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Opening Magic Kingdom

Sunday, January 19, 2014

How Much Independence For The Boy On Our Next Disney Vacation?

How much independence for this kid on our Disney vacation?

One of the questions running through my mind as we anticipate our next Disney vacation is how much independence will we allow/desire/create for our eleven year old boy.  He has grown up enjoying Disney vacations—11 trips to Walt Disney World and 5 Disney cruises—and with each trip has earned and demonstrated more independence.

Our most recent cruise, we gave him check-in/out privileges for the kids clubs on board.  This was the first time he had had those privileges.  We had thought about it the cruise prior, but changed our minds at the last minute, since it was our first time sailing on the Dream and we were concerned he wasn’t familiar with the ship.  That was no longer a reason or excuse when we gave him that privilege as we were again sailing on the Dream.

He handed the privilege well, “mostly” returning to a designated meeting spot at a designated time.  Click here to read more.

This photo we had no idea about until we got our pictures.
On the ship, he ventured off to the AquaDuck—which required changing into his swimsuit, navigated getting his picture taken by a ship’s photographer, and even took in a movie on his own.  He is quite independent!  We had a communication system in the stateroom so that he knew where we were and vice versa.

He explored portions of Castaway Cay that were near the beach on his own. 

Our thinking, right now, is that he will again have the same privilege on the next cruise, as this time he will be able to select between going to the Oceaneer’s Club and Edge—for kids 11 to 14.  He is excited to be able to do both.  And, once he is 12, the decision about onboard privileges, other than charging, is no longer ours.

Now, what about while we are at Walt Disney World?  How independent will he be?  I can say over the last couple of trips, he had ridden rides by himself, including navigating the queue.  During our last trip, we got in line to meet characters at the Circus tent, and he went to ride the Barnstormer.  We knew the time for the stand-by line, so we could estimate how long it would be before he returned.  Also, when we neared the front of the line for the characters, I was prepared to have the people behind us move ahead while we waited for his return.  The boy returned and we met characters and posed for photos. 

Since we were staying at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, spending the evening at The Dig site provided something for everyone in our family all in one location and with visual access to all.  The husband and I could be in the hot tub and still keep and eye/ear for the boy if he was in the pool, on the playground, or watching a movie poolside.  Our next vacation is booked for Port Orleans French Quarter, that has all of the amenities—pool, playground, hot tub, evening movies at the resort, but they are all spread out and have either buildings or foliage in between, negating visual access.  Though, the last time we stayed there, the evening movies were being shown in the courtyard just outside our 3rd floor room. 

I mentioned to the boy yesterday, that he may be the one to refill our mugs—something I would only consider while staying at Port Orleans French Quarter—as the food court is not far from any of the resort buildings.  The boy seemed interested to take on this job, typically held by his dad.  And, with MagicBands being used as room keys, I know he will keep it with him at all times—on his wrist!

When making decisions about his independence, we have taken cues from him, too.  Is he comfortable?  (It was his idea to go ride the Barnstormer while we waited.)  Is he confident in what he is doing?  And, are the husband and I okay with the level of independence?  All of those factors go into making the decisions, many of which have to be made on the spot and in the moment; no anticipating every situation.  It does help to be somewhat mentally prepared to make those decisions though.

I am sure we will have stories about this on-going tug and pull when we return.  There always are!

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