Guest Blogger Chris Gardiner: My Perspective on the Disney Teens and Tweens Podcast Follow Up

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Hi all! I was thrilled to be asked to write a guest blog article for the Dole Whipped team and immediately started thinking of ideas for articles that I could write that would add something different. I love listening to these ladies each week on their podcast and last week after listening to the podcast on Disney with Teens and Tweens it hit me that I should write a follow-up article based on my experience. For a quick background on me: I am a single father that has grown up loving all things Disney. I was lucky enough to visit Disney World many times growing up and then stepped it up a level when I got accepted into the Disney College Program during my junior year at UMASS Amherst. Since then I visit Disney World as often as I can and I am a proud annual passholder. This past summer I expanded my Disney Destinations and went on my first Disney Cruise. For all of you who have cruised Disney before you will understand when I say “I am now hooked on DCL”!

Planning:  I have always tried to tell the boys as far in advance as i can when we are going on our trips to Disney.  I have always secretly dreamed of planning it where I wake them up and say “we’re going to Disney today!” –  but then I realized that by telling them prior I have some good leverage in making sure people are well-behaved for the upcoming months.  But seriously, I find that planning with teens can be a great part of the experience.  Using Disney’s websites, planning sites and You Tube videos of what the rides look like can be a great way to plan for the trip.  I tell the boys to pick 2 or 3 attractions that they absolutely want to go on and we will make sure we definitely do those.  The other great thing about the planning process is to talk to teens about managing expectations – the fact that there will be lines and we all will have to be patient. As well, we want to make sure that we all are going to cooperate so that everyone gets to do the things they want to do.

Dining:  Dining with teenage boys at Disney is a much different experience then when I IMG_0019have gone to Disney when the boys were little or have gone with other adults.  Most of our dining typically tends to be counter-service dining as my boys have pretty much unlimited energy and want to be on the go all the time.  When we have done sit-down dining we have done more of the ‘entertainment based’ sit down restaurants (i.e. 50’s Prime Time or Sci Fi Drive, Be Our Guest, ESPN Sports Club at the Boardwalk, Rainforest Cafe, etc.).  But honestly “fine dining” restaurants tend to be left off the list on my trips with the boys.  Snacks are also a big part of our dining experience – so I always like to try to encourage them to try some snacks other than just popcorn and soda.

Non-theme park activities: While most teens think mostly about the thrill rides at the Disney parks, there is really so much more to do at the Walt Disney World Resort.  Whenever planning my trips I try to build in at least one ‘non-park’ day to take advantage of the other amenities at WDW.  These can include Disney Quest and the Downtown Disney area, the water parks (Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach), the miniature golf courses or even just the resort amenities like the pool and arcades.  Renting the ‘water sprite’ boats is another great thing for teens and tweens – I mean who wouldn’t want to drive their own mini speed boat!!

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I agree with the ladies of Dole Whipped that Disney is such a great place to bring your teens and tweens because just like it is an escape from the day-to-day pressures and reality of being an adult. It is also just as much as an escape for teens and tweens as well!  Also, based on your level of comfort, Disney is also a great place to give your teens and tweens a little more independence.  Sometimes I will let the boys go off and do a couple of things in the park and then we all meet back for lunch.  Little things like this can allow your teen to have some independence, give you a little breather and then meet back and continue your great vacation!

What do you look forward to most when traveling to Disney with your teens or tweens? What advice do you have for other families embarking on a Disney trip with teens or tweens?

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