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What trips/honeymoon ideas for a couple with cognitive challenges


Ottakee
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My DD and her boyfriend would like to get married next year. Both have cognitive impairments. Neither drive.

 

We are looking at various options for honeymoons for them. Transportation and navigating places like airports, hotel registration, etc are challenges.

 

We have been looking at cruises where either DH and I or his parents would fly the SE flights and take the same cruise. That way though could have a lot of freedom but still have someone to help navigate everything.

 

Another idea is flying into an area that is very walkable so they could take a shuttle from the airport to hotel and then just walk or possibly use taxi/public transportation.

 

Any great ideas for us? Having to have someone else going along will basically double the price most likely.

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Obviously an inclusive resort would be another option.

 

I haven't done a cruise, but I assume it's similar to large resorts where you can reserve some things - like particular restaurants or experiences - in advance. You could do some prep work with them and make a schedule or put reminders on their phones for things like that.

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Congratulations to your daughter!  I agree that Disney would be ideal, if they like that sort of things.  Universal Studios too, and it's less expensive.  I also think that a self contained resort could be fun.

 

What do they like to do?  What's the budget?

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Disney is a good option, esp if they could go low season and stay on site. Maybe with a dining plan??? Do they have ones that are mostly/all quick service and/or buffet so they wouldn't have to worry about reservation times, etc.

 

Budget isn't very high as both on on disability so this will be parent funded for the most part. They were thinking a cruise to Germany (not in the budget)

 

We want safe and memorable but easy for them to do.

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Disney is a good option, esp if they could go low season and stay on site. Maybe with a dining plan??? Do they have ones that are mostly/all quick service and/or buffet so they wouldn't have to worry about reservation times, etc.

 

Budget isn't very high as both on on disability so this will be parent funded for the most part. They were thinking a cruise to Germany (not in the budget)

 

We want safe and memorable but easy for them to do.

 

Yes, there's a dining plan that's all quick service, and there are lots of quick service options.  You could send them at a low crowd time so they wouldn't be as dependent on Fastpass, and load some money and a dining plan on their wristbands, so that they wouldn't need to handle cash at all, and there really was nothing to lose since their wristbands would hold money, tickets, room key etc . . . 

 

Isn't there a boardie who is a Disney travel agent?  I don't think travel agent services cost anything, because Disney gives them a cut somehow.  Maybe reach out to her?

 

A smaller amusement park might be nice too.  Do they like chocolate?  They could stay at the hotel at Hershey park.

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If they specifically like Germany, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg has German themed events certain times of the year.  It might seem more mature than Disney.

 

https://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-williamsburg/attractions/events/bierfest?from=BGWhome

 

I hear Christmastime is wonderful there too.

 

I have no idea about dining plans, etc . . . 

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Would Epcot appeal to them, to add some international flair?

 

Amy

They would likely like that and Animal Kingdom.

 

Did audited a German class in highschool and learned a bit of German so she loves anything to do with Germany.

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If they like water slides, maybe a Great Wolf lodge hotel near an attraction? There is one near Disney.

 

https://www.greatwolf.com/southern-california

 

There is also a big hotel in Nashville that holds a lot of conventions that is supposedly a fun hotel with a lot to do at the hotel and near many attractions. ETA: This is the hotel:

 

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bnago-gaylord-opryland-resort-and-convention-center/?scid=bb1a189a-fec3-4d19-a255-54ba596febe2

Edited by ElizabethB
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That's funny because I would think Disney could potentially be a difficult trip to manage. On a cruise, there's limited options and everything is right there. With a resort where you're at the beach, it's also the case that all the restaurants and entertainment are limited and immediately available. With WDW, there's buses to manage getting from the resort to the parks, the Fast Pass schedule, the dining reservations schedule, trying to fit everything in... We've done WDW once and are about to do it again for the second and final time and I find it manageable, but I don't know what it would be like with cognitive challenges. With planning and a schedule it could be fine - most of the "work" of the trip is on the front end and you could help with that. But it can also be stressful trying to figure everything out there. I mean, it's easy to get lost in the parks if you don't have a good sense of direction. I guess on the flip side, everyone is so darned nice and helpful and not judgmental in the least that it could be a bonus.

 

I think a Disney Cruise might be ideal though.

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We went to the Poconos in Pennsylvania for our honeymoon and we loved it.  It used to be Caesar's resorts but now called the cove haven resorts.  They are all inclusive and have lots of activities.  Of course, we went 19 years ago so don't know fully what it is like under new management and current condition.  

 

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Another idea: find what they would really like and love to do and reach out to churches, volunteer groups, etc in the area and see if a group or church would be willing to adopt them for their honeymoon. Someone could meet them at the airport, help them get settled then have a different person to help them each day.

 

There is a lot of fun stuff to do in the Colorado Springs area, the Air Force Academy might provide cadet volunteers to help if you reach out to them. there are also a lot of Christian groups is the area that might want to help out, like Focus on the Family, I know it is a big area for Christian organizations.

Edited by ElizabethB
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Thanks for the tips and ideas.

 

If they did Disney they would not do the fast pass (and I realize that means missing out on big things) and no dinner reservations. They are much more the quick/counter service type.

 

Reaching out to others might work as well.

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I think a cruise is perfect. You could go and make your presence scarce but step in if needed.

 

I teach young people, mostly 14 – 19 year old girls with profiles similar to Ottakee’s daughters, and I think that for most of my students, Disney would be a better choice than a cruise.  I think this for several reasons.

 

When I think about my students interacting with the public, I expect that there will be mistakes.  Making mistakes is a major characteristic of cognitive and intellectual disabilities.  So, I have to ask “what happens if they make a mistake?† When I think of mistakes, I imagine sleeping through something.  Let’s imagine that you’ve planned a shore expedition with a cruise.  You sleep through the departure time.  Two things happen.  One is that your parents show up and “rescue†you.  Which is no one’s ideal on a honeymoon.  The other is that you miss the opportunity, and forfeit the money.  Neither is great.  Now, let’s imagine that you’ve planned to get up for rope drop at Magic Kingdom, or to make it Epcot in time for the parade.  You’re late.  What happens?  Well, you miss a small part of the experience, but you still get to go to MK or Epcot, and have a fun day or evening.  Similarly, getting lost has bigger consequences on a cruise.  You can get left behind at a port, and then you’re in trouble.  On the other hand, if you get on the wrong hotel at Disney, you’ll end up somewhere with smiling people to help you sort it out. 

 

Another thing to think about is what kind of skills and resources do you need to access food, and entertainment.  On the cruise I went on, which was lots of fun, almost everything either had a scheduled start time, or a cost.  Dinner was lots of fun, but you could miss it if you didn’t show up on time.  Shows, line dancing, excursions, etc . . . all required the skill of reading a complicated schedule and a map to get there. In addition, some of the most fun things on a cruise – the excursions, the gambling, and the spa, cost a fortune.    That sounds like a challenge for Ottakee’s daughter and future SIL.  On the other hand at Disney, things run pretty continuously.  So, chances are if they see something and think “that looks like fun†they could do it simply by getting in line.  They don’t have to make an appointment or find out when it’s next scheduled, or remember how to get back to it.  They can simply see something, and get in line. 

 

Finally, and it may depend on the cruise company, but I think my students would enjoy the activity choices at Disney more.  For many of my students, familiarity is like a touch stone.  I think of them as a little like travelers in a foreign land.  So much is confusing or unfamiliar.  So, seeing something they know and feel comfortable with can be like seeing an old friend or eating a familiar food when far from home.  Disney has lots of familiar content, which can provide a scaffold to help them enjoy the new parts too.

 

Now, of course, Ottakee’s daughter is an individual, as is her future SIL, and there might be other factors.  They might dislike heat or walking or crowds, or they might be introverted and want to spend the whole cruise in their bedroom with room service, or they might enjoy the company of their parents and like the idea of taking excursions together.  Any of that would change my opinion, but I wouldn’t assume that a cruise is easier than Disney.

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That's funny because I would think Disney could potentially be a difficult trip to manage. On a cruise, there's limited options and everything is right there. With a resort where you're at the beach, it's also the case that all the restaurants and entertainment are limited and immediately available. With WDW, there's buses to manage getting from the resort to the parks, the Fast Pass schedule, the dining reservations schedule, trying to fit everything in... We've done WDW once and are about to do it again for the second and final time and I find it manageable, but I don't know what it would be like with cognitive challenges. With planning and a schedule it could be fine - most of the "work" of the trip is on the front end and you could help with that. But it can also be stressful trying to figure everything out there. I mean, it's easy to get lost in the parks if you don't have a good sense of direction. I guess on the flip side, everyone is so darned nice and helpful and not judgmental in the least that it could be a bonus.

 

I think a Disney Cruise might be ideal though.

We do Disney very relaxed. We make a few dining reservations (no more than one per day) while we are still at home and when we there we just relax and do whatever is reasonable at the moment. Not having a full schedule means we aren't rushed through anything. It's a wonderful way to do Disney.

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Have any of you been on a cruise before?  There are many things about a cruise that I would find attractive in this situation. They could have as much privacy as wanted on the ship.  Arrangements for food would be simplified.  Depending on the time of year this will be, you can get some very good deals on cruises that could make it an economic option.  My biggest concern would be if they get off of the ship in a foreign country for a tour and then get separated from the group.  I may carefully consider the cruise stops if this is a concern.  It can be fun for some people to take a cruise and never get off of the ship at a port of call.  There are some cruises that leave from New York and go to Bermuda and dock for several days; so the ship is your "hotel" in Bermuda, but you are limited in the number of different places you are getting on and off of the ship.  

 

Or, I might consider a resort area during an off-season period when it isn't as crowded.  Renting a couple of condos in a beach area when it isn't summer or in a ski area when it is not winter would reduce costs and be less overwhelming.  I would check and see where I could get to easily without having to change flights and check for some smaller towns--something like Durango CO, the Maine coastline, Taos NM, Monterey California, etc.  Would it work for the honeymoon couple to stay in a quaint B-and-B or a special historic hotel and the parents to stay in a less expensive hotel nearby to be of assistance, but give the couple a sense of privacy and specialness?  

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We 'do' Disney similar to TechWife.  We don't try to fastpass and plan to the minute.  We just enjoy our time, enjoy the atmosphere, if we see something as we are walking around we stop and get in line.  Now mind you, we have always lived in state or a state away so its not a once in a lifetime trip.   I would think for this couple, this would likely be the best option for them too.  If they decide on Magic Kingdom, when they get there is ok, when they see something they think they would enjoy, get in line.  A set schedule would be too much.  If they get turned around, one of the thousands of cast members will help them out.  

 

Since I'm local currently, I would even offer being on call if an emergency came up. Hopefully other locals would offer the same.  

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You could see how much magic the Disney cruise people can make happen. They might be able to reduce some of the factors Daria is mentioning. I've looked into cruises a lot (it's another dream of mine) and Disney is the ONLY cruise line I'd be willing to take two disabled people on at the same time. They were so good to us on land that I'm guessing they're equally as helpful on the water.

 

You know, wouldn't be as fun fun, but Disney operates a resort at Vero Beach. I don't remember if the Magical Express goes there. I don't think it does. So that's a knock, because you'd need to arrange transportation. But really, just being on the beach together could be really nice. :)

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River Cruises may be another option.

 

http://americancruiselines.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=us%20cruises&gclid=COTSt_3a-NUCFcaCfgodgWwJfQ

 

I have not been able to see any pricing on their website. I am interested in this for myself as well. :)

I think you have to ask for a brochure - or get on their mailing list before they divulge pricing.

Edited by Liz CA
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The pace on the river cruises would be right, but I think they're in the $5-6K range. My mother wanted to do one. But certainly look into it. I just think it would be fun to be at Disney with the ears. :)  Also, on a cruise, would they be put in social situations they don't like? Like if they have to share tables, are they cool with that? I think there's a social expectation to cruising, whereas some places, like Disney, you can just go in and go out, and the only people you're interacting with are trained cast members.

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Follow on to my previous reply where I mentioned possibly a Cruise. Possibly a Disney Cruise. Normally I would think it unusual for a couple on their Honeymoon to be accompanied. These are special people and may need that. There are as I tap this reply 4 Cruise Ships at sea that cannot return to Galveston. One of them is now going to Miami. One went to New Orleans for fuel and water and supplies. If they were able to get into Galveston they would be stranded there. Obviously that is highly unusual however sometimes things go awry and people must be flexible and unexpectedly change their plans and schedule with little notice for things beyond their Control. Having other people with them in that type type of scenario would be great. Highly unusual but things can happen that require sudden changes to plans.

 

Sent from my SM-G355M using Tapatalk

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Here's another example of why I believe them being accompanied might be critical. In 1991 I was on a flight from Houston to Caracas. There was supposed to be a stop on Aruba. The weather in Aruba was bad when we were nearby and we went non-stop to Caracas with the passengers heading to Aruba. I suspect some of them were concerned about going to Caracas but that was beyond their control.

 

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Yes, the sudden flight delays, change in plans for a cruise, etc are reasons why someone going along would be best.

 

We would fly along (but sit far away on the plane), stay in the hotel (but again far away or maybe a nearby one), maybe go in to Disney (or maybe not) but still be around to help but give them as much freedom and privacy as they can handle.

 

The river cruises sound beautiful but I think the social expectations of those are higher than what a Disney cruise or basic cruise would be.

 

An all inclusive might work but most of those are not in the states and for medical reasons staying in the US or US Virgin Islands would be best.

 

I can see Disney with a hotel, tickets, and dining plan as being close to an all inclusive for them. Just wish it wasn't so expensive.

 

Another option might be Mackinaw City/Island in Michigan as dd has been there many times and it is rather controlled.

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What about a big metro area like Minneapolis. You could go with and stay at the same hotel, but then help send them via Uber to different places. Mall of America, MN Zoo, landscape arboretum, art museum. They could set up an Uber back to the hotel or call you to do it.

The hotel near MOA has a water park too.

Edited by LifeLovePassion
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Ottakee:  Those All Inclusive places might be wonderful or horrible.  Always look on TripAdvisor, for Reviews and Ratings of Properties. In Mexico, it is  possible that the young woman who died was drinking adulterated alcohol.  I think I read after that they now believe 30% of the Alcohol sold in Mexico is adulterated? I doubt, very very much, Mexico is the only place where that happens. I would think it would be common in All Inclusive resorts.  Another thing with an All Inclusive place is that if you leave to go Sightseeing, you lose the Meals and Drinks you have paid for and those are not refundable.       

 

I think on a Disney Cruise, among the different Cruise lines, they would probably be the happiest, if they decide on a Cruise.

 

Going to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando is wonderful, we'd go back to Universal Orlando in a minute, if finances permitted, but it is not only expensive, it is exhausting. 

 

Many times, when one comes back from a vacation, they need to rest to get over it.

 

They could go to Puerto RIco, there are many wonderful things to see there, but the Spanish language (or the "Spanglish" that I speak) might throw them off.

 

Look into the different options available to them. Each option will have Pros and Cons.  Go for the one they have the most interest in.

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What do they like to do? Would a cabin in the mountains be fun for them? Some have hot tubs, pool tables, etc, plus most of those tourist areas have things like gem mining, etc. 

 

Or a resort with a nice pool area, etc might be enough, depending on how long the trip will be? 

 

Branson, Missouri is another idea if they'd enjoy shows and such. I've never been, but my understanding is it was a more PG version of Vegas?

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I get the idea of doing Disney without the things arranged ahead of time - that's how I grew up doing it. But I still think it would be a lot to manage in terms of just finding your way around - both the resorts, the parks, and the resorts to the parks. And figuring out the different eating options. If you did the meal plan, you'd almost have to do dining reservations because so many places get booked up, even off season - and I think most of the "full" meal plans involve a sit down meal every day. And if they didn't do the meal plan, that would mean they had to figure out food. I could totally be wrong... I just keep thinking how even the "just show up" model of doing Disney involves a lot of mental work - things that aren't taxing for me as someone who isn't cognitively impaired, but which might be overwhelming and fun-killing for someone who is.

 

But... I don't have a child or close relative who is cognitively impaired, so I could be wrong. It probably also depends a lot on what the impairments are and what will be hard for the couple to figure out.

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Branson, Missouri is another idea if they'd enjoy shows and such. I've never been, but my understanding is it was a more PG version of Vegas?

I just had to laugh as we are heading to Branson MO in 3 weeks to visit places my girls' birth parents lived and visit the cemetery.  Once we go we can see if that is something she would like to repeat. 

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I get the idea of doing Disney without the things arranged ahead of time - that's how I grew up doing it. But I still think it would be a lot to manage in terms of just finding your way around - both the resorts, the parks, and the resorts to the parks. And figuring out the different eating options. If you did the meal plan, you'd almost have to do dining reservations because so many places get booked up, even off season - and I think most of the "full" meal plans involve a sit down meal every day. And if they didn't do the meal plan, that would mean they had to figure out food. I could totally be wrong... I just keep thinking how even the "just show up" model of doing Disney involves a lot of mental work - things that aren't taxing for me as someone who isn't cognitively impaired, but which might be overwhelming and fun-killing for someone who is.

 

But... I don't have a child or close relative who is cognitively impaired, so I could be wrong. It probably also depends a lot on what the impairments are and what will be hard for the couple to figure out.

 

I think you're imagining navigating differently from how most of my students would navigate.

 

Most of my students would do Disney in what I'd call an opportunistic manner.  They'd never be lost, except for maybe when they're going back to the hotel, because they'd never have a destination pre selected.  Instead it would be a matter of wandering around, seeing an opportunity, and jumping on it.  

 

So a typical day might involve waking up, showering, getting dressed and walking to a bus stop.  The first bus says "Animal Kingdom", but I did that yesterday so I keep waiting.  The next bus says "Epcot".  Oooh, I've always wanted to go there, so I get on.  I get off at Epcot.  I go through the gate and wander around.  Look, there's a line of people, so I ask "What are you waiting for".  They're going to see a 3D show about bugs.  That sounds like fun.  So, I get in line. Now, I'm hungry.  I walk around until I see someone with popcorn.  I like popcorn so I hold out my pass and ask "Can I use this?"  Eventually, I get tired, so I go to someone wearing a Disney name badge (which my mom trained me to recognize), I show them the card that my mom attached to my pin trading lanyard with my hotel and room number, and I ask them "How do I get here?"  The person gives me long directions, and I remember just the first step.  I follow it, and end up a little closer.  Then I find another cast member, and ask again.  After 5 or 6 people, I'm at the bus stop.  I get on the bus and ask the driver "Are you going here?" and show them my card.  

 

It's not how I'd tour.  I'd use fast pass, and check touring plan calendars to choose my park.  When I got in the park, I'd be thinking "Dumbo's here, I want to ride that" and I'd be asking directions or looking at a map.  But it's not a better or worse way to do it.  I think my students would have a ton of fun, although they wouldn't see as much as I'd probably see in the same time period.

 

There is a meal plan at Disney that's all "Quick Service" which is their term for fast food.  Disney fast food is pretty varied, so it's actually a pretty good way to do it.  

 

Again, my students are individuals.  Ottakee's daughter and future SIL would, of course, bring their own personality and skills, and might do things differently. 

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Yes, the sudden flight delays, change in plans for a cruise, etc are reasons why someone going along would be best.

 

We would fly along (but sit far away on the plane), stay in the hotel (but again far away or maybe a nearby one), maybe go in to Disney (or maybe not) but still be around to help but give them as much freedom and privacy as they can handle.

 

The river cruises sound beautiful but I think the social expectations of those are higher than what a Disney cruise or basic cruise would be.

 

An all inclusive might work but most of those are not in the states and for medical reasons staying in the US or US Virgin Islands would be best.

 

I can see Disney with a hotel, tickets, and dining plan as being close to an all inclusive for them. Just wish it wasn't so expensive.

 

Another option might be Mackinaw City/Island in Michigan as dd has been there many times and it is rather controlled.

 

I was wondering as I was thinking about this if picking a spot / area would be a good option. Book a hotel / B & B near some attractions they would enjoy. You could be reachable by phone / text even if you are not right there. There would be deli counters / lunch / dinner restaurants available at their leisure.

 

If they did miss a bus/train/any other transportation connection would they be able to ask for help? Or would they become so anxious and upset that they may get disoriented?

 

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My daughter and her boyfriend would be more like Daria's students.  They might have one or more things in mind to see/do at the park but otherwise just take opportunities as they arose.  They would not be freaked out by not finding something as my daughter would ask for directions and is pretty good with following signs and basic maps.  Then again, like you mentioned, there are tons of employees to ask.

 

They would be TOTALLY fine with just counter service and snacks.  I could see them stopping at 11am and getting a counter service meal for her and sharing that.  Then wandering a bit and about 1pm stopping at another place and getting a counter service meal for him and sharing that, etc.

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I was wondering as I was thinking about this if picking a spot / area would be a good option. Book a hotel / B & B near some attractions they would enjoy. You could be reachable by phone / text even if you are not right there. There would be deli counters / lunch / dinner restaurants available at their leisure.

 

If they did miss a bus/train/any other transportation connection would they be able to ask for help? Or would they become so anxious and upset that they may get disoriented?

 

In a smaller local like Mackinaw City/Island they would be fine.  There are ferries that depart every 15-30 minutes most of the time so no big deal if you miss one.  Both places are fully walkable and you can rent bikes on the island or hire a horse carriage/taxi.  The city is small with not a ton of options but it is walkable.  Something like that would be good for a 3 day trip or so.  Likely not for a week.

 

This is all just thinking as we need to get through some legal/financial/disability hurdles first before they can get married as well as figure out finances.

 

The ideas and tips though are really great.

 

Here in our local tourist town I go downtown to meet up with friends and listen to free Christian concerts at the waterfront each Sunday evening.  I give my kids parameters of where they may go alone, where they can go in a group, and then let them go fro 3-4 hours at a time.  It is great practice for them and I am close if they need something but yet not with them.

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Williamsburg might be another fun option, if they want something a little more grown up.  When you mentioned exploring a town that was just one street, that's pretty much what the historic area is like. If they're conflicted about wanting "fun" or "maturity" they could do a couple nights of Colonial Williamsburg and a night or two of Great Wolf Lodge.

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They would be TOTALLY fine with just counter service and snacks.   

 

 

And of course the price is much more reasonable! They also don't NEED to do a dining plan. If you have to pay for it, as opposed to going during a free dining promotion, I would not get it. It is not likely to save you money, and paying via cash or credit card is no more complicated than figuring out which places accept the dining plan and so on. If they do get a dining plan, yes, all counter service is an option for sure. 

 

On a cruise, I'd probably worry a little more about them getting taken advantage of monetarily or personally. There are so many people, and plenty of them are drinking hard. I know someone will be with them, but I'm thinking of things that could happen fairly fast. I know that Disney isn't so magical that something bad could not happen there, but I think the chances are much less. We've been a dozen times over the last decade, and the worst thing I've heard of is theft (and not very much of that). My senior and college kid are NT, but honestly that could also stand for "Naive, Totally." I would much prefer them to wander around Disney as opposed to a cruise ship. They know the dangers in a factual manner, but in person I think they are too trusting. If this couple is a bit more street-wise, then it might be different. 

 

If you could get them a direct flight to Orlando, might it be possible for them to go it alone? That would make it more affordable, and it would just be get on flight, get off flight and onto Disney Express Shuttle (which will also get all of their luggage to the hotel). I know you could still have delays and such, but you could be at the airport until lift-off and they could text or video chat if anything came up. If they are confident enough to ask "where is the Disney Express?" when they land, I really think that might work (going on the information I have). 

 

Chicago is an extremely walkable city that also has good public transportation. You could possibly figure out the directions and trains ahead of time, and they could stay further out of the city to save money. They also have a fair number of free activities. The drawback would be that some planning would have to be involved, because you aren't going to just stumble across most of the cool things in the city. 

 

You're a cool mom to help them plan this! 

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