Thanks Disney for providing me this trip for free.
When my oldest daughter was four years old and I was pregnant, my husband and I debated taking her to Disney World. Sure, pregnancy brain may have had something to do with that decision and as you can imagine, my husband wasn’t exactly on board with my scheming.
“Why wouldn’t we wait until she’s older and can remember it?” he protested.
But in my mind, there was no time like the present — our family was literally growing by the minute and at four years old, our daughter was the perfect age to let us all experience Disney World through her eyes.
So we went.
While there were moments of craziness (like when I forgot to get our car reservation in time, leaving us literally stranded in the Magic Kingdom), we had a blast and I’ve never regretted it. Recently, we had the opportunity to go back to Disney World, this time with as a family of six, including a first-grader, preschooler, a toddler, and a baby. And I can officially say that all of those myths about wasting a trip to Disney World on a preschooler? Just aren’t true.
Myth #1: A preschooler won’t remember a trip to Disney World.
Obviously, this is the #1 concern when taking a preschooler to Disney and having done it twice, I have three things to say about it:
1. They will remember more than you think. When I ask my daughter (now almost seven) about the trip we took to Disney when she was four, she remembers almost everything. Honestly, it’s kind of shocking, but I like to think that because we made such a big deal of it and had such a great time, that those life moments tend to “stick” more than we realize.
2. You won’t let them forget it. Along with the 50,000 pictures that will live forever on your phone, Disney has the amazing option to add a Memory Maker experience to your vacation, letting you take advantage of unlimited pictures from the professional photographers all around the parks. The pictures will automatically be linked to your online Disney account and available for you to download for free when you get home. They can also take videos for you and if you ask for “Magic Shots,” they will incorporoate some surprise Disney magic into your pictures. (Think: Tinkerbell.)
3. You will remember it. OK, say the worst-case scenario happens and your kid manages to avoid the thousands of pictures and videos you take of them in Disney World and completely blanks out of family bonding time reminiscing in those memories together. Here’s the thing — you will still remember the trip. One of the highlights of my parental career has been seeing my children’s faces light up at the Disney World Main Street Parade and that is a memory that I will always, always treasure.
Also, if all else fails and my kids hate me someday, I will be able to whip out the, “But I took you to Disney World!” ammunition to prove that I gave them everything. Ha.
Myth #2: It will be waaay too much work to be any fun.
I’m a pretty lazy person in general and the last thing I want to do on vacation is fight my kid while dragging luggage through the airport, so I concede that this is a valid fear. But with Disney, it’s also totally unfounded.
First up, Disney has this great service when you stay at their resorts where they will whisk your luggage to and from the airport for you. So, when you step off the plane, you never have to go to baggage claim — your luggage just magically appears in your hotel room. And going home? You can check all of your luggage right with airport attendants at the hotel and they will take care of everything. Once again, your luggage will magically be waiting for you at baggage claim at your home airport. This saved me so much hassle I can’t even begin to tell you how I almost got to use both of my arms at once (but I still have a baby, so you know.)
Everything about Disney World is designed for the ease and convenience of families and going from my everyday life, when I want to weep with gratitude if someone holds the door open for me and my giant double stroller (seriously, no one has manners these days!), having everything thought out and taken care of for families with little kids was like a breath of fresh air.
Myth #3: My preschooler’s entire routine would be shot.
I admit that I’m a stickler for routine in my day-to-day life as a mom of four. Missing naptime is a tragedy meant to be avoided at all costs. So I did kind of dread seeing what kind of effect it would have on my kids to completely uproot them, stick them in hot weather, and over-stimulate the heck out of them. But, like all things when it comes to parenting, I was completely taken by surprise.
Not only were we able to stick to a fairly predictable schedule, but on the days we didn’t want to stop for naps or didn’t have time, my kids learned to go with the flow so well. Everyone learned to take stroller naps and overall, did great on the go. It was eye-opening to me as a mom to realize that hey, life doesn’t have to always totally revolve around my kid’s schedule. In a lot of ways, actually, I think it was a really, really good thing for us all to shake the dust off of our daily routine and realize that life can keep on going around kids and not always the other way around.
Myth #4: My child has too many special needs to enjoy Disney World.
Luckily, magic is for everybody and Disney lives by that philosophy. There is an entire page dedicated to navigating Disney with special needs, including autism spectrum disorders — with everything from possible stimulating triggers and downloadable guides to rides and attractions to accommodations for wheelchairs.
For general health needs, you can also be assured that there are first-aid stations all throughout the parks and hotels as well as off-site urgent care centers. You may also be able to request a “rain check” to get back in the parks if you are forced to leave for a sick kid.
OK, so I’ve said my piece and hopefully we are all in agreement: taking a preschooler to Disney World is totally worth it. You’ll love it, you’ll have a magical time, and you’re welcome to come back and tell me thank you for convincing you with my realms of Disney wisdom.
So just to save us time, I’ll just say it now — you’re welcome. Have a magical time and bring me back some Mickey Mouse waffles when you get the chance.More On