Many families across the globe hold their precious traditions close to their hearts. Photos adorn hallway walls of decades-old annual rituals considered sacred by all involved. Whether something as simple as matching holiday PJs or, more specifically, perhaps a secret recipe prepared every year at the same time, handed down through generations, these beautiful representations of connection strengthen our bonds and relationships. Some of these traditions evolve naturally over time, though others are purposefully started with an intentional beginning that nurtures this practice over the years to come. Today’s your day if you’ve always wanted to create your own unique Disney tradition. We are going to run through a list of my favorite traditions to help you choose something that will be fun and photogenic for all the years to come.
Matching Outfits or Accessories
It might be an obvious one, we’ve all seen those families in the parks wearing head-to-toe matching outfits, and you may think this practice isn’t for you, though you don’t have to take it to such an extreme measure for it to still be a fun family tradition. It might be as simple as everyone wearing their own outfit in the same color scheme or everyone wearing the same shoes in different sizes. I’ve seen some families with really clever T-Shirt designs that separately don’t seem significant but form one picture or message when placed near each other. The options are endless with this one.
The One with the Photo
A great way to start an inexpensive tradition that also becomes a great keepsake is to recreate the same photo. No outfits are required, just the same people doing the same thing, year after year. Before you know it, you will have progress photos of your family’s growth as children get older and then even as new family members join you, spouses, and even the next generation. Think about where you want to be. The castle is an obvious choice though there are many other spots that are better for marking height changes as the kids grow up. In Magic Kingdom, character photos can be an excellent way to capture these changes. Choose one character, like Mickey or Minnie, and take a group photo every visit. A photo wall in your home can display your family’s growth over the years. If you are in Disneyland, I highly recommend the Sword in the Stone.
First / Last Ride of your Trip
Beginning or ending your vacation with the same traditional attraction can be a fun way to feel like the magic has just started or that final moment where you know that it’s time to say, ‘see ya real soon!’ In my family, we always end our Disneyland days with a half day at California Adventure. The half-day is because the flights back to Sydney leave at night, and the park choice is simply because I find it easier to leave that park than I do walking away from the castle in Disneyland itself. If you are looking for a simple way to kick off your family fun, a ritual ride on your favorite attraction will likely do the trick. The only problem with this one is if the ride you all love happens to be out of action when you arrive.
That Special Dining Experience to Begin or End your Trip
For many of us, the first moments of our Disney vacation don’t begin with the parks themselves. With flights arriving throughout the day, it is common to let your family settle into your resort and catch a special dinner in Disney Springs or a nearby Disney resort to get the magic started. Having a go-to restaurant that signals that good times have begun is a great idea. If you prefer to leave that perfect evening until the end, you might like to create a special traditional last night, always taking advantage of the same fabulous restaurant or just letting the splurge itself be the tradition and always leaving a memorable experience for last.
Adding to a Collection
This is one of my favorite traditions of all. Everywhere I go, I collect a Christmas decoration from that location, something really unique to the place and the year. Come Christmas time, when my tree goes up, it is filled with memories from incredible experiences we have had as a family. As each one goes on the tree, we relive that wonderful adventure. You can do this with anything you like to enjoy from home, mugs, photo frames, earrings, and even postcards where you write a summary of the trip’s highlights on the back and then place them in a photo album. The best part is this option not only creates memories in the moment you are choosing one, but that keepsake is something that you will remember forever every time you look through your collection.
Sharing A Snack Before the Parade
I must confess, we do this one as well. Instead of getting everyone the same snack before you stake your claim to the perfect parade seating, try letting everyone select something different, and that way, you can all try a little bit of everyone else’s. It’s a really fun way to try new Disney snacks without spending a fortune or over-indulging in too many treats. Get a photo of everyone holding their selections and put them all together to make the cover of your photo book for each trip. You’ll be able to see everyone change throughout the years while also seeing how their tastes change over that time as well.
Planning the Next One
Whether you are thinking of returning to Disney on the next trip or another destination in the world, one of the most loved traditions in my family is to plan the next vacation on the way home from the one you’re on. On that long flight or drive back to your hometown, strike up a fun conversation about your next adventure and start making a plan. Depending on how much time you have to fill, you can cover so many aspects of the new plan, everything from timing to flights, even a budget. You’ve got a captive audience, and everyone will feel better returning to work and school knowing they have something fun to look forward to.
Now it’s up to you guys to share your favorite family traditions that you enjoy when you visit the Disney Parks. Do you like to do any of mine in the list above? Or do you have a particular family routine of your own that you can share?
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.