The Disney debate

Edmonton Canada 1978
I took my very first holiday when I was a toddler.

A mere two years old.

All the way to Canada with my grandmother to visit my auntie and uncle for four weeks.

Did I have a nice time? Did I enjoy it? I’m sure that I did but I have absolutely no recollection apart from a handful of snapshots.

Paul and I are currently discussing our holiday plans for the next couple of years and the question about what age to take the boys to Disney in Florida has cropped up and is it worth going if they won’t remember it.

We’re thinking of going two years from now but Paul is cautious. He thinks of the long flight, the change in time zones, the impact on the boys’ sleep routines, the expense. All of this and they’ll be unlikely to recall a single moment.

I, on the other hand, expect that every single day won’t be idyllic but think that the boys will have a marvellous time. And as a parent, is there a greater experience than seeing your children smile and hearing them laugh? Disney is such a magical place for children. I’d love to see their reaction. CK would be in his element there already and in two years’ time, I’m sure BB would feel just the same.

I was lucky enough to travel abroad frequently as a child and even though I don’t remember every trip, I firmly believe that the experiences we have when we’re young make us who we are today. I flew by myself for the first time when I was 12 years old (I was dropped off at passport control in Manchester airport and met in arrivals at Naples) and moved to Switzerland when I was 28. Would I have done either of these things, both with complete ease, if I hadn’t been introduced to the world of travel so young? Maybe, but probably not.

So it is worth taking a child on holiday if they won’t remember it?

I’m going to say, yes. I look at these three photographs taken in Canada and smile. I look at them and remember how wonderful my grandmother was. I look at them and shake my head and grin at how delightfully funny my auntie is. I look at them with memories that I don’t really have but of a time that I’m truly grateful for. A time that has contributed to making me the person that I am today.

Disney, we’ll see you in spring 2015!

What do you think? Do you believe children are moulded by things they experience even though they don’t remember them? Or would you rather save special trips for when they’re older?

16 thoughts on “The Disney debate

  1. Great topic to discuss! We just got back from 10 days in Florida, including Disney and SeaWorld, a flight from Dubai to London, then 4 days later, London to Orlando, so a time change of 8 hours total. I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were moments! Boys up horribly early for first couple of days, a lot of whining and fighting due to travel fatigue, etc. But it was easily our best holiday ever! There is so much fun stuff over there – the Kennedy space centre, a Titanic experience, water parks, crazy golf, the incredible wildlife in the swamp… It was amazing. Our boys are 7 and 4, but we actually first did Disney when Son1 was aged two (we used to live there!)… He doesn’t remember his first visit of course, but I really agree that these trips all add to the rich tapestry of growing up! More to follow on my blog if you get the chance to pop over… X

    1. Thank you so much for this. I was also wondering whether being an expat also lends itself to travelling even more with children. I think it makes you more open to it and unafraid of it. I’ll definitely be over to have a read.

    1. I’ve never been to the Paris one but would really like to take the boys to the centre of Paris too. I spent time there with work but had very little opportunity to see more than the airport and hotel.

  2. I do! I don’t think they necessarily will remember everything but the memories remain for the parents and they make great stories for the children later. And you never know when circumstances might change and you may not not get the chance in the future. And when they start school then you’re confined to term time only when everything will cost £2 million per holiday. Do it! :)

    1. Actually, the school thing was another reason for going while they’re a bit younger. We want to go for three weeks and earlier in the year when it’s not as hot. And yes, the £2 million price tag puts me off ;-)

  3. Are you sure you don’t secretly want to go? Did you want to go as a child?!

    I think you’re right. It’s not just about their memories. It’s about you (as a family) remembering and sharing great times with your kids. Sure you could take them to Disney, but it matters not where they go. What truly matters more is that you, as a parent, shared special moments with them. Children have a natural inspiration and greater appreciation for fun parental interactions. A great bonding experience. If you must go, either make sure they’re old enough to remember or take a video camera. Make sure you show them the recordings regularly to remind them of the holiday – even if they later forget. The film will either make it all come back or they’ll remember it from the camera’s perspective. At the very least, it’s a shareable memory!

    Hype them up if you want to go! But beware of “Disney Merchandise Fever” which will cost you more in the long run than the holiday itself!

    1. Gary, can you believe that my mum and dad took my brothers and went without me??! Never mind that I was at university in La Reunion/Mauritius. Bitter? Me? I don’t deny that the holiday is also for me but I could’ve written this post about many places on my long list to visit. I picked Disney as it’s THE place to take children. But yes, it’s for us as a family and not just for the boys.

  4. I was talking about Disney with a friend just the other day: I was saying it was somewhere that had never appealed to me before, but now I have a child I would definitely consider it! Same with Center Parcs where we’ve been recently, and the adults and children alike all absolutely loved it. Your holidays are an experience for all of your family, so why not go to places that are geared towards your children? They will have a wonderful time (therefore you will too) and even if they don’t remember it you will have those family photographs and stories to tell in years to come. I say if you fancy it, go for it! x

    1. I have so many places on my lost that I want to visit and hope they’ll love too. Disney is the ultimate kids’ paradise and seems like it’ll be so much fun. Can’t wait!

  5. Unfortunately and probably unhelpfully I can see two sides to this debate. I cling to the fact that my two still have a lunchtime nap and have heard tales of how long-haul travel has put paid to toddlers’ lunchtime snooze. I’m delaying any long-haul flight until my two no longer need a lunchtime nap and are potty trained. Maybe that’s selfish of me because I know they would love the beautiful beaches that we plan to take them to eventually, so why not now? But I am currently holidaying in Wales and they have be thrilled with the beaches we have taken them to so far… no 10 hour plus flight needed! Any help? Probably not…

    1. Yes, it’s helpful. One of the reasons to wait until 2015 is because we plan to spend next year rediscovering Wales and going to all the places that I went to as a child. Because we’ve lived abroad for seven years, it’s also helped us to see the UK and it’s beauty through new eyes. There’s plenty to discover on the doorstep too.

  6. My Mother in Law lives in Florida, and we took my daughter and son to Disneyland when she was 3 and he was 1. I am sure they won’t remember a thing about it (although R does have quite a scary memory!) but the two of them really had fun! :)

    1. It does look like fun and I think we could always go back again when they’re older if they want to. Spoiled ;-)

  7. We just took our almost 4 year old to Thomasland.
    Not sure he will remember it but we, the parents, enjoyed his enjoyment of it so much that we think we’d all get a lot out of Disney too. We’ll probably go to one of them – World, Land or Euro – in the next two years although our youngest won’t get much out of it.
    The Thomasland trip felt like the beginning of a new stage of outings and travel with our oldest. He has interests and can tell us what he likes, what he doesn’t. We can do a lot of build up to a special event.
    On the parent side it is so fun for us to watch him. I mean, I am fairly sick of trains at this point and I still enjoyed going on the Misty Mountain Train ride at Thomasland six times in a row. Nothing beats your child screaming with joy and delight :)

    1. I’m thinking along the same lines as you. They don’t necessarily need to remember in order to get something out of the trip. And it’s a great family memory anyway. I need the boys to grow up and love rides because Paul hates them and I need someone to go on them with me :-)

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