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iPhone, I Travel
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Key to the World Card
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One in a Million Cruise
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A 'Magic' Time In The Mediterranean
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Spa Villas Review
Laugh Floor Comedy Club
Mickey's PhilharMagic
Fantasyland For Adults
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Star Wars Weekends
Animal Kingdom
Expedition EVEREST
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Four Parks in One Day
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A Kid's Perspective
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Educational Epcot
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Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Scary Places (Halloween)
Playing "Millionaire"
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A Day With Allie
Past Attractions at Magic Kingdom
Meeting Mickey
Disneyland at 50
Future of Disneyland
Beyond the Disney Parks
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Monorail System
California Adventure
Expanding Disney's California Adventure
10 Reasons to Love Disneyland
A WDW Veteran's First Trip to Disneyland
A Disneyland Veteran's First Trip to Walt Disney World
Disneyland Homecoming
Walt Disney World With Pre-Teen Boys
Keys To The Kingdom Backstage Tour
Pirates & Princess Party
WDW with Teens? Absolutely!
Disney Dining Plan
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Dining Plan Revisited
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White Water Snacks
MurderWatch Mystery Theatre
Disneyland Dining: Yamabuki
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Party For The Senses
Artist Point
1900 Park Fare Dinner Review
Making Magic
Romance At Disney World
Beating The Post Trip Blues
Discovering the Magic
Magic of Slowing Down
Unexpected Treasures
Wishes Fireworks Cruise
Backstage Tours
Epcot's Segway Tour
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Souvenirs on a Budget
Pal Mickey
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Zoos of the World
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Seuss Trolley Train Ride at Universal Orlando
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Universal: For Non-Thrill Seekers?
Madison County, Iowa
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Busch Gardens Africa: SheiKra Coaster Review
NASCAR AllState 400
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
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Blue Horizons at SeaWorld Orlando
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Memories and Milestones at Walt Disney World

by Becki Kostrach, PassPorter Guest Contributor

So you took your family to Disney World last year and you're wondering how to top that trip this year. My family and I would be the first to tell you to go right on back to Disney World. We have traveled to Orlando at least once a year since our son was a toddler. He is now a strapping 17-year old with more memories than he can count. Some people trek to the beach each summer, renting a cottage and collecting shells. We spend our spring breaks riding the latest rides and staying in whatever new resort Disney has dreamed up. Although our map shows our destination is the same each year, our experiences once there are always unique.

When our children were younger, they would bounce out of bed at 6:00 am., eager to see Mickey Mouse. During those years, we spent a lot of time in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, returning to the resort mid-day for a nap or swim. We always booked an early dinner and tucked ourselves into bed by 9:00 pm.

As our children got older, we found ourselves not arriving at the gates until 10:00 am. or sometimes even later. The biggest milestone of all was when our youngest child was no longer in a stroller. We now exit rides without looking through the sea of strollers for our own, and we seem to travel much lighter and cover more territory than before. I sometimes miss those mid-day naps, but the nighttime fireworks and parades certainly make up for it. When friends ask me what is the best age to take a child to Disney, I always say "every age." The age of your children will define your experience, but each experience is worth the trip.

We have photos of our children when they were knee-high to the giant ant in the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" playground at Disney-MGM Studios and photos of them standing tall beside it, proudly showing off their latest growth spurt. If you visit Disney World or any other place every year, take a photo of your children next to an icon like the ant. It's so much fun to put the photos in order and marvel at the changes each year brought.

Our children remember trips based on milestones they reached, such as last spring when our very petite 10-year old daughter was finally tall enough to ride "Rock 'n' Roller Coaster" at Disney-MGM Studios. Her memories of that ride center around the bragging she did when she returned to school. We'll always remember that moment after she was strapped in, when she politely asked if she could change her mind. It was too late then, just as it was too late when my son did the very same thing his first time on "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad" at the Magic Kingdom. He absolutely hated that ride and refused to get on another roller coaster until he was 15. He's a speed demon now, which worries us, since this year will be his first to share the driving duties to Walt Disney World.

Those happy memories became bittersweet when my mom passed away two years ago. We decided on a Christmas trip to Disney World because we just couldn't face a holiday at home without her. The flaw in our plan was that my mother had gone on many of our vacations with us, and there were so many memories of her right there at Walt Disney World. We saw an armadillo at the Wilderness Lodge and laughed about the time she tried to pet one at the Caribbean Beach resort. When we rode the "Dinosaur" ride Animal Kingdom, we reminisced about the time we talked her into getting on it, telling her it was "tame". We went to Disney World that Christmas to forget, but it was the moments spent remembering her laughter and the fun we had together that made the trip so special. Thoughts of her dancing with Goofy and riding Splash Mountain lifted our spirits and helped us realize that even though she's gone, our memories will last forever.

Visiting Walt Disney World or any place every year makes that place a part of your family history. There are little private moments we share as a family, and all it takes is for one of us to say the words, "Except for that hundred foot drop," to make the rest of us start laughing uncontrollably. When you go on vacation remember those moments, write them down, and bring them out to share at Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the special days of your life. They become tradition for your children, and with luck, your children will carry on that tradition with their own children. If our lives can be compared to a patchwork quilt, then our family trips to Disney World would be the special shiny fabric in that quilt. We wouldn't have it any other way, and so we'll pack up once again and head south for Spring Break. We'll be the family taking photos in front of the giant ant. See you there

This article appeared in our November 10, 2005 newsletter -- subscribe to our popular newsletter today for free!

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Updated 04/16/07 

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