It's the holiday season at the Disneyland Resort and that means one of the most universal Disney questions is being asked: should I take my kids out of school for a Disney vacation?
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To be fair, this is a question that is asked year round since most peak travel times of year coordinate with school breaks leaving many parents anxious to beat the crowds. While this decision is a personal one, we have some tips for you to consider when trying to make your decision!
1. Avoid the Larger Crowd Levels
The pros for taking your kids out of school are huge especially during the holiday season. In our experience, we've found those first few weeks of December before the majority of schools break for the holiday season to be the sweet spot for visiting during Christmas at Disneyland. Once school breaks begin, usually around those last two weeks of December and through the first week of January, the crowds really pick up.
In fact, Disneyland sees some of its highest crowd levels of the year in the week of Christmas and New Years Eve with some days having the potential to hit capacity. Avoiding those higher crowd levels and visiting in the first two weeks of December can be a no brainer if you don't handle large crowds well.
And you bet that these crowds will all be set on doing the same things you want to do- enjoying the holiday entertainment! Visiting the first two weeks can help you enjoy the parks with more ease and relaxation.
2. Enjoy the Potential for Cheaper Prices
If you're considering taking your kids out of school for a Disney vacation at other times throughout the year that don't coordinate with a major holiday, you can also take advantage of lower hotel prices and the potential for ticket discounts at Disneyland.
Disneyland often offers travel discounts (and the nearby hotels usually have a similar thought process) during what's considering ‘off-peak' travel times to entice guests to visit. This means if you take your kids out of school during a month of the year that doesn't coincide with a holiday, like say February, you can enjoy a trip with low crowds and the potential for better prices.
There are some cons with that approach though, if you visit during January or February you can expect to see more ride refurbishments which can often be a deal breaker for some folks. For a full consideration if a January visit is worth the trip, see our article on January travel to give you an idea of what to expect.
3. Consider the Age of Your Kids
When your kids are younger, say around elementary school age, it may be easier to get away with missing a week of school when there's not as much potential to miss a large amount of school work. This drastically changes when your kids get to the junior high or high school level and their responsibilities with school work begins to increase.
While it may be controversial to say this, missing a week of elementary school is much easier to make up than a week of higher grades can be so take advantage of this while you can when your kids are small.
4. Communication is Key
As someone who has many friends that teach at various grade levels, I can tell you right now that communication is key for planning on taking kids out of school for a Disney vacation. You don't want to just send your child's teacher an email that says, “Oh will you please put together a stack of homework for us?” because that comes off as kind of brazen (with all that extra time those teachers have, right?) and might send the wrong message.
Be communicative with your child's teacher, especially if you're worried about their academic standing, and tell them about your trip plans. If your child's teacher isn't concerned about the days they will miss and you work out a plan for your kids to stay on top of their school work then that's really the best option for everyone.
Obviously this is really a personal family decision. For some parents, if their kids are struggling in school with a certain subject, they might be hesitant to allow them to miss any days which in that case- communication with the teacher is a must.
5. Make it Educational But Enjoy the Moment
A popular tactic that parents will employ when taking their kids out of school for a Disney vacation is to make aspects of the trip educational. There's plenty of educational opportunities around the Disneyland Resort to enjoy while having a great time.
One of my favorite educational moments is Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln located in Main Street U.S.A. Walt Disney was fascinated with the life of Abraham Lincoln and this attraction is a tribute to one of America's most celebrated presidents. The show begins with a film about President Lincoln’s life and concludes with the animatronic President Lincoln taking stage to deliver highlights from his greatest speeches. You can also enjoy American history around Frontierland and New Orleans Square along with other areas around the park!
While making aspects of the trip educational can be a great way to stimulate young minds on vacation, I recommend not taking it too far. Bringing along a stack of school homework or worksheets to do along the way doesn't exactly present the picture perfect vacation either. Find a balance that works best for your kids and for your family.
There are some big pros and cons to taking your kids out of school for a Disneyland vacation and ultimately it comes down to your best judgment and their academic standing. Consider all those different elements before making your choice and if you do, have a great time at the Happiest Place on Earth!
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