If you're a Disney fan over the age of, say, 14 or so, you're probably very much used to the puzzled looks you get from the uninitiated when you inform them of your passion for the Parks. No matter how hard we try, there will always be people who associate adult Disney fandom with Furries or Bronies (no offense to Furries or Bronies). The most recent instance of this misconception is Brooke Sager's piece in Thrillist she titled "What's With All You Adult Couples Who Vacation at Disney World?"
To be fair, Sager's confusion is about a particular element of the fandom she finds odd: that adult couples without children would prefer to visit a theme park as opposed to... well, anywhere else. Her first thought is to blame the women saying:
First of all, girls: why do you do this to your men? Why do you put them in this terrible position in which the only way to make you happy is by wearing matching Mickey Mouse ears in an awkward prom photo? Is that Instagram picture hashtagged#themickeytomyminnie really worth his manhood to you? You’re supposed to look out for the man you love, but now all his buddies are roasting him during Rangers game commercial breaks.
That’s your fault.
Ok... I'm sure if you ask my wife which one of us is most likely to insist on a Disney vacation, as Justin Timberlake would say, it's gonna be me. Besides, I don't think the scenario Sager is describing is the fault of Disney fandom or women, but social media — that's a-whole-nother issue we don't have time for here.
While Sager claims she's not here to judge, a large, tweetable quote reads "Mature people, theoretically like you, are supposed to do mature-people things." This is followed by:
"Expressing the inimitably adult feeling of romantic love in such an adolescent world is creepy... What is it about the forcefield of Dumbo the Flying Elephant that makes you feel so close to her right now? What am I missing?"
What Sager is missing is something called "fun." She seems to think that romance in the classic sense is the only thing that can bring couples together. However, I'd argue that couples that are able to have fun, laugh, and enjoy each other's company have fundamentally better relationship than those who need chocolate-dipped strawberries and red wine to feel in love (no offense to chocolate-dipped strawberries or red wine).
In some ways, Sager acknowledges as much as she lays out what her idea of a good vacation is:
Here’s what I picture as a romance-dripping moment with my boyfriend: a summer road trip with a solid playlist, hiking up a mountain to take in the panoramic view at the top hand-in-hand, good conversation over a bottle of cabernet.
She goes only to complain about theme park cliches like "$15 food court slop served on Styrofoam" but what about the things don't sound so great about her scenario? Long drive = numb butt. Hiking in summer = far more sweat that a theme park since at least they have A/C. And cabernet? Everyone knows pinot is better (I actually have no idea what I'm talking about).
To sum up the rest of her post without just copying it, Sager disputes a number of excuses Disney couples provide for why they're going to Walt Disney World including warm weather and roller coasters. She then goes on a rant about how those without kids are in their traveling prime and should wait until we have children to subject themselves to theme park vacations. Her suggestion?
"Round-trip flights to Charleston are down to $260 on Kayak -- no Mickey Mouse ears required. You’re welcome."
Incidentally, the only time I've been to South Carolina is while driving from New Jersey to Florida... for Disney (no offense to South Carolina... I really should be more careful writing this, huh?). I'm not saying it's not a fine vacation – heck, you know who has a resort in South Carolina? Disney! — but a simple phrase that could answer Sager's need to understand us fans is "to each his/her own." I am well aware that a Disney trip might not be what everyone and certainly not every couple wants, but that doesn't make it strange.
Ultimately, I'd like to buy Sager a copy of Aaron Wallace's The Thinking Fan's Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom so she could understand that Disney theme parks are far closer to museums in terms of art and culture than they are to the county fairs she seems to be envisioning. And there's also a lot more I could say on the topic, but I'll leave it to you.
What do you think of Sager's critiques of adult couples going on Disney vacations? How would you explain your fandom to her? And what "romantic" times have you had at Disney parks? Let us know!