When You Wish Upon A Star: Dreams Really Do Come True at Disney World®

Tips & tricks from a tween mom; plus, a chance to win a trip to Walt Disney World from Macaroni KID!

By Brigette Schroeder - Publisher/Editor - Macaroni KID Yorkville - Geneva - St. Charles July 20, 2023

I’m a dream big kind of person and I dreamed really big on this one and went for it. 

A little backstory, if I may. We fostered our girls for 5 ½ years and then adopted them in February of 2020. We were really hoping and praying to take a trip to Walt Disney World® Resort in the fall of 2020 to celebrate. As you can probably guess by now, we had the adoption in February and then 2 weeks later a big party and then 2 weeks later the world literally shut down. 

Time went on and life eventually got back to normal, but time is now in shorter supply since the girls have become tweens and in more and more extra activities and the dream of a Walt Disney World Theme Park trip began fading. 

The author was hosted by Walt Disney World Resort to facilitate writing this article. All thoughts and opinions expressed are her own.

Fast forward to May of this year and I’m driving my youngest to gymnastics and she made the comment, “I just want to go to Disney World while London & I are still young enough to think it’s really magical.” The mom-guilt stopped me in my tracks. I made the promise right then and there that we would figure out a way to make it happen. I didn’t know how or when, but it had to happen … while they were still young to truly feel the magic and awe. 

A week or so later, Macaroni KID announced the possibility of a chance to attend a hosted trip to Walt Disney World Resort. I applied, wished on a star, and the rest is history (and magical memories now).

One of my biggest challenges; however, was planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort that my now tween daughters would really enjoy. Both of our girls have grown out of their Disney princess dresses, but still walk that fine line of wanting to be a princess and being too cool to be a princess, which in my opinion will never happen no matter how old you are, but I digress. So, I went to work researching how to plan a trip to Walt Disney World that will be everything my tween princesses could hope for and more. Walt Disney World Resort’s website has so many amazing resources and ideas and made planning our trip a breeze. 

The Walt Disney World Resort website has everything you need to plan the trip of your family’s dream from a complete listing of resorts and all they have to offer, to dining options at your resort and in the parks, to fun things to do during your downtime or when you just want to have some family fun outside of the parks. 

Once I had a rough itinerary set, the resort booked, the flights bought, and the Park Hopper tickets loaded into our My Disney Experience app, I was able to move on to those extra fun things Walt Disney World Theme Parks have to offer for tweens and their families in particular. I sent the girls links to the website - specifically the things the site says are meant for tweens - and had them make a wish list of their own. And boy did they find some fun stuff to do and experience. Things I didn’t even know you could do at Walt Disney World Resort, and I’ve been there two times myself. (Tween Mom Tip: Have your kids watch YouTube videos of the rides to get an idea of which ones they would really like to try and focus on those rides first.) 

When we all had our individual lists, we had a family meeting and made a master family wish list. Below are just a few of the amazing things we found to do and decided to put on our list for our trip. Another great part of having the girls help plan our extra things to do is that they are fully invested and even more excited for our trip than ever before.

The Schroeder Family Walt Disney World Resort Wish List:

Did we get to all of them in our six days and five nights? No. Will we now have a list that we can revisit on our next visits to Walt Disney World Resort? Absolutely yes! 

Read on to find out more about how we made our trip to Walt Disney World Resort with our tween daughters still magical & all the fun we all had with Mickey, Minnie, & all of their cool friends.  

So, you may ask, can Walt Disney World Resort really still be fun with and for tweens? We found out the answer was, YES! In some respects, it was even more fun. When you don't have to worry about carrying a diaper bag or pushing a stroller or planning around nap times, the parents can have a lot more fun, too. 

Here is a list of my top Walt Disney World Resort tips and tricks for a trip with tweens that worked really well for our family.

  • Stay in a Disney Resort Hotel - stay on property (mainly for the easy transportation options that offer quicker access back and forth from resort to parks) and offers downtime activities that older children will enjoy and plenty of food options. For us, the Disney Boardwalk Inn was perfect! Lots of fun things to do (like 3 pools, an arcade, boardwalk games and shows at night, movies under the stars, s’mores every night, a variety of places to eat, and convenient bus and boat transportation).

  • Plan downtime! Tweens that are over-tired and/or overheated are not easy to deal with. Either find a restaurant that you can sit down and eat at for lunch or plan on going back to the resort for some swimming, relaxing, or enjoying some of the other resort amenities. We even made time for a fun boat and Disney Skyliner trip around a few resorts and theme parks with a stop for drinks and treats in between.

  • If you don’t have a family that are earlier risers, don’t push it and force them to do it every day. We found that the days we slept in a little or took our time getting going, everyone was much happier and lasted a lot longer. Getting the Park Hopper Plus tickets and purchasing Disney Genie+ service allowed us to book Lightning Lane entrances and made it so much easier to plan our day, no matter what time we went. There are also so many fun things that happen in the afternoon and evening at Walt Disney World Theme Parks and we highly enjoyed the parks during those times. We also found that a lot of families with little ones tend to take a break in the early afternoon, leaving the crowd levels lower and ride and attraction lines shorter. 
  • Character Greetings. No one is too old to get a hug from Mickey or talk to Elsa and Anna about sisterhood. Your kids will thank you later for making them meet their childhood heroes. 

  • Eat all the treats and food you want to - calorie counting and diets can wait. There are so many amazing things to try at Walt Disney World Resort. Also buy the refillable popcorn bucket! You can pay just a fraction of the price to have it refilled at any popcorn stand in the parks. Makes a great and affordable treat or snack in between meals, plus a cool souvenir to take home!

  • Take the boat or bus to Disney Springs one day and get lunch or dinner, visit the huge Disney World Store there for souvenirs, and just enjoy shopping and people watching. We had some of the best BBQ and Boba Tea we’ve all ever had during our afternoon at Disney Springs.

  • If you don’t get the dining reservations you were hoping for, keep checking as the day and time gets closer. You will find that the closer it gets to the time you wanted, cancellations will happen and time slots will open up. I was able to keep checking via the app and actually found a restaurant to eat at by just walking up and getting a table right away.
  • Do the Tomorrowland® Transit Authority PeopleMover ride with the whole family closer to sunset. You get to see a lot of the Magic Kingdom® Park from above with the lights on - it’s really cool!

  • Schedule a Dessert Party for a fireworks show. It’s so fun and makes the fireworks seem somehow even more magical. Seeing our girls’ faces in front of Cinderella Castle while eating sweets with the fireworks lighting up the sky is where we truly saw the magic and awe we were hoping and dreaming of all along.

  • Hopefully you’ll never need it, but know that every Walt Disney World Theme Park has a first-aid station and they can even get you more medical attention, if needed. Yes, we learned this hard the way in Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, but that’s a whole other story. Just know that it’s there if you need it. They’ll have you back enjoying your trip in no time at all.
  • No matter what happens or doesn’t happen … just remember to have fun!

So, how can you plan your family Walt Disney World Resort vacation with tweens as well? Simply use my tips and tricks and of course the website, the My Disney Experience app, and the resources I’ve already provided and then get your family involved in the planning, too. 

Once you’re there, tell Mickey and Minnie “Hi” from the Schroeder family and we’ll see them again soon, we hope. 

But wait ... there's more! You can enter below to win a trip for 4 to Walt Disney World Resort for your family, too, from Macaroni KID!!!

Macaroni KID wants you to enjoy a thrilling Walt Disney World Resort vacation—enter for your chance to win! 

To enter, click HERE or on the image below.