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Who Else Is Not Taking Their Family to Disney?

One by one, I've watched my friends succumb. Two holdouts gave up over winter break. This spring, always a dangerous time with the tantalizing week off from school, I saw three more casualties on Facebook. A good friend is making plans to give in next December. I simply can't bear it, even though the signs have been there for years. I guess I thought there would be more resistance. I didn't know they would all go, and I'd be the last one standing. However, I am totally alone.

Everyone else has gone to Disney World.

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How naive I was to think that Disney was an optional vacation! In light of the evidence that every single one of my friends has done Disney World, Disneyland or a Disney cruise, I'm starting to think that it's one of the biggest misconceptions of my motherhood. Silly me, I thought some of us might sit Disney out—just like some families will forgo camping trips in Yellowstone or fall foliage jaunts on the Eastern Seaboard.

I know I'm not the only parent who has reservations about the Disney enterprise. All of my friends who eventually succumbed to its siren song had once decried the small fortune it costs to spend a day at the Magic Kingdom. I priced four tickets for my family to spend the day at the Magic Kingdom and the grand total was $434.54. That does not include getting to Florida, or food and lodging once we get there. And let's face it, most families spend more than one day there. Are you even allowed to go for a single day?

No one wants to hear their anti-Disney friend enumerate a dozen reasons why the Disney compulsion should be examined and deconstructed by discerning parents who are willing to say NO to the pressure to meet Mickey Mouse on his own turf.

Even if I could stomach the cost of entering the park, I would still have to resolve a host of other problematic issues—not the least of which is steeling myself and my children for the onslaught of commercialism that will assault us at every turn. I've heard that marquis rides exit into a gift shop, which is only slightly less stressful than exiting through a live slaughterhouse. And remember when we all wrung our hands about princesses and the pablum philosophy embedded in Disney's happily-ever-after promises?

How did everyone beat me out of the thicket of social issues and make their way to Disney without me?

Even parents who swore up and down that they would never ever "do Disney" for high-minded reasons have since posted pictures of themselves and their broods in front of the iconic castle. Back at home, I "like" their pictures on social media, because I actually like my friends, but I'm simultaneously wishing Zuckerberg would install a button that says, "Hey, I thought we had a deal about doing Disney, but now you're there, so WTF?"

To my close friends, I approach the topic with as much finesse as a high school goth chick pissed off that her BFF decided to join the cheerleading squad. "Um, hey, I thought we were, like, not going down the Disney road." Most of them assured me that they "had" to go because their in-laws paid or work took them to Orlando, so they thought, "why not?" I drop the subject at that point because no one wants to hear their anti-Disney friend enumerate a dozen reasons why the Disney compulsion should be examined and deconstructed by discerning parents who are willing to say NO to the pressure to meet Mickey Mouse on his own turf.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan sums up his Disney experience in his book "Dad Is Fat," writing that "Disney is not a vacation," because there's too much pressure to have the time of your life. He describes the "strained faces" of the parents at the park, who "all seem to have this 'This was an enormous mistake' expression." But year and year, families make the trek because "Disney is a perfect example of one of those things you do just for your children." While Disney may be the "happiest place on earth" to a little kid, "it's just too much stimulation. The rides, the characters, the parade, the ice cream, and the candy every 10 feet. They can't handle it. They turn into monsters. I want … everything!"

Thank you, Mr. Gaffigan, for confirming my fears about a trip to Disney. I know myself and my kids. We get grumpy overwhelmed taking in a birthday party at a local bouncy house party that lasts roughly 1.75 hours. How are we supposed to survive, emotionally and financially, for hours at Disney World?

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For now, I'm just saying no. Or "not yet," at least—my kids are only 5 and 4, so there's plenty of time for me to get off my soapbox. Until then I'm on the hunt for any other family that is holding off.

Bueller? Bueller?

Image via Twenty20/jcphotofl

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