We just returned from our yearly trip to Walt Disney World. People always have an opinion about our vacations: either they think it's wonderful or they don't get it at all. The naysayers think we're crazy to go to the same place over and over or for taking little kids on a trip that they won't remember. Bah humbug is what I say to that.
I have been going to WDW with my family since I was a little girl. I have amazing memories of being there with my parents, my brother, my grandparents, my aunt, and my cousins. We went so many times together that I lost count. I knew that when I started my own family, I wanted to continue the tradition. Luckily, I was smart enough to marry a man who loves WDW as much as I do, and he is ready and willing to go as often as I am. We have taken the kids with us every time because that's what a family vacation is all about; quite frankly, I can't imagine going without them. (Well, I can imagine it, but I'd never do it.) We have gone with my parents, Trevor's parents, and my brother and his family. We even took our fabulous sitter, Nicole, with us one time because we wanted her to experience the fun with us! We get to see Trevor's aunt Ruth and cousin Meg while we're in Florida as well.
One of the great things about WDW is its concern for people with food allergies. It's not a true vacation for me when I have to worry about what Dallas is eating, and that happens everywhere we visit except WDW. As soon as I make our dining reservations, I note Dallas's food allergies on the reservations. At the restaurants, a chef comes to our table to either tell me what Dal can and cannot eat on the buffet or to create a special allergen-free meal just for my boy. There are always a ton of options available to him, so he doesn't feel like he's missing out on what the rest of us are eating. That's reason enough for me to return again and again.
As far as the kids not remembering the trips when they're so young, I call shenanigans on that. Lottie has been to WDW eight times now; Dallas has gone six times plus once in the womb. They DO remember previous trips and comment on them all the time. On our most recent trip, Lottie remembered being at a restaurant two years ago with Aunt Ruth. She also remembered her favorite ride, the Great Goofini, with no prompting. And even if the kids wouldn't remember the trips, so what? Trevor and I remember them, and that's what counts. We have photos and memories of each trip to share with the kids as they get older. That logic just doesn't make sense to me anyway. The kids won't remember the books I read to them when they were little, so does that mean I shouldn't read to them until elementary school? Should I basically keep them in the house all day since they won't remember going anywhere? I think not. The happiness in their faces is worth every penny we spend, every crazy travel moment, and each minute we're away from home.
Each trip we have taken has been a different experience. When the kids were really little, the pace was slower and the rest periods much longer. Now that neither Lottie nor Dallas will nap any more, we tend to explore the parks until mid-afternoon when they get pretty tired. During this trip, both kids were water bugs. We spent a lot of time at the pool at Bay Lake Tower. I knew Lottie would be all about swimming, but Dallas has never liked being in the water. I was stunned that he absolutely loved being in the shallow end of the zero-entry pool. They both wanted to spend a lot of time at the pool, and Trevor and I obliged. It was great to have Pop Pop there, too, to give T and I a little break from the chlorine. There were some evenings that we walked over to the Magic Kingdom in the evening, but we didn't do it every night like we have in the past. Swimming so much made for two tired kids! And this was the first time we let the kids stay awake to watch the fireworks. As expected, Lottie loved them, and Dallas was unhappy about the loud noises. Despite the noise, it was really cool to have that moment with them. (Note: it was cool for me, but poor T almost had a stroke. We watched the fireworks show from the top floor of Bay Lake Tower, and he wasn't too fond of having the kids up so high. And he thinks I'm the worrier? Ha!)
WDW is truly a place where a kid can be a kid. With how quickly kids seem to grow up these days, I'm thrilled to watch my children run, play, laugh, and act their ages. They both know that the characters are just people dressed up, but that doesn't stop them from being enchanted with each new person they meet. Lottie earnestly told Ariel all about our upcoming move to Valpo, and Dallas blew kisses to Tigger, Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore. They both dressed like pirates and carried swords around with them wherever they went; no one even gave them a second look unless it was to compliment their choice of clothing. I think that's the way childhood should be; kids should be who and what they want to be without pressure or judgement.
So we'll continue to take our kids to WDW and other places as well. I definitely want them to experience the world and all it has to offer, but I also want them to have happy memories of time spent together as a family in a place full of magic and wonder.