The On-Going Cost of Growing Up Poor

I’m Going to Disney World

Lucinda Gunnin


When you grow up poor, like 16% of American children, you think that you are missing out on the things that other kids get to do.

You think that because it’s true.

So when you get beyond that poverty line, to lower class or the, the holy grail, middle class, you spend a lot of money on things that were part of childhood for other people.

I know a lot of adults who have opted for braces because they weren’t an option when they were younger. A lot of us needed them, but they were a luxury item.

So were things like shopping at a mall and going on iconic vacations like Disneyland or Disney World. Most of us grew up thinking that was something that middle class kids did. And it turns out before inflation made it ridiculous, it was.

The Hustle did a bunch of research and found out that normal family activities, like going to a major league baseball game or a family night at the movies, when adjusted for inflation, cost twice as much now as they did in 1960.

The cost of visiting the Mouse? Three times as much as it was for families then.

I don’t have a child in my house and don’t love thrill rides. But this fall, I am fulfilling a dream younger me had and I’m going to Disney World. I will enjoy it in different ways now than I would have as a child, now looking for the entertainment experience more than the rides.

But even as I plan it, I know that I am doing this in part because I grew up poor. Now that I can afford it, I really want to know if I was missing something.

What I know for sure, at this moment, is that seven days in Orlando in 2022 is costing me more than nine days in Ireland and the United Kingdom did in 2018. And it’s not like we skimped out when we went to Europe. We went on bus tours, spent the night at the London Zoo, did the Warner Brothers studio tour and spent enough on keepsakes that we had to buy an extra suitcase to bring it all home.

But Orlando is expensive. Even when you take out the hotel and plane tickets, it’s more expensive. Park tickets are outrageous.

For the 4-day park hopper tickets at Disney, we’re paying $149 each, every day. I can’t imagine how parents can afford to do it with children. Now, to be fair, we’re splurging on some VIP experiences. We’re doing Mickey’s Not-so-scary…



Lucinda Gunnin

Lucinda Gunnin is a commercial property manager and author in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She’s a news junky, sushi addict, and geek extraordinaire.