noses buried in electronics.
There are people everywhere at Disney using some sort of battery-powered device, and chances are, they stopped on a sidewalk in front of you to answer a text.
Many adults don’t experience the same Disney theme parks today that visitors experienced years ago.
What was a vacation in the 70s is now a complete and total visual stimulation overload of characters, shopping, dining and thrill rides. But the basics are still there, and you’ll miss it with your nose in a phone, your fingers glued to a keyboard, as the incredible scenery slips by on a monorail. Your children will miss it listening to music through their headphones. Disney World and Disneyland are crazy busy places, and at times, electronic distraction will cause you to miss a lot of fun, fantasy, and fantastical sites.
I pocket my phone in many places where I see adults texting. I try anyway, because for what I am paying for my trip, I want to remember every little teensy bit of my vacation, because who knows when I’ll make it back. Put your phone up for a while. Answer your work e-mails on your resort balcony or even the resort lobby. Put your headphones in your pocket and listen to the sounds of children laughing, Tiki birds singing, and brass bands playing.
So for your upcoming vacation, try giving your electronics a vacation on your vacation and see how you like viewing Disney from an unplugged vantage point.
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Amanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.
Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast.
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