Heading to Walt Disney World with a teen can be just as tricky as traveling with a little one. Teens have opinions, mood swings and are stuck in between being a kid and an adult. Luckily we have experience traveling with teens and have some tips and tricks that can help you have a great trip with your teen in Walt Disney World.
1. Get Their Opinions
Before heading down to Walt Disney World, set your trip up for success by getting your teen involved in the planning. Get to know what rides are must do for them, what food they really want to eat, and what would make the trip magical to them. It might surprise you what they want to do.
2. Show Off Videos
Like adults, teens have had a lot of changes these past few years and it isn’t always easy to adjust. Help teens know what to expect by sharing those YouTube videos. Have them watch ride videos, reviews etc. to help them know what to expect. Letting them see what to expect might help them be better prepared and less overwhelmed when you arrive at the parks.
3. Set Expectations
Even though you might expect teens to be aware that masks will be required, distancing is a thing and some things aren’t the same (no fireworks) they might know but not process what that will feel and look like in the parks. Have those conversations while traveling to activities so they know what to expect when you arrive. Make sure they know that they will need to be stationary when eating or drinking so they don’t get in trouble by a cast member. Let me know if they want to take selfies, masks should be worn unless in taking a picture quickly in front of an icon like the castle. Also- make sure they know that lines will look LLOONNGG but that doesn’t mean that they are as physical distancing makes lines look a lot longer than they really are in reality. By setting the expectations ahead of the trip, this will prevent frustration when on vacation.
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4. Prepare Their Phones
Teens typically are on their phones so why not put the power of the trip in their hands as well. Get the My Disney Experience app, flight apps, weather apps on their phones so they feel involved during the trip. They will love looking at wait times, menus and finding out all the secrets the My Disney Experience app does that we never find out as parents. My daughter loved being able to check into her flight on her own, order food for mobile ordering and look at the bus arrival times. It gave her some ownership and responsibility which she loved.
5. Let Them Use Their Phones
Although it would be great if they would put their phones away and focus in on every moment of the trip, this isn’t probably going to be realistic. If you think about how much we are on our phones as adults in Disney, teens are going to do the same- and it is okay. Allow them to chant with friends, post photos etc. I was impressed with some of the great photos my daughter quickly snapped and then adjusted while waiting in line for fun. Allow them that time on their phones as it is how teens connect these days. Put them in charge of those apps mentioned before or have them take photos to help them use the phone in a way that is helpful and engaging to the trip.
6. Give Them Space
Once you are on vacation, consider giving your teen some space. Being with the family 24/7 can be a lot for everyone in the family so consider spitting up or giving the teen some alone time. Allow them to hang in the hotel room or get a snack on their own if you are comfortable with it. Not only does that give them some downtime, but shows that you trust them. That downtime can really allow teens to reset and be ready for some more family time.
7. Sleep in.. Stay Late
It might be difficult to get your teen to rope drop every single day, so consider flexing in some sleep-in days. Give your teen time to start the morning slowly with a lazy morning at the resort before heading to the parks. Also, consider staying out later and shutting down the parks. Teens will for sure enjoy those lower wait times, cooler temperatures and beautiful sights.
8. Get Portable Chargers
Most teens already have portable chargers, but make sure they have a good one. Disney drains batteries quickly between mobile ordering, photo taking, wait times and everything else. Phones drain even faster than normal in the parks. Make sure to avoid the stress of an empty battery but getting a good, long lasting portable charger for your teen.
9. Be Okay Without Matching T-shirts
My daughter loved picking out our clothes for our mother-daughter trip, but we didn’t match- we had coordinating outfits. The days of matching shirts might have passed us up when she became a teen. If your family typically wears matching shirts every day, you might have to adjust your goals and be okay with it. You might be surprised at the cute, fun outfits they come up with.
10. Split Up
Along with allowing some alone time, if traveling with smaller kids or other siblings, take time to split up. Having someone on one time with mom or dad or a grandparent can be really special and important to a teen. They also might like being able to hit those bigger rides without worrying about rider switch etc. for the littles. Not being together 24/7 can make a big difference with attitudes.
Traveling with a teen can be tricky, but we hope these tips and tricks will help you all have a magical trip to Walt Disney World.