Watching your kiddos grow up is an ever-changing adventure. From the ways they dress to the way they talk, they evolve. And this means that their tastes and interests may change. Things they loved before can now be dubbed ‘uncool’ once they become teenagers. Even Disney World can be affected! So, if you’re taking your teenager to Disney for a first-time or repeat trip, keep some of these suggestions in mind. Taking time to factor these in will be more appreciated than you realize.
1. Consider Upgrading Accommodations
The All-Star Movies resort may have been your family’s favorite, but your teenager may not be as impressed with the colorful, character-heavy theming. Give thought to upgrading to one of the more sleek and sophisticated resorts. For example, many moderate resorts are themed after beautiful destinations and may liven up your teenager’s stay. Also, consider booking a larger condo-style room with separate sleeping areas. Giving your teenager their own bedroom on vacation (even if it’s just a pull-out couch in a living room) is a luxury. (Plus, it makes it harder to get on someone’s nerves with extra space!)
2. Skip Character Meals
Unless your child specifically requests a dinner with Mickey, don’t book character meals. While guests of all ages enjoy these meals, they can easily fall into the ‘embarrassing’ category for an adolescent. Additionally, restaurants where the servers are encouraged to tease the guests, like Prime-Time Café, may not be received well. Instead, inspire them to expand their appetites by booking unique, table-service restaurants. Favorite venues that are delicious (and not too exotic) include California Grill, Via Napoli, and the Liberty Tree Tavern. Ask your Authorized Disney Vacation Planner for recommendations and enjoy introducing your child to a world of new cuisine.
3. Ditch the Family T-Shirts
They may be a cute staple for Christmas cards, but your teenager might think they’re lame. As hard as it may be, don’t order coordinated Etsy shirts for the family. (Plus, be honest. Did you want to match your parents as a teenager?) You can still get a picture-perfect family photo by coordinating colors, asking everyone to dress a little nicer one day, or just finding a great spot to pose on Main Street U.S.A. And family pictures aside, encourage your teenager to express their style in their vacation outfits. With so many third-party retailers (e.g. Lunch Box, Target) designing adorable Disney-themed clothing, your teen can find the perfect ensemble for the trip. This also enables them to show their Disney spirit in a way that is cool and stylish.
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4. Give Them Space
Gone are the days where your family spends every minute together on vacations. That’s ok! Personal space to see and experience your favorite things in Disney World is a good thing, especially if your tastes differ. If you have several kids, encourage them to go off on their own or invite a cousin/friend along for your only child. There truly isn’t a safer place for your teen to have some independence. And to ensure some quality time, make it a point to meet up for table-service meals or your favorite attractions every day. The time you spend together will be sweeter if done in moderation.
5. Give Them Input
Summarizing the tips above, it will mean the world to your teen if they have a say. While I’m not saying to pass over the reins, consider letting your teenager help you plan the itinerary. Encourage them to scour the internet and YouTube for restaurants they’d like to try or new attractions they’d like to experience. (They may have already done this.) Simply put, encourage them to make some selections for the trip. The teenage state of mind is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t want to blindly follow you like children, but they’re not ready for the pressure of adulthood. Giving them a vote in your vacation schedule is a kind and open-minded way to respect this transition.
6. Appreciate a Different Kind of Vacation
Lastly, while nothing can replace the wonder on a child’s face seeing their favorite Disney princess for the first time, you can still have a magical trip when your kiddos are older. Remember, Disney is still praised for bringing out the child in all of us. The same teen who is easily embarrassed can still melt when seeing Winnie the Pooh or Donald Duck. But even if your teenager feels too silly for that, you can still have an enchanting vacation full of breathtaking rides, delicious meals, and wonderful memories. A different Disney vacation doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it’s simply different. Enjoy the state your child is in now, and patiently wait for matching t-shirt days to return.
We wish you all the luck in planning a trip with a teenager in tow! No matter what happens, the magic on Disney property will win everyone over in one way or another.