#16: Take the girls to Disney in Florida

When I was a child, I don’t think I was really aware that Walt Disney World was a real place.  Of course I grew up watching all the films (my favourites were Aladdin and The Little Mermaid) and I knew all the words to every song but I didn’t know that there was an actual place you could go and visit to experience the magic.  It wasn’t until my best friend went on holiday to Florida one summer when we were both in middle school that I realised that Walt Disney World even existed.  She came back with tanned skin and tales of rollercoasters and meeting characters and sunshine and I instantly knew that one day I had to visit.

I don’t remember begging my Mum or Dad to take me there, although I presume I must have asked at some point.  I was quite happy with our holidays to Spain and then as I got older I guess Disney World lost it’s appeal a bit.  After all, why would an adult want to go somewhere designed for kids?  (Ha! How wrong could I be?!).  I was much more interested in exploring other places, and ended up travelling to Australia and New Zealand after my A-levels instead.

It wasn’t until I had children myself that Walt Disney World landed firmly back on my radar as being somewhere I wanted to visit.  Just seeing my girls’ faces light up whilst watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on TV when they were toddlers, and following their growing love of the Disney Princesses as Tangled, Frozen and Moana were released at the cinema (of course, Mimi is less enthusiastic about the girls and far more interested in the villains) told me that it was absolutely somewhere that we had to take them one day.

Sadly when the girls were small Walt Disney World was, quite simply, way beyond our reach financially.  So I added it to my ’40 Things Before I’m 40′ list assuming that it would be when they were much older that we’d eventually make it out there.  We saved up for all the ‘big’ things as the years went by – our wedding, buying our first house – and then realised that if we could save for those things we could save for a trip to Florida.  We put every spare penny aside and finally, after several years of saving, we had enough to be able to go.

We ummed and ahhed backwards and forwards for months, trying to figure out what would be the best age to take the girls.  I wanted them to be young enough to still believe in the magic, but old enough to remember everything. I think we timed it just right with the ages they were when we went (10, 9 and 7).  And we were very aware that we want to move house at some point in the not too distant future (also on my 40 before 40 list!) and that this trip would use up an awful lot of our hard-earned savings.  In the end we decided that it would be worth it – after all, when I’m on my deathbed what am I going to be more pleased that we chose to do?  That we bought a pile of bricks?  Or that we took our girls to the happiest place on earth and gave them an experience of a lifetime?

So that was it, decision made.

The entrance to Walt Disney World

We booked in January last year (2017) to go during October half term. Knowing that a week just wouldn’t be enough for everything we wanted to do, we added on a few extra days which we took the girls out of school for.  We managed to keep it a secret for nine whole months before we did the big reveal.  Sophie knew she was coming with us and did brilliantly to keep it quiet for such a long time.

Here’s a little video of the moment they found out:

We had an absolutely fantastic time of course.  I’m going to be truthful – it was blooming hard work.  It turns out that trying to keep six very different people all happy at the same time is actually quite tricky, and there were a lot of compromises all round.  The Disney magic weaved it’s spell though and completely enchanted all of us – even the husband.  The first time we saw Cinderella’s Castle on Main Street I got a little bit emotional and when we actually met Mickey Mouse I admit I had tears in my eyes.  We immersed ourselves in the experience of it all as much as we could and made sure we visited the Magic Kingdom (twice!), Hollywood Studios, Epcot and the Animal Kingdom as well as having plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine and relax by the pool.

Our first glimpse of Cinderella’s Castle

Meeting Mickey Mouse which for me was one of the highlights of our trip!

I’m so glad we decided to do it. I know for sure we’ll be back.  This trip was all about meeting as many characters as we could and absorbing as much of the magic as possible.  Next time we go back (probably when the girls are teenagers by the time we’ve saved up for it again!) it’ll be more about the rides, the water parks, squeezing in a trip to Universal Studios, trying out all the other things there are to see and do in and around Orlando, and taking day trips to explore further afield and find out what else the Sunshine State has to offer.

I’m going to be writing plenty of posts all about what we got up to each day and details of the fabulous place we stayed in, but for now here’s a selection of my favourite photos from our trip – the ones that hold the most memories for me.  There is also a little video at the end of some bits and pieces I filmed while we were out there.  It doesn’t cover everything we did as I kept forgetting to film and it was so hard to choose in the moment whether to capture a photograph or take a video but I’ll get better with time and practice.  The girls love watching it – it brings back so many happy memories every time we see it.  It truly was the trip of a lifetime for us and it’s something that’s going to make me smile every single time I think about it.

We visited during October half term so everything was decorated for Halloween

I absolutely love this photo of my little tribe laughing together in the swimming pool at our villa

Mickey and Minnie Mouse in the Festival of Fantasy parade at The Magic Kingdom

Husband and wife selfie 🙂

My favourite photo from the whole trip – the teenager and the littlest taking in the magic on Main Street

The Happily Ever After fireworks at The Magic Kingdom were phenomenal

A family selfie in front of the castle

Our three girls chilling out by the pool

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  • Keep the Disney posts coming!!! They’re getting more and more excited about about trip there in April. Did you stay on site? If not did you hire a car? I have so many questions. We’re staying off-site in a villa, so will need to drive in every day. I’m so excited!!! Your pictures (as always) are amazing!!
    Heledd – Running in Lavender recently posted…15/1: Five Things I Love This MondayMy Profile

    • Reply January 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thanks Heledd! I’m excited for you and looking forward to seeing what you get up to. We stayed off-site in a villa too – it just works better for us as a family than being in a hotel, and yes we hired a car as we needed to drive in each day. It took us about 40 minutes I think as the I-4 (the main road that leads to Disney) is pretty busy pretty much any time of day. Feel free to email me with any questions – I’m no expert by any means but I’m more than happy to share our experiences of it! My email is hello@picturetakermemorymaker.co.uk

  • Reply January 19, 2018


    Oh this is made me SOO excited we go in three weeks. While I am a little nervous to be so pregnant going I hope the weather is nice to us and we just have a fun magical time. Who can’t have the best time in such a heavenly place? Love all the photos. #wrc
    Jenny recently posted…Ignoring illnesses, getting creative, and yummy soup #littlelovesMy Profile

    • Reply January 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Oh I think you’ll have a brilliant time no matter what happens. It’s hopefully just the thing you need to help you all get over the illnesses you’ve all had recently. I’ve got more posts to come, though I’m not sure whether I’ll get many more published before you go – I’ll do my best!

  • Reply January 22, 2018


    Aww I love all your posts, I still need to write about our trip at Christmas. We are there next summer (2019) and just doing research now. x
    Kerri-Ann recently posted…A little of life lately {Cobbled streets, Instagrammable Cafe stops & Cosy Sunday’s}My Profile

    • Reply January 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      I’ve got plenty more posts to come so hopefully you’ll find some of them helpful during your planning stages. I’m looking forward to seeing your write-up of Disneyland Paris – I’m curious to see how it’s different from Florida.

  • Reply January 22, 2018

    Sarah Chistie

    Ah i just loved it there we have taken the boys to Florida 3 times, and have got some great bargains, I have even been a bridesmaid there. Its the most magical place ever, everything is so perfect. I think it is ver important to go with a flow when you are there and exude you get rest time as you so need it x

    • Reply January 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Three times? And being a bridesmaid there – wow! We’d love to go back again when the girls are a bit older – we want to do Universal and explore so much more of what Florida has to offer beyond the Disney parks.

  • Reply January 23, 2018


    I so want to take my children here. I remember going when I was little and it was amazing!! You’ve taken some lovely photos of your stay xxxx
    Kerry recently posted…9 Ways to Take Beautiful Photos of Your ChildrenMy Profile

    • Reply January 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thank you Kerry 🙂 I never went as a child – I guess because you’ve been it’ll be even more magical when you get to see the wonder through your children’s eyes.

  • Reply January 24, 2018


    I’d love to take my kids there in the next few years. You all look like you had the best time – it just makes me want to go even more! I guess I better get saving!! xx

    • Reply January 27, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      I’m sure you’ll get there Morgana and your girls will love it! Pretty much any age is the perfect age because if you wait til they’re a bit older when you’ve saved up they’ll have a brilliant time on all the rides, which we didn’t really do this time around.

  • Reply July 5, 2018

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    Hello Disney Girls. You all are awesome and looking great in these memorable pictures.

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