Monday, December 5, 2011

Off to Mouseland

A suburban greenmom packs the luggage for the Ultimate Cliche Family Trip...

This is going to be an interesting week. Hopefully also amazingly fun.

We are going to Disney. Our first time as a family, and very possibly our only time--even going at a less expensive time of the year, using frequent flier miles, and being as frugal as possible, this isn't something we will ever be able to afford on a regular basis. And honestly, I'm not sure we really should, even if we could.

I have mixed feelings, to tell the truth--on the one hand, my kids are 6 and 9 and the place is the epitome of magic and fantasy and childish excessive wish-fulfillment. I remember going when I was a kid, and even though the Disney World of 35 years ago wasn't a tenth of what it is today, I still remember it as this amazing fantastic experience. They will never forget it.

On the other hand--conspicuous consumption always sort of ticks me off. All those lights. All that buying. All that garbage generated, no matter how well and thoroughly it is cleaned up. (And this website doesn't exactly make me go "Woohoo! Disney ROCKS the green!) All those fireworks. Every. Damn. Day. (And don't even get me started on the sanitized It's A Small World view of the rest of the world Epcot presents in its different countries pavilions...) And the sensory overload that is All Things Disney--I start to max out after a while.

But...we're going. And while there, I'm going to try to be a kid again, enjoy it, sink into the magic with my kids. And also, hopefully, eat real food, not generate much garbage, and not spend like crazy on meals.

The biggest part of our strategy is around food, and the basics are as follows: We have stocked up on healthy snack-y and breakfast kinds of things to take with us, figuring we'll go with food packages and come home with that much space in our luggage to bring back other stuff. This is the only time I will stoop to instant oatmeal, since that can be made with hot water from a hotel coffeepot. We'll bring some organic fruit as well, apples and oranges, that are portable and easy to eat, and a jar each of almond butter and apple butter. A box of cereal. Dried fruit. Emergen-C packets. Once there, we have a friend who can shuttle us over to the grocery store for stuff like bread and milk, so we can have some basic provisions for the fridge in our hotel room. (If one has a rental car, this is easier, but we're staying on Disney property.) Our plan is to do breakfast in the room, probably take snack food and lunches with us to the parks (which Disney allows, something I heartily applaud), and purchase one "real" meal per day. Not only will this save us a boatload of cash, but our digestive systems would scream at the shock of eating nothing but fast or restaurant food for most of a week; I wonder how many people who get totally wiped out and exhausted from a few days at places like this consider that some of that exhaustion might be around eating the wrong foods as much as the overstimulation?

We'll bring our own water bottles, and use them for most of our beverages throughout the day. I hate giving my kids soda to drink--crazy-expensive artificially flavored carbonated HFCS water, who needs it? We cave every so often, but--consider that for a family of four, buying sodas with a meal ups the bill by $8 or more. No way.

That's about all I can think of to do to try to normalize things for us a bit while still taking advantage of this very cool and rare opportunity for our family...anyone else been on a trip of this kind who has any other ideas?

(And please...don't jab and turn the knife in the comments by saying things to the effect of "I wouldn't ever pay money to support this company because of _____ and just wouldn't go"--my soul is twisted enough on this as it is, and the tickets are all paid for, so please don't make me feel worse...)
--Jenn the Greenmom


Anonymous said...

I fully support your decision. Spend the time in Epcot. Do the behind the seeds tour in the The Land. Eat the yummy, fresh grown food in the food there, do Ellen & Bill Nye's ride at Epcot. Marvel at the no straw picy at Animal Kingdom. Go cheap with souvenirs and get a pressed penny at every chance you see(there are MANY - and at 52 cents each, it is the cheapest made in America thing you can get). Take pics with every character, and buy the photo cd ahead of time. Cheaper and worth it all!

Your gonna love it!

Anonymous said...

I blame the typos on my iPhone autocorrect ;)

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

I'm impressed at your bravery. I never went to Disney until I was an adult. My husband and I went pre-kids with my sister and her family, and her boys were so crazy, my husband and I both swore that we would never go to Disney with kids. Epcott was actually our favorite part because it was so much less crowded and had less sensory overload. Good luck and have fun!

Dea-chan said...

Good luck! (Holy cow, my captcha is "lying" -- so Disney!) It seems like you've definitely planned out a lot.

And my problems with Disney have nothing to do with their greeniness and greed and more the fact that they're just evil. And I'm speaking as someone who's been backstage Disney, and has two friends working for Disney, one on DisneyCruises and one in costumes.

I think my recommendation is to just remember the good things about Disney -- the fact that SO MANY PEOPLE have loved it for years, most people living now have grown up on it, and they worked with a lot of the pioneers of animation (because they stole them from japan ok I'm done... :-P). You can hate them and still have respect for the product. Honestly, I have awe for the amount of power that Disney has and uses. So love the experience, just dont' think about the company.

And have fun! The last time I was at Disney, we stayed in some music-centric hotel, and the curtains were sheet music to zippadee doo da! How awesome is that?

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

I am dreading the day my kids ask to go to Disneyland/world. I went for the first time as a teenager, and boy was it a major disappointment (I've never been back). Esp. since I was used to Great America. I think it's great that you are trying to incorporate green in any way into your vacation. Hope you have a wonderful time!

Green Bean said...

We just got back from Disneyland LITERALLY. We arrived last night.

I so hear you on the fireworks, the waste, the ceaseless consumption. We had a very good time. Not a great time - probably because I too am conflicted over all of those things and thought periodically how nice it would be to go to a national park or something instead. That said, we live in the real world.

This was my boys' birthday present and party all rolled in to one. My boys had a great time. We met their cousins there. They bonded, tried new and sometimes scary rides, walked a million miles, ate too much cotton candy and hopefully formed some lasting memories. Oh, and we managed to only buy five items for the whole family!


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