The first time I went to Disney World was the summer I turned 3 years old. My birthday is in July, and we were in Florida for my birthday. Talk about a magical birthday.
I hear parents say all the time that they don’t want to take their kids to a Disney theme park until their kids are old enough to remember. Well, depending on how good your child’s memory is when they get older, they may be able to remember a trip as young as when they are 2 or 3 years old. The memories may be vague, but they are still memories. Wonderful memories of feelings, smells, and things they saw or did.
If you re-enforce memories with pictures and stories, it will help cement them into your child’s memory for years to come. In this day and age, the best way to capture memories is through video recordings and pictures. Believe me, even if your child doesn’t remember anything from their first visit, they will still have a magical time while they are there, and you will have cherished videos and pictures that will last a lifetime.
My memories of my first time at Disney World are fuzzy and a little vague, but they are still my memories, and I love them. I cherish them. We used to go down to Florida once or twice a year when we were growing up to visit my grandparents. We went down to stay with my grandpa for a couple weeks in July 1983. My grandma had passed away the previous winter, so it was just a visit with my grandpa this time. I was technically still 2 years old when I went to Disney World for the first time. My mom believes we went a few days before my 3rd birthday. My parents and my older sister had gone a few times before without me. They used to leave me with my grandparents when I was a baby. My sister is 10 years older than me, and I believe they wanted a couple extra years of going to the parks without a little one tagging along.
From my first trip, I can remember the feeling of excitement. I can remember sitting on my grandpa’s shoulders to watch the parade. I remember loving the parade, even though I can’t tell you anything about the parade now. I remember resting in my stroller while people in my family took potty breaks. I remember that my grandpa never went to the bathroom the entire time we were there, and my mom kept telling him he was going to have bladder problems. I remember wanting a big pinwheel sucker, and my mom saying no. The sucker was so colorful. I remember feeling a sense of awe when I went on rides. I remember that my favorite ride was It’s a Small World, and I loved singing the song. (I sang it over and over again after that trip.) I remember being very tired at the end of the day, and my dad carrying me to the tram. I also remember the smells. The smell of sweets and popcorn.
Now that both my dad and my grandpa are gone, I am very grateful to have these memories with them in it. Family vacations are special. No, you don’t have to go to Disney World to have a special family vacation, but there is something about a Disney vacation that is like no other vacation I’ve ever been on. It’s magical.
There is a certain feeling I get inside every time I arrive at Disney World. It’s excitement and anticipation. Every time I walk into the Magic Kingdom and see Cinderella castle at the end of Main St., I get a feeling of nostalgia. It feels like a home away from home. It feels like childhood. I feel giddy. I may even get a little choked up remembering being there as a kid with my parents, my sister, and my grandpa. As a teenager, we even took a few family trips where we invited friends along. It was my friends’ first time going to Disney World, so I was able to show them the ropes and share all of my favorite things with them. There is nothing like seeing the beautiful lights on all the floats during the Electrical parade, or seeing Disney fireworks for the first time in person.
As a young kid, the experience of meeting your favorite characters in person is a dream come true. I’ve been able to take my daughter to Disney World twice now, and I loved seeing the look of awe on her face. Her eyes lit up the first time she got to meet Princess Jasmine, and she was thrilled when Jasmine took the time to talk to her. It was a magical experience for her.
My daughter loved Disney World so much, it was all she could talk about when we got back home. From the moment we got home, she was planning her next trip. We told her we wouldn’t be able to go back for two years because we needed to save money. She ended up striking a deal with grandma (my mom) to help pay for our next trip. She got her wish, and we went back the next year. The experience was just as magical the 2nd year. And guess what, she has talked me into going back again this year. It looks like this may be a yearly trip around her birthday. Eventually, I’ll have to convince her to branch out and go to a different Disney destination, but for now her favorite place on earth is Disney World. It’s mine too.