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Disney World vacations are special. But a mother-daughter trip is magical. When it’s just the two of you, the trip planning is totally different…in a good way. But there are definitely things to keep in mind. Here are SheBuysTravel’s top tips for planning your next Walt Disney World vacation for the girls!
A mother-daughter Disney World trip could just possibly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I’m blessed to have done this trip twice. The first time was with my youngest daughter who was a teenager. The second time was with my eldest daughter who was freshly graduated from college. Here are some travel tips to help you plan a fabulous and fun Disney World girls’ trip adventure!
A Mother-Daughter Trip to WDW: a Different Kind of Disney Visit
I have discovered that visiting Walt Disney World resort with just one of my kiddos is a different experience than making the trip with the whole crew as a family vacation. It is quite a joy to be able to buddy up with one of my girls, whether she is the vibrant teenager or the young adult. There is a just a special type of excitement and bonding that takes place on a one-on-one visit.
A Couple of Different Approaches
My 16 year-old wanted to see Disney World like her mother: eat, walk and ride the People Mover. She and I both did not desire to ride thrill rides, but we both enjoyed taking in the sights and spending money! Additionally low key activities such as horse riding or carriage rides were just her speed.
On the flip side, my eldest daughter was freshly graduated from college when we paired up for this trip. She was there for all the things that we could do together, from walking around and taking photos, to riding rides that she knew that I felt comfortable on, such as Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios. She also enjoyed resort hopping, park hopping to the different theme parks and trying new dining options.
Our goals include having big fun and making memories! How do we get that done? By allowing room for our visits to Walt Disney parks to take on different forms, and by keeping a few helpful strategies in mind.
Plan Early and Be Excited
My best tip? Convey excitement! A daughter needs to know that you ANTICIPATE having a great time with her. My daughters each know that I enjoy spending time with them, and they also are quite aware that Disney is one of their mother’s favorite places on the planet. Needless to say, it was a double win to have the opportunity to make a trip to WDW with each of them, and I made sure that they felt that! I purchased a couple of inexpensive bracelets for each of us from Etsy, so that we would have a keepsake to designate our upcoming trips. I also purchase MagicBands in advance and put something on the inside of each to designate this special girl’s trip.
Stay in the Moment
Incidentally, sometimes I can lose sight of all the joy of planning the trip because I am so focused on the actual time that we will get to spend in the Magic Kingdom and the other parks. In order to stay in the planning moments and actually enjoy the process, we learned to talk about our travel plans to Florida often. My daughter and I chatted about the trip while running errands around town, and we celebrated the steps leading up to our special Disney vacation. Being excited about MagicBands arriving at your door and Mickey mail landing in your mailbox all the way from Orlando is a great way to keep the anticipation building!
For a limited time you can purchase 4-Day/4-Park tickets that allow you to visit each theme park once at an amazing price.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Disney no longer offers complimentary MagicBands for your trip. However, you can still purchase them at a special reduced rate. Just make sure to order them soon after you book your vacation to assure that the bands will arrive before you leave for WDW!
You Have Control of Your Schedule
We had just two people to consider for each mother-daughter trip, so it was a bit easier to plan the itineraries. While we were a little (a lot) past considering Disney princess encounters, visits to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or character dining, we DID need to figure out things like what theme parks we wanted to visit and when, where we wanted to eat, where we planned to stay and any extra experiences that we wanted to have.
How To Plan Your Days at Walt Disney World
Everyone visits Disney in a different way, so my best suggestion is to talk about what THIS girl’s trip looks like for each of you. What experiences would be most satisfying? What times – early morning or a later start – would work best? For my teen, we needed to ease into the day and our activities. For the older daughter, we wanted to hit the ground running!
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With just the two of us, we could build our itinerary around our favorites. I suggest keeping in mind something that one of you really wants to do. For example, my eldest daughter loves going to Epcot, but because the other three Disney parks usually win out in our family, Epcot is usually the odd one out. So, guess what went on the schedule for her for this trip? You guessed it: a full day at Epcot!
For my teenager, planning a special time at Fort Wilderness resort to ride a horse was relaxing for both of us. In fact, she ended up being the only one scheduled for that afternoon time slot. Both the guides rode the trail with her and she felt a bit like a VIP. I got to rest and she got to ride – big win for both of us!
Be Flexible and Make Room For the Unexpected
And that brings me to another suggestion: give room and space. It is super fun experiencing a mother-daughter trip to Disney – sharing a room, eating together, spending a lot of time together. But it is also a LOT of time together, especially with just the two of you. I found that both my teen and my young adult daughters each benefitted from some small break times built in. We didn’t need to have conversation or fill in the time. We just had the permission to be quiet, read a book, take a walk or whatever relaxed the soul. Then we were ready to gear up and go again!
In addition, it is best to resist the urge to overload the schedule. Keep extra time in your plans to do unexpected activities on the spur of the moment. Resort hopping to Disney’s Grand Floridian resort, a special lunch in one of the parks, grabbing a beignet at Port Orleans or perhaps squeezing in a massage is easier to do when the schedule is more open and unplanned.
Pack Lightly for Your Mother-Daughter Trip
I am a minimalist at heart, especially when it comes to packing a suitcase. I love the challenge of carrying only what I think I will really use or need. When traveling as a duo, there are a couple of advantages to traveling light. Firstly, since it’s just the two of you, one carry-on suitcase per person is a practical way to make sure that each of us is not overloaded with luggage.
SheBuysTravel Tip: If you are anticipating a lot of shopping, plan to check one lightly packed bag for the two of you. The extra cost is minimal and it could be a lifesaver for all the extras you pick up!
Secondly, we realize that we are packing for a fun trip together and not for a fashion show. While we will bring clothes that look cute and are functional, we don’t really care too much if we wear something twice during our adventure. There are thousands of people vacationing there. No one will care that you wore an article of clothing more than once in those photos at Cinderella castle! Pack for your own ease and comfort.
Use Tools That Will Make Your Planning Easier
When I am the “adult in charge” of trip planning, it is so helpful to be able to house all of my important trip details in one place. We used Disney’s My Disney Experience app for just that reason, and it has helped us to stay relaxed and organized. MDE keeps our confirmation number for our reservation, as well as our plans for any given day of our vacation, in one central place and easily accessible.
A Room for Two
With just two to consider, be open to different places to stay on property. We usually have to accommodate 5 adults when we vacation as a family, and the rooms on property that can house that many of us are limited. However, for a mother-daughter trip, there are quite a few more options for just the two of you!
Disney’s value resorts (which are very close to Disney’s Animal Kingdom) are ideal because they offer plenty of room for two in each room. My teenager and I didn’t need much space, so two double beds and a few amenities were plenty for us. My older daughter and I were able to find a room at the Contemporary that was a great price point and perfect for us. We also enjoyed being close to the monorail as our primary transportation. Just do a little bit of research as to what resort/resorts will work for you.
Also, staying on property allowed us to take advantage of some perks. We had easy access to buses that run to and from the parks and Disney Springs. We were also able to be in the parks for early/late magic hours.
Plan to Play and to TALK
I’ve learned that many teens AND young adults will open up their heart when they feel loved and comfortable. They are much more likely to chat when they are having fun. This kind of one-on-one trip can definitely be about building a greater bond in a fun place. With each daughter, I endeavored to keep my heart attentive to opportunities for heart-to-heart conversations.
A big part of my strategy was to talk with each daughter while sharing our meals. I also involved each of them in taking photos in the parks – selfies and our favorite rides or special decorations. And there is nothing like both of you smiling big when Mickey or Minnie suddenly appears! A Disney trip like this one can be a big long-term investment in your mother-daughter relationship.
With a little advanced preparation, a Disney trip for a mom/daughter duo can be both magical and meaningful for years to come. We most definitely enjoyed the fruits of our planning labors. I hope that you will have a fun and successful adventure as you plan yours!
Christine Tibbetts says
You’ll inspire mom and daughter duos to leave the others home!
Denedriane (Dee) Dean, Serendipity SheBuysTravel says
Thanks Christine! Now that we are back I can say that it was definitely worth it to do so 🙂