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The Happiest Place on Earth

When you hear the phrase “Happiest Place on Earth” I’d venture to guess that many of you think of Disneyland. The folks at Disney have done a remarkable job at owning that phrase. Although after recently visiting the theme park’s Florida location, I found that the humidity, crowds, long lines and over-stimulated tired children didn’t exactly exude “happiness.” Despite this, some of my fondest memories are of time spent at Disneyland. Do you feel the same?

I often ask my clients to describe a family trip they took that they found particularly memorable and I’d estimate that over half cite a trip to Disneyland. Disneyland has made powerful inroads in the memory banks of many generations. I enjoy hearing how the parks have changed over time. One of my clients was there the very first year that the park opened! Needless to say, much has changed since that time.

I think part of the magic of Disney is that it brings families together. And that, in and of itself, is a memory to keep. As I people-watched recently, I saw many three-generation families maneuvering around. The proud grandparents, excited grandkids, and the parents just trying to keep everyone together. And as a watched scene after scene unfold, I kept thinking – these are precious memories in the making. These are the memories that the family is going to share over and over – “remember that time when we all took a vacation to Disneyland?” Good stuff!

My husband and I have a unique love of all things Disney. We spent our honeymoon in Disneyworld and we’ve been to Disneyland numerous times with our kids. That love of Disney might have been sparked for me because my parents took my sister and I to Disneyland when we were little. We drove from Washington to California in our camper. For my sister and I it was a big adventure. Looking back, I don’t know how my mom did it. The cramped quarters of a camper leave a lot to be desired. She was trying to feed us all and contain two young kids excited for Disneyland. It became even more uncomfortable when my sister came down with the chicken pox on the return trip. Ah…memories!

A friend shared with me this morning that her parents were into “educational” vacations and this resulted in trips such as visiting Amish country. As an adult, I think this would be interesting but as a kid? No way! When she was retelling her experience to me, it was just darn funny and she was laughing about it too. But these are the memories we make – good, bad, funny, and sad.

What memories do you have from family outings? Were they elaborate vacations or family road trips? Hiking adventures or fishing trips? Did your family have annual family reunions? Did you travel with extended relatives?Jot down these experiences.

In today's fast-paced world, let's not forget to take vacations and make memories. Wherever your family and friends are, that's the happiest place on earth so be sure and visit often.