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You’ve announced to your family that your vacation destination is Disney World! The 5-year-old won’t shut-up about meeting Mickey Mouse, the 9-year-old is psyched about the roller coasters, and grandma is already planning a character breakfast. And in the corner, your teenager is rolling his/her eyes, moaning about how Disney is full of “kid stuff.”
How are you going to get a moody adolescent excited about Cinderella Castle and TriceraTop Spin? Below are some tips on how to get teenagers in the Disney spirit.
1. Stress to your teen that s/he won’t be stuck riding the kiddie attractions. When most people think of Walt Disney World, they think of rides aimed at young children. Remind your teenager that Disney has thrills and (for girls) plenty of shopping. If an adult in your party isn’t willing to join in on the plummets, the inversions, and the disc-rupturing Mountains, give your teen some freedom to roam the parks alone. Disney is very safe, after all, and cell-phones can keep everybody in touch.
2. Let teens help plan. Studies show that kids who help buy the food at the grocery are more likely to eat it. The same logic goes for a Disney vacation. When you’re making decisions about your itinerary, consult your teenagers. If you give them influence over the budget, they’ll be especially responsive (i.e. should we spend more money on a nicer resort or on food?).
3. Give your teenager charging privileges. If you’re staying at an on-site hotel, put charging privileges on your teen’s resort ID. Charging privileges are like having a credit card in Disney and this is sure to excite any adolescent on a low budget. If you’re terrified about your teen running up huge bills on their ID, let them know that a charging privilege is a privilege – which can be revoked at any point on vacation. Furthermore, any dollar amount over a decided-upon number must be paid off by the teen.
4. Teenagers make great photographers. Of course, you’re teen will have to be with the rest of your group some of the time. But nothing will humiliate a teenager more than being forced to meet a character, especially a face character that they have to talk to (I’m having France Pavilion 2006 flashbacks). And since most teens know how to work the camera better than their parents anyway, let them be in charge of pictures.
5. What happens in Disney stays in Disney. Teenagers have constant “pull out the baby pictures” fear. In other words, they’re afraid that what they do with their family will come back to haunt them. Assure them that the fun, silly things they do with their family in Disney World will not be brought up in front of their friends or mentors. This is the most important tip that I can give you. Doing this for your teens is like giving them permission to be in the Disney spirit.
Of course, I can’t make any promises. There are some teens who just refuse to enjoy a Disney trip – or any trip, for that matter. If your teenager falls in this category, don’t try to accommodate them by letting them doing whatever they want. Simply let them be Grumpy dwarves. If your adolescent is acting like this, the message s/he is trying to send is: “leave me alone!” If you do that, s/he might actually be tolerable.
That’s all I’ve got for now! If any readers have questions about teens, feel free to post them as comments; they’ll most likely be the source of my next post.