Realizations from Waiting in Line at Disneyland

Sometimes I hate being told to be patient.  Often waiting feels like naive passivity.  In today's contemporary society, being extremely urgent is highly smiled upon.  People like their food, drinks, cars, smart phones, notifications, and anything else with a turnaround time fast.  It seems like more and more people want everything faster faster.  With this phenomenon becoming more prevalent, I'm amazed that Disneyland is still in business.

Disneyland may be "the happiest place on Earth," but it's also ridiculously expensive and almost unbearably crowded.  It blows my mind that people (myself included; I have an annual passport) will pay $87-$125 a day to stand in line for a significant majority of it.

As I stood in line to ride the Astro Orbitor with my family this past weekend, I was starting to grow impatient.  Then I stopped and laughed at myself.  I knew what I was getting myself into.

Every time my family and I go to Disneyland, we go through a seemingly almost endless cycle of lines.  When we park our car, we have to wait in line to enter the parking lot.  Then we have to stand in line to get onto the bus or tram to get tot he park entrance. (If we park in the parking structure, we usually have to wait in another line to use the elevator since we have a stroller and those aren't allowed on the escalators.)  Before we even get to the front gate, we have to get in line for the security checkpoint.  After that, there is an unpredictably long or short line at the front get of the park to get in.  Once we're inside, doing anything requires standing in line: rides, restaurants, shops, taking pictures with the cast, or using the restrooms.  Sometimes it's so crowded that even walking around feels like standing in line. 

As I subtly laughed at myself in line, I realized that there were deeper lessons to be learned. 

By waiting in long lines, I was teaching my son to share.  Like any typical 18 month old, he didn't want to wait in line before most of the rides and he cried every time we got off one.  Whenever he acted up, my wife and I always talked with him about sharing; we share the fun rides with everyone.  By waiting in line and getting off when we're done, we let other people have their turn on all the rides. 

Waiting in line also helped us practice delay gratification.  It's an important life skill to have.  Having to wait in line for a ride didn't mean that we weren't ever going to be on the ride.  It would come eventually if we had the patience and persistence for it.  That applies not only to the Indiana Jones Adventure or Pirates of the Caribbean, but anything in life.  Delaying gratification allows us to avoid short term temptations of the here and now and increases our chances of achieving our long term goals.  It reminds us that wonderful things are worth the wait.  Hopefully it's a life skill that my son learns gracefully.

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