Apparently as a millennial I should now apologize for having fun.
My generation is blamed for a lot of things – being obsessed with technology, ruining outdoor play, being lazy and living too long at home with parents because it’s so much harder to buy homes in this day and age than it was a few decades ago, voting in the Rachel Notley NDP and the Justin Trudeau Liberals – and now we’re being blamed for ruining Disney World.
At least, those of us without kids.
Last week, a several-month-old profanity-laced Facebook tirade by a very angry mother of a three-year-old resurfaced on Twitter, saying childless millennials should be banned from Disney parks. It was followed by a New York Post op-ed by Johnny Oleksinski who agreed with her sentiments, claiming “millennials are indeed in an unhealthy relationship with Disney, having granted control of so much of their leisure time and personality to a single, enormous corporate entity meant for children,” and basically that millennials need to ditch our apparent Peter Pan-esque desire to never grow up and start being what he thinks is a proper adult.
Millennials shouldn’t be going to theme parks – Oleksinski says they should be drinking rosé along the Seine and watching what he deems are more adult-worthy films than taking in the technological feat that is the new remake of The Lion King or supporting Egyptian-Canadian Mena Massoud in his role as Aladdin in the live-action film.
Clearly, Oleksinski has never familiarized himself with the themes in Peter Pan, or the non-Disney written sequel to J.M. Barrie’s original tale in “Peter Pan in Scarlet,” or even the recent Christopher Robin film – all of which deal with the importance of adults not losing touch with their inner child, and thus the joy in life.
He, nor the mother who insists in her rant that the parks are for parents and children only, have ever done their research on Walt Disney, himself, either, who specifically says he’s never played down to children nor made movies specifically for children.
“I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us, whether he be six or 60. Call the child innocence,” Disney once said.
“Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the children’s approach to life. They’re people who don’t give a hang what the Jones’ do. You see them at Disneyland every time you go there. They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought – sometimes it isn’t much better, either,” he also said.
In June, when I was at the fly-in breakfast at the Lacombe Regional Airport, I met an older couple who go to Disney quite often. They struck up a conversation with me because I was wearing a spirit jersey from the parks that day, and asked if I had a chance to have dinner with the princesses. I said it wasn’t something I felt right doing, being someone older in the parks. They explained they had originally felt the same way, until a cast member told them that once someone steps inside the parks, everyone is a kid and treated equally and now it’s one of their must-have experiences. They even said they’d seen an 80+ year-old couple who have been going to the parks since they opened that go to the character dinners.
Are they, too, perpetual 12-year-olds, brainwashed by some corporate company into infantilizing themselves, Johnny? No, they’re people having a good time and while drinking wine in another country might sound fun to you, escaping to another realm and engaging the imagination is the definition of fun to the rest of us, and it’s OK to experience fun in different ways – it doesn’t make you immature, nor should enjoying something a child does be something to be ashamed of.
For all the complaints of Millennials ruining things, it’s a shame people like Oleksinski and this mother have to be judgemental and try and ruin stuff for other people.
As a childless Millennial who visited Disney World last year, I had a really good time – I found Magic Kingdom, personally, to be a little underwhelming, but I loved Hollywood Studios, getting escorted as “dignitaries” to meet Kylo Ren and getting to hug Chewbacca.
I won’t apologize for having fun – and no one, regardless of age, should ever have to.