Disney Dad(ish)

When I tell anyone that my family is heading on (yet another) Disney vacation, the usual response is some sort of “why”? And I understand that.  Before I started going to Disney regularly with my family…I wouldn’t consider myself a Disney Dad.  In fact, you won’t see me in some over the top Disney T-shirt or wearing Mickey Ears.  But rest assured…I’m officially a Disney Dad(ish).

While I had visited Disneyland a few times and Disney World once as a kid…I wasn’t a big Disney fan.  My wife and I wouldn’t travel to Disney World until our son was two and a half years old and our daughter was still under one year old  . . . almost 20 years from my last visit.  Disney wasn’t even the main part of our first Disney trip, it was more about golf (for me). All that changed on our trip when my son met Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story.  His reaction was something I’ll never forget, even if he doesn’t remember it. 

Hollywood Studios, April 2013

During our trip…I noticed families that had their trip more organized than we did.  They seemed to have a purpose and were more at ease in the Disney Parks, which can be overwhelming (especially when you are trying to create that perfect Disney vacation).  While I enjoyed the trip…I got the sense we missed a lot. 

When we got back home to Iowa…I asked my wife if she could plan a future trip for us that was like the others we saw.  She said yes, and started working on a trip for the next year.  My wife went above and beyond in planning that next trip, which becoming the stepping-stone for her to become a travel advisor specializing in family vacations.

Epcot, Summer 2019
Disney's Polynesian Resort, Summer 2021

That next trip we stayed at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and she lined up meals where the kids met all their favorite characters . . . all while we ate great food and enjoyed adult drinks.  We had a plan for the parks each day and took a mid-day break so the kids could nap before another evening activity (avoiding the dreaded afternoon meltdown).  Most of all…I checked out.  It’s rare that I can leave work behind, but Disney makes that happen

My family has since been on several trips to Disney World, Disneyland, and aboard Disney Cruise Line.  As our kids have gotten older, some of the magic has lessened, but the fun hasn’t!  Instead of getting autographs from every character, we spend more time on the rides or enjoy longer down time at the pool . . . soaking up the Disney experience wherever we go. 

  • Are there other places I like to travel to . . . . . . . absolutely. 
  • Is it hard to match everything Disney offers in one trip . . . . definitely. 
  • For all the dads that didn’t see themselves as “Disney Dads”…you might surprise yourself…just like I did.

My Top Disney Tips:

  1. Stay on property. It’s much easier to get around and gives you more time at the parks.
  2. Don’t try to do it all. Stick to your family plan, not what others think you should do.
  3. Take a rest day. It helps to have a break and enjoy the amenities at your resort.
  4. You will get annoyed with people. Disney can be hot and not everyone follows the rules. Just try to roll with it.
  5. Don’t be one of the dad’s wearing the “Broke” T-shirt at Disney. Or worse…actually going broke trying to do it all. Do what works best for your family. 

Written by:  Tom Mulrooney

Husband of Aubrey Mulrooney, An Independent Contractor of Ears of Experience, LLC


Magic Kingdom, Summer 2018