Disney World vs. Staying Home and Doing Nothing

Seems like an obvious choice, right?

Recently, we decided to go to Disney World for my son’s birthday. We are annual pass holders, and we got a sweet deal on an Airbnb on Disney property. Also recently, I have been contemplating the idea of simplicity and what it means for my cognitive load. Things like Digital Minimalism, Minimalism in general, and the ever-increasing barrage of information greeting us from the screens of our ever-present, internet-connected devices.

What does it mean to have a simple life? According to who?

Is there a right answer?

Reading books like this one and this one are challenging my thoughts about what is good for me, and what brings a life fulfillment in my daily duties. Right before the trip, I read this blog post by Eric Barker. Almost as an afterthought, at the end of the post, he talks about how white Americans would sometimes run off and join Native American tribes, who continue to live mostly simple lives. However, Native Americans rarely ran off from their tribe to join modern American civilization.

Enter Disney World.

Now that they own Marvel and Star Wars, Disney seems to define entertainment. They put on shows and spectacles that you cannot readily find anywhere else. But something else is happening at Disney. I have been going to the parks since I was a toddler, and as I look back on the experience, it has changed in a meaningful way.

Entertainment is just a commodity, not a “magical experience.”

This isn’t Disney’s fault, it’s ours. Entertainment is a commodity everywhere. Disney is just responding to our response to their entertainment.  I can turn on Netflix and have an unbelievable option of shows to watch, which we can mindlessly digest for hours a day, day in and day out, for the low price of $9/month. YouTube, Network TV, all the whizz-bangery needed to keep our attention… no wonder we go to Disney, hop on a $65 million ride, and then get off and say “that was cool, what next?”

My son was watching Andy Griffith the other day (not sure why), and I stopped to observe the mannerisms, jokes, the way the actors.. well, acted. Why don’t we find these simple jokes funny anymore? It’s because we’ve “memed” ourselves to dullness. Like the bloated nonchalance of a glutton who has just finished a feast of exuberant carnality.

Back to Disney.

I think Disney is cool. I am concerned by the way guests are shuffled along to the next attraction like cattle as if the experience is not one of the coolest things in the world. 100 years ago, no one would have seen in their entire life that feats that you can witness in 5 minutes at Disney – yet it is so average to us.

Thus, I conclude. Is it really better to go to Disney, or would I be better served staying at home and having a nice meal, prepared with family? Maybe reading a good book and settling in early. No fireworks, no Nemo musicals, no Tigger coming to visit with us at breakfast. Disney is high-quality entertainment, that’s for sure. But, is it good for us, or just really high-quality junk food- In the way that cocaine is an expensive way to kill yourself?

For the entire history of the world, most people were content to just stay home. Seems like a good idea now that I think it over.

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