Taking a child to a Disney park is one of those amazing experiences. Of course, you love visiting and you spend relentless hours agonizing over dining reservations, crowd levels and ways to attack the parks.
That first trip with your son or daughter completely changes Walt Disney World forever. Seeing the joy, excitement and wonder brings back my first trip. Unable to effectively put into words what it is like to stroll down Main St. USA for the first time. Seeing Cinderella’s Castle in the distance, you start to walk a little quicker. The music, the smells wafting from the candy shop and bakery and the silver Mickey shaped balloons floating above a cheerful cast member. The first time with your child is so different. You wait for their reaction, their excitement and their joy. It is truly palpable.
When they are very young, you enjoy simply being with them at the parks. You talk to them about what is around and you let them sample what upcoming trips are going to be. And you spend a lot of time keeping them well fed, changed and as cool as possible.
As the years and visits have come and gone, my idea of a perfect trip has changed somewhat. No longer do I get up at the crack of dawn and exhaust myself and my party (sorry, Lou). We are more relaxed and we take the time to let our boys experience Disney on their scale–and their level. My favorite attractions are still Splash Mountain, the Haunted Mansion and MuppetVision 3D, but we spend a lot of time on attractions that we can all enjoy. I am also doing my best to cultivate a love of specific attractions–the Jungle Cruise, Spaceship Earth and Star Tours.
On our last trip, we rode Buzz Lightyear and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority more times than anything but the monorail. When our youngest begs to do the blue roller coaster one more time (what both boys called the Tomorrowland Transit Authority their first time), we had to oblige. It wasn’t important to race to Space–it was important to hold that little guy’s hand and share true Disney Magic.
Some of my favorite grandfather-related memories: taking my parents for the first time (and not telling my dad that Space Mountain was a roller coaster), knowing my dad would rather feed the youngest than ride the Tower of Terror and making sure that my dad took both of my boys on their first trips on Dumbo.
When I think back on trips with my boys: Star Tours, late nights at the Polynesian pool, running around DisneyQuest like crazy (no mommy), hitting the general store at Old Key West to get two Mickey bars before they close, remembering not to shoot on Buzz Lightyear so my score will be low, first trips on Spaceship Earth, watching the characters from afar (they are big, Daddy!) and carrying around two Pal Mickeys in my backpack all day (actually felt like a mini-massage when they both vibrated at the same time). But also knowing that we have memories and we will be making more memories. They have already begun counting down to the next trip!