When my daughter Lauren was five, my husband and I took her to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Seeing her face light up as we entered Magic Kingdom and experiencing the thrill of meeting her favourite Disney characters were the most memorable moments. It seemed at the time, a vacation specially made for children.
Fast forward ten years and my daughter just turned 15. We celebrated by taking a mother/daughter trip back to Orlando. Yes, the weather was beautiful, but even better; we discovered a whole world of places and activities that a mom and teenager could enjoy together.
Here is where we went in one week and some tips for travelling with your teen:
Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Kennedy Space Center, and the fireworks at Magic Kingdom (This is all we could fit into our one week vacation - there's so much more to do!).
TEENS CAN DO IT ALL
They’ve got stamina and can be out all day, everyday and still have the energy for an evening out
You can enjoy all the adult attractions with your teenager
You can skip the long ride lines by using the “Single Rider Line” because your teen doesn’t have to sit with you
THEME PARKS EXPOSE YOUR TEEN TO CAREER IDEAS
Take time to discuss what went into creating these theme parks and the different jobs it takes to keep them running smoothly. From the engineer and scientist to the artist, actor and animal lover, there are unlimited opportunities for your teenager to be inspired
Register your teen (and perhaps you too) for a Behind the Scenes and/or Training Day offered at many of the theme parks.
Some of the programs currently available are:
Trainer for a Day Program (ages 13+ without an accompanying adult)
Marine Mammal Keeper Experience (ages 13+)
Tours and Special Experiences (ages 13+)
Kennedy Space Center
Astronaut Training Experience (ages 14+)
NO CAR, NO PROBLEM!
Stay at a “Disney Good Neighbor” hotel where free shuttles to Disney are available
Your teen may want to visit all the parks - choose a hotel or resort that offers complimentary shuttles (some charge a nominal fee) to all the theme parks
Taking a day trip outside of Orlando is simple, as there are many tour companies that offer package tours
MONEY AND TIME SAVING TIPS
Travel off season when prices are down and crowds are minimal.
If your teenager attends a semestered school, exams usually fall at the end of January, the slowest time in Orlando. Based on your teen’s exam schedule, you may be able to fit in a trip to Orlando before Semester Two begins
Choose an accommodation that features a partial kitchen so you can eat breakfast and pack a lunch before you start your day.
Plan your trip ahead of time and check out the various park ticket packages available on line or at the gate if preferred
To avoid long lines at the theme parks, take advantage of the FastPass program at the Disney Parks, purchase an ExpressPlus Pass at Univeral Studios and a Quick Queue Pass at SeaWorld.
Don’t let a rainy day slow you down. Kennedy Space Center and Epcot have lots of indoor attractions
SPECIAL MOMENTS WITH YOUR TEENAGER
Take a break from roller coasters and crowds by spending a day at Discovery Cove. Hint: book in advance.
If your teenager grew up with Harry Potter, then a must see is the new, “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” attraction at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Try the “Butter Beer” and don’t miss the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride.
If you took your teenager to Disney World when he/she was a child, revisiting Magic Kingdom can be very nostalgic and it lets your teen be a kid for just a little bit longer.
At the entrance to Magic Kingdom there is a sign that says, “Let the Memories Begin”.
A trip to Orlando with your teenager is a place, “Where Memories Will Continue to Be Made”.
So, if you’re looking for a place to go with your teenager(s) that will entertain and teach them something along the way, I would highly recommend a visit to Orlando, Florida.