Need advice for taking a teen to WDW

I’d like to get some advice about taking my 17-year-old nephew to Disney with us.

First, some background. I have a 20-year-old son with autism. Disney is his favorite place in all the world, and he has been wanting to take his cousin for a couple years. We generally RD everyday, and depending on the heat/crowds, he is usually done around 2pm each day. If the weather is good, (no rain or storms), he will sometimes return to a park in the evening. His favorite thing is meeting characters. He will ride most things except- TOT and HM (scary) or things that will get you wet like POC, Splash.

My DS really wants to share his favorite things with his cousin. We have been to Disney 10 times in the past 4 years. Other than my DH, no one has been with us the entire week, but we’ve had other family members come for 3-4 days of our trip. We have AP this year, so it seems like it is a good time to go. We have to go in July since my nephew cannot miss school and school breaks are too crowded for my DS.

We’ll be going the 2nd week in July. We have been in July and August once before so I have plans to deal with the heat (misting fans, AC breaks, cooling towels,etc). My niece (age 21) is paying for her ticket and my nephew’s ticket (her brother). They have a 6-day ticket, no park hopper. It will just be the 4 of us- me, DS, DN21, and DN17. I am paying for everything else- transportation, lodging, food, etc.

My nephew is a typical moody, somewhat self-centered & irresponsible, 17-year-old. He has lost or broken 3 smartphones in 3 years. He does not seem to have a good understanding that money is a finite resource. And he is severely lacking in the “showing gratitude” department. For these reasons, he cannot be trusted to go off and do things on his own. He can be great with my DS for short periods of time. Dn17 is a theater student and I think he will be happy to play along meeting characters. We are staying offsite so that we will have 3 bedrooms/3bathrooms to give everyone their own space when we return to the resort for a break. The resort has 3 pools, game room, basketball, etc, but guests under 18 must be accompanied by an adult over 21. But the downside is no transportation to the parks, except for my car & I am the only driver.

So here is what I’m thinking for my strategies.

  1. We have a park plan everyday that includes RD, Fast Passes, lunch or brunch character meal, then a break at the resort. Luckily, everyone is ok with getting up early. Within the plan, there are times that my DN & DN can go and ride or do something my DS will not do. I will go over these plans with my nephew so he will know what to expect.

  2. I will encourage my nephew to bring his PlayStation in case he needs entertainment in his room at the resort.

  3. My niece has offered to stay at the resort with my DS if he is tired one or two of the nights so I can take DN back to the park and do things he wants to do as she does not like roller coasters.

  4. I have also offered to pay for Uber or Lyft to take them back to the park if my DS does not want to go, but my DN21 is from a rural area & is uncomfortable using those services (even though her brother will be there). Also neither of them have a credit card. I admit that I have never used the service. Do you have to have a credit card? Can you pay for a ride for someone else?

Any ideas or suggestions?

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I see no upside to this. I wouldn’t do it.


@loveswalle, it sounds like you have most things covered. I will day my son, that I love dearly, would lose his shoes on a regular basis, and still breaks phones. I loved going to Disney during those teen years when he barely looked at me, but Disney magic would transform him the moment we went under the Welcome sign.

You can order an Uber/Lyft for someone. They could add the app to their phone and link your credit card too. From MK you need to go to a MK area resort or the TTC. You can even add a tip.

Thanks @PrincipalTinker. I’m hoping the Disney magic will work on my nephew, too. Our resort is only 3 miles from Animal Kingdom. I told my niece they could use Disney transportation to get to/from Animal Kingdom and Uber from there to our resort as needed. I can even watch her travel using the Glympse app. It is good to know you can order for someone else.

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Because of health issues in my family, I am just afraid if we don’t do a trip now, when we can, it is possible the opportunity will be lost.

I actually think it is a great idea to take this trip!

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Is there any risk that your nephew could wake up and not want to go to the parks on any given day? That’s probably one unforeseen risk you might face as it could change all of your plans if you don’t feel comfortable leaving him alone at the resort while the rest of the you head to the parks. Moody and teenager seem to go hand-in-hand but, WDW can bring out a side of him you don’t even know is there! My kids biggest complaint when they were teenagers was having to get up early every day to make RD - they were great the first day but were tired and wanted to sleep in after that. Just some things to consider and maybe have a back up plan in place. Your son sounds so incredibly sweet, wanting to share something like this with his cousin. :purple_heart:


I totally agree with this statement. DD16 last year got extremely put out because I scheduled too many early morning ADRs. Mind you, we were on the deluxe dining plan with only a couple of signature restaurants because DH was concerned he would need to eat more meals than twice a day). By Thursday she was mopey, moody, and grumpy about it. She normally isn’t like this at all.


Thanks @SirGreggLadyV and @classykat22! I originally planned Wednesday as our sleep in, go to Disney Springs Day, then Epcot at night. Maybe I’ll consider that again. We are arriving on a Sunday. Our earliest day is Monday, HS opens at 7am. The rest of the week we are avoiding EMH, so I think 9am RD is the norm for the rest of the week. My nephew has always been an early bird. Getting up by 6:30 everyday.
I can’t imagine he wouldn’t want to go, but I can see him becoming more grumpy as the week goes on. Maybe a mid-week break would be excellent for all.

It is more likely my DS will not want to go one morning because of weather. He dislikes the rain and knows his character friends cannot come out in the thunderstorms. Our last trip had torrential rain most of the day our 4th day. We got to ride Navi & FOP and by 10am the weather was awful, but we were all so tired after 4 days of RD that it worked out well to have that whole day to rest. We just adjusted our plans and went back to AK another day. Luckily we have dealt with unexpected delays or ride closures, and pop up weather in the past, and we have learned that being there a week allows you to modify plans as necessary and having the DAS pass helps tremendously. I may need to be prepared to add a park hopper to their tickets.


I am a huge proponent of breaks mid-week! Our best day last year was spent doing very laid back things. We went to AKL to visit the animals; went to BB for about three hours; then went to Raglan Road after a break at the resort. I definitely need to remember to have one day like that at Christmas.


I think it will be a great trip, as long as you are willing to be flexible with your niece and nephew, which it sounds like you are on that track. Your son will have some great memories of getting to do really fun things with his family. Your reality may be of a little more stress and frustrations over planning and accommodating people, but even so you will also make some treasured memories along the way, imho.

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When we took my reluctant 17 yr. old with his 6 and 8 year old siblings we all had fun and made great memories. We never made him do anything he didn’t want to, and always told him he could go back to the hotel at any time to get some r&r. Of the 5 days, he went back early one time on his own, and it was because he didn’t want to see the fireworks show. It will be a great trip for you guys!

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