While I went to Disney once as a child, my love affair with Walt Disney World didn’t begin until I became in aunt in 2005. My brother and sister-in-law lived in Central Florida. So I would fly down several times a year, and we would take my nieces and nephews over for the day. We did crazy things that I would never try now as a parent—like go to all 4 parks in one day. My poor sister-in-law—she’s such a good sport. She never told me “no” or even suggested that it was too much trouble to take her 5, 2, and 3 month old to Magic Kingdom in the dead of summer. I loved being the “fun” aunt, and I didn’t learn how much work and effort it was until I started having children of my own.
We had four kids in 5 years from 2011-2016. You’d think that might have slowed my obsession with visiting Disney every chance we get. Nope. We’ve been every year. At one point, my goal was just to be able to go to Disney when I wasn’t pregnant or nursing.
They won’t remember.
Jonna’s first trip was at 6 months, Zanna’s at 7 months, Mila’s at 9 months, and Vin’s at 9 months. One of the questions we get a lot is “Why would you take them so young? They won’t remember it.”
Will they remember their first trip? Probably not. But I will. I’ll remember Vin saying “wooow” in his sweet little voice every time he saw something new that fascinated him. I’ll remember Jonna and Zanna’s giggly requests to take a picture with every character statue at Pop Century. I’ll will remember rocking and nursing Mila in the cool, dark mothers’ room as we took a much-needed break, and I’ll remember sitting on the surprisingly empty lawn at Magic Kingdom and watching my girls chase each other. One day in the seemingly distant future, when my house is quiet and empty, I’ll remember.
You know what else I’ll remember? Their absolute joy at being the center of our care-free attention. My husband’s job is incredibly stressful, and the truth is we all feel that stress here at home. Disney is the one place we’ve found where the stress of his job doesn’t follow us. And that is priceless to us.
Disney is woven into the fiber of our family.
Here’s the thing. So many of our best memories as a family are at Disney: Wayne rocking a tutu for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (also the same night the seat of his pants ripped out), Wayne face-planting in a stranger’s lap at the Caribbean Beach hot tub, our gender reveal for Vin, when a 2-year-old Zanna was searching for something to talk to Tiana about and decided that “My Dad says bad words” was the best option, our first vacation without the kids to celebrate our 10th anniversary, taking my mother-in-law to Disney for the first time at age 67, hearing Vin say words and making sounds we didn’t know he knew…I could go on and on.
And honestly, they remember much more than we give them credit for—I’m surprised all the time when our real-life Disney adventures are reenacted in their imaginative play or when they remind me of something that happened on a trip that I had forgotten.
Our Recent Trip
Still not sure if a Disney trip is right for your young family? Take a look at these pictures from our latest trip:
The pic from the Seven Dwarves Mine Train tells you everything you need to know about the Rodolfich girls:
Jonna—the daredevil, the leader, the protector—she is all smiles and holding her sister’s hand.
Zanna—scared out of her mind, but #doingitscared because she’s not about to let her sisters one-up her. Plus, she knew Jonna would take care of her, and she’s holding on for dear life.
Mila—she was super proud to finally be tall enough to ride; she didn’t really know what to expect, but she’s a mama’s girl, and she was just happy (sort of) to be along for the ride.
And I hope the Splash Mountain pic makes you laugh as much as it made me. Jonna and I rode it without her first because Zanna refused. But she changed her mind, so we rode again with her. She was so proud: “Mom! I was brave! I did two things that scared me today!”
So be brave. Spend the money. Take the trips. Do all the things. Make the memories.