A Vacation To Adulthood? The Anti-Disney Theme Park

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The youth are starting to change. Walking through the streets of cities of the world and talking with locals, I have found discrepancies between my own (not-too-long-ago) childhood, and that of the “kids” today. As a young hooligan myself, I remember playing in my front yard until the street lamps came on — my informal curfew. I often become nostalgic over my childhood activities: slumber parties, bicycle rides through the park with my parents, walking with a quarter in my pocket to the nearest corner store to buy penny candies. It seems as though the youth are becoming more serious, or smarter at a younger age, indulging in computer coding and picking up smart phones to stay in touch with peers. Things have changed.

According to an article in The Globe and Mail, theme parks are adapting to this shift. Instead of roller coasters and water rides, kids are able to visit the new park, Wanadoo City, in Sunrise, Florida, to pay to play grownups. I guess it has become cliché to say that every kid’s dream is to visit a Disney amusement park. Even when I was a kid, I vividly remember disliking Disney World — a family vacation splurge — and preferring Busch Gardens because it had more animals.

Still, I find it surreal to find places like Wannado City: a place where kids can do whatever they want to do, like be a doctor, a veterinarian, even a carnie. It is the antithesis of Neverland, a place where you can no longer be a little boy or girl. Working in your career gives you currency (or wongas) that you can spend at concession stands or deposit into the Wannado City Bank. Heck, if you wanna become a full-fledged member of civic society, a kid can join the Wannado City Chamber of Kids. My, how they grow up so fast.

Personally, I find the concept disturbing. Although some advocates may see this theme park as an opportunity for kids to explore career paths, the essence of social interaction is missing. Instead of learning to play with friends, they may only learn how to play as “co-workers.” The drive to become the best plastic-cardio surgeon may ruin time spent with friends, or future hand-holdings. “Sorry guys, I can’t play jacks, I’ve got Barbie’s life to save!” Essentially, socialization would become very linear.

Then again, kids will play “grownup” with or without the $40 admission. It is inherently human to perpetually try and discover who we want to be. I remember cutting up found refrigerator boxes into a television set, and acting out various programs for my sister. My sister would sit me down on the ground, amongst a pile of teddy-bears, and teach us French. We used our imaginations to project our future selves.

But, then again, those rides in that world were free.

By Brit Weaver


About the Author

Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog, TheBubblesAreDead.wordpress.com.

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