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Parent’s Guide To Navigating Theme Parks With Older Kids and Tweens

Added: May 19, 2016
Category: Fun Things

Ahhh, the tweenage years. Not quite a teenager yet, but still way to cool to be considered a kid. They can’t drive, but they’ve got plenty of social events that usually involve you chauffeuring them around. They can’t get a real job yet, but they want to spend time (and your money) at the mall and out with friends as often as possible. They’re starting to speak that foreign teenage language that parents have a hard time understanding, but they still cry when someone hurts their feelings at school. It can be an awkward, fun, and frustrating learning experience for both the child and the parent. But no matter how cool your 9,10 11 or 12 year old is, they’re never too cool for Disney. Here are a few ways you can win a few cool points with your tween when traveling to see The Mouse:


Get Them Involved: Once you’ve decided that you’re going to Disney, let your kids in on the idea and get them involved in planning. Encourage them to do online research, or even go old school and find a guidebook that will introduce them to all of the things there is to do at Disney. Get their advice about where to eat. Have them create lists of places they want to see, and things they want to do. You may be surprised that you’re “too cool for school” tween is looking forward to eating breakfast with a princess. Disney restaurants take reservations months in advance; so once they’ve made up their mind on where to eat, book it! Letting the kids be part of the planning process can help create a trip that everyone is looking forward to.


Let Them Sleep: Back in the day, when they were little and woke up at the crack of dawn, getting to the parks before it opened was a little easier. Now, when getting your sleepy head out of bed is like pulling teeth, trying to get everyone to the gates before the park opens can cause stress and frustration for everyone. Instead of ruining everyone’s morning, let them sleep in a little, enjoy breakfast, and get there when you get there. Take advantage of the late hours of the parks and stay until they close. Parents with young ones will leave in the evening (the good ‘ol days) making the park a little less crowded when the sun goes down. Grab a coffee and hang in there, your well rested tweens will be happier and easier to get along with, and you will still be able to enjoy everything the parks have to offer.


Mix Up The Rides: A common tip to navigating Disney is to hit “the mountains” first. Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, and Splash Mountain. These thrill rides are very popular and can have extended wait times, so do those first. Take advantage of fast passes so you’re not waiting for hours. When you’ve checked the big rides off of your list, visit some of the classics, like The Haunted Mansion or Country Bear Jamboree. Your tween might roll his/her eyes and act like they can’t believe you’re taking them on these rides, but deep down, they love it.


Take A Break: Although the days of naptimes are over (bummer) your older kids may still benefit from a break in the middle of the day, especially if you’re visiting when the temps are in the high 90’s. Whether you’re in a hotel or vacation home, it may be helpful to head home, grab lunch, take a swim, sleep, change, and then head back out for the evening. This quick break from walking, waiting, map reading, and crowd navigating can be just what the whole family needs to recharge.


Being a parent to a tween definitely has its challenges, but traveling together as a family doesn’t have to be a battle. It’s still very possible to have a magical vacation that your child will want to post, tweet and snapchat about. Let them take their selfies, and maybe even get in a few of them! By following some of these easy tips, you can earn some cool points, and create vacation memories that last a lifetime.

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