Creating Magical Memories Together

[by Amanda Bauner, Me and the Magic]  I’m a big proponent of traveling solo in the Disney parks. I do it often, and I really enjoy my solo time – setting my schedule, and deciding where I want to eat and what I want to experience. At the same time, the memories created with family and friends at Disney parks are so very special and magical. There’s nothing quite like riding Under the Sea with my 3-year-old goddaughter, who loves Ariel, her face full of joy as she excitedly points out Ariel at each turn. In my opinion, Disney parks are some of the best places in the world for creating magical memories together.

I was blessed to spend the week of my 40th birthday with 13 friends and family at Walt Disney World. It was an amazing trip, all of us together like that. We stayed at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. We loved the convenience of the quick walk or boat ride to EPCOT (bonus: it was during the Food & Wine Festival!) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I can’t tell you how often my dad and I went down the awesome water slide in Stormalong Bay, the Yacht Club, and Beach Club’s water park area. I had two solo days at the end of that trip when everyone else had gone home. While I enjoyed my solo time at a slower pace (this was on Days 7 and 8!), what I remember most from that trip are the memories that my loved ones and I created together.

Me, Mom and Dad in the Magic Kingdom, creating magical memories together by celebrating my birthday and my dad's birthday
Mom, Dad, and I had a great first day in Magic Kingdom, celebrating both my birthday and my dad’s birthday.

In December 2018, my family once again went to Walt Disney World to celebrate a milestone birthday for my mom. What my mom didn’t know was that I had been planning since July with my Aunt Carol and Uncle Ray for them to come and surprise her! My mom noticed on My Disney Experience that we had 2 extra people on our dining reservations – I told her that it was an error on Disney’s part (sorry, Disney!), and that I’d call and correct it. She truly had no idea that they were coming. We had so much fun surprising her like that, and then the rest of the Disney vacation was just magical. This was my aunt and uncle’s first trip to Walt Disney World! We really had a wonderful time together.

In January, my aunt became ill. She sadly passed away at the end of February. At her memorial services, people close to my aunt told my mom and me how much joy it gave my aunt to plan that trip with me and to surprise my mom. They told me how my aunt told them how wonderful a time we all had together on the vacation. Our shared memories are all the more cherished by us, with my aunt having passed so recently, just a few months after our trip together.

Me and my family, December 2018, at Animal Kingdom Lodge in front of the beautiful Christmas tree.
Our family, December 2018, at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is the last photo I have with my Aunt Carol.

People sometimes save up for months, if not years, to take their family to Walt Disney World or Disneyland. They plan and have a set itinerary; then they are stressed during the trip to make every FastPass and dining reservation. Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE planner! I love planning Disney trips. I recommend using the My Disney Experience app in the parks to make FastPasses, reserve dining, and for mobile ordering at the counter service locations that offer it. Here’s what I also recommend – be flexible with your plans. Allow for contingencies because things will happen. There will be a downpour when you plan to watch fireworks (it’s Florida!). You will miss a bus or a boat to a park. Someone you’re with will get sick on your trip, and then you will get sick! I’ve had all these things happen on my Disney trips.

What Matters Most is Being Together and Creating Magical Memories Together

The Disney parks are the perfect background for these memories, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you missed your character breakfast dining reservation. So when you’re feeling stressed on your next Disney vacation, take a deep breath, and relax. Put your phone away. Watch your loved ones as they smile and laugh on rides. Talk to each other in the line queues (did I mention putting your phone away?). Be present.

Now, go find a loved one to hug, and then plan your next Disney vacation to create more magical memories together.

Me and my Aunt Carol
In loving memory of my Aunt Carol

What are some of your favorite ways to create magical memories with your loved ones? In my next few posts, I’ll discuss different ways to make some magic with your friends and family – inside and outside the Disney parks, and on the Disney Cruise Line! If you’re looking for fun activities for adults without needing a park ticket, here are some ideas for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort areas.

Thanks for connecting with me!

Let me know how I can help you, or share your story with me here. — Amanda