At least it used to be. Back in 1971 when they opened the doors to the Magic Kingdom, adults paid $3.50 and children $1.00 to enter. The rides and attractions ranged from 10 cents to 90 cents. Today, it costs $125 per ticket. And $22 to park your car on top of that, and if you want priority parking, that would be $45.

Do young parents have to take out a second mortgage to bring their kids there because of all the media hype? Are they guilted into it? Apparently, the price hikes didn’t scare families away over the years, including us.

Our greatest wish was to take our own children and two grandchildren to this fantasy land bigger than life itself. Originally, our first attempt in January 2018 failed, though. Mother Nature and the 30-year record breaking snowstorm had other plans for us. Every road, bridge, supermarket, doctor’s office – you name it, closed down in Charleston. The city was literally frozen. Of course, we all got the flu and our grandkids, Jagger 6, and Siena 3, were delirious with frightening fevers reaching 106 degrees.

We thought we’d made the smarter, more economical move by renting an entire house in Orlando, rather than going to a high-price Disney resort. Ahh, the best laid plans of mice and men (no pun intended, and NO refund intended on the January house, either)

Disney, take two! Good thing the kids were never told about the trip because we waited for Easter Sunday to present the big gift. Our daughter meticulously planned the itinerary and made up a scavenger hunt for the kids, one thought-out clue after another that would lead them to the trip of a lifetime, the first week in May.

Finally, the kids solved all the clues and were ready for the unveiling. We led them outside … Drum roll, please! The propaganda and balloons flanked the 3-car garage doors and a giant handmade poster with bold lettering: SURPRISE – YOU ARE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD! . Their faces — Expressionless. We were the ones surprised. Why didn’t we see this coming? It’s not like they didn’t warn us. These two children would never go within 150 yards of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. What made us think these intelligent beings suffering their entire little lives with CCS – Creepy Clown Syndrome, would want to be surrounded by an overabundance of characters.

Once we got to Disney, how could we possibly rectify the situation? Hmm. Bribery! It was the only answer. “Listen, kids,” we said, “if you let us take a picture of you with the two big mice, we’ll buy you a Lego set at the giant Lego store at Disney. There was a long pause. Then,success. They agreed to the deal. But when we got on line for Mickey and Minnie’s autograph, we could see they were getting more anxious by the minute. They swallowed a lot and looked pale. Another pep talk was in order. “Just don’t make eye contact,” we warned them. “Don’t look at their oversized hands, and don’t step on their tails. (I was starting to get creeped out, myself) And, don’t worry, they don’t even talk. Trust us.”

We found ourselves lying to the children every few minutes. Next, it was the rides. We stood behind a family of eight on line, in dire need of dental care, all wearing $25 t-shirts that read “This is the Most Expensive Day of my Life!” We made poor Jagger go on Space Mountain. He’s not been the same since.

Grandpa got motion sickness. Soon, the entire family was traumatized one way or another. Does Disney have no mercy? Yes, yes it does! We discovered that the very day we arrived was the first day they started serving alcoholic beverages in the kingdom of deceit. CHEERS!

So, you may wonder … was it all worth it? The answer is YES – every minute!