The Controversial “Disney During the School Year” Decision

I’ll admit it.

We take our kids out of school to go Disney. We’ve done it…GASP….MORE THAN ONCE. Of all the parenting decisions I have made, this one, for some reason, seems to promote the most controversy among my circle of mom friends.  Every parenting move has benefits and drawbacks, of course.  

Here are a few reasons why we made this decision:

  1. Our school is understanding. While I won’t go so far as to say they SUPPORT our decision, our children’s teachers have always been flexible and willing to give us makeup work. Our youngest child is only in preschool. Our oldest child is in second grade at a small private school. She is very bright. We would not take her out if she were struggling. We also would NEVER take her out during standardized test weeks.                                                             
  2. IT’S SOOOO much cheaper. Disney offers their free dining plan and DEEP room discounts in the fall. You just can’t beat it if you are on a tight budget.                                                          
  3. The crowds are thinner. Disney obviously draws mainly families with children. Therefore, when most children are in school, the crowd levels are lower. Lower crowds = less wait time.  With preschoolers in tow, this seems to be the best route to go.                                 
  4. The weather is better. Did you know Florida is HOT in the summer? Well, it is. In fact, it’s similar to sitting on the surface of the sun. If you like that, more power to you. I, on the other hand, prefer to enjoy my vacations without temperature induced heat stroke. Potato, potato.
  5. Last time I checked, my kids belonged to me. School is important, but we believe education encompasses more than just the classroom. We typically have our older daughter complete a Disney travel journal throughout our trip. In the Epcot World showcase, she explores the different cultures of 11 countries – languages, foods, architecture, flags, etc. In Future World, children can learn about fossil fuels, space travel, conservation, new innovations and technologies, aquatic life, horticulture. I dare you to go to Epcot and NOT learn something. While the other parks aren’t quite on the same level educationally, Animal Kingdom is certainly right up there. Kids can view animals from all over the world, watch veterinarians perform medical procedures, and view films on endangered species.  At Disney Studios, the history of film, art, and animation. At the Magic Kingdom, the Hall of Presidents, kids can listen to historical figures tell the story of America, from Pilgrims to WWII (Pro tip: It’s also air-conditioned, which makes it a great place to take a nap).  Traveling also teaches kids about economics (managing their own spending money, tipping, ordering an Uber when mom has one too many Mickey Margaritas at Disney Springs), map reading, physical education (sprinting from one side of the park to another to make your fast pass time).  So many ways the mind can be expanded on a Disney trip!          

Keep in mind, you aren’t the first person to pull your kid out of school for a Disney trip, and you won’t be the last. We ran into another kid FROM MY DAUGHTER’S CLASS in the Magic Kingdom last year, ironically enough, on It’s a Small World!

There are, of course, some disadvantages to going during the off-season. Park hours are shorter, certain seasonal shows and activities aren’t offered during off-peak times, and believe it or not, even Disney can get COLD in the winter!

If you DO decide to take your kids out of school for a Disney trip, here are a couple of reminders:

  1. Be thoughtful of the teachers. Gathering homework, making up missed tests can be time-consuming, so give the teachers at least a few weeks notice before you leave.
  2. Don’t go the first week of school. This is when little ones are learning classroom routines. Give them some time to adjust before you pull them out.                      
  3. Review your state’s policies and laws regarding unexcused absences. Some districts get money based on student attendance and laws vary widely. Some districts require independent study, so definitely get familiar with the regulations before you buy those non-refundable tickets.

Also, it never hurts to bring a little gift back to class, to the thank the teacher for her understanding. We often get a Disney leveled reading book signed by the characters and we donate it to the school library upon our return home.

Make whatever decision you are comfortable with, but remember, kids are only young once, and even with all the toddler meltdowns, spilled ice cream, $6 sodas, it’s still the happiest place on earth.  

M-I-C, See ya real soon!!

What do you think?  Do you pull your kids out of school for a Disney Vacation?

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