Why We Keep Going Back to Walt Disney World—Our Disney Bender

“You go to Disney more than anyone I know!”

I’ve been asked more than a few times why we go so often. And even, “do you really love it that much”?


I fell in love with Tinkerbell first, and Disney World second. When I was in high school, my best friend took me along on their magical family vacation to the World and I had never experienced anything like it. It was “their thing” (they went often), and you could tell. (Hint: excessive Disney swag was a thing then, too)

I had been a few times throughout my middle and high school years on church trips and then finally went for the first time as an adult with my late husband. He definitely didn’t love it is much as I did. I convinced him we should buy Disney passes, as our pastor and his family had, because it was far enough away from home to feel like we’d escaped our normal, but close enough to go on short-notice.

Turned out, he didn’t love vacationing. At all. And Disney was “fine” to him, but going once every few years was enough for him.
Not me.

When he passed away in October 2017, one of the first things I did was buy us Disney passes to go for Christmas with our friends that year. We had last been with this same family for Lincoln’s first trip almost 2 years before that (how cute is he taking it all in that first time?), so it was healing to take him back and re-live some of those memories but also begin forming new ones.

Now, we go at least 3-4 times a year. Our favorite is our December trip, which is taken over the week between Christmas and New Years. The park is still decked for Christmas and we get to ring in the New Year at the happiest place on earth!

Now that we’ve done this three years in a row it’s officially “tradition.” Returning with this same fav squad, seeing our kiddos grow up together is the sweetest thing!

I remember being nervous to ask them if it was OK if “my boyfriend D” came along. We had only been together about 6 months, and at this point I had been Disneying with them regularly for over 10 years (a lot with my late husband). Would it be weird? They were gracious and said it would be a great way to get to know him.

That first trip with D (picture with the tree) was what you call “everything.” Truth is, you’re either a “Disney person” or you’re not. I was afraid he would also think it was “fine”. By the end of day 1 it was apparent he was sold. Our people. He truly felt the magic. I remember him holding me, Linc hanging on my other leg, watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks show during our next trip (just 6 weeks later, he was now a passholder, too), and just weeping (I wrote about it here). It was a full-circle moment. God had even answered this unprayed-for desire. A man who would love this place that truly made me happy, with these special people I valued making memories with.

I won’t lie. It’s pricey. But for us, it’s priceless.

So why do we love it so much? There are a few reasons Mickey will keep getting our money, time, and Instagram feed.

1. The magic is palpable. We really do love the way Disney “does things”. OK I’ll admit that during COVID days, with masks, social-disneying, no fast-passes and a frustrating park reservation system, it’s different, but we still remember how it was and Lord-willing, will be.

The decor. The food. The service. The attention to detail. The adventure. You’ve left “the real world” and entered a fantasyland. Bedtimes, diets, work— it’s all forgotten.

2. I love watching Lincoln grow up in front of the Disney landmarks. It’s where he tries new things, is brave, and enjoys the sights, rides, and treats. I truly did love it before becoming a Mom, but it’s a different level to take my son on trips I never got to have to a place where we connect as a family. D has helped him spread his wings and be confident to try the bigger rides and even new foods. We all love Gaston’s cinnamon rolls and it was a rite of passage to introduce D to the Mickey ice-cream bar. Seeing him on D’s shoulders, begging to try a big-kid ride, or trying to get out of it and his daddy talking him through it? Oh, it’s just the best. ?

Lincoln commented on the drive home from our Christmas trip of 20/21 that he had finally gotten more used to calling D “Daddy” than “Donny.” We had noticed it, but it was so sweet that he did, too. It was the uninterrupted, quality time together that sealed the deal.

3. It’s a whole vibe. We get the Mickey swag (coordinating outfits, accessories, nails, all of it) and plan our days carefully with park and dinner reservations. We enjoy taking trips around holidays and being with friends.

We’ve taken trips with just our little trio, been with friends who are more like family, I’ve done girls-trips (ahem, the Food and Wine Festival is now an annual thing) and even our Honeymoon (because we got married during a Pandemic and couldn’t cruise as we had hoped).

Every trip has memories. New ones and reminders of old ones that you re-create. And bonus, learning opportunities abound (Disney fights are a thing, Jill mentioned our first one during her bridesmaid speech)!

So, maybe Mickey isn’t your thing.

Or, maybe you’ve wanted to try it, but you’re not sure if it’s worth the hype.
For us, it’s a resounding yes! (At the time of writing, we’re counting down 24 days till a little couples getaway, no kiddos!).

But I would encourage you to just try it. Here are a few secrets we’ve learned with time:

*Florida residents can usually get a good rate for a multi-day ticket.
*Stay nearby, but being “on property”(a Disney hotel) is a luxury not required. We normally stay close to the parks in a hotel or an Airbnb we split with friends.
*You can bring food into the park to keep your costs down. We always eat breakfast before we get into the park. We still bring our stroller to hold all our stuff and by the end of the day, it’s nice to let Linc ride (even at 6!) because we always get 15,000+ steps on park days!
*We try to get to the park about 30-45 minutes before it opens. Then you can head to the biggest attractions first, often getting on a few rides with little-to-no-wait. But brace yourself. You will wait. It’s part of it. Enjoy conversation with your people!
*Give everyone a little extra Disney grace. They’re long (sometimes hot), physically exhausting and visually stimulating days. They’re PACKED so it can leave everyone a little friend. Keep that in mind.
*We always shop at Disney Springs, but you can get cheap Disney swag at the Target and Walmarts near the parks for way less! Score!

D had a comment too:
I asked him why he loved Disney and he said:

Gaston's cinnamon buns and roller coaster fun! Magic for days in all the ways. Go Disney 

And, at the end of “our episode” of The Julie Bender Show, I asked him what his favorite park is. Hear it for yourself!

Looking for more Disney swag before you head there? Check out My Amazon List!

I hope I’ve sold you on trying the parks, or at the very least, given you a glimpse into why we love Disney and will continue going back again and again for #ourdisneybender!

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