An Unusual 30-Day Experience

Next week I’ll be starting an unusual 30-day experience. I wouldn’t call it a 30-day trial this time because it’s not about testing or forming a new habit. It’s just an experience to have. You’ll probably think it’s really weird, but I’m doing it anyway, and Rachelle is joining me in this insanity. It’s an idea I’ve had on my someday/maybe list for a few years, and this year I finally decided to go for it.

Starting on October 25 and continuing through November 23, Rachelle and I will spend 30 days in a row going to Disneyland. That means spending 30 full days inside the Disneyland and California Adventures parks. That’s it. And yes, it really is as ridiculous as it sounds.

I’m also going to blog about the experience along the way. Ideally I’d like to post daily blog entries, but I might back off from such frequent updates if I’m fatigued or if I don’t feel there’s much of interest to share on some days. I’m not sure if I’ll write and post these blog entries at the end of each day or the beginning of each morning. I may even mix it up a bit since the park hours vary from day to day. Usually Disneyland is open between 10 and 16 hours each day, and my intention is to be there for the bulk of those hours.

Why?

Why on earth would anyone want to do such a thing?

Yeah, I know it’s weird. The weirdness of it is actually one of my reasons for doing it. I enjoy unusual lifestyle experiments, and there’s something about living in a fantasy world for 30 days that appeals to me. The weirdness of the idea has a special kind of appeal.

I think my #1 reason for doing this is that I can’t predict the outcome, so I figure I’ll learn something from it. It’s sure to be a growth experience of some sort, but I have no idea how such an experience will affect me. I just know that doing this is bound to have some kind of effect.

Maybe I’ll learn something about myself, about other people, about society, or just a heck of a lot about Disney stuff.

Will I be bored to tears after a week or two and have to challenge myself to keep making the experience fresh and new? Will I get sick of living in such a place for a month and be desperate to get back to something more productive? Will I treat it as an extended immersion in subjective reality and see the whole experience through the dream lens?

I see several interesting possibilities for how to approach this experiment, but I’m not attached to any of them. We could treat this like a Groundhog Day experiment, repeating the same day differently each time till we get it just right. We could make it a fun social experiment, especially if other people want to join us for part of it. We could treat it as a personal retreat and take a break from reality as we reflect on our lives. We could simply allow it to be 30 days of play.

For now I’d prefer not to layer this experience with extra rules and constraints. I’m giving myself permission to approach each day anew, making up the intentions as I go along… or not even bothering to do so.

For a long time I was on the fence about doing this. More often than not I was leaning against the idea. It seemed silly, and I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the opportunity cost. Surely I could do something more valuable with those 30 days. Nevertheless, each time I dismissed the idea, it always came back to tempt me again. I figured the only way I could let it go would be to do it.

I shared this idea with a number of people during the past few months, and to my surprise most of them smiled or laughed and said I should go for it. Many thought it was weird indeed, but they agreed that the unusualness of it was part of its appeal. Some even said they wished they could do it with me if they had the schedule freedom to do so.

One question that helped me lean into this experiment was, Do I want the memory of doing this? I often ask that question when facing tricky decisions. It’s a great question to gain clarity about which way to go. In this case I have to say it would be cool to have the memories of a 30-day block of my life spent at Disneyland, along with a big block of photos on my phone to remind me of the experience. How could I forget doing this even 10 or 20 years later?

By blogging about this along the way, I also think it could make some interesting reading for people who enjoy weird lifestyle experiments. And just the fact that I can do this should rattle a few cubicle dwellers, a favorite pastime that I can never seem to get enough of.

Practicalities

This experiment is fairly simple to execute. Disneyland is only a 4-hour drive from Las Vegas, and we’re driving down on October 24, the day after the Conscious Entrepreneur Workshop. After we’re done we’ll drive back to Vegas on November 24, which is Thanksgiving.

For our accommodations we booked an AirBnB a short drive from Disneyland for the entire stay. The cost for that was $1309. That’s much cheaper than the thousands of dollars it would have cost us to stay in a hotel. We like staying in AirBnBs when we travel anyway.

For the Disneyland admission we’re using annual passes, which Disney calls passports. We actually bought them in December of last year. Initially we each got the $599 Deluxe passports, but shortly afterwards I upgraded mine to the $849 Signature passport because it gives us free parking (which would otherwise be $18/day). The Signature passport also gives a bigger discount on food (up to 15%) and merchandise (up to 20%).

There are some blackout dates for these passes, which is partly why we chose this particular range of dates for our visit. My pass doesn’t have any blackout dates during this time period. Rachelle’s just has one blackout date in this range, November 11 (Veteran’s Day), so we’ll get her an extra one-day ticket for that day, which will cost about $100.

Since we only need one Signature passport to get the free parking and the bigger food discount for both of us, it made sense to upgrade one of the passes instead of both. So our total admission cost is around $1550, which works out to about $26 per day per person. When you include free parking and the food discount, it’s a reasonably good deal. Plus we’ve already spent about 10 days at Disneyland since we got the passes, spread across four different trips since December 2015.

Food

Eating vegan at Disneyland is pretty easy. It’s the most vegan-friendly amusement park I’ve ever been to. Check out Vegan Cowgirl for a massive write-up of all the restaurants and snack stands that offer vegan eats.

Disneyland is even moderately raw friendly. I did some all-raw days at Disneyland when I was eating 100% raw several years ago, and it was easy because they have salads and fresh fruit there. Bring some extra nuts for snacking, and you’re good for the day.

We may get bored of the food inside the park after a while, or we may crave some healthier options and extra variety, so we may eat some meals outside the park or bring our own picnic lunches and snacks. There are convenient lockers near the Disneyland entrance where we can store extra food without having to carry it around.

I estimate we’ll probably spend about $1000 each on food for this experiment, maybe more if we get a bit indulgent.

Throw in some gas money too, and we’re looking at about $2500 each for the whole experiment. But that includes the passes which can be used throughout the year.

Preparation

I’m already super-familiar with Disneyland. I grew up about an hour’s drive from the place, and my family went there many times when I was a kid. I’ve easily spent more than 30 days there already throughout the course of my life, just not all in a row.

Disneyland has two parks, and our annual passes get us into both. There’s the original Disneyland park that Walt himself envisioned (although it has evolved greatly since he died), and right across from it is California Adventures, which is another Disney park with more rides, restaurants, shops, shows, etc. For this experiment we’re including both parks, so we can switch parks back and forth during each day as much as we want. It only takes a couple of minutes to exit one park and enter the other.

We also have the free Disneyland iOS app. You can use it to bring up a map of the parks on your phone, and it will show you the current wait times for every ride – a nice convenience if you prefer shorter lines. Usually the most popular rides are Hyperspace Mountain at Disneyland (which used to be called just Space Mountain but was rebranded with a Star Wars theme) and the Cars ride at California Adventures. These rides can have 90+ minute wait times at their peaks. You can also use the app to check parade times, show times, restaurant hours, and more.

Fortunately we’ve become experts at using the FastPass system to avoid long lines. There are FastPass dispensaries around the park that let you collect advance tickets to the most popular rides, and then you can bypass most of the lines. If you read up on how the system works and learn its intricacies, you can save yourself a lot of waiting time with relative ease, even on crowded days.

The biggest challenge in making this experiment a reality was just blocking off 30 days in a row when we could do it. The particular window we chose made the most sense for our schedules, and weather-wise it should be a nice time of year to do this.

Today I bought a new iPhone 7 to replace my aging 5s, partly to have the new phone for this trip. The nicer camera and longer lasting battery should come in handy. I also like the brighter screen, speedier processor, and improved waterproofiness. I got the 256 GB version, so I won’t have to worry about running out of space for photos and videos. I didn’t like the Plus version due to its size, even though it has an even better dual camera system.

You’re Invited Too

This crazy idea includes an open invitation for anyone who wants to spend some time at Disneyland with us during this experience. You’ll have to buy your own admission ticket, but otherwise it’s a free and open invite. So if you want to meet up Disneyland to talk about life, the universe, and everything while we have fun, just send me a message via my contact form, and we’ll figure out where and when to meet up.

If you’d like to meet up with us at Disneyland between October 25 and November 23 inclusive, please give us at least a couple of days advance notice before your visit since we may need to coordinate meetups with other people too. I can’t predict how many people will actually meet up with us there since we’ve never done anything like this before.

I wouldn’t want to commit in advance to spending a day or more with people I don’t know, but we can probably spend a few hours together if you seem cool when we meet you. If you act like a stalker though, we’ll just ditch you in Adventureland and continue on our merry way.

If this idea turns out to be moderately popular, perhaps we’ll gradually build up a small horde of like-minded lifestyle freaks going around Disneyland together.

Cool Idea or Trainwreck in the Making?

Even after we committed to this experiment, I still wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. But after this coming weekend, I’ll have done four three-day workshops in four months, and I have to say that I’m really looking forward to the change of scenery and change of lifestyle for a while. Somehow it feels like I’m gradually vibing my way into alignment with this experience. Presently I find the idea pretty attractive.

This has been a packed month already. I started this month in Rome, then spent a weekend in L.A. for a three-day conference, and then we had our Conscious Life Workshop last weekend (which was awesome), and now the Conscious Entrepreneur Workshop is happening this coming weekend. This month will finally end with Halloween at Disneyland… and then 3+ more weeks of Disneyland after that.

Is this experiment a good idea? I’m still not sure. I think it will be fun to find out though. If you’re curious to see how it goes for us, you can read about it starting next week. Maybe I’ll share some videos too if it seems like enough people are interested.

If you have any suggestions for how we can make this experiment more interesting, fun, or social, feel free to let me know via the contact form. I’m all ears. 😉

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