Ar you making Disneyland or Disney World part of your vacation plans? Well, I’m here to tell you that there is a much easier solution that is essentially the same. You can save a ton of money, stay a whole lot closer to home, and have the same enjoyment.

How, you ask? By visiting the airport! Here are five ways airports are the perfect stand-in for a Disney vacation:

The Lines!

If there’s one signature feature of Disneyland, it’s the lines. Lines, lines, LINES! Lines to get in, lines to get on the rides, lines for food, lines to see characters. Disneyland is all about lines.

Well…so is the airport. You have the security line, the Starbucks line, the I-arrived-to-the-lounge-just-before-it-opens line, and the boarding line. The airport has its own lines with significant waits, just like Disneyland. Both even have a system where you can mostly skip the line. Disney’s is their FastPass, while the airport offers TSA PreCheck and Clear. With two line-cutting systems, I’ll argue the airport is the better experience.

The Overpriced Food

Airports seem to think they can get away with selling you a bottle of water for $3.00. Or more. Disneyland is doing their best to compete with this, offering theirs for $2.75 (I think). In any case, you’re paying way over what you should be.

Your actual meal will set you back just as far. I think we paid ~$90 for lunch one day in Disneyland, which is likely what lunch for 6 people at an airport would have cost. In any case, both places offer you overpriced food, especially considering what you’re often getting.

All the Screaming Kids!

Although Disneyland is supposed to be the happiest place on earth, you do get the occasional child wailing at the top of their lungs. Gotta keep them out late to maximize that enormous entry fee before heading back to the hotel at closing time and getting up early to do it all again the next day. That’s enough to make me scream and cry. You’ll always run into at least one wailing kid.

Same goes for the airport. It’s simply too much overstimulating fun. At least I think so. SFO is my happy place.

You Wait for the Rides

All that waiting you do at Disneyland eventually gets you on to a ride (at least in most cases). This is the culmination of the experience. Depending on how appealing the ride is, the line may be short or long.

The airport is just the same. You wait in line to board an aircraft, your ride to your next destination. There’s even a thrill at takeoff! It’s pretty much the same. And the degree of appeal even dictates the length of the boarding line. Awesome Airbus A380? Gonna be long. Crappy CRJ-200? Gonna be short.

The Cast of “Characters”

Just like you can wander around Disneyland finding various characters to meet and take your photo with, you can wander around the airport finding a bunch of different aircraft arrayed in various livery. During the last couple times I was at SFO, I caught an Emirates A380, British Airways 747-400, Qantas 747-400, Qantas 787-9, Korean 777, KLM 787-10, Air France 777, Air New Zealand 777, and Cathay Pacific 777.

Quite the cast of “characters” in my opinion.


So next time your kids ask to go to Disneyland, you can tell them you have something just as good: the airport! Now you can tell them all the ways the two are essentially the same experience. I’m sure they’ll love the idea.