As Disney regulars, we often hear from parents about how special the Disney Parks become after seeing them through the eyes of a child. The magic becomes more special when you can watch the amazement on your own child’s face after meeting their favorite character, riding an anticipated attraction, or watching the fireworks at the end of the night. Eventually, your child will inevitably grow into an adult. However, this doesn’t mean Disney becomes less meaningful. As the “grown-up” child of a Disney-loving father, I’ve found a number of ways to keep the magic alive for both of us during our vacations together. Here are my top five tips:
Recreate pictures from your vacations as a child
We all have beloved pictures from our early Disney vacations. One of our favorites is a picture of me nearly falling into the France pavilion fountain at World Showcase while trying to catch the water in my hands. Although I am much bigger than the fountain now, I have recreated this picture on almost every trip to Epcot. Not only will they make both of you smile, but they can make great social media posts.
Share stories from your past vacations
While waiting for attractions, riding the monorail, or eating a meal together, share your favorite stories from past trips. My dad went to Disneyland a few times as a child and will still fondly recall his younger brother sobbing on the Haunted Mansion when the “ghost follows you home.” Similarly, stories from my childhood trips still bring a smile to my dad’s face. Retelling these stories help remind both of you about why Disney means so much in the first place, and they keep the memories alive for future vacations as well.
Experience your favorite attractions together
If you’re a big Disney fan, you probably have a few attractions that have deep nostalgic roots. These attractions bring out the child in you, and experiencing that feeling with your parent or child in adulthood can have the same effect as experiencing it as a child. For my father, every trip to Disney includes a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean, his favorite ride from his childhood trips to Disneyland. Watching him get to be a kid again on this attraction is heartwarming for me and reminds me of why Disney is so special to us.
Make new memories
While reminiscing about old memories reminds us of our connection to the parks, making new memories is just as important in keeping the magic alive. New attractions, shows, and restaurants are constantly added, and experiencing something new together can spark lifelong memories. Try to branch out on your vacations and do something new together. Pandora and Disney Springs are relatively new experiences that are currently open. Fans can also look forward to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land, and other coming attractions.
Be in the moment
In the process of writing this article, I called my dad to ask what was special about going to the Disney Parks with me now that I’m not a kid anymore. Instead of listing something specific, he said his favorite part of vacation is experiencing the atmosphere with me. Being present is getting more and more difficult now that planning every second of a Disney vacation seems necessary. However, taking a minute to enjoy the park and the environment you’re in is enough to keep the Disney magic in your family. Put the schedule, guidebooks, and phones away and enjoy the people you are with.