Last week I visited Disney World with my 14-year-old daughter, my sister, and her 13-year-old daughter. We had a wonderful time. While it’s taken me 22 years or so to get to the point where I would choose to spend a week of vacation with my sister rather than my husband, it was well worth the wait. We all came home with both memories and bonds we will cherish for the rest of our lives.
Most people think of smaller children when considering a trip to Disney, and my husband and I were no exception when we planned our first pilgrimage to the Magic Kingdom eight years ago. It was a wonderful trip focused entirely on my daughter, chock full of breakfasts with princesses, and dinners with Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood.
At the time, we thought we were making our one and only trip to Disney World, but my daughter started wanting to return a couple of years ago. As she turned 14 and entered the teen zone, the trip seemed like a great idea.
Disney’s four parks have a lot to offer teens, starting with the rollercoasters. My daughter loved them when she was six-years-old as well, but Space Mountain, the Rock and Roller Coaster, and Animal Kingdom’s Everest are very fast with lots of twists, and not for the faint of heart.
After a couple of rides I could have easily done without, but the girls were so happy to ride with us that I swallowed my hesitation and fastened whatever belts were provided. The snapshots they show you as you exit the ride tell the whole story: the girls have their arms in the air and big smiles on their faces (my sister did too!) and I’m sitting very rigid with my eyes closed, gripping the safety bar.
We made plans to visit all four of the parks at Disney World – the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, in that order. I think we expected to enjoy them in that order as well, so we were surprised that all four of us liked Hollywood Studios the best.
It has the very cool Rock and Roller Coaster, which the girls loved, but it also has some great shows including American Idol where tourists can see amateurs perform and vote for the best ones. The set looks and feels like the one on TV. The performers were pretty good, three judges on stage gave their opinions (including a British guy who was as harsh as Simon), and the audience voted. We had a great time.
Our other favorite park was Animal Kingdom. Again, the girls loved the roller coaster — which went higher than the others, and featured a few seconds in reverse, as well — but we all liked the Safari trip into the “wilds of Africa” where we saw lions, elephants, tigers, okapi, lots of other great animals, and the Birds of Prey show with a bald eagle, owls, and other neat birds.
We spent five days at Disney World, and while we were exhausted, we did not see it all. It’s amazing how much is there and how entertaining it all is. While my sister and I expected the girls to have fun, I’m not sure we anticipated how much they would love it, nor how much we would enjoy it ourselves.
The best part? For the time that we were there, they enjoyed enjoying it with us. If you’re a mother of a teenage girl, you know that’s something that becomes rarer by the day.