Summer has finally arrived and for many families that means vacation! And for a great number of our readers, vacation is synonymous with Disney Parks! My kids have logged more Disney trips than they have birthdays, so a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort is one of our favorite ways to unwind. In just a few short weeks I will be the mom to not one, but TWO teenagers. As kids evolve into teens, is it still possible for them to enjoy a Disney Parks vacation as much as they did as kids? Will they still feel the same excitement when they first step on to Main Street, USA or riding the same rides they have experienced countless times before? With the help of my teens, their cousins and friends, I have compiled their top 5 ways to keep teens happy on a Disney Parks vacation:
While having their own room is not always possible, as kids get older they cherish their own space a bit more. When making your reservations, look into renting a Disney Vacation Club Villa (DVC), which gives families with teens a few more options for private sleeping areas. As a bonus, DVC properties feature kitchen facilities, making it possible to eat some meals at “home,” helping to offset the price of larger accommodations. Some even offer an additional bathroom, and if you have teens of your own, you know this is priceless! If you typically reside at a deluxe resort, perhaps two rooms at a moderately priced resort would fit your family’s changing group better. Even if you all opt for one resort room, try to give your teens a few free hours in the room while you shop or hit the pool so they can regroup, nap or text some friends. Happy teens=happy parents!
- Include them in the planning:
For my teens, this means unscheduled pool time, FastPass+ selections on roller coasters and visits to Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, or Disney Quest. While this is tough for a parent who is used to planning the vacation from start to finish, teens definitely want to be heard. Any teen who has visited the Walt Disney World Resort before has their favorite restaurants and attractions…and they want those included in the schedule. And while they love spending time in the parks, hanging at the pool area with their cousins is one of my kids’ favorite activities.
Ok, rope-droppers, I am talking to you. Yes, your teens know the benefit of arriving when the park opens for the day. But some days, they don’t care! They would rather sleep in (gasp!) and wait in longer lines later. My teens were thrilled with our every-other-day rope drop schedule that enabled them to catch some extra shut-eye every second day. Now that most teens have cell phones, you can even hit rope-drop on your own and they can meet up with you after some much needed sleep….win/win!
While I am sure your kids love tackling Expedition Everest (check out my review of this amazing ride here) with you or zooming through galaxies on Space Mountain, they also find it exciting to go off on their own. My kids are lucky enough to always travel with cousins, so the group of teens always includes 4-6 lifelong friends. The nostalgia of riding traditional rides with Mom and Dad has not worn off, luckily, but our big kids love a bit of time to explore without the parents. Recently they decided to wait for Test Track in the stand-by line….on Christmas day! We adults were more than happy to pass the time in La Cava del Tequila while they went off on their own….note this is another win/win situation!
If you have teens, especially boys, you know what I am talking about. Eating is a top priority and sampling various fares, especially around Epcot’s World Showcase, is a must-do for teens. My husband and I used to set aside money for each of our kids to purchase souvenirs at the end of a Disney parks vacation. Now they have outgrown the traditional Mickey T-shirt and have maxed out their Disney snow globe collections, we give them the money in gift cards to spend on snacks. We also make sure to make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) at some of their favorite restaurants like the Sci-Fi Dine in Theater Restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (check out my review here) and Teppan Edo in the Japan pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. Believe me, everyone is happier when teens are well-fed!
In the end, a Disney Parks vacation can be a blast with teens. They love to stay up late and explore the parks. They are largely self-sufficient, but still seem to enjoy some time with the rest of the family as well. And you can rest easy knowing you have instilled a life-long love of Disney Parks in them…and they just might be asking you to join them for their kids’ first Disney trip some day!
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