Family Travel with a Tween at Walt Disney World Resort: Create Special Memories at Senses – A Disney Spa
Like many parents, I have taken my children to the most magical place on earth since they were little kids. We’ve experienced so many “firsts” over the years, from a first meeting with a favorite princess to a first ride on a favorite attraction. Even more meaningful for our food allergy family, we’ve never forgotten our “first” ice cream cone, courtesy of the special care Walt Disney World Resort takes for its special diet and food allergy Guests.
Our most recent trip was certainly a big “first” for us: the first Walt Disney World Resort vacation with a verifiable teen, true-to-life tween and Jedi Princess. Planning took on a whole new meaning and very different approach. Our biggest challenge? How to make this trip as memorable as all the others when travelling with a teen, tween and almost-tween.
When the girls were younger, one of their favorite experiences at Walt Disney World Resort was to become a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Careful planning was taken as to what Disney Princess dress would be worn and what hair style would be chosen. Visits to the boutique were mommy and girls time, as my son and husband would go explore some other area of Magic Kingdom. I cannot even look at these pictures without being overcome with so many warm and fuzzy feelings.
But my girls are older now (11 and 9 years old), and as I planned this recent trip, the tween was fairly adamant in no uncertain terms that she did not want to become a princess. My heart sank for a minute, realizing we had passed the point of no return with this magical memory. But I still hoped to create an experience as magical as the first time their Fairy Godmothers-in-Training sprinkled pixie dust on them and asked them to make a wish.
Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
All was not lost however. I started looking around for something more in tune with what my tween would consider worthy of an Instagram post to her friends. The girls loved getting their nails painted at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique so I researched what services may be available at the spas around the resort.
There are two Senses – A Disney Spa at Walt Disney World Resort – one at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and the other at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. Reflecting the theming of each particular resort, these are full service spas and health clubs offering a wide range of services including facials, massages, body wraps, aromatherapy and nail services.
Spa Services for Guests Age 4-12 Years Old
Best thing about the services offered at Senses – A Disney Spa? Magical Manicures and Princess Pedicures! For anyone who has a tween, suggesting a visit to be pampered at a spa in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is right up there with suggesting a full day of shopping at Disney Springs.
For Guests ages 4 – 12, both spas offer Magical Manicures (25 minutes for $35) and Prince or Princess Pedicures (25 minutes for $50), or $85 for both services, about on par with the cost of a trip to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. A parent or guardian must be present during the services.
You have to call in advance to make a reservation and must cancel 24 hours in advance not to be charged for the services. But seriously, after doing this with the girls, absent an emergency I can’t see why anyone would ever want to cancel.
The Ultimate Spa Experience in a Luxurious Setting at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
We started our vacation with a visit to the spa, and were lucky enough to hit one of the last days of the Easter Egg exhibit at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The girls were mesmerized by the resort, to say the least. It is beautiful and we took a tour of the main building lobby and second floor before heading back outside and over to the spa.
The spa is located in a stand-alone building near the Disney Vacation Club villas. After we checked in at the front counter we were led back to the changing room and waiting area. Took a bit to find a robe small enough for the Jedi Princess, but one was located and the girls were enjoying their spa experience in no time.
Waiting area at Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Refreshments are available in the waiting area, much to the delight of the girls. Mickey pretzels with chocolate candies were a hit. I was even able to relax for a minute with a cup of tea.
After a short wait we were led into the spa/nail services room and trust me, if your daughter has not been to a spa before, like mine, this was quite the treat. The room itself is beautifully appointed – check out these chandeliers.
But the real showstopper was the massage chairs. Obviously someone was quite taken with the massage chair.
The Magical Manicure and Princess Pedicure
The girls were asked to pick out nail polish for their finger and toe nails, and were shown various specialty nail designs. The regular nail polishes that are included in the service are very nice, and obviously Disney-themed colors. Also available are a variety of nail designs at an extra cost, ranging from $1.50 -$2.50 a nail, depending on the complexity of the design. We opted to pay extra for a few specialty nail designs on select nails. With the polish and nail designs selected it was time to get pampered!
First up was the pedicure, which was not really any different than most pedicures I have had as an adult. For a tween and almost-tween this was quite the experience. Massage chair, feet in warm bubbly water, scrub massage and then very pretty painted toenails. Not much can beat that. Although truthfully, I could have left the almost-tween in her massage chair all day never doing anything else and she would have been incredibly happy.
Once the pedicures were finished the girls moved to have their finger nails painted. Trust me, we were close to having to forcefully move the Jedi Princess from her massage chair!
A Magical Surprise During the Spa Experience
While the girls were getting their pedicure, we had the best surprise. One of the Cast Members at the spa who we had spoken to earlier came in with a message from the big man himself – Mickey Mouse! She said Mickey had heard the girls were spending a special day at the spa so he wanted to send them something – a signed card of Mickey with Minnie and a tiara for both of the girls!
Ok, so let me just say this – the tween, yes the tween, who absolutely did not want to become a princess on this trip, was blown away. So blown away she put on the tiara and wore it the whole time we were there. So blown away she actually let me take a picture of her with the tiara on. So blown away she kept talking about it later that night. Who says there’s no magic once they reach tween and teen years? That tiara and signed card are currently sitting up in her bedroom as I type this.
The Jedi Princess and almost-tween was pretty impressed herself.
Not only was the spa experience one of a kind for the girls, but their nails looked incredible when we were done. The Jedi Princess opted for a Minnie Mouse design, and the tween chose a Mickey Head with gold fireworks.
All told the entire spa experience lasted about 2 hours. The prices for the manicures and pedicures were fairly reasonable I felt given the totality of the experience, and you can’t beat these nails, especially with the Disney-themed designs. I would pay close to that same price in our hometown of Louisville, KY but with less than half the magical memories.
A Day at the Spa – Perfect for the Tween Who Doesn’t Want to Be a Princess, But Wants to Be Treated Like a Princess
A visit to Senses – A Disney Spa at either location at the resort is a perfect splurge for any tween. Especially for families who have fond memories of princess days at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, it is a wonderful new experience for girls who no longer want to dress up as a princess, but still want to be treated like a princess.
My girls LOVED going to the spa and are already talking about visiting each time we take a trip to the happiest place on earth. I have one more year for my tween to still qualify for a Magical Manicure and Princess Pedicure so it’s likely we’ll do it again sometime before she becomes a true teen. After that we’ll maybe look for another new memory. Until then, I personally will always remember how my tween’s eyes lit up when her special tiara from Mickey was brought in, and how, just for a moment, she was a princess again, wearing her tiara. Those are memories only true magic can create.