My Totally Selfish Reason for Taking My Kids to Disney
Have you ever noticed how once you start thinking about something, it suddenly seems to pop up everywhere? It makes sense I guess; things you never paid attention to start sticking out once they’re already on your mind.
Recently, we’ve been talking about taking a family vacation to Florida next winter. Only days after our initial conversation, I came across an article on The Humbled Homemaker entitled “Why We’re NOT Saving Up to Take Our Kids to Disney World“. Of course, I had to read it.
It was a well-thought out post about how she feels that there’s a lot of societal pressure to bring kids to Disney. She doesn’t want her children growing up with a sense of entitlement, nor does she want to go into debt to pay for an extravagant vacation. It was a good read and I agreed with most of it.
A few days later, I came across another article; this one by Bunmi Laditan, the hilarious woman behind The Honest Toddler. It was entitled “I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical” and it was so spot on. I won’t go through all the details (go read it!), but in it, she mentions how her parents took her to Disneyland when she was five and she has no recollection of it. Instead, the magical moments she remembers from childhood were the ones she made by herself, with her siblings and her friends, at home, in the backyard, in her imagination.
As I finished reading, the doubts began. I wholeheartedly agreed with both of these ladies, yet here I was, close to midnight, searching for which resort had the best pool and trying to figure out what the heck a FastPass was.
The questions poured in, fast and heavy.
“What are we doing, planning this trip?”
“Are we spending a bunch of money only to create self-entitled brats?”
“Will the smaller trips we take lose their luster after seeing the great and powerful Dis?”
“Will a day spent at the playground seem boring and small?”
“Will they even remember the trip at all?”
It suddenly became of the utmost importance to answer the question:
What are our motivations?
I could immediately discredit any “Keeping up with the Jones’ ” philosophy. We don’t really care what the Jones’ are up to.
The entitlement argument didn’t ring true either. Sure, our kids sometimes think they need something right now, but Eric and I refuse to give in to their every whim and we continually teach them how thankful we should be for all that we have.
We’re very careful with our spending, so if there was even a chance that a vacation would put us in debt, we wouldn’t go.
As I thought things over, my mind drifted back four years to our last trip to Florida. Eli was two and a half and Samuel was ten months. We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were too young to remember it, but we went anyway. Why?
Why spend a bunch of money to take your kids to a place that they’ll never remember? As I thought back to our trip and the fun that we had, the reason came to me clear as day.
It was for us. The parents. Yes, it was magical for Eli in the moment, but we were okay with knowing that he would forget about it because we also knew that we never will.
We will never forget how excited he was as we waited in line to meet Mickey Mouse. How the kids in front of us all clung to their parents when their turn came, but Eli confidently stepped forward to say hello, hands clasped together in awed excitement as they signed his book.
We will never forget how he leaned in and kissed Minnie right on the nose.
We’ll never forget how Samuel reached out chubby fingers to grab Pluto’s whiskers and wouldn’t let go until we pried him away.
How an amazingly talented guy named Bruno cut out the boys’ silhouettes in five minutes each.
How we went mini-golfing almost every day that we were there.
Our kids grow fast. Too fast. Before long they’ll be grown and gone, and I’ll look back with fond memories on both our everyday interactions and the moments we tried to set aside as ‘extra special’.
Will they remember this trip we’ll take next winter? Maybe bits and pieces. But I, I will carefully file away the memories and place them in my heart to treasure for years to come.
So yes, we’re going to Disney, but it’s not for the kids.
And I’m totally okay with that.
Janine Huldie says
We have been talking about talking out girls (5 and 4 years old) to Disney this year and have weighed all you said above, but the bottom line is what you shared here, I just want the memories (selfishly possibly) of their pure joy and excitement at this young age, before they begin to question or look at the Disney characters through more older, jaded eyes. So, I am with you and will be taking my girls to Disney more for me then anything and yes I am OK with that. So, thank you for putting into words what I have been trying to formulate for months on this 😉
I’m glad I could help Janine 😉 It’s true though; I’m sure they’ll enjoy it if we go when they’re older, but there’s something so cool about watching their wonder when they’re still young.
We are thinking really hard about heading to Disney Land (because its a lot closer and the kids are young). I want to, for selfish reasons take them to Disney World when they are a bit older, just because I went there. I know my Disney loving children will love it. As will Hubby and I. 🙂
It definitely makes more sense to go to the one that’s close when they’re young. One of the draws of Florida is that we can take a direct flight as opposed to having layovers with three kids! Have a great time when you go!
I love the magic of Disney. I know it is a personal preference, but my family looks forward to a trip there each year. It is the one place, no matter how old you are, you can feel like a kid!
It really is a fun experience, but like you said, it might not be the best vacation spot for everyone.
Patrice M Foster says
Lauren, Great article…..who every say Disney Land or even Disney world is only for the kids missing out.. FUN, FUN, and more Fun.
It does have something for everyone!
Erin@The Humbled Homemaker says
This is a really good post. I love it. 🙂 Thanks for the link back!
Thanks so much for stopping over to read it Erin! You gave me a lot to think about and I’m glad we both came up with what works best for our families.
Tricia the Good Mama says
I love this post! We didn’t go to Disney until I was in middle school and I absolutely loved it. My whole family enjoyed every single moment of that trip. So, while I don’t think we’ll be one of those families that go to Disney every year, I definitely will like to take the kids every now and then.
We took my son, who definitely won’t remember it, this past fall because my youngest brother was doing an internship at the time. Even though he won’t remember it, I know he had such a great time. We also had the best time! Honestly, sometimes I think people write those types of posts because they don’t want to feel bad about not taking their children to Disney. I don’t think you have to take your child to Disney, but there’s no need to try to make people feel bad because they do.
Yeah, we by no means will go every year, but it’s such a fun trip to do every now and then. And even older kids have fun there, so there’s never a bad time to go!
Vashti (veepeejay.com) says
Your honesty is refreshing! I know the kids will have an amazing time and lots of memories will be made.
Thanks Vashti! It should be a fun trip1
Elaina Newton (@TheRisingSpoon) says
You make SUCH a good point! I have to say that one of the best things about growing older is hearing your parents (or whoever raised you) tell stories of when you were little. Even if you don’t remember something as a kid, you will learn to appreciate the moment in your own way through the stories you hear about it later on in life. Also, I’m going on a trip to Disney World next week and I’m a full blown adult. It’s so much fun! Who needs an excuse?
That’s a great point Elaina! I love hearing stories from my parents. Have a great time next week!
Awww…this made me tear up. I agree, Disney is for us when they’re little – and there’s nothing wrong with that! I’ve taken Lila every year since she was 2, and I still tear up when I see her reaction to walking in the gates and seeing the castle. Her joy when she spots her first character or princess. I marvel that I am lucky enough to have kids to bring to Disney. Who cares what it costs, it’s about making memories!
Yes! I know Annelise is going to be enthralled. And Samuel and Eli will too, even though they’ve been before. They were so little last time, it’ll be like the first time.
Thank you for writing this! We have 3 kids ages 4, 2, & almost 1. My oldest has been to Disneyland 3 times, my second child twice and my youngest has been once. We are going again in a few months. My husband and I love Disneyland. We went there on our honeymoon. So I guess all the times we’ve gone have been for selfish reasons, but every time we go we just love watching our kids have a blast. They get so excited! I had tears in my eyes the first time my daughter met Tinker Bell. She really thought it was her. I’ve recorded every character meeting and they have all been awesome. My son ran around with Buzz Lightyear while my daughter hugged Jessie. My youngest tried to bite Daisy’s nose. It has been so magical for my kids and for us. I wish people would t make it into something it’s not.
Aww, that’s so great! And it holds extra special meaning to you since it’s been a part of such a big life event! Have a great time!
Amanda @ Queenofthelandoftwigsnberries says
Oh, how I totally agree with this post. The simple moments are magical for my boys, but sometimes Mama needs some magic, too. I love going on adventures with my boys, no matter how extravagant….but those restful days at home are great, too.
Yes! We’ll remember the day to day moments and often it’s those seemingly insignificant moments that end up being the most special. But it’s also fun to have the big moments that can stand out.
Jennifer DeFrates says
Yes! I want to take my daughter so I can watch her have fun and experience the magic while she is still young enough to be enraptured by it, whether that magic is at Disney or the ocean. And I went to Disney at 4 or 5 years old, and remember it almost 40 years later. I remember the nightly parade, I watched in amazement, but was so worn from the day that my eyelids were like lead. I kept falling asleep. But I remember it. The small world ride and the Pirates of the Caribbean. Take your children to a place you can be a family, enjoying each other and have fun. You might find that they remember , even if just how much they were loved.
I love the way you phrased that Jennifer! And I love that you remember going!
This is so true!! I love the memories that I have from my son’s first few trips to Disney! We are going in Feb to take Mila for her first time since its her second birthday. A bunch of family members are going including my nephews… I cant wait!! (and even if Mila wont remember it all… we will for sure!!)
That will be so fun! We’re planning to go with family too. Vacations are always more fun with a group! Have a great time!!
Sarah @ Play 2 Learn with Sarah says
Good point! I earned a trip for our family 2 years through my direct sales business. It was ON my youngest 3rd birthday. I was so proud that I could do that for them. They may not remember…but I still have the picture on the fridge and look at it everyday.
Aww, that’s awesome! And what a great way to go on vacation, when you earned it!
Melissa Matters says
Love this! I said I was waiting to take my daughter to Disneyland until she was five and then we ended up taking her for the first time at three. I think my son was 18 months when he went for the first time.
I bet they had a great time too! There’s something for every age there.
Katie | The Surly Housewife says
You have such sweet memories from your first trip! I almost wish I took our kids when they were younger. My parents have a time share in Florida, so they have been begging us to visit so they can take the girls to Disney. As much as we would love to, 1. we haven’t been able to afford it, and 2. I didn’t want to have to deal with naps, diapers, strollers, etc that come with taking young kids to Disney. I don’t think your reasons are selfish at all. If money wasn’t an option, I would visit Disney twice a year if I could!!
It’s definitely not cheap, that’s for sure. As far as the kids being little, we went with very low expectations. We didn’t stay in Disney and we only planned a couple of days in the park. That way we knew we had plenty of time to rest and keep the kids from getting way overtired. They’ll be 3, 5, and 7 when we go next year, so it’ll be a little easier, but we’ll probably still need a stroller 😉
Yes, Yes, Yes. THIS is why we have packed everything but a kitchen sink (we’re DVC members, so there’s already one of them there!) and gone to Disney with kiddos as young as 6 months. What I love is seeing them grow up from when they’re just staring wide-eyed at all the colors and faces to when they are awestruck because they’re in the presence of their favorite character (“Mommy, she’s even more beautifuller than I thought!”) to even now when my oldest is big enough to go get me coffee while I sit and hold a parade spot. I ALWAYS say a child may not remember the first time he meets Mickey, but he’ll remember the joy he felt because Mom and Dad made it happen. One of my favorite memories/photos is when my now 7-year-old popped a cereal bit into an unsuspecting Princess Aurora’s mouth. She bent down to coo at him, and he thought she wanted to share!
Oh my word, that is SO funny! What did she do??
Chewed carefully, patted him on the head and glided away like royalty before he could reach her again! LOL
Wow! That’s amazing!!
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says
I loved this and I loved your reasoning. We need to do things for ourselves sometimes… and that’s totally okay! The memories from your first trip are precious and I’m certain the memories you’ll make during this trip will be wonderful too.
Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.
Wishing you a lovely day.
So many YESSES to this post! I can’t wait to take my kids to Disney (like, literally cannot wait and am constantly telling my husband how badly I want to take them). You’re right…they might not remember it. But they will LOVE it when they are there, and that’s important, too.
And I want to go! I think it’s important to do things for ourselves…and how can anyone lose when a trip to Disney is involved? 🙂
True! I can’t imagine not having a good time in Disney.
I love this post. For all us 30-40 something’s, we grew up with Disney as the ultimate playground, ultimate movie studio and ultimate cartoon characters before there was much competition. So, I know for me, going to Disney is a way to share my childhood with my son.
That’s a great point Caryn!
Andee Zomerman says
This is us! We’ve been taking the oldest since she was 11 mos and the youngest since she was 6 mos. My oldest just turned 15 this week and I posted pics of that first Disney trip when she was enamored with the characters. People say we’re crazy (we are) but each age brings something new. If I’d never taken them at 5, I would have missed the “princesses are real” stage. Now in their teens, they can see behind some of the magic, but we don’t have to return to the hotel for naps either. I say there is no perfect age.
Exactly! I love that you have the memories from all the different stages. That’s awesome.
This was a great post. We go to Disney a lot. (Thanks to generous family and friends who have worked or are working in the parks.) My four year old has been there more times than many adults and I constantly get people asking me why…she won’t remember it. But everything you said was spot on. We remember it. We go because we enjoy it as adults and cherish witnessing all of the different experiences she has had.
You’re never too old for Disney! And like Andee said, it’s great to see your kids experience it through all the different stages.
Great post. We’ve been to Disney twice already and are going again in March. I love it! My kids love it!
Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom says
Can I chime in that the silhouette people at Magic Kingdom are awesome? I have one from 2012 and am thinking I’d like another of my kids this year. Truly, I treasure that thing hanging on my wall! A tangible reminder of my kids at Disney in 2012. Enjoy your trip!!
Absolutely! My husband and I were blown away with the talent of that guy!
I totally agree with this. We took my son at 23 months and we knew he wouldn’t remember but less than 24 hours into the trip, my husband said it was the best vacation we ever took and it was. Watching his face light up when he met his favorite characters, when he saw the train come in at Magic Kingdom with Mickey on it and shouted “I see Mickey”, when he woke up from his nap excited and shouting “lets go”. We will remember all these things and tell him these stories. The trip was magical for all of us.
Aww, I love it! I’m glad you all had such a great time!!