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7 Tips for Taking Your Teen to Disney That Will Clinch Your Status as the “Fun Mom”

Thanks to the Disneyland Resort for providing me admission to the park for free. Babble is owned by The Walt Disney Company. All opinions are my own.

Teen in front of Cinderella's Castle Disneyland
Image source: Lori Garcia

You have a teen. A bored teen. A been-there-done-that-I’m-not-impressed-by-much teen. Maybe it’s time for a vacation. Maybe it’s time for fun. Or maybe it’s time for some much-needed, long overdue magic.

I get it. As the mom of a 14-year-old son, coming up with new and fresh ways to connect and have fun with my teen isn’t always easy. When he’s not on his phone, he’s sleeping. When he’s not sleeping, he’s eating. And when he’s not eating, it’s only because “there’s nothing good to eat.”

So how could I wow him off of his phone and from lounging on the couch and into an experience that was sure to last a lifetime? Through Disney, of course.

Surprisingly enough, a Disney park admission ticket is all you need to unleash the wonder and glory of togetherness with your teen. But, there’s much more to planning the perfect trip to Disneyland Resort. When it comes to maximizing the magic and optimizing the amazing, these tips do the teen trick!

1. Make food a primary attraction.

Teen eating Disney California Adventure Spider Bite donut
Image source: Lori Garcia

The way to every teen’s heart is through their stomach. It might feel like there isn’t enough food in the world to feed a growing teen, but one visit to Disney Parks and you’ll think otherwise.

Our first order of business as part of Disney’s California Adventure’s Summer of Heroes celebration (going on now through September 10, 2017) was a Spider Bite doughnut at Schmoozies. Not only was this cinnamon spice doughnut beautiful to look at, it was delicious and enormous and my son ate two. TWO.

Teen eating Groot bread DCA
Image source: Lori Garcia

As a sucker for food, but especially themed-food, sourdough Groot Bread was all my Guardians of the Galaxy/carb-obsessed kid could hope for and more. Groot was almost too adorable to eat! (I said almost.)

Teen eating turkey leg DCA
Image source: Lori Garcia

While I was eager to explore the park, my teen decided to eat his way around it first. I realized then that food was every bit as much of an attraction as the rides themselves.

“I’ve got to work out all my senses here, Mom” he told me. “And right now, I’m working on taste.” And taste he did, with a turkey leg the size of his head. Where does all that food go? I honestly don’t know. And what’s a trip to the parks without a classic turkey leg? Luckily we won’t have to know.

Teen drinking cherry necroblaster DCA
Image source: Lori Garcia

Summer of Heroes had amazing hero-inspired food and drink for superheroes and their super fans with super appetites. My young hero cooled off with a Cherry Necroblaster while plotting his next edible invasion.

Teen eating Dole Whip float Disneyland
Image source: Lori Garcia

There were about four more meals in between the Cherry Necroblaster and this Dole Whip float located inside Disneyland Resort, but you can trust me when I tell you, of all the memories we made, delicious eats were among the most satisfying for my teen.

2. Seek big thrills!

Teen in front of Guardians of the Galaxy -- Mission: Breakout!
Image source: Lori Garcia

Raising a teenager is an adventure in large part because of all the thrills they seek!

My son couldn’t wait to help Rocket rescue his pals in Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! As our family’s resident scaredy-cat, I wasn’t sure I couldn’t handle such tall thrills, but he charmed me onto the ride and shockingly, it was amazing!

I earned total cool mom points for braving the experience and when he suggested we go again, I raced him to the line.

Teen looking up at Guardians of the Galaxy -- Mission: Breakout!
Image source: Lori Garcia

Next stop: California Screamin’, followed by Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland — all before sundown. Talk about a jam-packed day of adventuring.

3. Allow them to explore on their own.

Teen walking DCA Summer of Heroes
Image source: Lori Garcia

I was loving every minute of togetherness with my teen, but there came a point when I had to let go a little.

My teen wanted to explore every nook and cranny of the Summer of Heroes celebration and I, well, I wanted to rest. My son checked out the cool merch, ate “The Most Dangerous Tacos in the Galaxy” (of course), and discovered Iron Man was his superhero personality. Not bad for a little alone time.

4. Be their personal social media photographer.

Mom photographing teen son Disneyland
Image source: Lori Garcia

What do you do at “The Happiest Place on Earth?” Share your experiences, of course! My son had a lot to share on Snapchat …

Mom snapchatting teen son DCA
Image source: Lori Garcia

… Instagram …

Mom instagramming teen son DCA
Image source: Lori Garcia

… and Snapchat some more. Once I eased up on the “no phone” rule at Disney Parks and got in on the action as his personal photographer/videographer, we had a great time strategizing his social! #SummerOfHeroes #HeroUp

5. Get their groove on!

Teen dancing Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Dance Off
Image source: Lori Garcia

Music is an absolute must for my teen. He took in some “sick beats” (his words, not mine) at the Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Dance Off. He shook his groove thing, I recorded it, and we laughed all day long watching his sweet moves over and over again.

6. Bring home a nostalgic souvenir.

Teen boy holding Buzz Lightyear figure Disneyland
Image source: Lori Garcia

When my son was a little one, he was the worst eater. There was a time when he existed solely on oxygen.

One day, I put on Toy Story and he just sat there mesmerized with his mouth wide open. Why won’t he open his mouth up like that for me? I thought.

Then, I had a brilliant idea: I’d spoon some yogurt into that little mouth. And guess what? It worked! He ate, and ate, and ate, and ate whenever Toy Story was playing. To say that movie fed his spirit, curiosity, and belly might not be an exaggeration!

Buzz Lightyear was always his favorite character, so we were sure to pick up the awesome Space Ranger as a nod to his youth and how far he’s come. “It makes a good Snapchat prop, too!” he assured me.

7. Stay late!

Main Street Electrical Parade
Image source: Lori Garcia

I like being in bed by 9PM, but like most teens, nighttime is the right time for my son. As the sun and the temps went down, Disneyland lit up in big and amazing ways.

We took in the Main Street Electrical Parade (going on now until August 20, 2017) followed by the “Remember … Dreams Come True” Fireworks Spectacular. Insert all the heart-eye emoji!

It was all, “Mom, look at this!” and “Mom, did you see that?” And for a moment there, he was my little boy again with eyes lit and a mouth wide open. And it was … magic.

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