Whether it’s Disneyland or Disney World, a family can invest months of planning and spend thousands of dollars on a Disney vacation so that their little ones can have an unforgettable experience. Parents want their kids to soak in all the awe and wonder of the Disney parks and remember their time there for years to come. Unfortunately, regardless of how much fun they have or how many photos we take, it seems children can quickly forget even the most wonderful of experiences once a vacation ends and the routine of everyday life resumes. I’ve found that doing a few easy, but deliberate, things can do wonders for their fleeting short-term memory. Here are my five favorite ways to help kids hold on to those Disney vacation memories:
Choose a functional souvenir
I see this all too often when vacationing: Parents spending good money on over-priced and short-lived souvenirs. The most tempting are those adorable Mickey-shaped balloons that deflate too quickly or simply fly away. Not too far behind on the temptation list are those sparkling rope lights – the ones they hawk before the nighttime fireworks – that burn out the next day. Instead of these throw-away novelties, buy souvenirs that your kids can use back home. Good choices are t-shirts that they can wear, stuff animals that they can sleep with, key chains to clip to their backpacks, wrist watches that they can show off to their friends and classmates, and mugs that they can drink from at mealtime. Souvenirs that they can use often will go a long way in helping them remember their visit to Disney.
Make Mickey and friends part of their next birthday party
Birthdays are a great opportunity to remind the kids of their recent trip. Bring back all the great memories by making Disney the party theme. You can make it a general theme where many characters from the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studio are invited or you can narrow the theme to just their favorite Disney characters. For girls, a Disney Princess theme is a favorite. For boys, you could do a Cars theme or Toy Story theme. With your theme selected, be sure to send out birthday invitations that match your theme. You can easily order personalized Disney invites online like at this invitations store. Then carry the theme through to the decorations, cake, music and games.
Read them Disney story books
Children love reading books or having books read to them, especially about things that they can relate to. If they’ve just been to one of the Disney theme parks, then they’ll be thrilled to read stories involving any of the wonderful Disney characters that they’ve met. You’ll notice that they ask more questions and they’re super excited to recall exactly how and when they met Cinderella, Winnie the Pooh, Tinker Bell, Nemo, Buzz, Lightning McQueen, and all the other great characters. The public library should have many Disney related books. My favorite books are those story collection books that have a dozen or so stories in one book. They’re perfect for keeping on the nightstand for bed-time stories.
Incorporate vacation photos into daily life
Like many, you’ve probably snapped hundreds of photos during your visit to Disney World and Disneyland. But how often do you or the kids look at these photos after the trip? Oftentimes, vacation photos are placed into photo albums or scrapbooks where they collect dust or are saved on computer hard drives where they’re even more easily forgotten inside folders. Why not let the kids relive their vacation memories by incorporating these Disney photos into their everyday routine. Here are some ideas:
» Frame a vacation photo of each child and place it on their nightstand where they’ll see it each night before they go to sleep.
» Use a family photo taken at Disney as the wallpaper for your computer or iPad. Switch in a new photo every week or couple of weeks.
» Put the photos on DVD and let the kids watch them on your TV as a slideshow. Little kids get a kick out of seeing themselves on TV and the slideshow is a great way to recount all the funny and memorable moments from the vacation.
Have regular Disney movie nights
A movie is a relaxing way to bring back those vacation memories. With so many movies from Disney and Pixar out on DVD, it’s easy to enjoy them regularly. I like picking movies that remind our kids of the rides and attractions that they went on, which isn’t difficult since many of them were inspired by one movie or another. You can also see full-length movies or Disney Channel shows online at Disney.com or YouTube.