One of the most popular questions I get from people is when is the best time to take my kids to Disney World. I am the wife a man who works hard. He struggles to escape from work unless he is actually AWAY from work. With the popularity of mobile devices, it becomes even more of a struggle. I am also the mom of two teenage daughters. One of those is a college sophomore. While I am so proud to see her spread her wings, I am saddened by the idea that our time together is quickly fading. It won’t be long before she has her own family and life separate from us. My younger daughter is sixteen. She just started driving. We see her less and less. Before long, she’s going to be off at college pursuing her dreams.
I started going to Disney World as an adult (it was almost our honeymoon, and we decided to change and go to the Ozarks instead. What was I thinking????). I didn’t grow up going to Disney World. But my children did. We took the girls as preschoolers and they’ve been going ever since.
When we took Madison, my older daughter, as a four-year-old, I never dreamed of the time when she would be in college. She was going to be four forever, and I ranked up there with Cinderella with coolest people in the world. And when we took Emilie as a two-year-old and she was running after characters and rides, the idea of her running after her dreams as a young adult wasn’t even a thought in my mind.
Those first couple trips for each of them were for me. Those memories are sweet memories I have tucked away in my mind and the only way the girls really remember them are looking through the scrapbooks we have. As they’ve grown, the pile of scrapbooks have as well. We have taken many trips over the years. Trips to celebrate birthdays. Trips that we swore we would never return until the girls could get along with each other for longer than five minutes – only to return the next year and say the exact same thing. Trips where each of the girls thought that Mickey Mouse was for babies. Then the trips of wondering if it would be our last as a family before Madison graduated, and we wouldn’t be able to travel together anymore.
Ironically, that “last trip as a family” has happened three times now. We have pulled kids from school, missed games, and missed events. Our most recent trip was in February for Emilie’s 16th birthday. Madison missed a week of college. Emilie missed a week of high school. They both have recovered. And we made some amazing memories. Amazing. I will treasure those memories forever.
One of my favorite requests I get is when Grandma and Grandpa want to take their kids and grand kids to Disney World. Last year I was able to plan that trip for my parents and their grand kids. It was a spur of the moment trip that had to be rescheduled once due to my dad’s health. It was a tough trip to plan with school, commitments, and trying to avoid crazy crowds. It almost didn’t happen. We thought about waiting for a “better time”. But, we made it work, and I even got to tag-along and plan tour guide. My dad passed away last month. In the weeks that followed, I was blessed by Facebook Memories of a couple of trips that just happened in previous years that included my dad. We didn’t appreciate at the time we took those trips just how precious the memories would be.
So when is the best time to plan a family vacation? Now. There really is going to be no perfect time. I’m not sure I’ve ever taken a perfect vacation. There’s bound to be tired kids, crabby family members, rainy weather, missed school, and missed soccer games. In the end, the only thing you remember are the precious memories that you create with your family. Take advantage of the opportunity to create those special times in your life.
By the way – neither of my girls think Mickey Mouse is for babies anymore. 😊
Nicole Riley is the owner of Visit the Magic Travel, an authorized Disney Vacation Planner. To have Nicole help you plan your family’s vacation, contact her at Nicole@VisitTheMagic.com or call (319) 373-8541.