I’ve been thinking about a couple of interesting psychological issues related to WDW (and life in general).
During my last trip to WDW, @Bubblez kindly gifted me a dinner at Bull and Bear at the Waldorf Astoria. This was memorable for all sorts of reasons, but one was the attitude I took to the food during the meal. Because I wasn’t paying for it, I only ate as much as I wanted. This was fantastically freeing. One issue I’ve only very recently noticed is that almost every food portion I get in my life is bigger than I want it to be. But I eat it anyway because I’ve paid for it and it seems wasteful not to. The brainsters amongst you will recognise this as the sunk cost fallacy. Throwing away the food I don’t want is exactly the same as eating it — the price doesn’t change, you don’t get a refund, and the food cannot magically be diverted to the poor and needy: one way or another, it’s going down the drain.
Disney even encourages this greed: at 50s PT, you get a sticker for being a member of the clean plate club, if you finish your entrée. Another example would be the old Deluxe DDP. I felt under a lot of self-imposed pressure to get the maximum possible value from it. Which meant I ordered expensive dishes rather than the ones I actually wanted, and I ate far too much food: I remember arriving to a dinner one evening still very full from the enormous lunch I’d had. It wasn’t a fun experience.
It seems clear to me that I would get more pleasure from eating if I always took the attitude I was able to take at the Bull and Bear. And I’d probably lose weight, too.
Another issue to which I’m very prone — and I know a lot of you are, too — is FOMO. This is, in a sense, another form of greed. It’s not enough to have a fantastic time at WDW (which most people, surely, do) it has to be the best time: you must do all the things. Yet some of the best days I’ve had at WDW are the ones where I haven’t done all the things: I’ve just done the things I’ve wanted to do and I’ve been pretty chilled out about it. FOMO is related to the sunk cost fallacy, I guess, because it’s about getting the best possible value for money.
I’m dealing with some of these issues in the planning of my upcoming Paris and DLP trip. For example, I’ve paid for the Premier Access Ultimate pass. This is essentially the same thing as the Express Pass at Universal. It gives me “lightning lane” access to 15 of the most popular rides. If you saw how my scheduling of my one day there is panning out, you might accuse me of wasting my money: I certainly won’t be riding all 15 rides. So why bother paying all that extra money for the pass? Because it enables me to do the things I want to do at the time I want to do them with minimal wait. And, so far as this is ever possible, it pretty much guarantees that.
Where I’m doing less well in my planning is Paris itself. I’m trying to cram too much in. I say I’ll do another trip, but I don’t know if I will, or when I will. So there’s a voice in my head insisting that I hit all the Big Ticket items this trip. But that will end up being stressful and will diminish each individual experience.
One of the best vacations I ever took was to Chicago in the 1990s. Back then it wasn’t a popular tourist destination from the UK and I was unable to find any guidebooks. I knew the Sears Tower existed, but that was it. Once I’d checked into my hotel, which was some way from the centre, I took a bus into the city and got off when I thought I was probably there. I wandered randomly down streets and, more by luck than judgment, ended up on Michigan Avenue. It was amazing. One day I discovered the Art Institute: I didn’t know it existed and I knew nothing about its collection, so there was no FOMO to spoil my visit.
The final psychological screw-up I want to talk about is what I’m going to call the Mona Lisa effect. The Louvre has a vast collection and many of the items are breathtakingly beautiful. Yet everyone crowds in to see the Mona Lisa. I read recently that the only reason it is as famous as it is is because it was stolen and this theft garnered world-wide attention. The art experts amongst you might be able to explain why it is such an extraordinary painting, but is it really so much better than every other item in the Louvre. My own favourite (so far) is the Rubens Medici cycle of paintings, which are in a room that has been virtually empty every time I’ve ever visited, despite containing twenty four huge paintings that are rich in detail and fascinating, with stunning colour and artistry.
The example at WDW might be PP or FEA. I just don’t get either of these. Explain to me why PP is so much better than Pooh, or the Little Mermaid ride, that makes it worth waiting in line for 90 minutes, when you can do the other two after a 20 minute wait.
It occurs to me there is one last one last thing: social media. I do kinda want to go to see the Mona Lisa during my visit to the Louvre, not because I want to see the Mona Lisa, but because I want to take a selfie with it and post it to my trip report and Instagram. And my motivation would not be to show off that I’ve seen it, but to be somewhat ironic about being there in that crazy crowd and line. You’ll all smile and like the post, but what I should be doing is educating y’all about Rubens and Marie de’ Medici.
Three and a bit of the 24 paintings. The one on the left makes me laugh. A fat Cupid points at the portrait of Marie de’ Medici as if to say to Henri IV “look how pretty she is!” The whole cycle is full of these wonderful moments. It gives me so much joy. The Mona Lisa? Meh.