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Disney Traditions: Experiences We Do Every Disney Vacation

We are lucky to travel to Walt Disney World for our family vacations almost yearly. It is great to visit each year and explore the new rides, shows, dining, and attractions. Disney makes it easy to visit each year with all the new magic they bring in for Guests.

Even with all the new experiences, we also have some experiences that we like to make sure we make every trip. These experiences have quickly become family traditions, and we look forward to them on each trip. I want to share our Disney traditions with you so they might also become yours.

Space Mountain Ride Photo
Space Mountain Ride Photo

Ride the Rides

It probably doesn’t surprise anyone that a big part of our Disney traditions is riding our favorite rides in the Disney Parks. Each of us has specific passages that we want to make sure we experience every trip. It is a family tradition to ride these together.

Although this might change based on how long our trip is and what Parks we can visit, we typically ensure we get to everyone’s must-do ride. For our son, it is Big Thunder Mountain, our daughter loves Space Mountain, and I prefer a slower ride on Tomorrowland Transit Authority PoepleMover. Unfortunately, with Splash Mountain closed, my husband is searching for a new must-do ride in Magic Kingdom. I think Tron: Lightcyle Run might take the prize, though.

Having a few rides, we must do each trip is fun. As our kids have grown, being able to experience these rides together each trip makes it extra unique.

Happily Ever After Fireworks, Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney

See the Nighttime Shows

A huge part of our Disney magic for us is the nighttime shows. It is a Disney tradition to ensure we experience both Fantasmic and Happily Ever After during our vacation. These two shows have quickly become an essential part of our Disney trip.

From our first trip together in 2004 for our honeymoon, my husband and I ensure we see Fantasmic during our Disney vacations. We will always remember the magical moment of seeing all the characters on the boat at the end. Fantasmic was extra special on this last trip as our kids saw the updated version featuring songs from Frozen 2, Mulan, and Moana.  All movies are part of their Disney childhood.

Seeing Happily Ever After is another Disney tradition. This show is one that quickly found a special place in our hearts. We love Happily Ever After, from the message to the projections, fireworks, and great soundtrack. It isn’t a trip to Disney without an evening on the hub grass watching this fantastic nighttime show.

Disney's Pop Century Pool Area
Credit: V Mills

Pool Time

When we started taking our kids to Walt Disney World, we quickly realized that pool time would be part of our Disney traditions. We love taking time during our vacation to enjoy the fantastic Disney pools. From the splash pads when they were younger to the quiet pools now that they are older, on each trip, we find time to swim.

We typically plan breaks to enjoy the pools in the middle of the day. This gets us out of the Parks when they get busy and allows us some downtime before heading back for the evening shows.

On this last trip, we took time to swim at night in the quiet pools. This might be a new tradition that we add to our travels.

Cinderella Statue Magic Kingdom
Credit: JR


Pictures are a big part of our Walt Disney World trips. I love photos and enjoy making memory books with them when we get home. Because of this, photographs have become a massive part of our Disney traditions. We have specific spots in Magic Kingdom to ensure we get pictures of them during each trip.

For our daughter, we always take a picture of the statue of Cinderella behind the castle. Our son likes to get photos in front of Big Thunder Mountain, and I always get a photo on the side of the castle near Sleepy Hollow.

Having these photo traditions allow us to capture the kids as they grow between each trip to Walt Disney World. The photos become a great memory.

Family Meeting Mickey Mouse in EPCOT
Family Meeting Mickey Mouse in EPCOT

Mickey Mouse

We also have the Disney tradition of meeting Mickey Mouse during each trip. Although as my kids have gotten older, they aren’t as thrilled about this tradition, they continue to do so to make mom happy.

It is easy to meet Mickey Mouse during a trip to Disney because there are so many different places to say hello. I have found that doing so during a character meal is something kids appreciate more than a traditional meet and greet. There is more to discuss at meals, and the interaction is as quick as you want.

Voices of Liberty
Credit: Disney

Enjoy the Entertainment

Since we are blessed with being able to go to Walt Disney World more often, we have started to take more time to enjoy the entertainment throughout the Parks. We make each trip a goal to experience new joy in one of the Parks.

From the big shows, such as Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Big Blue and Beyond in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, to the smaller performances, such as the Dapper Dans in Magic Kingdom or Voices of Liberty in EPCOT, we have made it a new tradition to experience the entertainment that Disney offers in the Parks.

These performers are so incredibly talented that it is a fantastic way to spend some time at Disney.

Those are some of our Walt Disney World vacation traditions. We love making sure we experience these magical moments each Disney vacation. We hope you can find some of your own by sharing our Disney traditions.



Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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