About a year ago my then 5 year old asked me to go to Disneyland Paris. I obligingly accepted and we made the trip at the end of August 2023. Disneyland Paris, is often dubbed “The Happiest Place on Earth,” and is a dream destination for many families and individuals alike but underneath the glittering facade there are valid reasons why some individuals might opt to steer clear of the Disney experience. Here are FIVE reasons NOT to go
A Disneyland trip does not come cheap. From admission tickets to food when inside the park, accommodation, travel to Paris and souvenirs, expenses add up quickly, making it an expensive holiday for many individuals and families. A massive personal bug bear is that in order to fully enjoy Disneyland you HAVE to spend money. Ideally you want to be staying in the hotel so you can access the park before it opens to day visitors. Additionally you are going to want to skip the queues on the day (for three people this is around an extra £300) or simply because you need to buy things in order to access the MANY indoor foodie locations and the design of the park is such (with limited outdoor seating areas) that you need to spend money to have a reasonable time. For me the whole experience felt like a Vegas for kids, a shrine to consumerism on steroids where as a parent your card is barely put inside your pocket before you need it again. We didn’t stay at the on-site hotels as it didn’t appeal and I’m glad we didn’t – but equally it would have been nice to enjoy the experience more. All in the financial burden of a Disneyland break is not worth it. For a similar expense to having two nights and two days in the park with food, souvenirs and travel you could spend a much more wholesome week (or two) in Europe.
If you think waiting in line is only reserved for popular rides and attraction think again, we had to queue for EVERYTHING from 15 minutes to buy popcorn to 20 minutes to get an ice cream. If you want a picture with a character got in line, if you want to get on the popular rides get in line (for up to 60 minutes in some instances). We found the queueing system to also be very outdated and tiresome with very little to do, no shade and simply detracting from the overall experience. You can ofcourse PAY to skip the queues – which we did for some rides. We didn’t get the full pass as it would have added another £300 for three people and I’d rather spend that on something more wholesome. Never again.
3. Environmental Impact
The creation and operation of Disney theme parks, as well as the production of merchandise (plastic overload), have a substantial environmental impact. Disney should take more extensive measures to reduce its ecological footprint, especially considering its influence as a global entertainment giant. Concerns about sustainability and environmental conservation are also a significant factor as to why I wouldn’t return to Disneyland.
4. Cultural Appropriation
Disney’s history includes instances of racism, cultural appropriation and misrepresentation in many of its earlier films and theme park attractions. The company has perpetuated stereotypes and insensitivity through its depictions of non-Western cultures and although in recent years the films and attractions have improved on this there are still many instances where the company gets it very wrong. I felt particularly uncomfortable during the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride where nationalities are reduced to awkward cliches.
5. No Splash Rides
The bad news for those who love water rides such as Splash Mountain and Grizzly Gulch River Rapids is that Disneyland Paris does not have water rides. During the summer it is scortching hot and there are very little opportunities to cool down on the rides. There are also no splash pads anywhere and very few shaded spots around the place.
While Disneyland undoubtedly holds a special place in the hearts of many and overall my now 6 year old did enjoy himself, it’s essential to acknowledge that not everyone finds the magic appealing. Ethical concerns, cultural sensitivities, environmental considerations, overstimulation, cost considerations, long queues, high costs and individual preferences all play a role in shaping the decision to skip the Disney experience. As with any travel destination, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons, aligning your choices with your values and interests, to ensure a holiday that truly suits your personal needs, wants and desires.