Enjoy Disney With Your Children…Trust Me, Time Flies!

I’ve been to Walt Disney World more than 500 times since 1972. I  can vividly remember the first time I took my own children to Walt Disney World.  I was 8 months pregnant, it was July and I had two children under 19 months old.  Most parents might have waited for that first magical visit, waited until the children where “old enough”, but not me.  I had dreamed for many years of experiencing Dumbo with my daughter and Winnie the Pooh with my son.  I wanted to be one of those moms who chased Mickey for the perfect shot. Since that first family trip to the Magic Kingdom, my four children have been fortunate enough to not only visit Walt Disney World but also Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

Living only three hours from Walt Disney World has allowed my family create a lifetime of memories and over time, we developed a “Disney routine” like many Florida families.  We always knew what rides we could enjoy first, the snacks we would grab along the way to the next attraction and customized hand signals for conversations we wanted to keep among ourselves.  But truth be told, as my children got older, their desire to visit the Magic Kingdom diminished and with a sad heart I realized our days of making Disney Memories may have passed.  There were even times that I begged them, yes if you can imagine, begged them to come to Disney with me.

But all that changed last week when I had the opportunity to take my 18-year-old, college-bound son to Walt Disney World with me last week for a media event.

Keenan, Sully and Me at the Monstrous Summer Event

Keenan, Sully and Me at the Monstrous Summer Event

He happily accepted the invitation because he saw it as a last-minute chance to get one-on-one time with his mother during the 6-hour round trip car ride.  For the days preceding the trip, he told me how much he was looking forward to catching up in the car and chatting about his departure this summer to the University of Missouri.  The car ride lived up to both our expectations. However, what we didn’t expect was how our visit to the Magic Kingdom would exceed any prior visit.

Our time in the park was filled with “remember this?” and “when I was small” and re-discovering the fun we had together as a family on our Disney vacations.  For an afternoon, we relived all the fond memories we had gathered over 18 years.  We gawked with jealousy at the two Dumbo rides now offered in the New Fantasyland that now limits the wait time for families. We reminisced about games we would play to pass the time in line.  We watched a preschooler in a Lego shirt climb on the queue railing while his father fruitlessly asked him to “stop hanging on the bars”.  It seems that hanging on the bars in line is a universal behavior and temptation of all children.  As we rode through Peter Pan’s world, my son’s favorite ride as a child, we talked about how many times we would ride and jump back in line.

Disney Keenan

Over and over again, we’d ride in the flying pirate ships until finally my son would release us from Captain Hook’s battle.  Being back on Peter Pan with my son became so overwhelming that I actually cried thinking about the journey from the little boy who used to wear a plastic hook on his hand to kindergarten to the young man I am sending away to college next month.   As our day of memories ended and we walked through Tomorrowland for the last time as a mother with her teenage son, he took my hand and held it until we reached the front gates.  I savored every minute and every sensation of his hand in mine knowing we were transitioning into a new phase in our lives.  I took with me from Disney that day a new feeling – one I had never known before now. I left Main Street USA feeling confident that no matter where my children’s education, careers and future family obligations took them, we would always share our Disney memories.

Among the busy activity schedules, homework overload and meals that need to be cook, there are only 18 summers that you have with your children.  Eighteen.  Take it from a mom who is in her last one with child #3, don’t wait until they are “old enough” to travel, visit Disney or create special memories.  Old enough might be too late.  There are so many experiences out there to share with your children and now is the time.  And if you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in a while or you think your children are too old to enjoy it, now may be the perfect time to go back.

For details about all the Monstrous Summer Activities going on see my post from earlier this week or visit DisneyParks.com/Monstrous Summer. For all of the amazing activities at the New Fantasyland, click here.


13 Responses

  1. Ahhhh, thanks for the cry! What an awesome trip for you and your son. I have been going to the parks with my parents since my first birthday, lucky for my parents, I never grew out of Disney. Now I am the one dragging my mom to the parks where she gets to enjoy the magic all over again with her grandsons! It’s not over yet Maria… wait till the grand babies start coming! What great adventures you all will have! You will be the coolest Nana in the world, just like my mom! 😉

  2. Had to go get a tissue after reading this! So true..it all goes by so quickly!

  3. Chills and tears, Maria. I feel the exact same. Babies or not, it is worth it to go anytime because it is seriously that magical and the memories made last a lifetime.

    Such a beautiful, sweet post.

  4. Beautiful post, Maria! I’m blessed with three children myself and can only imagine how it will be when they go off to college. My oldest son is five, so I still have thirteen summers with him. We will all be heading down to Disney World next week and I can’t wait to enjoy time in the parks with my kids. 😀

  5. And I just cried. Thanks so much for sharing. I can’t wait to experience this with my two little ones.

  6. oh, you gave me tears – I’m so not ready for this transition yet! Can’t wait to see you next week! We are on our 6th Disney trip and oh so full of grace for being able to come!

  7. Oh you totally got me. I grew up in Florida about an hour and a half from Disney. I have so many amazing memories and I have been so blessed to start making new ones with my two sons. It’s so worth it and if I get the chance to hold my son’s hand at 18 in the Magic Kingdom, I will know that we truly have something special.

  8. That brought tears to my eyes.
    I am grateful that I am having a chance to build some of these memories with my own son, then you can shut your eyes anytime and remember. Just remember to reopen them!
    Love you Miss Bailey,

  9. So sweet! I love that you have so many sweet memories together.

  10. Ok, I also shed a tear when I read about your son riding Peter Pan with the little hook hand, and there’s his pic all grown! Very sweet.

  11. Maria this is a great post. This is exactly how we feel about Disney. The last time we went (2011 for Thanksgiving parks/cruise combo) we sort of thought the kids may not want to go after that trip. It was our farewell trip (for a while, anyway). When I mentioned that off-handedly, both kids were incensed. How could we even THINK of not going to Disney? They were having none of it.

    Disney is the place we vacation. Period. It’s the place where my son lets his guard down — you can actually see his shoulders relaxing as we check in and head to the parks.

    When I put together a montage of my daughter for her birthday, most of the pictures were from Disney. Seeing them, I could smell the parks — every memory came flooding back and I am so excited to build even more next week.

  12. I looked at my son just now after reading this and tears welled up in my eyes again.

  13. yowza! time flies…tears flow! thanks for sharing!

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