I was recently introduced to a new term that may describe my passion for life: kidulthood. Apparently it refers to the generation of adults who have not given up childish things but embrace their inner kid on an adult level. It does not mean they are Peter Pans who refuse to grow up. Oh no. It covers the generation, my generation, who love Harry Potter, watch every Pixar film without, or with, accompanying children and who aren’t afraid to wear childhood cartoon favourites on their tee-shirts and accessories.
We are (mostly) responsible, intelligent adults, who are still able to see the wonder and beauty of the world with a child’s eyes, and an adult’s intellect. We have not forgotten what it is like to be free to enjoy ourselves and have got beyond caring what anyone else thinks of our childlike ways. We geek-out over stuff (although I prefer to call it fan-girling) and can appreciate things on many different levels.
Take my recent trip to Disneyland Hong Kong as an example. It was my first Disney experience and, at over 40 and with no children in tow, I was slightly worried that there wouldn’t be that much for me to do except enjoy the ‘experience’. However, having arrived on a train with Micky shaped windows, I was already bouncing with anticipation like an overgrown Tigger before we’d even got through the gate. I Dick Van Dyke danced down the avenue to the various Disney themes that were playing and positively lit-up when I saw the castle at the end of Main Street. I ran between rides and insisted that we did several ‘again, again’. There was no resistance from my accompanying kidult who sported a fetching pair of Minnie ears with princess crown for most of the day.
Space Mountain and the Runaway Mine Cars were good rollercoasters that satisfied the thrill seeker in me while Micky’s PhilharMagic and Mystic Manor left me wide-eyed in wonder at the magic of it all. I was conflicted by It’s a Small World when I couldn’t work out whether it was cute or really, really racist and didn’t rate it as highly as other attractions but the highlight of the day had to be my purchase of cotton candy on a rainbow flashing glow-stick. Apparently, my face was a picture and my tongue was blue!
Yet it wasn’t just about being ‘at play’. I truly appreciated the way Disneyland was presented. It might just be ‘Disney’ to the traditionalists and kill-joys but Disney do Disney really, really well. The combination of traditional fairytale Disney and popular Pixar worked brilliantly, although the adult in both of us missed Oscar winning Up! from the line up, which lead to a very grown-up debate about which films appeal more to adults than children in the Pixar back catalogue. Also, the Lion King show in the theatre-in-the-round was a fantastic piece of performance art, the Paint the Night light parade was better than any other carnival I’ve been to and the Disney in the Stars fireworks were just like the ones in the all the Disney opening credits. As a child I’d be awestruck, as a parent I’d be happy, as a kidult I was both!
To round an exhausting and exciting day off I purchased a Tigger cuddly toy, with additional Roo, to represent the kidult in me and satisfy my growing need to cuddle a cat every now and then. Kidulthood? I think so!