We have a different experience from many when traveling to Disney World these days: our Disney vacations now include 3 adults, since our daughter is nearly 20 and in college. Our first family visit came when she was 7, so she has been visiting Disney for most of her life…and she still loves it as much as she did back then! The magic is still there for her and for us, and we all continue to look forward to our Disney trips as much as ever.
Still, we do plan and tour differently these days. Visiting Walt Disney World with teens and young adults is certainly not like it is with little ones! As she has grown and changed, so have our Disney vacations.
Since most of what is written centers on the Disney experience with small children, I thought I’d share with you some thoughts on Disney for teens and young adults. If this is not yet where your family is, well then take some notes, because your kids will be this age before you know it!
Basically, everything you need to know about a Disney vacation with teens/young adults can be summarized in the following three tips:
Remember that they’re not kids anymore
It may seem kind of obvious, but when you’re used to doing Disney World a certain way (“but we ALWAYS ride It’s a Small World first!”) it can come as quite a shock when your children no longer want to do things quite the same way. They grow up and change, and so do their likes and dislikes. And they just may not like doing things the *way* you do. But be open to suggestions and make sure you find out what THEY want to do: don’t assume it’s what they’ve always done. I will say that in some ways, it’s harder letting go of the fact that they’re not kids anymore when you’re at Disney World than almost any other place. Try though…. They’ll really appreciate it.
Give them time/space of their own
Small hotel rooms may not be the best thing any more. Everyone needs a little space of their own, and once your adult child goes off to college and begins to do things *their* way….well again, their way may not be your way. If you can’t arrange for them to have their own room, encourage everyone to at least have time for themselves on a daily basis. See the next tip for how this may work out without you even trying. And remember: Time alone can be good for the soul….and for everyone’s patience.
Realize that they won’t be up at the crack of dawn.
This goes back to things being different from when they were kids. As a personal example: then, it was easy for me to get everyone up, dressed, fed and out the door before 8 a.m. Now? Not so much. If you don’t have teens yet, but have heard things about how their internal clock changes….well, believe me it’s true. So just as you work your Disney vacation around a toddler’s nap time in order to avoid unhappiness and distinctly un-magical feelings…..you also need to expect that your teen/young adult is probably going to be sleeping later than you: so don’t force them to get up and go when you do. They can meet you at the parks when they’re ready.
We all know that Disney is fun no matter what age you are. This is just as true for teens and college students, as it is for toddlers. And it’s kind of fun seeing Disney World through the eyes of your no-longer little child. So what about you? Have you traveled to Disney World with a teenager? What tips would you give?
Nancy, her husband and college-age daughter live in the Baltimore MD area, but consider Walt Disney World their second “home”. She started her site, The Affordable Mouse, as a way to share ideas about how to plan affordable Disney vacations. Her favorite things at Disney World (in no particular order) are Soarin’, most of the food in World Showcase, Illuminations…and that “Disney magic”.
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