Stuart S. (NDD#47) (44 Posts)

Stuart is the DDL resident Geek Dad and claims New York as his birthplace. Currently, though, he resides in New Jersey and is a husband and father of two as well as a huge Disney World, Springsteen, Yankee, and NY Ranger fan. He wakes up and goes to sleep thinking about Disney World. He listens to Disney podcasts to and from work and at night before sleep. He drives his family nuts talking about Disney and is always planning their next Disney World trip. In addition, he is known to always volunteer to help extended family and friends plan their next trip. Stuart's personal blog is He can also be found on twitter by following @disneygeekdad.

With the summer rapidly approaching and my next Walt Disney World vacation getting closer and closer it has become a hot topic of conversation around my household. One of our discussions revolved around our two children, in particular our 17 year old son. My son told me and my wife he doesn’t want to spend the entire vacation with us and his sister. He wants to wander the World on his own.

What! A teenager who doesn’t want to spend his entire vacation with his family? Shocking isn’t it? I’m actually surprised it took him as long as it did to say something to us. My wife and I talked about letting our son go off on his own at Disney World long before he ever brought the subject up to us. My wife is okay with letting our son venture to a different park than the one we plan to visit but, as an admittedly over protective father I’m not so sure I like that idea. I don’t want to be on vacation worrying about where he is, what he’s doing, and if he’s okay. However, my wife made a few good points the first being that Walt Disney World is a very safe place, secondly he’s already driving a car without adult supervision, and finally we can keep in touch with our cell phones.

My wife and I do concur that if our daughter wants to accompany our son touring the parks then they would have to remain in the same park we’re in and agree to stay together on all the rides and attractions. Our reasoning for this is if they were to go to Blizzard Beach for example there are quite a few rides my fearless son will want to go on while my ever cautious daughter won’t. Being in the same park should the inevitable occur when my son wants to ride an attraction while my daughter does not, will allow us to quickly meet up with them.

For all my son’s talk what I can foresee occurring is that he will opt to stay with the family most of the time just to aggravate us (only kidding) and occasionally he and my daughter will go off together to ride an attraction by themselves. Both my kids love Space Mountain and that will definitely be one of the attractions the two of them go off on their own to ride. Just an aside, it’s been quite some time since I’ve been on Space Mountain. I haven’t been able to ride it since I heard about the steel beam structure that exists above the cars on part of the ride. As a matter of fact, the last time we were at Disney World I saw Space Mountain with the lights on from the TTA. All I could think about was that I would be the one person who would be lifted out of their seat and decapitated by the steel beams. I can see the headline now, “Decapitated Disney Fan’s Head Replaces Madame Leota In the Haunted Mansion.”

Anyway, I would love to know what you would do if you were on a Disney World vacation with a teen and tween and your teenager wanted to see the World on their own. How much freedom would you allow the teen and why?

For those of you with young children I hate to tell you this but, this is a subject you will soon be contemplating yourself because time does go by very fast. It seems like yesterday that my kids were barely out of diapers screaming to meat the characters yet, here they are older and ready to ditch their mom and dad for their own For those of you with young children I hate to tell you this but, this is a subject you will soon be contemplating yourself because time does go by very fast. It seems like yesterday that my kids were barely out of diapers screaming to meat the characters yet, here they are older and ready to ditch their mom and dad for their own Disney World adventure.

Contributed by: Stuart S. (NDD #47).  Stuart is our resident Disney geek and creator of Disney Geek Dad.


  1. Stuart, we actually have already been down this road, and I agree that the first time is a little scary for parents. In our case, our DD is an only, so in some cases that made it more worrisome because I knew she would be on her own. Probably the first time we really dealt with this was when she was your son's age. The discussion came up about her wanting to stay at one of the parks later than we did. Ultimately we said yes, because as you pointed out, it was Disney, the busses are awesome, and she had a cell phone. I mean she was a senior in high school at this point, preparing to go off to college in a few months….and I was going to quibble about a couple of hours on her own at Disney World? 😉 In any event, I think in hindsight, the smartest thing parents can do if they have teens is to anticipate this situation before you even get to Disney….and have the discussion before hand. Know what, as a parent, you will and won't allow, and be clear to your teen.

    And yes, for those of you with little ones, you too will travel down this road before you know it! Just a new set of challenges. 🙂

  2. Last year in March, we let our teen daughters (15 and 14) go with my sister (who was 20). They could sleep in a little longer, do what they wanted and we would meet up for meals, I printed business cards with our ADR times and places and gave them one each day so they would know where to be.
    The first few days, they would start the day with us and then go off on their own. the last few days, they would sleep in and meet us later in the day. They could also get more shopping time in. My son who was 6 at the time also could spend more time with mom looking around and riding some attractions a second or third time to really catch all the details he might have missed the first time without the teenagers rushing him!
    Because of my daughter's frequent trips, when she went with her high school band last June, she was able to lead her group and navigate transportation to and from the hotels and parks better than some of the adults, I was proud of that! Disney really does make it safe and easy.
    We are going back in September and I will let my daughters (16 and 15 then) have time away from us confident that they can navigate through the parks by themselves but always meet up for meals and at the end of the day.

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