DisneyWorld may not be the mecca for the thrill rides that make other amusement parks attractive to older kids, but it claims to have plenty to offer families with children of all ages. My family had the opportunity to experience many of the Disney Parks in Orlando and the newest Disney Cruise ship (the Fantasy) with two teenage daughters in tow. Would it hold the same allure as it did when they were younger? Would they feel too old?
We got off to a slightly rocky start at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the Great Movie Ride – a 20-minute cruise through a land of classic movies scenes come to life. We eagerly boarded, thinking how lucky we were to find a ride without a line. Let’s just say it wasn’t the girls’ cup of tea (granted they weren’t familiar with most of the movie references) and there was much eye rolling to follow. (On reflection, that could be why there was no line.) We didn’t despair and found the rest of the park – one of Disney’s four – to be fantastic. In fact, there are several reasons why teens are prime candidates for Disney:
- Teens can stay up late. And there’s plenty to do at Disney at night. Each of the four parks (besides Disney’s Hollywood Studios there’s Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Epcot Center) has a fi reworks or laser light show. Many parks stay open until well past midnight to guests staying at Disney hotels, so it’s easy to cover more than one park in a day, something we never dreamed of doing when our kids were younger.
- Teens can go on rides alone. This means you can skip the long lines and go in the singles line and ride pretty much right behind each other.
- Teens can cover more real estate. So it’s easy to arrive at the park early, get a “fast pass” (a prebooked ride time) for a popular ride, go on another big ride, then use the fast pass.
Whether you only have teens, or your children range in age from toddler on up, fear not. The house of mouse has plenty to offer older children:
- Take a break from the heat and try one of Disney’s two water parks. If your teens are confident swimmers, it’s a fun way to cool down and younger ones will enjoy the graduated swim area.
- The Disney Fantasy ship has an awesome teen lounge with its own pool even. No need for them to sign up, all they have to do is show up.
- Some of Disney’s best movies are musicals, so it’s no surprise that the parks and the ship are brimming with Glee-style performances. Teens love it!
- Delicious and nutritious food options abound. Disney parks feature salads instead of fries, roasted meats instead of processed, to name a few. The cruise ship buffets have something for even the pickiest teen.
- Nobody tells stories better than Disney. Older kids can appreciate this, from the improv scene that breaks out on the streets of Disney Hollywood, to the elaborate set-ups for thrill rides and coasters.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, November 2012.