Your Preschooler won’t Remember their Disney Vacation… Or Will They???

Snow White in Germany

There’s often the debate about whether or not parents should take their toddler or young child to Walt Disney World since the child may never remember the vacation.  Well, as an adult, I can’t be the one to convince you that toddlers do remember their Disney vacations… so let’s ask the experts – PRESCHOOLERS!  Here’s what they had to say about their vacation to Walt Disney World…

Jackson, age 3 (last WDW visit 11/2011 ~ at age 2 1/2)
  • What’s your favorite ride at Disney World?  Buzz!  (Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.)
  • What other rides do you remember riding?  Pooh & Nemo.
  • Who is your favorite Disney character?  Woody.
  • Did you get to meet him?  Yes and Buzz.
  • What other characters did you get to meet?  A lot!  Mickey & Goofy & Donald & Minnie.
  • What do you do when you meet the characters? I hug them.
  • What park is your favorite to visit?  Magic Kingdom.
  • What is your favorite Disney restaurant?  The Pooh restaurant (Crystal Palace.)
  • What did you bring home from Disney World?  A Mr. Incredible car, a Zurg in a car with a laser gun, and a lollipop with characters on it.
  • Anything else you want to tell me about Disney?  No, that’s all.
  • [Much later] How do you get to Disney World?  First, you take a car to the airport.  Then, you take an airplane.  Then you get off the airplane and take a bus to your resort house.
Bradyn, age 3 (last WDW visit 9/2011 ~ at age 2)
  • What was your favorite ride at Disney?  When I got to drive the race car and the teacups.
  • Who is your favorite Disney Character?  Donald.
  • Did you meet him?  Yes. I sat on his lap.
  • Did you like our hotel room?  Yes. I loved bouncing on the beds.
  • Did you like the food at Disney?  Yes. I loved the Mickey Mouse waffles.
  • What characters did you get to meet?  Mickey, Donald, Buzz, Woody, Pluto, the green army man, Cinderella, Belle, Ariel, Peter Pan, Daisy duck, Agent Oso, little Einstiens, Handy Manny.
  • What did you say to them?  I said my name and hi.
  • Which park is your favorite?  The Magic Kingdom because it had that race car ride and i hit the back of  mommy’s car that was in front of us.
  • Did you like the resturants we visited? Yes because I got to meet the characters. I liked the pizza place.
  • Did you shop at Disney? Yes. I bought a car.
  • What do you wish you could have bought?  I wish I could buy that firetruck.
  • Do you want to go back to Disney? Yes. I want to go Monday.
  • Is there anything else you can tell me about your trip to disney?  Airplane ride there. I liked sitting in the front and I liked when I meet Lilo and Stitch. I liked the fireworks in the castle and the headless horseman. I liked when he didn’t have his head but then he found it. I think this is all.
Atticus, age 3 (last WDW visit 5/2012)
  • What’s your favorite ride?  Peter Pan.
  • What other rides do you remember?  Winnie the Pooh, Buzz Lightyear, horseys (Prince Charming Regal Carrousel), “Yo ho pirates life for me”, Goofy roller coaster (The Barnstormer), Dumbo, “dinosaur ride” (Dino-Sue), the water ride (Kali River Rapids), small world, and the race cars (Tomorrowland Speedway).
  • Do you like the fireworks?  No, they’re scary so I don’t like them.
  • Do you like the monorail?  I like the monorail at Magic Kingdom.
  • What’s your favorite park?  Um.. I don’t know.
  • Can you tell me what your favorite park is?  Tell me.
  • Which park do you like the most: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom?  Magic Kingdom.
  • Do you like Epcot?  Nemo.
  • You like the Nemo ride? Anything else at Epcot?  Ya, the Donald Duck ride (Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros).
  • One week after this interview, an unprompted conversation between Atticus and his younger brother, Everett, took place.  Keep in mind, at 16 months old, Everett only says about 3 words.  Atticus: “You want to go to Disney World and ride the monorail at Magic Kingdom, Big Ev? Yes? Yes?”  Everett: “Ya”  Atticus: “Ok, you have to get your shoes and socks on and we will go.”  Their mother, Lauren, said overhearing this was the best part of her day.
Lucas, age 4 (last WDW visit 11/2011 ~ at age 3 1/2)
  • What is your favorite ride? The cars (Tomorrowland Speedway)
  • What rides do you remember? Toy story mania. I remember the Haunted Mansion too.  And the magic carpets.
  • Who is your favorite character: Mickey.  Actually, I like Goofy!
  • Did you meet them? Yes
  • What did you do when you met them? I took a picture and I asked for a hug.
  • What did you say to them? Well I remember Dad said ‘Hot dog!’ to Mickey.
  • What’s your favorite park? Epcot!  I like the Haunted Mansion!  (that’s his mother’s favorite answer!)
  • What did you like about the restaurants? I liked the pizza.
  • Do you remember shopping? Yes. Well, I liked when I shopped for my Jedi Mickey! I like when I shopped for my big Mickey hands.
  • Was there anything you wanted to get that we didn’t get? I wish we bought all of the Star Wars potato heads that were there.
  • What do you like best about Disney World? I like when we see all the characters. I remember we’re going there on the airplane.
Janey, age 4 (last WDW visit 4/2012).
  • What is your Favorite ride? Probably all of them.
  • What rides do you remember?  Snow white, the Dumbo ride, the Dinosaur ride (Triceratops Spin), the Magic Carpet ride (which she actually last rode in Sept 2011, not in April), and the horsey ride too!  The one that goes up and down, and you use the handles (Prince Charming Regal Carrousel).  And they’re building an Ariel ride!
  • Who is your favorite Disney Character?  Rapunzel.
  • Did you meet her?  No.
  • What characters did you meet?  Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Jasmine, and I watched the Ariel show (again, from the Sept trip – not April).
  • What do you say to the Characters?  I give the Characters hugs and give them a high five!
  • Which park is your favorite?  Probably Hollywood Studios and EPCOT… and Magic Kingdom too!
  • What about Animal Kingdom?  Uh, I do like animals, but I don’t like going to Animal Kingdom, but sometimes I do.
  • What did you like about the restaurants?  For dessert, I liked ice cream, and for lunch I liked Cheeseburgers.
  • Did you like shopping?  Yeah, for a Tinkerbell doll, but I lost something that goes with that.  That’s bad.
  • What else do you wish you could buy from Disney World?  I wish I had all the fairies (dolls).
  • Is there anything else you want to say about Disney World?  At Walt Disney World, I like bus rides!

The truth is, sure – several years from now, they may not remember much from their trip at all… And while it may be short-term memories they’ve made, reminders and pictures of their vacation can help build a long-term memory.  But the best part of taking your toddler or young children to Walt Disney World is the fact that YOU, the parent, will remember their reactions and have long-lasting memories.  So the next time someone scoffs at you for taking your toddler to Disney, just remember, Toddlers DO remember their vacations… and so do you!



Special Thanks to these parents for assisting me in interviewing their children:  Erin & Kevin C., Cheryl & Scott L., Jon & Lauren B. from Mouse and Memos.com, Robin and Aaron B., and Terri & Matt M.

In addition to writing for Chip & Co., Terri also writes for her own blog Walt Disney World Hints.  Additional hints can be found on her facebook page WDW Hints!

 

  • Five Rides for Little Guys (and girls) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (chipandco.com)
  • Disney World Quick Tips – Best Rides and Attractions to Nurse or Bottle Feed your Little Ones (chipandco.com)

Terri

Terri is owner and writer of the 'WDW Hints' blog - where you'll find Helpful Information, News, Tips and Secrets! She enjoys going off the beaten path and discovering the lesser-known things of WDW. She also loves to help others plan and save money on their next WDW vacation. Terri resides in Columbus, OH with her husband, two children and two cats.
Your Preschooler won’t Remember their Disney Vacation… Or Will They??? was last modified: September 9th, 2013 by Terri




  • Dianna531961

    Hogwash! Don’t let anybody tell you that a toddler won’t remember. I took my granddaughter a month before she was 3. Almost 3 years later she is still telling her daddy and anyone who will listen that she wants to go back. While she may not remember the details the point is that she remembers going.

  • http://www.wdwhints.com/ Terri

    Thanks for your comment, ‘kbuck’! Don’t let others discourage you from going to Disney with young kids… you certainly know that your daughters are capable of remembering all of the fun they had! Enjoy your upcoming January trip!! =)

  • http://www.wdwhints.com/ Terri

    Glad my article put a smile on your face, Chrystal! My son calls Mickey “me-me.” Thanks for sharing all that your son remembers. =)

  • http://www.wdwhints.com/ Terri

    Spot on, Tracy! Thanks for reading my article. :o)

  • Kayla

    I agree with M&M; you’re comment was spot on. People do so many things with and for their young kids, why not Disney?

  • Ann

    Well said!

  • http://www.mouseandmemos.com/ Mouse and Memos

    I love this reply. Thank you so much for posting it. This couldn’t summarize my feelings on taking children to Disney any better.

  • Tracy

    Ugh. This topic makes me bristle. I was confronted with this same attitude – repeatedly – before we brought my 4-going-on-5 year old to Disney a couple of years ago.

    There are many, MANY, places we went and things we did when my son was small (not even a year old in many cases) that he may not remember; visiting Santa at Christmas time, going to the Science Museum, the Children’s Museum, the State Fair, going to plays and movies and shows, watching parades, taking walks to the park, visiting Grandma, driving north to Lake Superior or south to visit family in Iowa, hiking, biking, camping, the list goes on. Never once did someone question why I would bother since he wouldn’t remember.

    Besides the fact that I get to see him react and respond to all these new experiences – which is a great reason to do a variety of things with your children – everything we do and see with our kids leaves an indelible mark whether there is a conscious memory or not. They learn, feel and believe things because of what we expose them to, how we react to those experiences and how we bring them into the moment. They may not remember the whys or hows of when their feelings or beliefs began but that really isn’t the point :)

  • Isabell Blancher

    Our littlest one was 9months old his first time. He was more interested in being kept busy then the characters. He did like the characters. Now that he is 5 (going on 6 in Nov) he can tell you the last 3-4 trips we’ve been to Disney. We go annually and some times even semi-annually IF we can. I remember his first ride was Pirates of the Caribbean, which sounds scary but he was NOT at all scared a little.

  • Chrystal

    This made me smile! My oldest first trip was when he was 19 months and even then he knew who Mickey was. (“Me” as he called him back then) and could not get enough of the rides and characters. While he may not remember that trip no one can tell that he did not know where he was in that moment! His 2nd trip was at age 2 1/2 (his baby brother was 5 months old) and he STILL talks about the “music notes” (we stayed at All-Star Music in a family suite), meeting the characters, riding the disney train, and loves to say JAMBO JAMBO EVERYONE from Kilimanjaro Safari =)

    We now live in Southern California and have annual passes to Disneyland. He constantly says “I need Mickey” and ‘Want to go to Disney?” =)

    I know this is a LONG comment but to sum it up .. Toddlers DEFINETLY remember and LOVE Disney just as much as their parents sometimes =)

  • Jenny

    I took my first child at 8 months old. He probably wont remember it but I certainly will. His face and amusement at the sights and sounds was something i’ll never forget and disney is not just about making memories for the kids. We have been back since with two boys, age 4 and 2 and they talk about all of the rides, shops and experiences. We are heading back again at 6 and 4 years in October. Looking forward to making more magical memories, especially as they should be tall enough to go on most of the rides….Does anyone have a drink me potion that will help him grow???

  • Carolyn burns

    My 3 year old (2 and half at October trip) has not stopped talking about the “castle” and when she gets to go back at 5 years old. (she and her 6 year old sister still don’t know that we are actually going back this October :)) cant e
    Wait to create even more memories

  • RamblingSAHM

    Im hoping to bring my little guy there next year, he will be around 2 1/2. If he doesnt remember the trip it is an excuse to take him there again to jog his memory ;)

  • kbuck

    I appreciate this article. I took my 2 girls, for their birthdays this past January. They turned 4 and 2 during our trip and people told me they would never remember. They haven’t stopped talking about it. And we have booked our trip for January 2013. My four year old still talks about the hill in the pirates of the Caribbean ride! And my 2 year old talks about the toy story ride. I remember reading a post on this site last year about the most annoying people in WDW and some guy said young kids and it really made me upset. He believed that children under 10 should stay home because they made his trip unpleasant and they weren’t socially fit. So thank you for this post!