Nauvoo or Disneyland?

Peter BrownMormon 35 Comments

On a personal note, my wife and I are scheduled to be sealed in the temple next month. We have a week’s vacation and with great apprehension, I muse over our options. My wife wants to spend the time going to southern California, romping through Disneyland, Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, possibly Knots Berry Farm and Magic Mountain. I have never been to a single one of these attraction, though I have had opportunitites which I have declined. I would like them see them, though.

My vacation of choice is a pilgrimage across the plains to Nauvoo, with stops in Independence, Liberty, Farr West, Spring Hill, Quincy, Nauvoo, Carthage, and on our return, Winter Quarters. Neither of us have seen these Church History sites. My wife has been to Kirtland and Palmyra.

Both are about equal in cost. You can get a Cotco pass for the parks in California to make them cheaper. We live in Cedar City, thus closer to California–and less gas. Contarily, the Nauvoo trip will be free of major traffic, littered with cheap roadside motels, but be a gasoline-consuming nightmare.

California is the fun trip, let our hair down trip, laugh, play, and romp around. It will be more luxurious, but probably a tad more stressing. Nauvoo is the discovery trip, the experience trip, finding what’s under that rock trip.

San Diego is also the “Disneyland” temple, but Nauvoo is our Meccan legacy temple. But ordinances are ordinances, so its not the biggest factor.

What say ye?

Comments 35

  1. Wow, tough one. Of course it’s a personal decision, but if it were me it would depend on my family situation. You didn’t mention kids in your post, but I’m assuming you have them or else disneyland wouldn’t be so attractive, right? If so, then it would depend on the ages of my kids. And even then it would be a tough choice. But honestly, at the risk of sounding apostate, I’d probably choose disney land. But maybe that’s because I live relatively close to Nauvoo and so don’t appreciate it as much as I should.

  2. Nauvoo. I’ve done both places and you’ll spend less time in lines in Illinois. You can’t beat walking down by the Mississippi where so much of Mormon history took place.

  3. I’ve been to Disneyland. I need a link to the source you have that makes it cheaper than Nauvoo though this summer my eight year old wanted historical sites, so we let her make the decision.

    My thought is do the trip that delights your wife.

  4. I’d prefer Nauvoo, but it’s up to you. Disneyland is nice too.

    Last time I was in Nauvoo the temple was just a field of grass with a few sunstones and the foundation of the Baptistery- it was still very moving to be there. I finally understood what was meant when people would say “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.”

    Don’t know what it’s like now. But I’d prefer Nauvoo to Disneyland.

  5. From what I’ve heard from people who have visited Nauvoo, Nauvoo is sort of like Mormon Disneyland. You have a bunch of senior missionaries walking around dressed up in period costumes showing visitors how people lived during the early days of the Church. It’s sort of like walking down Main Street USA or exploring New Orleans Square at Disneyland.

    So, I’d say Nauvoo. It’s the best of both worlds. Good times AND the Spirit. You can’t lose.

  6. Forget Disneyland: go to CA, but start in San Diego and visit the temple there while exploring the city and beach. Then go to LA, perhaps the temple, but maybe just walk around Hollywood or Beverly Hills and go to the Beach. Then, head to Santa Barbara and have a relaxing time at a spa or something. Then go up to San Francisco and enjoy the museums, city, Muir Woods and the Golden Gate bridge. Visit the Oakland temple if you wish. Then go to Tahoe and enjoy a day at the lake. Then go to Wendover and drive right through. 🙂 Then back to SLC and down to Cedar. I used to live in SoCal and Disneyland was always a let down. Knotts is fun, but Magic Mountain has nothing but rides, and they get old.

    The only reason I would avoid the Nauvoo trip is that it is a long, long trip with only infrequent interesting stops. Then, you spend a lot of time standing around listening to people explain stuff. Some of the locales are beautiful, but its all a bit calm and indistinct through most of the trip, wehereas the CA trip would have tons of stuff to see. My two cents.

  7. I am partial to So Ca, but I live here. I have been to all of the parks down here. I don’t go very often so they are all fun every time I go. They only get old when you go on a regular basis.

  8. I haven’t seen Nauvoo in 20 years, so not sure I would like it as well, now that it’s touristified. I loved that whole trip, but there’s not a lot to see along the way from Utah. However, I live 70 miles from Disneyland and can’t really imagine forking out that much money to do Disneyland without kids. You don’t mention any. Why not wait till you have kids that are old enough to come? Disneyland is fun, but definitely kid-oriented. Sea World is highly over-rated in my curmudgeonly opinion. And Disneyland will start being very crowded in the next month or so. Why not plane tickets to Manhattan, stay in the YMCA of Manhattan ($90 a night) and get sealed in the Manhattan temple, a couple of blocks away?

  9. The drive to Nauvoo from Cedar is long and very very very very very boring. There is not much to see in between church sites, and there is an incredibly long drive before you get to the first one. Some of the lesser church sites are not that exciting. If it’s just the two of you, I would do whatever your wife is likely to enjoy most. If you are the quiet, road-trip, scenery types, maybe you will enjoy it. I for one would rather have my eyes gouged out with a plastic spoon.

    And I agree with Paula. Or you could stay at the Newark Hilton for under $200/night and take the train into the city. May is beautiful in NYC. San Diego is also a great place to go as a couple, and my husband and I have enjoyed Disneyland without the kids, but we are both big Disney-philes.

  10. I have been to nearly every site you mentioned. I am a history buff, and I would visit Mormon History Land in the Midwest. Nauvoo is unforgettable. There is not much to see at Far West, but the future temple site is marked. Winter Quarters has the temple, a small museum/Vistor’s Center, and a LDS bookstore. Independence has the “RLDS” Community of Christ temple, a LDS Visitor’s Center, and some trail museums.

    If you are looking for rides, then go to Disneyland. If you want to understand early Mormon pioneers, then go to the Midwest.

  11. A week is not very long to drive to Nauvoo and take in all the Church history sites along the way. But if you do decide to take that trip, go through Wyoming (either coming or going) and stop at the handcart pioneer monument. Also, the most touching church history site I have ever been to is the cemetery at Winter Quarters (there’s a temple there now too). It is sacred ground.

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  13. For what it is worth, my mom planned a family vacation for my siblings and their families in Nauvoo. My siblings ranged in age from 36 to 18, single and married, and their kids ranged from 9 to 1. I thought mom was insane, and wondered what on earth the kids would do there. But we had a great time! There were lots of things for everyone’s interest, and it seemed a little more meaningul (especially given our family connections to Nauvoo) than Disneyland. All that said, I would recommend a “family council” to amke the decision.

  14. You know, without kids you can really enjoy Disneyland and the rest.

    Wish you well on whatever you decide (he says as he finally gets to go to Nauvoo at age 52 because the eight year old decided that is what she wanted 😉 )

  15. Petros, my old friend, live it up and have some fun. Save the church history tour for some future summer when the kids are old enough to appreciate it and head to California now before Disneyland is ONLY about your kids.

  16. I did all the Midwest Church history stuff when I was sixteen. My parents did it mostly for my Grandmother who had never been to those sites but had always wanted to see them. Even though I was older, the experience was just okay. I went back to Nauvoo when I was twenty-three and had a better experience then. Save Nauvoo for when your kids are older. Perhaps when they are getting ready to go on a mission or something like that.

  17. Dude!

    Just have fun!

    You’ll get time later to see Kirtland and its green lawns. And Carthage Jail? What?

    And if she has fun in Disneyland she’d be more willing to engage in other fun 🙂 if you get my drift!

  18. Personally I would choose Nauvoo, I’ve been twice and loved it. Even with the long drive. But it sounds like your wife knows what she wants and it would be nice to make this temple sealing all about her. The San Diego Temple is one of the most beautiful in the Church. Whichever trip you choose sounds wonderful–congratulations to both of you!

  19. Peter,

    Maybe I’m just saying this because I grew up in So. Cal. next to all those attractions and they’ve lost their novelty, but I’d definitely take the Nauvoo trip. Everyone I’ve known who has planned a week of amusement parks in California has sort of regretted it in the end. They end up wishing they’d done 2-3 days tops; more than that, and waiting in long lines at the Happiest Place on Earth quickly begins to feel like the Most Hellish Place on Earth. Seriously, after 3 days of waiting in lines, they’ll need to haul you off to a padded cell in a strait jacket with “It’s a Small World” going off in your head. You can always wait until you have kids to do Disneyland and the others; it will be more fun that way. Also, you should factor in the cost of these amusement parks, which if you skip them, ought to more than leave you with enough gas money for Illinois.

  20. Perhaps I’m too worldly, immature, or culturally deficient, but the idea of spending “vacation” at church history sites makes me yawn. Head to So. Cal. and spend some time in the amusement parks, then hit the beach, rent a jet ski, and play, play, play. There will be time to visit Nauvoo when you’re old and tired. Play while you’re young!

  21. We’ve done both in the last year. No kids? Go to Nauvoo. Fly to Kansas City, stay in Independence for a few days, then make your way up thru Liberty, Adam-Ondi-Ahman, etc. Spend the night in Hannibal, MO, and do the Mark Twain stuff. Then Nauvoo. Good time of year to go, not near the crowds later that are there later on in the summer and nowhere near the crowds you’ll see in Disneyland anytime.

    Southern Cal is only 7-8 hrs away from Cedar. Do the parks on Mon-Thurs early spring or late fall and you won’t have near the crowds to contend with. If you go during UEA you might find half of Utah there!

  22. Good point about UEA. Disney employees refer to UEA as Utah Enters Anaheim weekend. Bad time to be at Disneyland if you don’t have kids and want to avoid crowds and long lines.

  23. I live in the OC, only minutes away from Disneyland, but I still love the place. We just took the kids for a 3-day getaway there: stayed at the Grand Californian, ate breakfast with Pooh, the works. It was a lot of fun. So, given that I’m still basking in the glow from that trip, I vote for Disneyland.

  24. I say just move to Kansas City (Zion) so you can spend the gas to get here now. That way you’re not stuck walking with handcarts (talk about cross country vacation) like the rest of the “Utah Mormons” will be in only a few years when everything collapses and no one can afford gasoline! Not only will you be much closer to these cool historic sites which I’ve visited many times, but you’ll live much further away from mean-spirited, stuck-up, spoiled, and self-important Utahans.

    You can also buy the Land of Your Inheritance(tm) relatively cheaply (foreclosed homes starting at $5,000); and things are only becoming more affordable as property values continue to plummet for the rest of this year in Jackson County! If you wait too long to buy, you’d better have cash in hand (cash is king when banks have failed, and no bank will give you a loan for that $30,000 mansion you really want).

    I bought the lot that I intend to consecrate for only $1,000.

  25. Disneyland! And to eliminate the guilt, attend some sessions at the nearby Newport Beach temple and visit the Mormon Battalion Historic Site and Visitors Center in San Diego. You mean… Church AND Mickey? Yes, my brother! You can have it all!

  26. Peter Brown :—

    If you come to the Midwest, bring your family to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City to make up for skipping Disneyland. It’s a pretty good amusement park, very Six Flags like. It has 3 record-holding roller coasters (Timber Wolf, Mamba, and Patriot)!

  27. It was a very Southern California style vacation. We even saw a celebrity in the lobby (Ben Stiller). We’ll definitely be back next year.

  28. That’s a tough one. We just got back from Nauvoo and are planning a Disneyland trip this fall. Do both if you can! We love them both!

  29. We just discovered (after buying our tickets) that Pirates of the Caribbean and Small World are both closed that week. I would not have booked if I’d known that. Just thought you might want a heads up.

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