Many of us can relate to the experience of seeing the magic of Mickey Mouse and all of his friends through the eyes of our toddlers and preschoolers. When it comes to teenagers, though, we might think that much of the magic of Walt Disney World may be lost… not so, I’ve found!
We have hosted several foreign exchange students, and we’ve had the pleasure of taking two of them to Disney World during their stays. Although we traveled with our own kids as well, who were preschool-aged or in elementary school at the times, our teenage exchange students had the time of their lives. We did find that it was important to give them some autonomy, and picked up a few other tips as well:
*Use Fast Pass. Chances are that your big kids are going to want to go on the more thrilling attractions more than once, and it just so happens that these are where the lines are the longest. Whether they have their eyes on Aerosmith’s Rockin Roller Coaster, Test Track, Space Mountain, or the Kali Rapids River Ride, grab Fast Passes early, before they’re all gone for the day.
*Split up. Particularly if you also have small children in your party, consider taking the little ones on Dumbo and It’s A Small World, while allowing your teenagers to go on the height-restricted rides on their own or with their other parent. Yes, Disney vacations are about family togetherness, but splitting up for an hour or two may give your teenagers just the break they need in the middle of an overwhelming day with younger siblings.
*Eat at non-peak times. One of the nice things about teenagers is that they don’t usually need to stick to the same eating routines that they did when they were little, and probably won’t melt down over postponing a meal. Take advantage of this by visiting attractions during prime meal times, and sitting down for a late lunch or dinner, after the crowds have already eaten.
*Allow down time. While your teens may be perfectly happy waking up early and staying at the parks until they close, they might want to spend a morning sleeping in, or an afternoon lazing around at the pool. Even though they’ve outgrown their need for daily naps, don’t neglect your teenagers’ need for rest while on vacation. You should take advantage of this as well, and relax with a good book or an afternoon siesta of your own!
*Finally, keep your sense of humor. When you travel with toddlers, tantrums, meltdowns, crabbiness and minor boo-boos are par for the course and to be expected. During the turbulent teenage years, you might experience any of these. Discuss appropriate behavior with your teen ahead of time, but don’t get too bent out of shape if they slip up. A well-worded reminder should get them back on track quickly, and you can continue enjoying the magic of Disney!
Have you traveled to Walt Disney World with teenagers? Do you have any tips?