This month, I’m writing a series titled 31 Days of Disney! In this part of the series, I’m reviewing past Disney trips and lessons learned along the way. Today’s post is a review of our third trip to Disney World. We had one child at the time; he turned four a couple months prior to our vacation. If you’re young parents and are considering a first trip to Disney with your little ones, love Disney or just want a fun and easy read, this post is for you!
Quick Summary of Our 2007 Trip to Disney World
In the last Disney post, I told you about the time I joined my husband in Orlando for the tail end of his business trip, how I went to Disney World by myself one day, and how that was the ONLY time I’ve ever joined him on a business trip. So I accidentally lied. Sorry! Apparently, my memory failed me and I needed photo albums to remind me of the truth. There was one other time my son and I joined my husband for a couple days at the beginning of his business trip.
The year was 2007. My husband, our recently-turned four-year-old son and I made our way to the airport mid-week for our son’s first plane ride, his first visit to a Disney park, and our first trip to Walt Disney World as a family of three. We were super excited. Super psyched!
The trip was 5 days long. The first three days, all three of us were together. The last two days, I was alone with my son as my husband was busy doing marketing for a client at the annual North American Veterinary Conference. On this trip, we focused all of our energy on Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, as our son was still fairly small. And honestly, we weren’t sure if Epcot and Disney MGM Studios (now known as Hollywood Studios) would be appropriate for a child his age. So we kept it simple with parks we knew would be a hit for a four year old. We stayed off property and took shuttles into the parks every day.
All in all, our first trip to Disney as a family of three was great! Highly successful! I have absolutely NO negative memories of the experience. It was great to do Disney as a family for a few days, and it was just as great to do the parks with my son for the last two days while my husband was busy working. I remember a few people being concerned that our son was “too young” for Disney. Sure, he might not remember that trip in the long run, but he had a great time and was totally ready and able to handle a Disney trip at that age.
Personally, I would not want to take a baby, one year old or two year old to a Disney park. But if you’re considering a trip with children three years of age or older? I say go for it if you think you can handle it as parents. Ideally, you’ll want to bring them back when they’re older and can remember the experience more, but believe me, there are preschoolers and all kinds of little ones all over Disney parks!
Lesson 1: Do not be afraid to use a stroller here and there.
I’ll be honest. I really resisted the whole stroller idea on this Disney trip. Our son was four years old. He didn’t need a stroller anymore. But I also knew the reality at hand. We were were walking Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom ALL. DAY. LONG. I couldn’t expect him to withstand a long day of walking and activity without having some sort of opportunity to rest in between. So we did a mix of stroller, no stroller. The first full day, we didn’t get a stroller. The line for stroller rentals at Magic Kingdom was ridiculously long, and I wanted to try without one anyway. He made it through the day just fine. The second day, we rented a stroller. Third day, NO stroller. And the last full day, we rented a stroller again. Mixing it up worked great! My personal recommendation is to try doing Disney parks WITHOUT a stroller when your children are in that questionable age range of four and five years old. If you end up needing a stroller, you can rent one guilt-free, and your child can get a little breather. But no need to pay the extra $ and haul the thing everywhere unless you need to!
Lesson 2: Let your child take pictures!
One way we really got our four-year-old son engaged with the Disney experience on this trip was to hand him our camera and let him take pictures of us! He took this one of us by Cinderella’s castle at Magic Kingdom. Decent enough, right? This trip was back in 2007 when everyone was still carrying around full-size cameras, but now with the age of iPhones, it’s so much easier to hand your preschool and school-age children the phone for a few seconds and have them snap a photo. Photography gets your children engaged. It allows them to be creative. Taking photos might be a great distraction while waiting in long lines. And it might be a good motivator or reward for whatever desired behavior you want to reinforce as a parent. Take note. I’m NOT advocating for childrens’ iPhone use while at Disney parks. Please, NO. I’m going to be incredibly restrictive with my children on our upcoming Disney trip when it comes to iPhones and iPads. What I AM advocating for is getting children involved with picture taking, whether that’s on your iPhone or other small camera. I think it’s a great way to engage young children positively and encourage creativity while you’re on a Disney vacation.
Lesson 3: Make sure your child gets plenty of down time in-between visits to Disney parks.
One thing we learned quickly on this first trip to Disney with children was that we needed to give our son down time away from the theme parks. Typically, that meant going back to the hotel and letting him rest, play in the pool or dig in the sand for a while. Our son had a blast at the parks, but the experience felt even more balanced when we were able to catch some down time at the hotel. I’m pretty sure it reset his clock, and rejuvenated him for the next day’s fun at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. As an added bonus, the hotel and pool time was relaxing for me and my husband, too; our son was four and at that age where he needed general supervision, but not constant hand-to-hand attention. So as parents, the down time helped us reset for the next day’s Disney fun as well!
If you have any questions about traveling to Disney parks with young children, please feel free to ask! I’m happy to chat and answer any questions, friends!
This post is part of a month-long series titled 31 Days of Disney! If you’d like to read more posts from the series, click here and you’ll be directed back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page. ALL posts from the series are linked within the body of that post. Find a title or topic that intrigues you, click on it, and the post will pop up for your Disney reading adventure!
I also placed the series graphic on the right sidebar of my blog’s home page, so click it anytime and it’ll bring you back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page where all 31 posts are listed and linked.
You can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/AmyBPederson where I’ll tweet links to all 31 posts using hashtag #write31days, and I’d LOVE to connect on Facebook at facebook.com/AmyBPederson. You can also find me on Instagram at instagram.com/AmyBPederson, and I might even do a few scopes live from Disney World, so follow me on Periscope at @AmyBPederson to see if I get brave!
So glad you stopped by! Make yourself comfortable. Take a peek around the place, and know you’re welcome back anytime.