The Road to Disney
Are you a family with teenagers and younger kids, wondering how the two groups will like and remember a family trip to Walt Disney World? Ten years later, here’s our family’s take on it:
Mom, age 35
Parents certainly have a different take on Disney world, and my mom (now 45) has a great tip for budget conscious families! Allocate souvenir money to each child.
Travel Tip #4: Disney Souvenirs
The easiest and best way/idea, says my mom Jolé, was to give each of us a gift card. That way, each child knows how much they have to spend, they keep track of how much is left and they really have to decide if they want whatever it is they’re buying. For my parents, this helped cut down on “nos” and disappointments.
One of my moms favorite experiences at Disney, was the sensory experience at the 5D movie. I’m not sure we knew exactly what a 5D movie was, but we learned quickly. From water hitting us, to my mom’s favorite, the smell of cherry pie and the hand waving it before our eyes, the 5D movie is definitely something you don’t want to miss! It was one of the first things we did at Disney and it was enjoyed by everyone. Rides and attractions where we could all be together and experience it together were my mom’s favorites. She worked hard to make sure that the two different sets of kids had fun, which can seem a bit daunting when headed to Disney with children in a 12 year age range.
Dad, age 37
From a 48-year-old man of few words, I got one thing. He enjoyed the Buzz Lightyear ride (which was a favorite for most of us). Thankfully, my mom also informed me that he really enjoyed the roomy condo we stayed in, which is pro-tip #2 below!
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
My dad, Clint, is a hunter. So it’s not really surprising that his favorite thing at Disney was a ride where you got to shoot things. This was a great ride for kids (4 and up, probably) and adults. I can’t remember who won, but it was probably him.
Travel Tip #5: Accommodations
If you have a larger family, look into staying at a hotel or resort off of Disney. We stayed at the Lighthouse Key Resort and Spa (now known as The Berkley) in a three bedroom suite. Our condo had two master suites and a room with bunk beds. This was a great option for our family as it gave me and my close age sister our own suite with a jacuzzi bathtub and the little girls their own room to watch cartoons. Another great thing about this particular resort, you could watch the fireworks show from Cinderella’s Castle at the pool!
Makenna, age 5
The youngest, who is now 15, says most of her memories from the trip were of getting on and off the rides Splash Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. But her clearest memory comes from riding Expedition Everest, which consequently is one of everyone else’s.
Our first day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the line for Expedition Everest was well over the time we were willing to wait so we decided to come back another day. We woke up early our last day in Florida to get to Disney and be there as the park opened. As soon as the gates opened, we ran to Everest. Makenna was just barely tall enough to get on the ride and was put in the train car “without asking her if she wanted to ride it,” remembers our mom, Jolé.
Spoiler Alert (if you want to be surprised for what happens on the side): Everest was definitely worth the wait, with the ride time being 2 minutes and 50 seconds long. But for a 5-year-old, the ride was scary. It gave her a great memory, one she’s able to laugh at with us all now, but the ride’s Yeti had wreaked havoc on the track and was looming.
Spoiler Alert: Once the Yeti made his appearance and screams went up from our train car, the screaming and crying didn’t end with laughter from poor, little Makenna. She clung to our mom shaking for the remainder of the ride. It may be messed up, but we all love to think of her reaction and always laugh when it comes up.
Alex, age 7
Child #4, now 17, seems to have the clearest memories from our time at Disney. When I asked her what her favorite memory from the trip was, she started rattling off all the things she could remember.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
A story I had never heard until writing this post was Alex’s one disappoint from the Disney trip. She had been beyond excited at seeing Cinderella’s Castle for the first time. And to heighten that feeling, she knew she was going to get to have lunch with the Disney princesses inside the castle.
Alex sat down at the table for lunch and immediately eyed what she thought was peanut butter fudge, one of her favorite desserts. She eagerly grabbed a piece and put it in her mouth. Cue the disappointment, it was goat cheese. Also, cue my near uncontrollable laughter for hearing this for the first time.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Want to guess what 7-year-old Alex’s favorite part of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was? Makenna wasn’t tall enough to ride it (insert crying laughing emoji here, because that was my face when she told me). The line for this ride was pretty long, but I would say it was worth it. It jolts you off in the beginning, Alex said we were in a stretch limo (which was true), but I certainly didn’t remember that part. This was probably my second favorite ride and I spent some of my souvenir money on a purse at the gift shop!
Other Favorite Memories
Alex was ecstatic about getting her $100 gift card, in her own words she thought she was rich. One of the things she was excited to buy was a Cheetah Girls pin to go on her lanyard.
She also says she literally thought we were in outer space on the Buzz Lightyear ride and (Spoiler Alert) was generally freaked out when we reached the broken track on Expedition Everest. She thought we were going to fall of the edge until we started rolling backwards. Fireworks and getting her face painted were other highlights for her at Disney.
Paige, age 15
The middle child, currently a 26-year-old mother of two, recalled that one of her favorite things we did at Disney was getting our faces painted and riding Expedition Everest.
I’m not sure how it happened, but my two youngest sisters (Alex and Makenna) and I, all ended up getting the “same” face painting. I think I chose mine because of the pretty blues and they chose theirs for the pretty pinks. Knowing Paige, she likely chose hers because the colors went best with her outfit. Paige’s is also the only one that I semi remember the name of, it had something to do with Morocco. Maybe it was a Moroccan butterfly?
Jacquelyn (me!), age 16
As your Texan Travels tour guide, I inserted little thoughts and memories into each of the sections above. Writing this now at age 27, I can definitely say that Disney was a great experience and I’m so glad our parents took us! Just be warned, your older kids will probably not like It’s a Small World!!!
5 out of 5 would visit again (with my future kids)!
Update (06/28/18): Checkout my follow up blog post, Disney, the Outtakes, for some random memories on our way to and from Disney!