I'm totally branching out in 9 months and doing something I've never done before... I'm going to Walt Disney World with a group of teenagers! I've taken my 10 year old before, but I've never been responsible for teenagers at the World. This will be a totally new experience for me.
Over the next 9 months I have a bit of researching to do. I've decided to take my youth to Orlando in July of 2012 for our summer mission trip. I blogged about this idea before, but never thought it would actually come true. Then, this past summer 2 of my seniors said they wanted to go to WDW with the youth and maybe do it after a mission trip. I promise I didn't plant that seed! They came up with this on their own. But, since I had already dreamed it myself, I shared my dream and they were on board!
Next summer, we'll spend 4 days doing mission work and 2 days at the parks. The first day will be spent at Epcot primarily in the World Showcase. I'll share with them statistics on each country (poverty, homeless, infant mortality rates, average income, religions, etc), what mission agencies are already in place there, what the needs are and who some United Methodist Missionary contacts are in those countries- just in case they have a calling to go into full time, overseas mission work. It will be more of a missions/ educational experience. The rest of day 1 will be spent in Epcot and day 2 will be at the Magic Kingdom.
Carey Sutton from Sterling Travel (you should talk to her if you need an agent to help plan your next trip... and tell her you're coming from A Disney Mom's Thoughts!) is helping line up our hotel accommodations, group tickets and meal vouchers.
Right now, that's all I know about our trip. I have no idea how many we'll be taking or who my additional chaperones will be. I do have a bus driver to drive our church bus that will seat 40 people. While it would be great if we had that many going, I don't know if I could handle that many! :)
Here are a few things I've already thought about regarding traveling with teenagers to WDW:
1. Teenagers like to sleep. They always gripe at me when I tell them it's time to get up! So, on our first day at Epcot and the first day after spending 4 days on our mission trip, I'll give them the option of sleeping in and arriving at Epcot when World Showcase opens or arriving at rope drop to spend some time "playing" in Future World before the WS opens. I have a hunch they'll choose the second option since we'll have limited time at WDW.
2. Let them make some of their own choices. I'm already deciding which parks we'll be visiting and the type of tickets we'll purchase, but I'll allow them to choose where they want to eat their counter service meals and what they want to experience. Instead of trying to keep 30+ youth all together, I'll let them break into smaller groups to explore the park and we'll check in at certain times. (It sure makes it nice knowing all of the youth have cell phones, so we can communicate easily throughout the day!)
3. Insist that we all do something "childish" or "silly" as a group. Take a huge group picture with characters, play in the splash pads around the park, participate in the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party!, etc. On a trip to White Water Park in Atlanta last summer, I made all the youth meet me for the last hour of the day and I made them all go to the Wiggles Play Area as a group. They STILL talk about how fun that was and it was the best part of the day. When everyone is doing it together we all look silly and dorky, so nobody is singled out!
Do you have any suggestions for me regarding a group of teenagers at WDW together!?!? I'll need all the help, and prayers, I can get! :)