There are advantages and disadvantages to taking a Disney vacation with kids of various ages. When kids are very young, they may tire easily or they may not deal well with the heat and over-stimulation that sometimes comes with a trip to Disney World. When they become teens, they may not appreciate the magic of Disney in the same way.
Some consider the “sweet spot” age for a Disney vacation to be kids who are in grade school. When kids grow beyond diapers and strollers but are still young enough to still enjoy the magic and wonderment of Disney World, it might just be the perfect time to start planning a vacation.
Here are seven tips for planning your Disney vacation with grade school aged kids.
1 – Involve Them In Planning Your Schedule
Older kids, especially those who have been to Disney World in the past, probably have some clear ideas on what they like: which attractions are their favorites and which parks they enjoy the most. As you plan your schedule, talk with your kids about what they most want to do and see on the vacation. You might consider allowing them to select a few of their favorite activities that you will include in your “must do” plan.
2 – Involve Them In Planning Your Accommodations
Many kids who are of grade school age have favorite characters or themes. You can help them have even more fun by building on those themes. For example, if they are a pirate fan, consider booking a stay in a pirate-themed room at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. If they like the Cars characters or are a fan of The Little Mermaid, consider booking a room at Disney’s Art Of Animation Resort. And if they are into the future (at least a somewhat retro version of it), book your stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and enjoy the views as the monorails glide by.
3 – Involve Them In Planning Your Meals
Just as you can build parts of your vacation accommodations around you children’s interests, you can do the same when it comes to meals. While this may take a bit more prompting, you can talk with your kids about their favorite Disney experiences and how those might translate into dining experiences. Are they a little bit of country? Consider booking the Hoop-De-Doo Musical Review at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. Do they enjoy B-movies or nostalgia? Make plans to enjoy a meal at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
4 – Involve Them In Planning For Souvenirs
As kids get older, you have an opportunity to help them learn a bit about earning, spending, and making good choices with their money. You can read about some souvenir budgeting ideas here, but whatever your philosophy on souvenirs, you probably want to work out your family’s approach to souvenirs in advance. You will make your trip much less stressful by talking through money issues before you arrive at a “moment of truth” in a Disney store with that irresistible trinket with reach.
5 – Involve Them In Planning For Disney Trading Pins
Many kids in grade school love collecting and trading Disney pins. It allows them to make purchases, get pins with images of their favorite characters and attractions, and interact with other Disney guests and Cast Members. However, collecting Disney trading pins can be expensive. Individual pins purchased on Disney property can cost upwards of $15 each. You can help jump start the process by purchasing pins on Ebay or Craig’s List. You can often get a full lot of pins at a good price. This can help you prime the collecting process in an inexpensive way. From there you can trade at the parks, and perhaps purchase a few extra pins during your vacation.
6 – Involve Them In Planning For Character Meetings
Many kids have favorite Disney characters. Meeting them in person can be a thrill. But meeting characters can take up a lot of time on a vacation. If you decide to get your one-on-one character time at a Disney character meal, it can become expensive. Spend some time discussing the top-priority characters and how you will plan to meet them. If you can afford it, a specially planned character meal or two can allow you to meet popular characters like Mickey Mouse or a Disney Princess without waiting in a long line.
7 – Plan Some Pool Time
Many kids enjoy spending time playing in the pool. Taking a break from the hot, mid-day Florida sun back at your resort’s pool can be a great way to cool off.
How do you involve your kids in planning your Disney vacation?