Traveling to Disney with Teens and Tweens
Traveling to Disney with teens and tweens can be SO much fun! From the planning stages to your days in the parks, planning a Disney trip with these age groups can really turn out to be magical! We have seen Disney at every stage and phase, and I am so excited to share these ides with you today!
Disney World is not just for littles….nor is it just for nostalgic adults. When you have children who range somewhere between the ages of 10-17 or so, you may think that your family is not going to enjoy Disney, or that some of the magic is lost. But is it really? Over the years, Walt Disney World has evolved into so much more than a meet and greet with Mickey Mouse and “it’s a small world”. Now, more than ever, is a great time to plan a trip with your teens and tweens. We have seen Disney at so many ages. Our twins were 4 on our first trip, our daughter was 10 months. So, whether they were an infant, toddler, preschooler, or middle schooler, we have done Disney and I want to share my experience with you! My hope is that by the end of this post, you can confidently talk to your family and have a marvelous time at Disney with your teens or tweens!
Involve your teenager in the planning process.
First, have a conversation with them that this is an opportunity to really be themselves! No one is watching, and having a good attitude is the most important thing. Give them 2-3 Walt Disney World resort options and let them choose the one they want to call home during your trip. Show them how to download the My Disney Experience app, and more importantly show them how to use it. They will make great guides with the right tools!
When it comes to dining, share some of your desires, and let them choose a location or two. Have they seen that fantastic looking Peter Pan Float on Instagram? Do they want to see how many Mickey Bars they can consume in one trip? Make it fun! Encourage them to make a list of “must eats” while in the parks. Teenagers like to have an opinion, and these areas are great ways to hear their ideas and compromise. Traveling to Disney with your teen will be much smoother if you allow them some insight.
Let your teenager choose a special event to “splurge” on in the parks. This could be a dessert party, a behind the scenes tour, or enjoying the VOID or Splitsville at Disney Springs. These are the ages to really take advantage of things such as tours, after hours events, and other experiences. Some of these events have age requirements, some require you to stay up super late. Regardless, with older kids, these special events become more appealing and easier to experience.
Give them some freedom while you are in the parks.
I do think this works better with teenagers, but it obviously depends on your child and what you are comfortable with. We have allowed our twins, who were 15 at the time, split off from us in the parks. As long as they had their phones, stayed together, and we had a check in time, it was fine!
Allowing your teens to head off to get a sweet treat, or grab a quick service meal is another good way to give them some time on their own without venturing too far. Perhaps they need a swim or a nap! Another way to give them some freedom is at your Walt Disney World Resort. Whether they want to play video games in the room, or go for a swim, you can easily give them some freedom around your resort. Teens love to sleep! Perhaps allowing them to sleep in and meet you in the park later is a good idea, as well! Disney resorts and transportation are full of signage. They are fairly easy to navigate, and this gives your teenagers some time to rest and recoup.
Choose your dining wisely.
While they may say a character meal is too babyish for them, don’t discount the idea of booking one or two anyway. This is especially true for the tweens in your family. Even at an “older” age, it’s still fun to see some long loved characters! Even my teens will pose for a picture with Mickey or Goofy. Also, character dining locations offer buffets. And what is better for a teenager than a buffet, and being able to choose whatever they want to eat? Even as your tween is venturing into more diverse foods, buffets make a great environment to try something new.
When traveling with teens to Walt Disney World, you may not feel as if you need a resort break EVERY day. While they are nice, sometimes you just want to keep going! Booking a sit down meal is a great way to regroup after a morning in the parks, make sure everyone gets a good meal, and make plans for the rest of the day. Touring together in the morning, and perhaps splitting ways after lunch for a few hours can be a nice way to work your days as well. When traveling to Disney with teens, it’s a good idea to make sure you have some sort of down time on most days of your trip.
In terms of dining, remember that teens and tweens need snacks, too! Keep your kids hydrated while touring the parks, and don’t give up on the idea of them needing snacks! Whether they are 5 or 15, kids like to snack! And this keeps everyone happy.
Encourage your teens and tweens to get into the Disney spirit.
Perhaps they weren’t too thrilled of the idea of Disney at first, but as the time passes, they really warm up to it! Don’t discourage them from wanting to see characters in the parks or character dining. Another great way to get into the Disney spirit is Disney Bounding. Disney Bounding is when you take pieces of your general wardrobe and combine them to mimic a favorite character. Think black shorts with a red and white polka dot top and yellow flip flops to mimic Minnie Mouse. There are tons of creative ideas on Pinterest, and it may even seem more “mature” to your teens than having matching family Disney shirts.
Expect opinions and responsibility from your teen/tween.
Use YouTube to help plan your days in the parks. This gives your family something to do together in the initial planning stages. Also, it gives your teen or tween an opportunity to make a list of “must dos” and “attractions we can skip” which is helpful in planning Fastpasses.
Secondly, allow them some spending money. This can be in the form of a Disney gift card, charging privileges to charge back to the room, or cash. This will also help if you are splitting up in the parks and they need to eat or need to purchase a souvenir. Also, expect them to carry their own park bag with essentials in them.
Give them a checklist of attractions, and have them prioritize them. This helps everyone to get what they want as they look forward to your Disney trip.
Are you planning a Disney trip with teens or tweens? What tips do you have to share?
I hope these tips and tricks make traveling with teens to Disney more enjoyable for your family!