On Disney World vacations there is a plethora of things to do with children. The list is endless. Even adults (parents and grandparents) with children have lots of things to do because they’re enjoying the rides and watching the reactions of the kids. Disney is a family place. It is one of the major reasons Walt Disney built Disneyland so he could have a place to enjoy with his daughters. Nothing can replace the experiences a family can have creating magical moments at a Disney Destination.
But what to do with teenagers at Disney World? It is no secret that Disney is behind Universal Orlando on thrill rides. And they are really limited depending on which park you are in for the day. It is likely to see many 16 year olds bored on Small World, Pooh, and Peter Pan. Although I contend they act bored and put out but they may secretly enjoy it! So how can you make the moody and unpredictable teenagers happy at WDW?
1. Let them pick the restaurants. When you are doing your advanced dining reservations (or your talented amazing Storybook agent is for you) get your teenager to say where they would like to eat. Give them some choices in this regard. Show them the menus. Younger kids will likely drive your fastpass+ selections but where to eat will give your teenager a part in the planning process and they will likely enjoy the meal more when you are at WDW.
2. Give them alone time. We are lucky because we have been to WDW so many times our 16 and 13 year old daughters know where they are going anywhere on property but we never let them roam outside the park we are all in. But teenagers are generally good at directions and exploring- of course each teenager is different. Give them a time to meet back and make sure they have their phone and you are watching your phone. Give them suggestions on what to do. If there are teenage siblings even better as they can go together. But even if a teenager has an hour of exploring and riding an attraction on their own it gives them space and breathing room. And then when they are on Small World with the family, the happiest cruise in the world is all good!
3. Buy them a gift card and let them pick their own souvenirs, snack items, etc. Take what you would spend on each family member for snacks and souvenirs and put that amount on a Disney gift card. Gift cards are everywhere to purchase across the resort. It will give your teenager some responsibility and gives them freedom to make choices on their own. It will also be a good lesson as to the value of certain items as well as being an excellent math lesson if they keep up with the receipts.
4. If possible let them bring a friend. This is even more appealing if a sibling of the same age range is not in the family or not coming on the trip. But you may not want to pay for an additional person. You never know if that friend’s parents wouldn’t mind paying for them to come. Those parents may never want to come WDW and their child does, so perfect solution. Everyone wins. You as a parent have a built in buffer in that friend and the trip will probably be even more enjoyable.
There are many more suggestions that could work for teenagers at Disney World and we would love to hear them! Regardless of who is in your traveling party and the age make-up- have a magical time with your entire family!