Life Lessons Learned From Disneyland
I write about “inspiration” on this website and I love it. Researching for my posts means finding joy and inspiration everywhere I go and whatever I do. It’s not surprising that I found great source material as my family spent some time at the Happiest Place on Earth. Here is a partial list of life lessons learned from Disneyland:
1. Some things are worth waiting for.
Disneyland is a land of lines. They do a great job keeping the queues moving and providing engaging scenery as you wait. But you do have to wait. A lot. As I spent time in line for the Radiator Springs Racers, I thought, “This can’t possibly be worth the wait.” I was wrong. An hour-long wait led to four and a half minutes of pure joy. I shed tears. It was that good. Some things are worth waiting for.
Many of my greatest life experiences required a wait. Earning a college degree. Getting married. Giving birth to kids. Do you remember those last few weeks of pregnancy? The wait is excruciating. But the payoff erases all (or most) of the pain.
2. Don’t blindly follow the crowd.
Sometimes navigating the land of Mickey feels like being a rat in a crowded maze. You get in line or follow the swell of people, not even sure what you’re queuing up for. You think you’re in line for the bathroom, only to find you’ve been waiting for an hour to see Jiminy Cricket, who’s parked himself 10 feet to the left of the loo. Some things are not worth waiting for.
In life, as in Disneyland, don’t choose your path by default. If your kids play soccer because “that’s what people do,” even though your whole family hates soccer, you may want to reconsider. You don’t need to buy that fidget spinner or eat that quinoa. Do what works for you.
3. Make a plan.
If you want to avoid standing in insanely long lines or following the swarm aimlessly, it helps to make a plan and stick to it. I rely on The Unofficial Guide like a bible and it gives us a great framework for navigating the overwhelming reality of Disneyland.
Take some time to decide your family’s priorities and then map out a plan accordingly. Set big goals. Plan how you will achieve them. Do you want your kids to be hard workers? Then it’s probably a good idea to work together. Preferably before they’re old enough to openly rebel.
4. Sometimes it’s okay to wander.
As much as I march around with lists and itineraries like a Disney Dictator, I recognize that sometimes it’s better to wander. Some of the best moments we’ve ever had in the parks are when we have an hour of free time and we just stroll and discover what there is to see.
When I keep my family’s schedule packed so tight that there’s no room to breathe, we miss out on life. Some of the best days are when we’re home with no big plans and we stumble upon some great card game, a new book we all adore, or a chance to serve one of our neighbors. Plans are good. Plans will take you far. But be flexible and realize that sometimes it’s okay to just drift and be open to the possibilities.
5. Unplug, be present, and connect.
There is nowhere on earth where I’ve seen fewer people glued to their personal electronic devices than Disneyland. We made a conscious choice to limit electronic use, even while we waited in line. It made sense to maximize that time together, talk, play word games, and enjoy what was happening around us. And people all around us were doing the same thing, tuned in, and connected to the real world and the loved ones around them.
It shouldn’t take a talking mouse or dancing princesses to get us to enjoy and engage in our lives. What about the wind blowing through the trees outside your window? How about spending ten minutes really listening and focused as your kindergartener tells you about her day? Just as you’ll get the most out of Disneyland if you unplug and ground yourself in the present, you’ll get the most out of life by doing the same thing.
6. You can’t do everything and it’s okay!
There is way too much to see and do at Disneyland. It’s not possible to take it in. But most people don’t see this as a problem. The sheer volume of sights and activities means there’s something for everyone, not EVERYTHING for SOMEONE. No one can do it all.
You can’t be on the PTA and run the Little League and lead your church youth program and scuba dive and run marathons and train competitive show lions. Not without going crazy. And that’s okay. Think of all the amazing possibilities in this life as a blessing. You get to choose what you do with your 24 hours each day. You can’t do it all but you can enjoy what you do.
7. You can find valuable life lessons anywhere.
Keep your eyes peeled and your heart open and be mindful as you go about your day. Life lessons in cleaning up the cereal? I’m sure they’re in there somewhere. You just have to look!Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means we may receive a small commission if you choose to purchase something from a link we post. Don’t worry, it won’t cost you anything. This small percentage just helps us keep the power on and the Diet Coke stocked. We appreciate your support!