Are you taking your teen to Disney World soon? My Sweet Girl and I just came back from five days in the parks and boy do I have a lot to share. Take a peek into our time together and use these tips to make your next Disney World vacation one to remember!
This post is not sponsored by Disney, however, I received 2 one-day Park Hopper tickets via the Walt Disney World Public Relations Courtesy Ticket program.
Lessons I Learned Taking My Teen to Disney World
Say Yes. A lot.
I broke all of my personal don’t-spoil-your-kids rules on our recent trip to Disney. I said yes to sweets and let her choose the activities and didn’t do much in the way of trying to teach lessons. She asked and I agreed and it made for a more peaceful trip. Sure, she ate too much sugar, but she burned if off in those bazillion steps we took.
When you drop your phone in the water on the Gran Fiesta Tour Boat Cruise, don’t freak out.
Take several deep breaths. Several deep breaths. Take a minute to process it. Realize there’s really nothing you can do and unless you want to spend the next 4 days of your trip unable to communicate with your teen, who is staying in another hotel with her team, Uber to the nearest Apple Store. Let me repeat, realize there’s really nothing you can do. They will not let you peak down to see if you can find it and they are not dredging the water to find your phone. Be a good example and remind yourself of all the lectures you’ve given her about the unimportance of “stuff” and keep it moving. You might be stuck making payments on two phones for a while, but you’ll always have the memory.
When some random child runs up behind you and pushes you, take it in stride.
It will be a funny joke for your teenager to recall later and it will bring you joy to see her laugh, even if it is at your expense. P.S. When a subsequent random child careens toward you in her escape stroller, take that in stride too. Your ankle will heal.
Stand in the line for Pandora – The World of Avatar. Even if it is a 110 minute wait.
You will not regret it. In fact, just decide you’ll wait and if your teen does not want to spend those 110 minutes talking to you, let her read her book. (And keep your excitement about her reading said book to yourself. You know how they get when you make too big of a deal about these things.)
Walk all the way down memory lane with her.
This was by far my favorite part of the trip—my daughter was determined to revisit all of the attractions she loved as a kid and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. And, while she stopped short of letting me recreate the pictures we took of a younger her, there was no shortage of laughter as we recalled those memories. It meant a lot to me to know how much those previous trips meant to her. It’s so rare to see glimpses of innocence like this in your teenager and it was good for my soul.
Take lots of pictures—even if you have to resort to bribery.
When it comes to mom-teen selfies, cash, Starbucks and pastries go a long way. I tend to overdo it in the family picture department, but as the Chief Memory Facilitator, it’s part of my job and c’mon, who can resist taking pictures at Disney?! Thankfully, my sweet girl understood that and put up with all me requests to just take one more. Here’s a bonus tip though, make sure you have their permission before you splatter those pictures across your Instagram account or in a blog post.
If you get sick once you get home, drink tea from your souvenir Disney mug.
You’ll recall the fun you had and that will help speed your recovery. And since you’re too weak to do anything else, go ahead and take the opportunity to rest. You deserve it—especially if you left for your trip tired from the demands of this mom life and spent your trip tired because competing at Disney takes a lot of work. And you doubly deserve it if what was supposed to be a trip for four turned into a trip for three and what could have been some romantic Disney time with your husband turned into alone time because of an emergency.
Now, here are few less-cheeky tips for enjoying your time with teenager at Disney World.
5 Practical Tips for Taking Your Teen To Disney
Now, I know I just told you I said yes a lot, but that doesn’t mean you should spend money you don’t have or money you’ll later regret spending. Instead, save up a bit and put some Disney-specific money to the side. I took on extra blog work in the months before our trip. It went a long way toward helping us have a good time and there was no buyer’s remorse on the plane ride home.
Get the app.
The My Disney Experience app is great for planning, getting FastPasses and navigating through the parks. Be sure to download it before your trip. Using it will help reduce your stress.
Occasionally, I’m reminded that raising a teenager is a lot like raising a toddler. They need food and naps and breaks, and when they’re tired and hungry, they get cranky (so do I). With that in mind, I suggest taking it slow, taking breaks and not feeling like you need to do and see everything. It will make what you can do more enjoyable and your back and feet will thank you.
Let them take the lead.
If there’s any place it’s okay for your teen to flex her independence-muscles, it’s Disney World. Remember my point about saying yes (unless they ask you to ride a roller coaster that you’re certain will fill you with more fear than you’ve ever known).
Make memories and have fun.
Make that your mission and make sure your teen knows it.
Bonus tip: Go during the school year. Tickets are often cheaper and lines are much shorter.
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And I’ll leave you with that. Pack these tips on your next parent-teen trip to Disney and if you have something to add or just want to talk about your last Disney vacation, let’s chat in the comments, on Twitter or on Facebook.
Anitra is the founder of The Mama Zone and she’s been sharing useful tips for mom here since 2009.