My youngest daughter has been to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida more times than she is old. I am often asked when is the best time to bring a child and my response is always the same, there is no wrong time. Each age and stage has it’s own special place at the Happiest Place on Earth. As a mother who has seen her children marvel at the wonder of Disney every year of their life, I state this as a fact.
What I’ve loved most over the years is how every trip to Disney is different. In the younger years, it was all about meeting the characters. Rides that were too big one year, were suddenly blown by on the height chart the next. Family bragging rights have been long established and routinely laid down at the parks. Who rode Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster the youngest? My middle child will proudly tell you it’s her. Then there’s the challenges that crop up at the parks. Who will scream the loudest on Tower of Terror? Who will the get the wettest on Splash Mountain? Disney, for our family has become so much more than a vacation destination, it’s become a second home with sixteen visits under our belts.
This past May I was invited to attend Disney Social Media Moms. An invitation to this highly coveted conference is nothing to sneeze at. I didn’t hesitate to attend and decided to bring my three children with me. My 22 year old son, my 12 year old daughter and my 10 year old. I’m not gonna lie, after I booked, I began to have some reservations. With such a diverse set of interests between youngest and oldest would this Disney trip be as memorable as all the others? Also, I would be in conference for a great deal of the time, so they would have to make it through the day without me.
Turns out my fears were unfounded. While I hesitate to give this trip with the kids favourite status (because, really how can you ever compare your three year old squealing with delight at the sight of Piglet), I will say it was by far the easiest trip we’ve ever taken to Disney and for me, virtually stress free.
While I was in conference my kids had a grand old time without me. Transportation at Disney is safe and simple to understand. Older kids can move from park to park at their pace, which I might add is much faster than their parents. With free wi-fi throughout the parks, it’s easy for older kids to keep parents up to date on their whereabouts.
Perhaps the best thing of all for teens are MagicBands. Worn on the wrist to prevent loss, MagicBands hold the key to everything your independent kids could ever need. They are the tickets to the parks and the room should they get tired or want to change. They can be loaded with spending money, which you can cap for the spendthrifts in your family. Finally, they can be linked to your Memory Maker account, so you don’t have to worry about missing a moment. While I was in conference I was watching my Memory Maker account be updated through the day with pictures of my kids having the time of their life.
While there is no doubt my 22 year old is past the teen stage, my 12 year old had her first taste of Disney freedom when she headed out to the Magic Kingdom on her own with friends her age. I can’t emphasize this point enough; I wasn’t worried in the least. You know when you’re kids are mature enough to send out on their own. When you’re finally ready, what better place than Disney?
So what of the “diverse set of interests” I was so worried about? The beauty of traveling with teens is that they are at a age they can slow down and appreciate everyone’s interests. My kids were all too happy to follow me to Epcot for gourmet food, I was all to happy to follow them to big rides. If we really didn’t want to do something we could go our own ways. Finally, I don’t care how old you are, when the opportunity to get your picture taken with Donald Duck presents itself, you take it.