10 Steps to Planning the Perfect Mother-Daughter Disney World Trip

Cinderella's Castle _ shocking Disney Stories
Cinderella's Castle

My mother and I went to Disney together in 2013. It was just the two of us on the trip, and I was 32 and my mom was 64. While I am drawing inspiration from that specific trip for this article, I will also address planning for moms who are taking young daughters on the trip of a lifetime, too. Whatever your scenario, you’ll never forget your mother-daughter trip. Here are some tips to help you plan a truly magical vacation with one of the most important people in your life.

10. Do all of the standard vacation planning.

Let’s start with a no-brainer. You obviously need to do the basics of trip planning first. If you’re traveling with a child, the ball is in your court. However, if you are travelling with your adult mother or daughter, set aside some time to discuss the important details of your trip (unless the trip is a surprise, of course). Make sure you take her schedule, finances, and travel preferences into account. My mom left the planning up to me (she’s really the most flexible person on planet Earth). However, my mom’s one and only travel concern is a getting a comfortable night’s sleep. For us, spending our week in one of the All-Star resorts, where between-room noise levels can be an issue, was not an option. The Swan, with its signature Westin “heavenly bed”, was right up our alley.

If you want more details about how to plan a Disney trip, definitely check out our article, “10 Steps to Help You Plan the Trip of Your Dreams!” There, you’ll read about budgeting, picking a time to travel, deciding how long and where to stay, booking your travel plans, making an itinerary, selecting park tickets, and reserving dining and FastPasses.

9. Focus on the bonding experience.

Disney is a fantastic place to visit, but remember that this trip is about spending special time with your mom or daughter. While all of the activities at the parks will be an important part of your trip, your laughter and memories will be even more important.

8. Plan activities around age, activity level, and medical considerations.

Luckily for me, my mother is physically fit, has good stamina, and doesn’t complain (ever). She’s definitely more of a trooper than me! If your mom is advanced in her years, however, you need to take that into account. Consider your mom’s normal activity level, as well as any health conditions that might limit her access to certain attractions. Similarly, remember that young children don’t have the stamina that a young mother might have, so plan accordingly.

7. Plan unselfishly.

Let’s presume that you, the reader, are planning the trip with your mother or daughter’s enjoyment in mind. While you obviously want to enjoy the trip as well, the key to planning a great mother-daughter trip is planning unselfishly. Try to make sure that you select activities that your mom or daughter will really enjoy. If you are travelling with a child, you’ll obviously want to look into activities that she will enjoy (princess meals, character greeting, and makeovers, to name a few). If you are planning the trip for your mother, think about what she likes. My mom and I enjoyed meeting characters, but other adults might find this a bit silly. If your mom loves fine dining but you don’t, make sure to schedule at least one dinner that is suited to her tastes. You’re sure to find something on the menu you will like, too.

6. Make planning together part of the experience.

…That is, if you’re travelling companion enjoys planning. By all means, if your mom or daughter would much rather you take care of everything, do it! On the other hand, if she would like to be involved in the planning, make sure she’s included. Planning a Disney trip is part of the fun (for some people)!

5. Plan your meals.

This is a key step that many people overlook. You simply won’t get into the most popular dining locations without reservations. In fact, if you travel during a busy season, you might have a hard time getting into any sit-down restaurant. A mother-daughter trip is a fabulous time to enjoy some great meals, so make sure you reserve some or you may be disappointed.

4. Do the things that the “boys” would never want to do.

For a mother-daughter duo that normally has a dad, son, or brother included in the nuclear family, this may very well be your only chance to experience Disney without the boys! Take advantage of it. For a mother and young child, this might involve princess dining. Have you seen our article about the fabulous princess dining opportunities at Disney? If not, check out “Princess Character Dining in Disney World – 6 Places to Dine with Royalty!” for a comprehensive description of the options. You might also look into a makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

For an adult mother-daughter pair, perhaps a trip to one of Disney’s spas is in order. If the spa isn’t your thing, consider shopping, lounging by the pool, or a trip to Cirque du Soleil. Or, if you’re like my mom and I, wait on line to meet an excessive amount of characters- I know my dad and husband would not be overly enthused by this!

3. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

There’s no other relationship like that of a mother and daughter! Take this time alone to be yourselves and not worry about what people will think. If you want to shop and spend way too much money, do it! If you want to eat ice cream for lunch every day, do it! If you want to take pictures with every character in the parks, do it!

2. Find a balance between taking it easy and maximizing your time.

Taking time to stroll and take in the sights and sounds definitely has its place on a mother-daughter trip. However, you’ll probably also want to do some research on how to minimize your time on lines so you can have time for all of the other elements of your trip. Make sure to read up on FastPass+, and be aware that sleeping in will likely result in longer wait times throughout the day.

Bonus Tip!

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1. After you get back, consider making a nice album to commemorate your trip.

Hopefully you took plenty of pictures on your trip. When you get home, make sure to make a nice photo book for your mom as a keepsake of your magical trip. If you travelled with your daughter, I would give you the same advice. Daughters of all ages, from young child to young adult, would enjoy having a photo book to look through to remember the trip.

Have you ever taken a mother-daughter trip to Disney? What was the highlight of your trip? Share your tips and memories with us in the comments section!

About Meredith Smisek

Meredith Smisek is a kid at heart who works as an elementary school counselor. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, son, and corgi. Meredith is a DVC member who loves music, podcasts, crafting, and "talking Disney" with anyone and everyone.

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