5 Reasons A National Park Vacation is Better Than Disney World


I’m not a mouse hater.  Really, I’m not.  I took my children to Disney World last year, and we had a wonderful time.  Six months later, we visited two national parks in Utah, and I realized that a national park vacation is truly better than a trip to Disney World.  Here’s why:

1. It’s Cheaper   I might as well start with the most practical difference.  A carload of people entering Zion National Park pays $25 for the week.  If you’d like to buy a week-long pass at Disney World for 2 adults and 2 children under 10, you will need to shell out at least $1,116.  Hotel prices are difficult to compare, but if you really want to vacation on a budget, you can camp at most national parks for less than $30 per night.

2. Natural Beauty   We happened to be in Disney World during the Epcot Flower Show.  The sculptures made of flowers were beautiful but contrived.  There is very little natural beauty to be found in Disney World.  Disney is so focused on engineering beauty and imagination that they created a word for it:  imagineering.  If you take your kids to a national park, you will not see any imagineering at work.  Old Faithful and the other geysers at Yellowstone National Park are truly spectacular on their own.  The Grand Canyon needs no illusions to make it look wider, deeper, or more colorful.  The beauty found in the national parks needs no enhancement.

3. Less Commercial   I don’t think it is possible to walk more than 20 feet in Disney World without encountering a store, kiosk, or person selling something in Disney World.  Seeing so much to buy makes most people want more and appreciate less.   Standing in the valley of Zion National Park, looking up at the mountains makes most people appreciate nature and feel more at ease in the world.

4. More Meaningful Family Time   Your time in Disney World is spent running from attraction to attraction.  Although you spend 24 hours a day together, much of that time is spent watching a show or sitting in a ride.  Even if you are standing in line, conversations are easily avoided by watching one of the TVs mounted on the ceiling.  In a national park, you can spend all day on a hiking trail, chatting, singing, and looking for wildlife without encountering many other people.  You may find that your children may ask some pretty deep questions after a couple of miles on a trail.

5. Less Hectic   Hardly anyone comes home from a national park saying they need a vacation from their vacation.  Yet, that is a common refrain after a trip to the land of the Mouse.  In Disney World, you are constantly on the move, getting on and off of buses and trams, rides and attractions.  In a national park, you can hike as far as you like, but you can picnic in a meadow, sit on the bank of a river or lake, sit and stare at a sunset.  There is plenty of down time– just what most people are looking for in a vacation.

A child who has been to Disney World but has never seen a geyser, glacier, or a cactus is missing out on some of our country’s greatest treasures.  There are so many options for a national park vacation.  You can travel to spectacular mountains, beautiful deserts, and gorgeous beaches.  Find the park that is right for your family here.  Enjoy the summer!


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About 52BrandNew

I am a single stay at home mom who is determined to live life to its fullest.
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31 Responses to 5 Reasons A National Park Vacation is Better Than Disney World

  1. Danyel says:

    You might be saying youre not a mouse hater but in reality you ARE a Mickey Mouse hater!!!

    • 52BrandNew says:

      No, I don’t hate the mouse. We did have fun in Disney World, but I don’t think it was as meaningful for us as a family. I value spending time together more than artificial beauty and entertainment.

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  3. Visit Rapid City says:

    Great blog post! The Black Hills National Forest is a beautiful vacation destination that many families have enjoyed. Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Bear Country USA and many other monuments and attractions that are worth visiting are located throughout the area. Visit us in Rapid City, centrally located in the Black Hills, for a perfect family vacation!

  4. Jen Fischer says:

    I couldn’t agree more – Did a post recently of our 10 favorite SoCal family friendly vacations and why Disneyland isn’t one of them. Lots of our favorite things to do include enjoying the great outdoors! After all, we live in Southern California, so we figure we might as well take advantage of it. http://jennifischer.blogspot.com/2012/06/ten-for-tuesday-family-friendly.html

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  6. jacqfish says:

    Love your post! We’re heading to Rocky Mtn. Nat’l Park this summer (although I will admit to visiting WDW last year 😉 We so look forward to the fresh air, family time and things you wouldn’t normally see (elk, bears) when we visit the parks.

    I did a post on the Jr. Ranger programs at the Nat’l Parks: http://www.kcedventures.com/blog/why-we-love-the-national-park-jr-ranger-program that is in the we teach summer learning books. I wonder if we should do a linky to connect all the blog posts highlighting Nat’l Parks?!

  7. Love your post! We’re headed to Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park this summer (although I will admit to being at WDW last summer 😉 We so look forward to being outside in the fresh air and seeing things you can’t normally see at home (elk, bear, etc.).

    I found you thru ‘we teach’ (yea!), and we have a blog that’s in the summer learning book about the Jr. Ranger programs in the parks: http://www.kcedventures.com/blog/why-we-love-the-national-park-jr-ranger-program I wonder if we should do a linky this summer and hook-up all the park posts?!

  8. Photina says:

    While I must say we are planning a trip to Mouseville for March we LOVE going to National Parks. We are moving to ID soon where there are a lot of National Parks within driving distances and I can’t wait to explore them. Mouseville is a gift from the grandparents to the kids. National Parks are our true love though. We already have a trip planned that we are saving for that is a round trip that takes us through Wyoming, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Idaho. Each stop with an educational destination. That is what I am looking forward too.

  9. Cindy says:

    These are great points-for adults! Kids want Disney! I see nothing wrong with that. My kids can have both.

  10. I love this post. Your photos are beautiful! : )

  11. Great post every family should read! Carolyn

  12. ar011 says:

    I totally agree – that’s why we’re headed up to Acadia National Park on our road trip this year instead of down to Mouseville. I priced up the two, and for less money than Disney we can do a two week road trip that takes us to 9 destinations, including 3 days in an amazing National Park, and buy tickets to go whale watching. My 10 year old was disappointed at first, since she’s never been to Disney, but after I told her all the things we could do when we got to Maine plus all the other places we’re going, she’s been fine with skipping Mickey.

    Also don’t forget your local state parks. Here in Maryland they do a family summer scavenger hunt around the parks – You do an activity at each park, get a stamp and then if you get a certain number of stamps over three months you get to go to a special end of summer party. It’s really popular around here because it means there’s something to do and also it means you can get into the parks for free if you’re participating.

    • 52BrandNew says:

      Sounds like you have a great trip planned… something your daughter will remember for years to come!
      I wonder if our state parks do a similar program to Maryland’s summer program. I’m going to look into that now!

  13. Heather says:

    GREAT topic, I prefer a more laid back vacation too!

  14. Dhani says:

    I completely agree! My 17 month old has been to so many parks so far, and this summer, we are making it to a few more. Death Valley is great for kids too!

  15. First time visitor via Pinterest. Love this post…I couldn’t agree more!

  16. Cassie says:

    I love this way of thinking! I hope to do some of this with my girls soon!

  17. A Nature Mom says:

    I couldn’t agree more!

  18. Valerie says:

    I love this post — brings back great memories from my childhood too! 🙂

  19. I think this post is pure brilliance & couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you for putting it out there. 🙂

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