Aging with Disney -- Do most kids not get it?

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Kristen K.'s picture
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Aging with Disney -- Do most kids not get it?

I've noticed recently that as I age there are a lot of little details of the Disney Parks (MK especially) that seem to be lost on my kids. Some of the attractions and points of interest they just don't "get", they aren't transported in the same way that I am because they don't have the same frame of reference as I do.

An Example:

    In Liberty Square my kids look at the Liberty Tree and see a tree. If I press them about it they see a tree with lanterns on it. They can read the information about it, but it's still pretty much a tree. Whoop-de-doo, it's a tree they have to walk past on the way to the Haunted Mansion.

    When I look at the Liberty Tree my memory plays a scene from Disney's Johnny Tremain, I hear the park loop music and can sing along. The tree and the music in the Park connects me to the movie, which connects me to my childhood and my family history during the American Revolution. It also connects me to what I know about history of the country. I remember these things and look around realizing that I'm in this immersive environment of colonial America. I head to the Hall of the Presidents feeling connected. I wonder over George Washington's Beer Mug.

There seem to be more and more of these spots to me. The places where I'm making a Disney connection to something deeper, but that my kids only see what's on the surface.

Do you have these sorts of Disney moments too? Though Disney seems to be trying to give the younger generations something to connect to (with interactive games and adding the newer movies) I'm not sure that they are maintaining the connection to some of the original attractions and points of interest. Do you think that they should be trying to maintain that? What do you think they could do to help focus a younger generation on what's gone before?

What do you think that we as older travelers with the connections can do to bring that to the kids we travel with?

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I hear ya......that's why my husband and I try very hard to impress how important these are. I'm lucky my kids love history and my son (10 yrs old) loves the book Johnny Tremaine and he really enjoyed the Disney movie. My kids LOVE Liberty Square and not just because of the Haunted Mansion. They love the Riverboat and "Mark Twain" guiding you down the river, Liberty Bell, what each of the lanterns represent on the Liberty Tree. We want them to appreciate history and Disney makes it fun not boring. My kids know the darker pavement at LS that looks like a stream is to represent the sewage that used to run through the streets.....gross but true. On our last visit my son was beyond thrilled that we got the "Paul Revere" room to eat dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern. My daughter too loved the decor at "Columbia Harbour House". She loved all the big ships and pics of whales (not thrilled that they were hunted, mind you). My son said it was like stepping into a chapter of "Moby Dick". My kids also love getting their pics taken in the stocks. Of course my daughter who is 7 thinks her brother should be locked in them at all times, but that's beside the point. They understand why they are there what the consequenses were for not obeying the law. Disney's detail is amazing! Nuggets of information everywhere. We learn something new everytime we go.

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Poppet wrote:
My kids know the darker pavement at LS that looks like a stream is to represent the sewage that used to run through the streets.....gross but true.

Well I'll be.. You taught me something today! Now I have to go back through my pictures and look for this.

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Kristen K. wrote:
Poppet wrote:
My kids know the darker pavement at LS that looks like a stream is to represent the sewage that used to run through the streets.....gross but true.

Well I'll be.. You taught me something today! Now I have to go back through my pictures and look for this.

Me too!...never noticed it and I notice quite alot...lol...I'll be flipping through my pictures now too.

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Kristen K. wrote:
Poppet wrote:
My kids know the darker pavement at LS that looks like a stream is to represent the sewage that used to run through the streets.....gross but true.

Well I'll be.. You taught me something today! Now I have to go back through my pictures and look for this.

You didn't know that Kristen? I am shocked! eek Shock

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I think Poppet's history-loving kids are the exception to the rule. Most kids have tunnel vision - the only things that really matter are THEIR lives and THEIR experiences right NOW. Five years ago is ancient history to a 13-year-old; ten years ago is about the same to an 18-year-old. So forget 250 years ago. That's prehistory. The only thing that's going to cure most of them of this attitude is time. But it will happen - in 30 years you'll be touring WDW with the kids and their kids, and your kids will be making connections all over the parks while your grandkids shrug and ask directions for Haunted Mansion.

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I agree with CrazyCatPerson. Kids are for the moment, instant gratification. History doesn't mean anything. But I have faith that as they age they will begin to appreciate the history.

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twilightsparrow wrote:
Kristen K. wrote:
Poppet wrote:
My kids know the darker pavement at LS that looks like a stream is to represent the sewage that used to run through the streets.....gross but true.

Well I'll be.. You taught me something today! Now I have to go back through my pictures and look for this.

Me too!...never noticed it and I notice quite alot...lol...I'll be flipping through my pictures now too.

How interesting is that? I never knew that! Another picture hunter here. wink

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When I am in Liberty Square I will have to look for the darker pavers. Thanks for the history lesson. You're never too old or it is never too late to learn something new.

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I used to always joke with my kids about the people walking threw the sewers.

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mrhub wrote:
Kristen K. wrote:
Poppet wrote:
My kids know the darker pavement at LS that looks like a stream is to represent the sewage that used to run through the streets.....gross but true.

Well I'll be.. You taught me something today! Now I have to go back through my pictures and look for this.

You didn't know that Kristen? I am shocked! eek Shock

I know, right!?

LoL... Honestly I'm sure that there's a lot I don't know and/or miss. So I went to look at my pictures and wouldn't upi know the very first one I pulled up clearly showed the black channels of "sewage". It was one of those moments when you hit yourself in the forehead because of course that's what it is!

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PirateGirl wrote:
I agree with CrazyCatPerson. Kids are for the moment, instant gratification. History doesn't mean anything. But I have faith that as they age they will begin to appreciate the history.

Very true, unfortunately. That's why my husband and I try very hard to instill a deep appreciation of history in our children but try to make it interesting so they don't zone out.

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See, my kids ARE history geeks. They grew up doing medieval and civil war reenactment and if we go to a history site, they're all in it. I think that they don't have the connections in the parks that I do though because the company has lost it's way in connecting people with places and times. To most folks it's just "set dressing" for the rides. I think Walt would probably be a little sad about that.

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My kids are into history as well. This year our city is celebrating a major battle from the war of 1812. One of the small battles was in the neighbourhood where we live! When they were little we took them to the re-enactments and they were hooked! At Disney though my kids a few years back were meh (they liked it but they left their friends behind and the whole when are we going home) but now when can we go is the question. My daughter's last trip with us she told us it was her last trip ever even though she had a great time(she was in love and her boyfriend was back home). Now she regrets not going the last two times we went.

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My adult sons were/and are history buffs as are their dad and I BUT how will they learn if WE don't teach it. The Tiki Room isn't historic or Jungle Cruise are historic to Disney for them until you tell them about how Walt wanted real animals at the JC but it wasn't safe and the animated birds were a first.

We saw the original animated Lincoln at MK/DL and they loved the story about how it leaked hydrolic fluid but it was red and leaked through the front shirt as though he was shot. NOT cool.
They understand the Small World because they understand the history behind it, including the message, so they overlook the cut out characters and the song that never leaves your brain.

WE teach so THEY can continue.

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I think it varies from child to child. What is interesting to one may sound boring or unappealing to another. Children are still young, still trying to figure out what they really want to do with themselves and what they like or dislike. They don't really think about what lies ahead or the past too much. Like CrazyCatPerson, they are "in the moment" people and there's nothing wrong with it. It's just how their minds and brains functions. I just think history is a tough sell for most kids and not really interactive in the classroom. But again, it varies from person to person.

When it comes to Disney parks, I think most children only focus on the characters and if not, the characters, just the rides and shows. They don't really appreciate the scenery, the background music, the environment, etc. If they decide to come back again when they're older and enjoy it, they'll start reminiscing about the past (Believe me, everyone does at some point) and they'll appreciate it much better. What is just a theme park becomes so much more than that. It's a place where memories are brought back and a place where new moments can make way for new memories. Not only that, we're able to incorporate our five senses much better and gain a bigger appreciation for Disney World if we truly and sincerely believe it. Every person has their own interpretation of Disney World so they can take it or leave it.

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jw24 wrote:
I think it varies from child to child. What is interesting to one may sound boring or unappealing to another. Children are still young, still trying to figure out what they really want to do with themselves and what they like or dislike. They don't really think about what lies ahead or the past too much. Like CrazyCatPerson, they are "in the moment" people and there's nothing wrong with it. It's just how their minds and brains functions. I just think history is a tough sell for most kids and not really interactive in the classroom. But again, it varies from person to person.

When it comes to Disney parks, I think most children only focus on the characters and if not, the characters, just the rides and shows. They don't really appreciate the scenery, the background music, the environment, etc. If they decide to come back again when they're older and enjoy it, they'll start reminiscing about the past (Believe me, everyone does at some point) and they'll appreciate it much better. What is just a theme park becomes so much more than that. It's a place where memories are brought back and a place where new moments can make way for new memories. Not only that, we're able to incorporate our five senses much better and gain a bigger appreciation for Disney World if we truly and sincerely believe it. Every person has their own interpretation of Disney World so they can take it or leave it.

How young are you thinking? I can't say all children are alike but the history of things is also in how you teach it to them. Just from the experience of raising out two and a couple thousand students, most were open to hearing if we were telling.

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"George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that's what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again." Walt Disney

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oldtink wrote:

How young are you thinking? I can't say all children are alike but the history of things is also in how you teach it to them. Just from the experience of raising out two and a couple thousand students, most were open to hearing if we were telling.

I was thinking the 6-8 range, age wise, where social studies are introduced generally speaking for most schools. I do believe you make a good point about how you teach it makes a difference but the same can be said for any school subject. We are in agreement that every child is different and it's really up to them to decide if a subject or hobby is interesting enough and if they want to continue to do activities that are relevant to it.

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"All my life I wonder how it feels to pass a day, not above them but part of them.

And out there living in the sun, give me one day out there, all I ask is one to hold forever. Out there where they all live unaware, what I'd give, what I'd dare, just to live one day out there."

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I remember a fair amount of the two trips that we took to Disney when I was a kid. Both were in 1990. I was 8 on the first trip and 9 on the second trip. I remember my dad pointing out details at MK and more than appreciating the details themselves, I appreciated that my dad was giving validation to WDW being an awesome place with the wonder and awe in his voice while we were discovering all of the little "easter eggs" around the parks.

Today, some of my favorite aspects about the park are that "Fortuosity" from The Happiest Millionaire is on the music loop on Main Street, USA and that I can point out the "sewers" & other symbolism in Liberty Square to family and friends. I think it takes time and life experience to develop a sense of nostalgia and that sense of nostalgia is what drives you to explore history. I don't think that kids are supposed to get all of the detail and history kind of stuff. I think that's the stuff that's planted there for us grown-ups to enjoy. It gives parents a tool to help kids learn to draw connections with the past and present if they seize the opportunity, but I think its ok to just let the kids enjoy their favorite things, too.

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I remember going age 8 and loving disney all of it I loved world showcase, future world, the hall of presidents but my favourite part was the animation tour at MGM it amazed me and i can remember leaving disney world that trip and packing our bags my older brother who was 12 had collected race car and sporting souvenirs my 3 year old little brother had collected a range of toy guns pirate hats, cowboy hats and soft toys. I had a plush mickey (as a cowboy) a giant epcot pencil, a post card of mickey drawing walt and an how to draw Aladdin book. Lots of kids leave disney world wanting to be a pirate, a princess or an astronaut but I just wanted to work there.... i was a strange child

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Philhowelldesign wrote:
I remember going age 8 and loving disney all of it I loved world showcase, future world, the hall of presidents but my favourite part was the animation tour at MGM it amazed me and i can remember leaving disney world that trip and packing our bags my older brother who was 12 had collected race car and sporting souvenirs my 3 year old little brother had collected a range of toy guns pirate hats, cowboy hats and soft toys. I had a plush mickey (as a cowboy) a giant epcot pencil, a post card of mickey drawing walt and an how to draw Aladdin book. Lots of kids leave disney world wanting to be a pirate, a princess or an astronaut but I just wanted to work there.... i was a strange child

Well Phil, you may not work for Disney, but the pencil and drawing books seemed to come in handy wink

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I think it's more of what they have grown up with. Meaning, the things that we have memories of: shows, stories, books, movies, etc. are not the same as some of theirs now. Mickey, Pooh, Peter Pan, etc. are classics and carry over from generation to generation but some of our things that we have fond memories of, don't interest them. And I will admit, when we were there, all the kids were going ga-ga over Jake and Sophia. I really could of cared less. I knew who they were, but frankly, they hold no childhood memories for me.

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Well Katie your right they have and (I am not promoting my self on here) I do, do some disney stuff.

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When our adult sons were with us, we had prepped with a list of hidden Mickey's for each park and printed them out. (Phones are great but in the sun, hard to read). When we had to wait in lines or just walking in the heat, we could focus on other things and it made it so much easier.
This time our 68 yr old friends (who have more energy than us) and we will be taking trivia and "things you didn't know" as they will enjoy all the fact side of the park too.

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"George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that's what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again." Walt Disney

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Does anyone else miss the disney Sunday nights. The awesome blend of parks and family entertainment. I would love to see disney update some of their classic stories we all enjoyed as kids.

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Magic Days wrote:
Does anyone else miss the disney Sunday nights. The awesome blend of parks and family entertainment. I would love to see disney update some of their classic stories we all enjoyed as kids.

I do. There was nothing better than waiting for Uncle Walt to tell us about what was going on at Disneyland or his plan for a new adventure in Florida and then seeing Tink light up the Castle with Pixie Dust.

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oldtink wrote:
When our adult sons were with us, we had prepped with a list of hidden Mickey's for each park and printed them out. (Phones are great but in the sun, hard to read). When we had to wait in lines or just walking in the heat, we could focus on other things and it made it so much easier.
This time our 68 yr old friends (who have more energy than us) and we will be taking trivia and "things you didn't know" as they will enjoy all the fact side of the park too.

Our oldest DS is a structural engineer and he owns all four of the engineer guides to the four parks. He said when he is trying to work thru an idea on a project, sometimes flipping thru a book reminds him to look outside the box. Now they are in the work room and he said he noticed last week that there were pages earmarked and people are writing comments in margins in reference to the projects they are working on. So I guess, he's not the only Disney admirer in the place. He calls them closet Disneys. (Actually, he's hoping the company will take a road trip for inspiration. LOL)

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"At some point in life you have to decide if you're the Tigger or the Eeyore."...Randy Pausch

"George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that's what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again." Walt Disney