Parents' Travel Bucket Lists

by Adrienne Krock, staff writer

Before I had children, I heard other parents say how fast the time passes. This made sense in my head, but I still cannot grasp just how much faster time has passed since the birth of my first son. All the things I was sure we would do, there are still so many we have not done! This week I asked the Parenting Panel: What's the one thing you haven't done yet that you want to do? Or two things. What's your Kid Bucket List (something you want to do with the kids, while they're still kids, but you haven't done it yet)?

Chris, also known as GusMan, is always planning his next family trip to Walt Disney World and loves to help others plan their trips as well through sharing his experiences. Chris writes:

When it comes to vacations, I love how every time we visit the Walt Disney World Resort, there is something new or something that we have not done before. While we have a plan that includes our favorite must-do attractions and at least one thing we have not done before, we always seem to leave knowing that we still did not do everything and we think of new must-do’s for next time. Keep in mind, we are not limited to attractions at the parks, but all the many things to do around the resorts and Downtown Disney. Completing the proverbial checklist of activities is a never ending chase.

For my family and I, we thought about what things we would like to do together before my oldest goes off to college in a couple years:

  • Take a ride on a Surrey Bike around the Boardwalk. Every time we walk around the Disney's Boardwalk Inn they sit there, waiting to be rented. Granted, it seems like after a long day at the parks, you would not really want to ride a “bike.” However, it is a unique mode of transportation, even if you are limited to the general resort area. We plan on putting this off no longer and have put it on our must do for our next trip.
  • Spend some time on Tom Sawyer’s Island. There is something that interests us as a family when it comes to this attraction that is a little out of the way. We just never took the time to try it out since we always seemed to be heading in the opposite direction. It seems like a fun area to explore, as well as maybe sit back, relax and see part of the park from a different viewpoint.
  • Take a family tour. There are so many different tours that are available to guests that we still have not really made up our minds as to which one to try. Also, since my kids are nearly 10 years apart, we have to deal with the age restrictions and maturity differences between them. However, when the time is right, we will make it a priority to give one of them a shot.
  • Take time to go to Epcot in December and listen to all the different storytellers around the different countries. We made an attempt to do this several years ago and it just did not happen. However, with all the different stories to be told not only would this be a fun way to learn more about the countries but it would give us an excuse to really enjoy all the Christmas decorations around the entire resort.
  • The next time we stay at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, we want to take time to listen to the different storytellers there. Every evening, they have cast members tell stories about their homeland and their different customs. I think it’s a chance to learn more about other areas from a firsthand account.
  • Mini Golf at Fantasia Gardens. I know this may sound like an odd item to put on our kids bucket-list, but it is something we enjoy as a family. We always say that we want to give it a shot as we drive by, but we never made it over there.

The neat part about making out a list like this is that these are items that we all want to do. These are not just interests for mom and dad, but are activities where the kids expressed interest. Sometimes that is hard to do when you have old stand-by's such as Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom and Test Track at Epcot. But making this list now allows us to plan so that we can make new memories on each trip. The funny thing is that after you remove an item or two, they are immediately filled with something else.

Parenting in the Parks columnist Adrienne Krock’s three boys are now 12, 10, and 7. They’ve been visiting Disneyland since they were each just weeks old and Annual Passholders since their 3rd birthday. Adrienne writes:

Having had Annual Passes to Disneyland for 16 years, our children have visited regularly their entire lives. I admit there are many things we have not done, but mostly these are things we do not have a lot of desire to do. If there were one thing for a Disneyland Bucket List with my kids, I think I would like to see Fantasmic with them from the reserved dessert seating. Pretty simple, right?

But that is not my Disney Bucket List. No, here’s what I really want to do one day, my big Disney dream: I want to go on a Disney cruise. Not just on a Disney boat. I know, I could try to find the budget to go on a cruise out of the Port of Los Angeles. But I want to go on a Disney Caribbean cruise, with a stop on Castaway Cay. (Or maybe even a Double Dip if I dare to dream big...)

I just do not know how some families do it! Is there a money tree everyone but me knows about?

I know part of my problem: “Paralyzing Perfectionism.” If I am going to go to all the trouble and expense of doing this, I want to do it right. I do not need a fancy cabin. I really don’t. But at the same time, I would rather have something with a porthole… although a veranda would be better. The other problem is that magic number in our family: three. We have three children. That presents lots of challenges in the World of Disney when the perfect number is one or two. Add to this, the longer we wait, the older our children become. We now have two “adults” according to the Disney definition of adult. With a family of five, including four adults, a Disney cruise will pose a variety of cost challenges. Additionally, the older the boys get, the harder it will be to find a window in our family schedule to take a cruise. Let’s not even think about airfare for five.

But, oh, I dream of a Disney cruise. Dinner (or brunch!) at Palo (or Remy?) That hamster trail water slide thing on the new cruise ship. (Hey, in my dream, I don’t have to know the technical terms. But I did look it up: AquaDuck. Disney calls it the AquaDuck) Clubs the kids can go to without us if they like. Waiters that spoil us at mealtimes. And if we cannot decide which dessert to order? Order two! Towel animals left on our beds. Cabanas on Castaway Cay! Free room service! All of this enhanced with the Disney touch. Nevermind the characters on board, let’s not discount the Disney level of customer service and satisfaction.

A Disney cruise in the Caribbean calls my name.

Jenny is a former theme park employee, avid Disney fan(atic), and an at-home mom to 2 Disney vets (5- and 4-years-old.) Jenny writes:

Fun topic! My Kid Bucket List is probably long, since I am a kid at heart and can't wait to have new and familiar experiences with my kids. Off the top of my head, there is one trip I can't wait to take the kids on. A relative owns a resort in a town near Munio, Finland (above the Arctic Circle.) I was lucky enough to visit in the summer to see the sun not set at night, but they also offer snowmobiling, reindeer sled tours and other Nordic activities. I can't wait myself to go, even if it means using the kids to justify going.

Otherwise, at the moment I don't have anything specific we want to do with the kids. I think our approach is to make the most of opportunities that come our way, and take full advantage of what we can teach the kids along the way. When my cousin, who lives in England, announced his engagement, our wheels began spinning on what we could do before or after a trip out for the wedding this past July. We knew the cost (both monetary and the time and effort to get there) would be great, so we figured why not take a cruise in Europe? It happened that the best cruise for timing and duration for us was a Mediterranean cruise. Not yet satisfied, we decided to break out the outbound journey with a brief stop in Orlando to go to Walt Disney World.

Now knowing that we would be visiting Livorno (Florence / Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples, and Palma, my homework was to figure out how to make the most of any learning experiences (and still have a fun time!) Thanks to the Little Einsteins, the kids had seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so that was a definite stop. We ended up balancing that with a visit to an old walled city (Lucca) complete with bike riding and playing in the parks on the wall. We knew Rome would be a crazy day, but the kids did great (and credit goes to the Spaceship Earth ride at Epcot for showing the kids Michelangelo on a scaffold painting the Sistine Chapel). It definitely did help that we hired a private car so we could pace the day to our needs. The other ports ended up being "relax and enjoy the quiet ship" days, no arguments from the kids.

I am sure if I heard others' bucket lists, I could come up with my own extensive list, but for now, we are enjoying making the most of what chances we are given.

It's your turn—keep the discussion flowing!

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  1. By wwomant

    I have a pretty serious travel bucket list to do with my kids, and it seems like it's getting longer and longer all the time.

    1. Disney World. We've never been.
    2. Disney Cruise. Like AdK, I have 3, and want to do the Carribean cruise, making the Disney cruise one of the most expensive trips on the list.
    3. Oahu. We've never been to Oahu, and I'd love to visit it with the kids.
    4. Europe. When the boys are all teens we really want to do a Europe trip with them
    5. New England. We want to take a trip and do all that fun, and educational stuff in the NYC and New England area.
    6. South. We want to visit places like Charelotte to get a feel for the South, and visit historical places.

    It sounds doable. Except that we only have 11 years until our oldest is all grown up. And all of those trips are big, and will be very expensive for us!

  2. By 3Princesses1Prince

    In no particular order:

    1. WDW during Christmastime. I really want to see Candlelight processional, the santas in Epcot, gingerbread houses, etc.
    2. Disney cruise: I agree with others we'd prefer the Carribean cruise
    3. A special trip with each child.

    1. Back East-DC, Boston, New York (my oldest is almost to a good age to go, and I'd do a separate trip fir the younger ones when they are older)
    2. Hawaii (ideally for Christmas)
    3. Road trip in an RV to see places like Yellowstone, grand canyon, .....

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