I want to thank Disney for hosting my family and me at the Walt Disney World® Resort where we spent a magical time filled with pixie dust.
We have been visiting Walt Disney World® Resort since my kids were babies and now as they are growing older, while their interests have changed, their love for Disney remains strong. From babies to adults, guests of all ages can tap into the Disney magic when visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort. As kids get older there is an opportunity to explore rides and attractions that you may not have had a chance to experience before or to enjoy them in a whole new way. Visiting the Walt Disney World® theme parks with tweens and teens can be quite different than visiting with young children. From thrilling roller coaster rides to all time magical favorites, here are my best tips for making sure everyone in the family has a fantastic time at Walt Disney World® Resort, including older kids.
Get them more involved in planning
As they grow older kids will want to have a more active part in planning the family vacations. Be sure to check out the Walt Disney World® website and browse through rides and attractions with your children to find out what they are interested in. Tweens and teens will be able to provide lots of great ideas and feedback when it comes to the family vacation plans so take advantage of that and make them feel empowered.
Consider your kid’s interests and their personalities
If you have younger kids as well as teens or tweens, or kids of different abilities you may have to divide and conquer. My daughter, who has autism, gets tired easily so she prefers going to bed early and getting an early start while my son is now really interested in nighttime attractions and shows and loves staying up late to see them. My son also likes more thrilling roller coaster rides like Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster® Starring Aerosmith and Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain® while my daughter still enjoys taking photos with characters. We usually hit all the attractions and rides we can do together first and then divide and focus on what each kiddo prefers.
Both of my children now not only have the required height for some of the most exciting rides but also the confidence to ride without us, so they will sometimes get on some of the rides by themselves. I love to see them explore this new-found independence together and take care of each other, while for me it’s nice to take a break from the excitement and let them go off on a few adventures on their own.
Get ready for a thrilling adventure.
As your kids get older and start reaching those height requirements on some of the most exciting rides, they will have the opportunity to ride them for the first time. This is such a fun time as they get to enjoy new experiences and gain independence, and as they start trying things not only for the first time but on their own I love how confident I feel about letting them slowly explore some of the rides like Space Mountain® Attraction at Magic Kingdom® Park without us. One of my daughter’s favorite rides is Splash Mountain® Attraction; it may not be as thrilling as others but the water element, especially during the summer months, is a big draw for her. My son loves the speed of the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster® Starring Aerosmith Attraction and really enjoys getting creative and designing his own car before speeding off on a test drive at Test Track® Attraction. On our last visit to the Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park they both thought that riding the Expedition Everest- Legend of the Forbidden Mountain® Attraction during the night was amazing! Other favorite thrill rides include Big Thunder Mountain Railroad® Attraction and Dinosaur Attraction.
If there are also younger children in your family who can’t get on the more thrilling rides you can always take advantage of Rider Switch at select attractions which allows you to take turns waiting with younger kids without having to get back in line.
Explore new experiences
There are rides that we didn’t get to experience when my kids were younger, either because we always had a long list of little-kid things they wanted to do or because we thought they might not be as engaged or interested. Although Epcot® has always been one of our favorite parks, now that they are older they are really interested not only in learning more about the different countries and their foods but also in experiencing some of the rides that younger kids may not find as engaging but that will peak older kids interest like Living With the Land Attraction where they can learn about horticulture and eco systems.
Now that the kids are older we are able to stay at the parks later which means that we can enjoy the night-time shows like the new Rivers of Light celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park or Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®. You could even go to Disney Springs® to catch the late show of Cirque due Soleil® La Nouba™.
Some special events and tours are only available for older kids and teens and we are super excited that we will be able to share these with our kids now. One of these special tours that are at the top of our list is Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. This privately guided evening tour takes you on an African adventure where you will explore the sights, sounds of the savanna as the sun sets and savor a sampling of African inspired tapas and drinks.
Expand your dining options.
I love that now my tweens are ok with going with us to some of the restaurants that have more interesting food options and that we no longer have to limit our options to quick meals and character dining. Older kids will usually be more interested in exploring new foods whether you’re eating around the World Showcase at Epcot® or at other unique and adventurous restaurants across the Walt Disney World® Resort. If you enjoy trying new foods, Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village offers a wide array of African and Indian flavors you can enjoy while watching animals roam the savanna. Other great options when it comes to more refined dining experiences include the Flying Fish at Disney’s BoardWalk Entertainment District which has a fun and lively night-time ambiance and amazing seafood, Yachtman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and Citricos, located at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, with its Mediterranean flavors.
Don’t forget those family favorites.
There are always those favorite rides and experiences you and your children will never outgrow. For my daughter, it’s meeting the characters. She is now collecting character experiences so we check to see what characters we haven’t met before or what shows and character meals we have never been to and focus on those. We have so many fantastic memories at character dining experiences and shows like The Festival of the Lion King that going back year after year has become a family tradition that I’m sure we will always cherish no matter how old our kids are. I love “it’s a small world”® Attraction at Magic Kingdom® Park and though my kids tried to wiggle their way out of this classic a couple of times, now we all have a blast singing together throughout the ride between waves of laughter as my kids are both amused and probably a little horrified by their parents tapping into their inner child.
There are so many thrilling and interesting things to do for tweens and teens at Walt Disney World® Resort that it will bring a new wave of exciting memories for you and your family.