5 Ways Your Disney Trip Changes with Older Kids

As a family, we are well traveled. Let me rephrase that. We are well traveled between Houston and Orlando! This year will mark our 11th pilgrimage to the “motherland” … our paradise known as Disney World.

My son took his first trip to Walt Disney World when he was 6 weeks old. Looking back, I realize how insane that was. I admit, the entire trip was a complete blur to me. And although I don’t necessarily recommend that you take kids quite that young to “The Happiest Place on Earth,” I do think it’s got a piece of magic for everyone.

Now that I have a tween {daughter, 12} and a teen {son, 13}, we approach the trip a little differently.

Here’s 5 ways your Disney trip changes with older kids…

1.} It’s all about the food.

We definitely still love a good character meal, but with more mature mouths comes the chance to eat better food. I’m a firm believer in the meal plan {and we usually travel when Disney offers free dining}. We have studied all the table service menus over the years, and we know how to get the best bang for our buck. Mickey doesn’t make an appearance signing autographs? That’s okay! We’ll catch him later! Older kids can appreciate a good steak, and that is glorious for mom and dad! {PS – Try the grey stuff; it’s delicious!}

2.} Ride photos are amazing.

Older kids are fun. I’m the mom who LOVED having littles, but other than the occasional eye-roll,  tweens and teens are pretty cool too! One place that really shows is in the ride photos. We’ve learned to ride the attraction once for a realistic shot. We learn where the camera is … then we ride it again for whatever kind of funny photo we want to keep! We always make a plan, and it’s usually good for a quality family laugh! {Don’t forget your Memory Maker so the photo downloads straight to your Magic Band.}

5 Ways Your Disney Trip Changes with Older Kids | Houston Moms Blog

3.} No more early bedtimes.

Gone are the days of big breakfasts and rope drop moments. Our family doesn’t feel guilty about sleeping in a bit and staying late for the extra magic hours that often go to midnight or later. It’s a great time to hit those rides that have extraordinarily long lines during the day. Many things are walk-on, and the cast members are a little looser which makes for some super silly moments!

4.} Your back won’t get broken.

“You are 12 and 13, my dear children. If you insist on hauling in 900 pounds of gear into the park each day, you are going to be your own pack mule. Put it in your own backpack, snowflake.” Not having to haul a stroller, or a diaper bag, or a backpack that contains anything other than what I want to bring in, is life changing. Those of you reading this with early elementary aged children, hang in there. Your day is coming soon!

5.} Making a plan is easier.

We plan our days ahead of time for our Disney World trips. Most of our trips are at least 10 days, so it’s not like we are in a rush to do everything over a weekend. Having older kids and especially kids that have been multiple times allows us to involve them in the process of deciding what and when we want to do activities. Of course, each has their favorite things and favorite parks. So, they get to have a hand in planning what we do and when and how often. Apps on their phones can tell us ride wait times, and they can even download menus for quick service restaurants while we stand in lines. It’s so awesome for my husband and I not to have to get bogged down in the details. And, being involved in the planning of the trip helps get the kids excited!

I really do love my older kids, and traveling with them — although different — is SO much fun. I like to think of it as a reward for getting them through the early childhood years unscathed and alive! To be honest, I’m looking forward to this trip to Disney World with them as much as I did the trips when they were 4 and 5 years old. It’s a really cool time to be their mom!

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Stephanie loves life and living it to the fullest. She always has something new going on, and it is probably the most random thing you’ve ever imagined! A native of Beaver Dam, KY, Stephanie stays busy with her family. She is wife to her hilarious husband Don and is the mother of two tweens – drummer son Avery and dancer daughter Piper. As a family, they enjoy anything fun-in-the-sun and annual trips to Disney World. She lives the good life in the suburbs of Houston and works full-time in the travel industry. A complete social media fanatic, Stephanie is always up on the latest technology. She is a living “Six Degrees of Separation” and seems to have some sort of obscure tie to most anyone you might ask about! Stephanie has been blogging since 2004 at StephanieClick.com. You can also find her @stephanieclick on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.


  1. I’m obsessed with Disney world and fantasize about the day that I can take my kids! We currently have the big trip planned for my oldest 5th birthday which is in 4 years, hahaha. But reading this made me even more excited about going again when the kids are older! Loved this article!


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