How do a mother and her carefree teenage offspring enjoy a trip to Walt Disney World? After doing Disney with our family and extended family several times, my 16 year-old daughter and I are taking the opportunity to make a visit to the World as a team, just the two of us. We hope to have big fun doing it, and I have some tips to share from our planning process. From getting airline tickets early to selecting what we will wear, these suggestions can help to make a mom-teen daughter trip to Disney a magical success.
A Mom and Her Teen Girl: a Different Kind of Disney Visit
Doing Disney World with just one of my children is new to me. Now that I’ve decided to take a WDW trip with my teen daughter, my main desire is to make it a special time for just the two of us. The older two kids are in the middle of navigating their new college experiences, so neither is terribly upset that their younger sister gets to visit Disney an extra time without them. Sounds like the perfect time for a mother daughter trip to Disney!
Our goals include having big fun and making memories! How do we get that done? Visits to Walt Disney parks can take on many different forms. Some people like to vacation there with just their immediate family in tow, while others enjoy making it a multi-generational experience to remember. Couples enjoy time to themselves there, and still others like the freedom of making a visit solo to have fun and refresh. I needed to figure out what would help to make it fun for a mom/daughter duet.
Start Your Planning Early
We have just two people in our traveling party for this trip, so it’s a little easier to plan what parks we want to visit, where we want to eat, where we plan to stay, and how we will get there. So when it came to procuring airline tickets, I was happy to use the advantage of looking for a good deal early on in the planning process. We both are more familiar with flying out of Dulles than any other airport, so we decided that would be our starting place.
I LOVE the thrill and satisfaction of finding a great airline deal, so my daughter left the searching part to me. I hunted for a flight early and often in the months leading up to our travel date, and consequently, I was able to snag a fantastic price for us. Our tickets cost us just $265 – round trip for two from Dulles on United. Win!
You Have Control of Your Schedule
When traveling with a larger group in the past, we have had to tailor our plans to include a little something for each person. One of my kids loved Hollywood Studios, while the rest of us wanted to visit the Magic Kingdom. One family member desired to see the shows and parades, while others wanted to ride as many rides as they could. And selecting restaurants was quite an exercise in learning how to give and take!
With just the two of us, we can build our itinerary around our favorites. I suggest selecting something that one of you really wants to do. For example, may daughter loves going to Epcot, but because the other three Disney parks usually win out in our family, we don’t get to spend much time there. So, guess what is going on the schedule for this trip? You guessed it: a day at Epcot!
In addition, it is best to resist the urge to overload the schedule. Keep extra time in your plans to do unexpected activities on the spur of the moment. Some resort hopping or a special lunch in one of the parks is easy to fit in when the schedule is more open and unplanned.
Generate Excitement about This Special Time for You Two
Sometimes, I myself can lose sight of all the joy of planning the trip because I am so focused on the actual time that we will get to spend at Disney World. In order to stay in the planning moments and actually enjoy the process, we have learned to talk about our plans on a weekly basisMy daughter and I chat about the trip while running errands around town, and we celebrate the steps leading up to our big event. Being excited about Magic Bands arriving at your door and Disney mail hitting your mailbox is a great way to keep the anticipation building!
Pack Lightly for Your Mother Daughter Trip
I am a minimalist at heart, especially when it comes to packing a suitcase. I love the challenge of carrying only what I think I will really use or need. When traveling as a duo, there are a couple of advantages to traveling light. Firstly, since we won’t have any extra helping hands, one suitcase per person is a practical way to make sure that each of us can carry our own stuff. Try to pack just a carry-on piece of luggage. That approach will save both money and energy.
Secondly, we realize that we are packing for a fun trip together and not for a fashion show. While we will bring clothes that look cute and are functional, we don’t really care too much if we wear something twice during our adventure. There are thousands of people vacationing there – no one will care that you wore an article of clothing more than once! Pack for your own ease and comfort.
Plan to Dress Alike, at Least Once
While we are on the subject of clothing, remember this: have fun with what you plan to wear! Disney World is a great place to be fun and a little wacky with your apparel. If your teen will go with it (or even if she is a little resistant), bring matching tees from home, or purchase something that you can wear together during your stay: ears, jewelry, socks…you get the picture. There is nothing that says, “we are doing this together” like wearing matching items!
Use Tools That Will Make Your Planning Easier
When I am the “adult in charge” of trip planning, it is so helpful to be able to house all of my important trip details in one place. We used Disney’s My Disney Experience app for just that reason, and it has helped us to stay relaxed and organized. MDE keeps our confirmation number for our reservation, as well as our plans for any given day of our vacation, in one central place and easily accessible.
I also recommend arranging to fly into Orlando International Airport (MCO) and staying on property. For one, you can take advantage of the Magical Express bus if you fly into MCO on participating airlines. This will save you the cost (and hassle) of trying to arrange transportation from the airport to your room. We didn’t want to fiddle with arranging the 40-minute ride to our resort, and we wanted things to be as seamless for us as possible. The Express takes care of both of those for our trip, and all we have to do is sit back and ride on a very comfortable coach bus.
Secondly, Disney’s value resorts are great because they offer plenty of room for two in each room. We don’t need much space, so two double beds and a few amenities are plenty for us. In addition, my daughter and I will be staying on property, which allows us to take advantage of some perks. We will have easy access to buses that run to and from the parks and Disney Springs, and we can be in the parks for early/late magic hours. All we have to do is enjoy and have fun!
Plan to Play and to TALK.
As I mentioned before, our 16 year-old is our youngest of three. I’ve learned (from raising her older sister and brother) that many teens will open up their heart when they feel loved, comfortable, and when they are having fun. This kind of one-on-one trip can be about building a greater bond in a fun place. I want to keep my heart attentive to opportunities to talk with her. Our pace will be leisurely, so we can shop together for ourselves and for family members. We’ll make decisions together about what each person may like to receive. Talking about the fun we are having as we enjoy our meals will be a big part of my strategy as well. I also plan to involve her in taking photos in the parks, and we will get to buddy-up as we stroll around Disney Springs. A Disney trip like this one can be a long-term investment in your mother-daughter relationship.
With a little advanced preparation, a Disney trip for a mom/daughter duo can be both magical and meaningful for years to come. We are looking forward to enjoying the fruits of our planning labors, and I hope that you will have a fun and successful adventure as you plan yours!