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Should You Take Your Kids Out of School for a Disney Vacation?

by Mommy Frog on December 1, 2021 109 Orlando

Should you take your kids out of school for a Disney vacation - PinterestOK, we know this is a controversial topic. There are some parents who wouldn't dream of having their kids miss school for anything in the world, including the Most Magical Place on Earth. And we respect that. For others, a trip to the Walt Disney World is a magical experience ... and maybe, just maybe ... the idea of visiting when crowds are lower is worth taking the kids out of school.

With more options with alternative schedules or online learning, we may find ourselves with a little more flexibility in the school schedule. Traveling during the least crowded times of the year has a lot more appeal when you are trying to stay physically distant. Only you know what's best for your family — we frogs have no judgement! Let's hop into all you need to know if you're thinking of taking your kids out of school for a Disney vacation.

Should You Take Your Kids Out of School for a Disney Vacation?

While it's great to visit Disney World any time you can, we think fall and winter are particularly great times to visit Walt Disney World. The weather is usually not as hot as summer. Plus there are some amazing special events. It's fun to experience the parks all dressed up for the holidays  — it's truly a magical time. Then after holiday crowds vanish, even more festivals at EPCOT appear, making a winter trip a nice getaway, especially if you are escaping cold climates. Plus you can get a taste of numerous international destinations all in one place!

Family at Magic Kingdom during Halloween

Parents who plan a vacation during the school year often save more money on airfare and hotels because they are traveling during off-peak times, and of course, they have much more flexibility in choosing when to go, so they can pick a less-crowded time to visit the theme parks or go for a specific special event, such as Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (replaced with Disney After Hours Boo Bash for 2021).

We also love the holidays at Disney World. It's especially nice when we can sneak away for a few days in November or early December before the holiday crowds arrive. You can enjoy the decorations and festivities throughout the parks and resorts, or splurge and enjoy Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (replaced by Disney Very Merriest After Hours in 2021)

Questions to Consider When Deciding Whether to Take the Kids Out of School for a Disney Vacation

We're not here to judge, but we do want to offer some food for thought as you consider taking the kids out of school. Leap and I have taken Tad out of school for occasional trips. (Lily is so little that it's less of a disruption to her schedule.) But I must confess, even Leap and I are a little divided on this topic. Leap is more concerned with grades and any disruption to Tad's learning process. Even though I am usually the stern task-master at home, I feel like the exposure Tad has to other cultures and new experiences at the parks (especially EPCOT, right?) means that he is not forgoing all learning just because he is going on vacation. You only have so many years with your tadpoles before they leave the lily pad. I guarantee they will remember their Disney World vacation throughout their life better than a couple of days in school. However, I also recognize as Tad gets older that it will be harder to pull him away from his studies and sports.

Should You Take Your Kids Out of School for a Disney Vacation - China Pavilion at EPCOT

Here are a few questions to get you thinking about whether a Disney World vacation during the school year is a good idea for your family.

Does your school allow it? 

Obviously, this is the most important question. Find out what your school or school district's policy is on absences — whether excused or unexcused — before you even think about planning that trip to Magic Kingdom.

Does your child have a flexible schedule or learn remotely?

If your child has more independent work, or can log in for some classes and then go have fun, it may be easier to do both school AND a vacation.

What grade is your child in?

Elementary-age children generally have less homework and less testing than older children, and it is often less disruptive for them to take off than it is for older children, who carry heavier course loads, and have more teachers, assignments and tests to square away. I would also argue that it might be more worth it if you have younger children simply because they really believe in the magical place called Disney World. For them, Cinderella, Snow White and Mickey Mouse are as real as you and me.

On the other hand, your high school student may have much more important tests, papers and harder assignments. You'll have to involve your older kids in this decision. If you do pull older kids out, a shorter trip or long weekend is likely a better plan than a longer trip. Older kids have bigger consequences to missing school and other obligations such as sports and theatre.

Should You Take Your Kids Out of School for a Disney Vacation - Wilderness Explorers

How well is your child performing in school? 

If your child is struggling with grades, it is probably not the time to take him or her out of school. The good news is that Disney World isn't going anywhere :)

How often does your child miss school? 

If your child already misses a lot of school due to illness or other issues, then it's not a good idea to miss more. But if your child wins the perfect attendance award every year, he or she may be able to afford a few days off.

How well does your child do with change in routine?

A trip to Disney World during the school year will be disruptive no matter how much planning you do. While you can minimize impact by planning ahead, schedule shorter trips over weekends if you have a child who really needs an established routine to do well. It's probably best not to schedule during the school year.

Does your child want to miss school?

Special events going on at school or extracurricular activities are things some children don't want to miss even for a Disney World vacation. Be sensitive to any concerns your child has about missing school. Trust me, if he or she would rather stay home than go to Disney World, it's a BIG DEAL. If you plan to pull your child out a day or two early before a holiday, thinking he or she will "only" miss a celebration rather than important classroom time, make sure your child is on board. You child may not want to miss that performance, class party or costume parade.

Is your child open to having more work to make up?

Your child isn't just missing homework. They are missing class time and all of the lessons that go along with it. Expect your child's teacher to give extra assignments to cover work that was missed in class as well as homework. Are YOU up for more work? Because you will likely be the one teaching these assignments.

For some parents and kids, a trip to Disney World will offer relatively minimal impact on the school year, but the memories will last a lifetime. For those of you who have decided to take a Disney World vacation during the school year, your froggy friends have some hopful tips for preparing to visit Disney World with kids.

Tips for Taking Your Kids Out of School

Should You Take Your Kids Out of School for a Disney Vacation - Kids in Front of Castle

If you decide that your kids can handle missing some school for family bonding time at Disney World here are a few hopful tips.

  • Plan ahead.
  • Do not surprise them. (Kids and teachers need time to prepare.)
  • Involve your children in the decision-making process.
  • Do be honest with the teacher and school. Your kid will spill the beans when he or she returns with a suntan and Disney World souvenirs and stories.
  • Schedule the trip for just after a mid-term grading period (rather than a testing period).
  • If flying, do some schoolwork, studying or reading on the plane.
  • Consider your child's age, academic performance and reliance on routine.
  • Consider other obligations such as school performances or sports competitions.
  • Do aim to keep bedtime consistent so it's easier to hop back to your routine when you get home.
  • Have fun making hoppy family memories!

Sometimes it's challenging to plan a trip for the middle of the school year too far in advance. It's hard to know what the next school year will look like or what new important events will pop up. If you see a period approaching that might make for a good time to take the kids out of school for a Disney World vacation, hop over to our post on taking a last-minute trip to Disney World.

Would you take your kids out of school for a Disney World vacation? Share any points you think parents should consider. If you decide to go, you can save money on discount Disney World Resort tickets and hotels when you book with Undercover Tourist.

Related: The Best Time to Visit Walt Disney World

Related: 'We're Going to Disney!' How to Surprise Your Kids with a Disney Trip

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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51–56 of 56 comments
Oct 24, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. Karen Says...

I had taken both my children out of school during the elementary years to take advantage of the low cost and low crowds during the off season at Disney. I notified the school in advance which gave their teachers time to prepare a packet of work they could do on their way there or even at night while on vacation. We drove from Mass to Florida so they had lots of time to get their work done. We would normally plan the trip to overlap with a school vacation week. We could go to the parks the week before the school vacation week (winter breaks in the north are usually the third week in February) and spend the remaining last few days doing non-park things. My kids could handle it then, but as soon as my oldest entered 5th grade the strategy changed. The most we would take them out for would be 2 days prior to give us a jump on the travel.

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Oct 24, 2013 at 1:47 p.m. Valery Says...

Although our view is already skewed towards life- and world-learning because our three kids do not attend traditional school, so my emphatic response is YES! So worth it. Most kids do not get to spend very much uninterrupted time with family these days. School, sports, even church services are often separated by age. Siblings need to connect, and kids need to connect with parents. Disney is an amazing place to do this. Left to their own devices, we have found our kids to be amazingly inquisitive and engaged at Disney and they love the many learning opportunities in the parks. We return refreshed and more enthusiastically attack our day-to-day routine and schoolwork. Mental health is VERY important!!

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Oct 24, 2013 at 1:45 p.m. Erin M Says...

We took our 3 kids out of school at the end of September to go to Disney and it was definently worth it! Every line was a 20 minute or less wait. To me that was worth it. We got to do everything we wanted and more because we didn't have to spend much time in the lines. We also went to Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween party and the kids loved it. The weather was still hot but it was tolerable. I would recommend taking your kids out of school to go to Disney because you pay so much money to go, you want to make sure to have the best experience ever and get your money's worth.

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Oct 24, 2013 at 1:44 p.m. Jim O Says...

We have. My son was 12 when we started. And my he still managed to graduate from HS with a Regents diploma. We did when my daughter was in elementary school, but now that she's in jr high and going into high school next year, we don't pull her out.

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Oct 24, 2013 at 1:24 p.m. Judy Says...

I've taken my kids (11 and 8) out of school twice now for a Disney vacation and plan to do it once more in 2 years when they are in grades 5 and 8. I think you cover the main points that should be considered. The only thing I didn't think about when planning was school activities so my son was disappointed about missing his school soccer tournament - we didn't know the date of the tournament when we booked our trip and when we found out it was too late to change. When we go again I will definitely plan around school events that the kids don't want to miss.

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Oct 24, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. Jalan Says...

I think taking your kids out of school to go to Disney is irresponsible. It teaches them all of the wrong things. It teaches them to act selfishly in the interest of what is more convenient, cheaper, easier and more favorable to their own needs. It teaches them these misguided things at the expense of teaching them that you have obligations in life that mean you don't always get what you want, what is most convenient for you and what you'd like to do at all times. Coddling parents are part of the problem of the younger generation thinking they should have everything they want, when they want it.

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Jun 19, 2016 at 12:03 a.m. Linda Says...

It's a shame there are such short sighted folks out there that they can't figure out the a trip to Disney World can be more educational than sitting in a classroom. We have taken our children out of school for Disney Vacations and we have both types of children - one (rising freshman in high school) who has anxiety issues and an IEP and one (rising 7th grader) who gets straight A's and is on the Presidents list every year. For the most part the Teachers have had no issues with it and are more than happy to turn it into a type of project - the kids do journals - which they share with the class upon their return and a few of them have sent class worksheets with us, which the kids are happy to do during a down time at the hotel (on one trip - one of them did a worksheet at breakfast every morning) They love our trips to Disney - the journals are great keepsakes (after they are finished being a class project of course) and going for the fall and Christmas seasons is just amazing - wouldn't dream of going during summer vacation... we all hate the heat and the lines. Far from being irresponsible - it's the best part of their school year.

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Mar 8, 2016 at 3:34 a.m. Marakov Says...

Rather than concentrate on the negative aspects of taking a trip to Disney World during the fall or winter and thus impressing these negative value onto your children, use the opportunity to be an active parent and have your children work during their summer doing chores and such to save money for the trip.

Jalan you are making a logical fallacy about parents, assuming they are all the same and will somehow instill negative value on their children when positive values exist as well. We will be taking our 5th grade daughter out of school for 4 days, one full week (one day is a scheduled district day off). In the end she will be gaining experiences and learning things she would not get in school. And luckily her teacher and school agree.

"I try not to let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

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Jan 2, 2016 at 2:23 a.m. Mama Jess Says...

Do it. If you kids are 5th grade and/or younger, take them out of school. You will NEVER regret it. When they get older, you will desperately wish you had. Just go, enjoy and don't question it. It's totally worth it. School is not life. There's a whole world beyond the classroom.

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Dec 20, 2015 at 8:39 p.m. Kim Says...

Our school actually promotes going to Disney World. They consider it an educational trip and the days are considered excused days.

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Sep 27, 2015 at 2:50 p.m. Jennifer's Says...

Well, I am just ending our trip to Disney during the school year and I am very strict and scheduled mother. But that being said my children had to work hard and get good grades in order for us to go. Also spending my hard earned (very hard earned as I work in a mill and I am also a college student in industrial engineering), I felt that we should enjoy more of the experience with less crowds versus have a miserable time with longer waits and crowded areas. As I am a single mother of five children it too was a safer time to go and enjoy Disney so having a little more peace of mind is worth it. My children are well behaved and mannered and if the situation is explained and they are raised correctly to grow up and be a positive contributor to society then it should not have a negative impact on the child/children.

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May 18, 2016 at 3:37 p.m. Michelle Says...

That 's awesome! You rock!

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Aug 31, 2015 at 11:47 p.m. Cynthia Says...

I take my child every couple of years to go on vacation. It is only time I take off so I can afford a decent vacation.

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Jun 26, 2015 at 5:11 p.m. FamilyFirst Says...

#1 "Irresponsible"? #2 "Teaches them the wrong things, to act selfishly"? #3 "Teaches them misguided things at the expense of obligations"? Truly you are the misguided....#1 It is not irresponsible to teach my children to handle things in the proper manner, it in fact teaches them responsibility and the right way to do things such as filling out the appropriate school forms, requesting permission to miss school, learning accountability to complete their missed school work on their own while we are gone, and that it can't last forever, that yes you have to go back and work hard, that's how you earn fun. #2 These trips have included opportunities to teach my children selflessness, not selfishness. Ex) On our last trip, families were split up on the airplane ride and 2 little boys were sitting separate from their mother and visibly distressed. My teenage son sat with them, talked with them, let them play games on his phone, and kept their minds off stress the entire ride! Doesn't get much more selfless than that! #3 Obligations not only include things such as school, but FAMILY as well! My children did not ask to be born, and by ME making that choice, I owe them love, encouragement, learning opportunities, yes an education, AND the knowledge that life is short and their childhood even shorter...they are fulfilling their obligation by doing good in school, caring for others, and making family a priority just once or twice a year. I did not choose to have children to be robots and be exactly what I think they should be, I had children to love them and help them become not only productive members of society, but tolerant and caring as well, and what it means to work hard AND play hard...that's the reward for hard work. I am a stickler for grades and responsibilities, but school does not come before being a family, and being a family is so MUCH MORE than school, grades, and sports schedules. I have far better relationships with my children who maintain jobs and good grades than friends I have that view the world as you do, Jalan. And if "coddling" is what I am doing by choosing to spend uninterrupted time with my children during whatever time of year I see fit, then so be it. If "Coddling" is what I am doing when I show them that THEY are worth spending time with, missing work, and missing school...permissibly, then so be it! High strung Type A helicopter parents are far more damaging to their child's minds; my kids have learned life lessons on our trips that they never would have learned sitting at a desk!

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May 28, 2016 at 1:04 p.m. BmoreB Says...

This is such an awesome take. I agree 1000% with everything detailed above. Great Job !

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Apr 14, 2015 at 7:50 p.m. deborah Says...

We taught our children at home until this past year when our oldest entred high school. i was concered that our travel would be an issue with the school. However we were pleased to find that our school views travel in the same way our family does, not as missed education but rather as part of the childs life education. Even a trip to Disney which some might consider frivolous is travel and in the broad scope expands a childs knowleged of the world and makes them more capable. They may take this view becuase our town is so isolated, but i consider it a very healthy view.

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Dec 24, 2014 at 3:19 a.m. Heather Says...

My parents took me out of elementary school for a week for a Disney vacation (along with my brother and sister-also in elementary) and somehow we all managed to obtain our B.A.s, my sister holds her M.A. I'm working on my M.A. while working full time and my brother has a very successful career. Let your kids live.

Some people!

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Oct 25, 2013 at 8:53 p.m. Rob Says...

My youngest son can't take the summer heat in Philly, let alone Florida. Both of my boys are as polite and well behaved as any child I have ever met around their age. They excel in every class they take, they enroll in sports, never miss class, and they are always the first to volunteer when something needs to be done. We have done quite a few trips and have made so many memories in the short time they have been on this earth and every trip to Disney was during the school year. We take extra work from the school with us and its usually done before the plane touches down at MCO.

I wouldn't change a thing.

I don't just punish if my boys do something wrong. I also reward when they do right. Nice boys do nice things. It's not hurting their grades and their teachers are fully supportive. I can see in some cases where a week from school is detrimental to the child, but that's not always the case. A Disney trip doesn't make a good parent, but a good parent knows when to make a Disney trip according to their child.

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Oct 24, 2013 at 6:08 p.m. Mary Says...

As a teacher, I very much respect your recognition of the importance of education. I do think, however, that its also important to teach our children to live and enjoy life. There are too many adults in this world who never take a vacation and are constantly "plugged in." They often do this at the expense of the family. While I certainly would not recommend making a habit of pulling the kids out for vacation, the occassional trip can with the family can be beneficial to a child's development as well, especially for younger ones. Its important to teach children a sense of balance.

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Mar 13, 2017 at 6:26 p.m. Terri Chase Says...

We took our kids out for a whole family vacation (10 of us) in December 2015. There were no crowds and it was truly a magical family experience for all of us. The two days of school they missed in comparison to what they learned and the one in a lifetime enjoyment they had with their WHOLE family - priceless!

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Nov 4, 2016 at 10:39 p.m. Margaret Bond Says...

AGREED!!

Make it a learning experience to add to their education! There is more to Disney than just a joy ride!!

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Jul 3, 2016 at 10:27 p.m. Millie Says...

Thank you! I feel the same way/)

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Mar 2, 2016 at 3:37 p.m. Susan Says...

My daughter's 13th bday and my 40th were 5 days apart in Dec. Up until we were on the road, she had no idea we were celebrating our bdays in Disney. I emailed the teachers ahead of time, picked up all her homework since we'd come from Disney to a 2 week Christmas break. The teachers though it was awesome that I was making a big deal of her special day and that I was able to make it a surprise.

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Jan 10, 2016 at 7:05 p.m. Charis Says...

Well said!

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Nov 3, 2015 at 5:14 p.m. Jen Says...

Thanks! I completely agree! As a child we rarely did any vacations outside of camping in TX. So personally a week out school to have an experience (special Disney events) is irreplaceable. Glad to hear it from a teacher.

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Jul 12, 2015 at 3:52 p.m. Kim Says...

Thank you

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Aug 9, 2015 at 8:04 p.m. Cherrie Mooney Says...

We are coming Nov. 1st -8th. My twin granddaughters r going into Kindergarten! Our family has been plagued w deaths over the last 2 years. We need to do this to open a new memory chapter for all of us! Both son and daughter in-law are High School teachers n both got the blessings of their principals! Its Teachers Convention in Jersey so they r only missing 2 days! Can't wait to go n start a new chapter for us!

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Jun 19, 2016 at 2:15 p.m. Rita Says...

I have a HUGE problem with teachers, who get nearly 3 months a year off of work, who take vacations during their teaching time. It is irresponsible and a burden on taxpayers that they are going on vacation and getting paid for it and the district has to pay for subs. Shame on them!! This is the kind of thing that give teachers a bad name!!

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Sep 24, 2017 at 2:44 a.m. Trenna Says...

I have a HUGE problem with uneducated, entitled, judgmental people who claim teachers who choose to take their families on vacation are irresponsible. Did you know that most teachers have a ridiculous amount of sick time built up because of the "burden" it places on them to write sub plans? Did you know that most "irresponsible" teachers are putting in 50+ hours a week during the school year? Did you know that it is actually NOT a burden on taxpayers because those allocations are provided whether or not teachers take the days off? I have been teaching for 12 years. I have 4 children, ages 14, 13, 12, and 10. I believe, when given the opportunity to pour into my own family like I pour into the lives of each of my students EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE SCHOOL YEAR, I would be irresponsible NOT to enjoy this experience with my family. We have to go when prices are better, do you even know what we make? I have a Masters degree and make less than what I'd care to admit. We do it for the kids. I wish parents would pour into their kids like I do. It is NOT my job to raise these babies. I am merely a facilitator, a pit-stop along the way, trying to teach our future generation how to become contributing members of society.

How dare you judge teachers!!!

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May 20, 2017 at 8:07 p.m. Becky Says...

How narrow minded people have become. You clearly have no idea how much time teachers put in preparing for classes and grading papers or how much of their own money they contribute to their students' learning. Teachers and all public workers are entitled to their earned time off however they want to use it. The teachers I know work harder than anyone else because when they come home 9 months a year they still have more work to do until late at night and on weekends. Shame on you. Gain some perspective before you bash those educating our future! Many parents these days overly rely on teachers for EVERYTHING and then cut them down. So sad.

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Aug 3, 2016 at 3:37 a.m. Eileen Says...

Rita,

It's a shame that you have such a negative and inaccurate view of teachers. Unfortunately, I do not get 3 months off during the year. Where I come from teachers are positive role models who are respected by their community. The time I spend in the classroom with my students, preparing for my students, during the week and the weekends well surpasses that of my non-teaching friends. Actually, it has been calculated that, when compared to other jobs, I do not receive extra time off for the hours I put in.

To parents,

Many of the teachers I work with do appreciate the heads up that your child will be missing school. We also support you in taking advantage of this family time.

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