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Challenge: Traveling with Kids

How Disney Can Make Me a Bad Parent

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On our most recent trip to Disney, my family was taking a much needed few minutes to regroup at an indoor lounge area in one of the parks. It was 2:00pm and we were on our second park of the day. I was in the middle of telling my toddler to not jump off of the couches for the two hundredth time, when I heard a full cup of ice and soda hit the ground. I turned around just in time to catch an angry Dad scold his ten-year-old for messing around and dropping his drink, and then proceed to call him an animal. Cringeworthy, not okay. But you know what buddy, I get it.

I am not always my best self, my best wife self, or my best mom self in Disney. When my toddler is in full meltdown mode, I completely empathize. I too am hot, tired, and hungry. When the baby freaks out because he wants to be out of the stroller, I get it. Those 20,000 steps I clocked on the fitbit today, were 10 miles that you were cramped in the baby jogger. By the end of a Disney day, I have little to no patience, I can be irritable and curt, and am in definite need of an attitude adjustment.

Since it can cost a small fortune to vacation there, chances are that most families are sleeping in the same space. For us, that means the kids are in bed late, up early, and although everyone is exhausted, no one sleeps soundly. Since the average temperature in Orlando is hot with a 100% chance of humidity, walking around the parks pushing strollers can be just a bit uncomfortable. Throw in overstimulation, hostile crowds, and long ride lines, and you have a perfect recipe for disaster behavior, and the unfortunate result of disaster parenting.

Any parent knows that a normal day with kids can test all levels of patience they have. A Disney vacation is more like a final exam. The end result however, is not just measured by the bad parenting moments, but the good ones as well. My toddler won’t always believe that Buzz Lightyear is real, but for now he does, and he has met his hero. It is likely that only once in his lifetime, will my baby smile and gaze adorably at Snow White after she plants a bright red lipstick kiss on his cheek. The original intent also counts for big points. A parent who cares enough to plan, detail, execute, and fund a trip this epic, surly can’t be a true asshole, right? I am trying to cut myself a break here. Just like in so many other parenting related situations, I second guess my reactions, my behavior, and my ability to adapt to a stressful situation. And just like in so many other parenting situations, inevitably, I come to the conclusion that I am only doing the very best I can.


Disney truly is the most magical place on earth, but that does not mean that every single second of being there is princess kisses and pixie dust. As long I am not busy being too hard on myself to look, I will see the moments that are.

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