In 2018 we did some test trips to see how little olive, age 5, did at all-day tourism experiences. We went to the science museum at Oklahoma City, it was incredible. We went to great wolf lodge in Kansas City. We extended an annual canoe trip we do in Missouri to spend two days in St. Louis going to City Museum and their science center.
All these trips were a blast! Hell, Marc and I get tired before our kids do... we spent a solid hour sitting on our butts chatting at City Museum while our kids ran around to God-Knows-Where through tunnels we couldn't even fit in. (They came out eventually!)
My parents started backing out of the idea of going with us to disney world. They are not adventurous. But they said you should still totally take the girls, remember when we took you when you were 12, it's the best place on earth, make sure you're saving money.
I have emergency savings in CDs, that's what I was going to cash out for this trip, I heard I'd need $5-$10,000 to do this right.
Theeeeeen I started thinking.
First, we have some credit card debt that I wrote about in another entry. It's payoff-able, but I'm not proud, I wrote about it elsewhere. We have not been able to save up much more these past few years.
Second, I loved our midwest adventures so much, but I knew if we did a disney trip this year we'd need to not do any more weekend trips. A year of no adventures, until the fall when we pull out of school and go to disney world so the lines aren't as awful, I've heard.
Olive asked when we'd go to great wolf lodge again. I told her it was expensive.
Josie asked when we were going to disney world. I told her we hoped for this year but we'd need to save a lot of money, because it was expensive.
She thought for a minute and said, "If we don't go to disney world, can we go to great wolf lodge?"
Egads kid, for the price of disney world we could spend a WEEK at great wolf lodge. You could be sick of great wolf lodge!
Then I REALLY started thinking!
What's at disney world? My experience as a 12 year old wasn't life changing. I asked people what they liked about it. Great rides! Well my kids haven't even been to worlds of fun in Kansas City yet, it has great rides. You get to meet your favorite characters? My kids are shy, and afraid of people dressed up like characters!
One night I told Josie we had to have a talk.
I'd already told her about our financial situation, we've been talking about that a lot. I know it's a lot to put on an eight year old so I felt a little guilty about this. But should I? Or should more parents talk to their kids about how money works?
I told her I'd been reading up on disney world and was rethinking it. I talked about what we'd be sacrificing to get to disney world, vs. what she'd be getting out of it. Wait in lines. Eat overpriced food. Meet characters. Go on rides.
I told my husband that my coworkers described it as "designed to turn you upside down and shake every penny out of you".
Finally, I asked Josie if she'd rather meet disney characters, or have a vacation at a beach. Her eyes lit up. she didn't even have to think for a second about it.
I feel slightly bad about my engineer cheapness kicking in, but really? not THAT bad! the disney corporation will not miss my savings account.
We have shifted goals! I do want a vacation this year, but now our goal is to have the kids see the ocean. I have some ideas, would like to do more research and talk to friends, but I think we can have a blast. I feel less materialistic, less corporate.
There is a challenge here in that I'm a midwesterner and I've only been to the ocean 2-3 times myself. Houston would be a short flight, is that a good place? I don't know. But when I told people we might go to disney world I was offered everyone's "disney spreadsheet" and 1x1 guidance sessions and favorite strategy blogs, so it's obviously not that simple either!
I'll figure it out.
Right now I'm just really happy that I talked my family out of disney world, hopefully forever. I will stop thinking of it as some must-do life experience. There are better things to see.