Walt Disney World is a place where magic happens. It has rides and castles and roller coasters and soft-serve ice cream. At any moment, you might spot (someone dressed in a mascot-sized costume of) Marie from the Aristocats or the Beast (from Beauty and the Beast) or even Doc McStuffins. Especially when you’re there with your kids, dreams can quite literally come true.
Please, then, tell me: Why on Earth were the vast majority of people at the park on a summer Tuesday wandering around while staring into their smartphones?
I mean, I know the park has invested a ton of money into this great new app, My Disney Experience, on which you can organize Fast Passes and check wait-times for rides. And I know we all have become obsessed with Facebook and Twitter (heck, even I file stuff on social media from time to time).
But, seriously, three out of every four families we saw today were walking around with their heads down, totally ignoring each other.
I like to call people who do this Cell-Phone Zombies (CPZs). And the zombies were everywhere. In Fantasyland, which recently reopened after a historic expansion. On Main Street, where there is never a shortage of things to see. Inside the Be My Guest restaurant, which sits INSIDE THE BEAST’S CASTLE. Hell, even on the bus back to our resort, at least 75 percent of the passengers were CPZs.
The scene was so egregious, so ridiculous, that even Little R noticed.
“Da-da, why is everyone looking up Ellie Goulding songs?” she asked, a reference to the fact that playing deejay is one of the only things I actually do on my phone in front of the girls.
(ICYW, my response was, simply: “Mickey Mouse loves Ellie Goulding, too, honey.”)
This isn’t a rant against Disney World; this parks are better than ever, and whether the girls are behaving or not, we’re having a blast living in the moment. Instead, I’m calling out my fellow family travelers. Visitors to Orlando! Disney World is awesome and y’all are lucky to be here! Now put down the damn phones.
Really, it’s a lesson we parents can apply to any family trip: Be present. Sure, it’s nice to document our group vacations with photos, and, yes, it’s great to text with people back home. But unless something’s urgent—or unless you’re Annie Leibovitz, for crying out loud—stop being a CPZ, know when to get the technology out of the equation, and interact with your kids. They’ll be better for it in the long run. And you know what? So will you.
How much time do you spend staring into your mobile device when you’re on a family trip?