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Why Childless Millennials Go to the Disney Parks

Born in 1986, this '80s baby and '90s kid remembers the colorful and naughty side of millennial youth.

You don't have to be a kid (or have kids) to find magic in the world of Disney.

You don't have to be a kid (or have kids) to find magic in the world of Disney.

In Defense of Childless Millennials

If there's anything Baby Boomers love doing, it's bashing Millennials and blaming them for all of the financial hardships that Boomers voted into play before this generation was even born. In fact, articles shaming Millennials have become so popular that even older Gen X writers for such places as NBC and Fox News have gotten in on the game.

When they're not picking on the financially stunted Millennials for enjoying healthier alternatives to fast food—such as avocado toast and oat milk—or trying to get the uninterested, school-shooting-survivor Gen Z writers into picking on Millennial teen fashion trends, they're mocking them for loving the one thing they themselves pushed endlessly onto Millennials as soon as they could blink on their own: Disney.

While Baby Boomers are still sporting Mickey and Minnie Mouse jackets and Goofy baseball caps well into old age, they simply can't stand Millennials getting in on a lifetime love of Disney.

If you read any article written by this generation, Disney movies should have been a fad to outgrow for those born between 1982 and 1995. By the age of ten, Boomers expected Millennials to be miniature adults, free from joy.

Disney was for them, complete with Wide World of Disney reruns with "old uncle" Walt Disney and all the Song of the South merchandise imaginable.

But not for Millennials.

Especially not childless Millennials.

Disney Isn't Just for Kids

And yes, despite the fact that conservative, "family values" Boomers have voted for restrictions on IVF and have made all forms of fertility assistance and adoption expensive and permanently out of reach for many (and this is the generation responsible for expanding the use of fertility-killing chemicals like BPA plastics), they do still love to chide the childless.

And yet, despite the nastiness, aging Boomers and Millennials have this one thing in common: They love going to Disneyland and Disney World free of children.

This is because the magic of Disney cartoons is not a "kids only" form of entertainment. There is a cartoon character for every living human being, and just about everyone has a list of favorite Disney films at every age.

More recent Disney films, such as Encanto and Zootopia also have relatable writing, leading to cathartic, repeat viewings and Pop figure collections.

Millennials love the magic of these newer cartoons the same way Boomers find the charm in Minnie Mouse.

One of the not-so-magical parts of the most magical place on earth? The price tag.

One of the not-so-magical parts of the most magical place on earth? The price tag.

Millennials Were Too Poor to Enjoy Disney World as Kids

Disney World and Disneyland are dream vacations for fans young and old, but for many Millennials, they existed only as a dream in childhood.

Let's look at an eight- or nine-year-old Millennial in 1995. It's summer. It's probable that the child is still in love with The Lion King from the summer before, and they are eagerly awaiting Pocahontas, historical inaccuracies aside. They may still have Mattel figures and dolls for Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast in their toy box.

Of course, the child wants to go to Disney World, but how much is Mom and/or Dad looking to spend?

How Much Did Disney Passes Cost in 1995?

A one-day pass for a child this age in 1995 was $30 just to enter the park, the equivalency of $55.85 in 2022.

A 4-day vacation pass was $97.00, the equivalency of $180.58 in 2022.

If the parents made a comfortable salary of $50,000 or more, that may not have sounded like a bad deal, excluding gas prices, plane tickets and hotel, but that $97 only let you walk around the park. It did not include ride fares, food or toys purchased, and that was only for one child.

If Mom and Dad tagged along, that would be $124 per adult, i.e., $248 just to have your parents follow you around. (That's $461.69 for 2022.)

If the child had a sibling, that was another $97, bringing the total for two Baby Boomer or Gen X adults and two Millennial children to $422 (or $822.85 in 2022 prices). Again, this was only to walk around the park. This was not counting the $99 parking fee (equivalent to $184.30 per day in 2022), and again, not counting rides, gifts, hotel or travel expenses.

How About the Water Parks?

Adding access to one of the water parks? That was another $66 per person, regardless of age. That's an additional $264 for four people to enter the water parks, or $491.48 in 2022.

For a family of four to walk around the park and then visit the water park in 1995 would bring you to a grand total of $706.00 (or $1,314.33 in 2022). No souvenirs, no food, no drinks, not even a turkey leg or a t-shirt. Just to walk through the main and water parks.

How Much Do Disney Passes Cost in 2022?

A 4-day pass for a Millennial adult in 2022 is $596.74, give or take coupons, and without water park access. Still an unreasonable price, but something an adult can budget for.

It's still unreasonable and sad that a Millennial adult would have to work extra jobs just to have 4 days out of a 365-day calendar of magic, but it's a more obtainable goal in adulthood than it was in childhood, when the average Millennial was told to open lemonade stands, shovel snow, mow grass and babysit for the occasional dollar.

Those who did make it to the park as a kid may well have spent most of the time babysitting siblings.

Those who did make it to the park as a kid may well have spent most of the time babysitting siblings.

The Magic of Not Babysitting

This is another big reason why childless Millennials enjoy going to Disney World alone.

  • No babysitting.
  • No being responsible for your siblings when your parents lie and say they'll "just be a minute" at the bar.
  • No messy diapers, barfing, screaming, crying voices to slow down the fun.
  • No under-the-height-limit tagalongs to stop you from the giant rides because we all have to do the same thing.
  • And no babysitting the parents either.
  • No "why do you need this" or demands for a manager.
  • No hearing about what a scam Disney is.

Just Goofy, Mickey, Ariel and all the fun you can handle.

As long as you have the cash, of course.

For those who can afford it, Disney is a place to escape for a little while.

For those who can afford it, Disney is a place to escape for a little while.

Life Is Not Promised

A Millennial child of eight or nine years old in 1995 would be around 35 or 36 in 2022.

Millennials in this age group have experienced more than one economic recession, 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, pandemics, a housing bubble, a doctor-backed opioid epidemic, outsourced jobs, the repealing of many laws protecting women's reproductive health, a jump in childbirth-related mortality, school shootings, poverty, a jump in domestic violence, a jump in abusive homes, the rise of neglectful and abusive foster care, a jump in homelessness, soaring student debt, soaring medical costs, a jump in cancer, HIV, AIDS, the rise of internet shaming and suicide bating, data breaches, doxing, revenge porn and a jump in violence from racists, bigots, sexists and Trump supporters.

Between stress, medical mishaps, war, violence and disease, the likelihood of the average Millennial in 2022 surviving to 2023 and beyond looked very slim at the start of the year.

Millennials who can afford a trip to Disney World aren't just doing it to have fun, they're doing it in honor of those who didn't make it.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Koriander Bullard

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