Many people think Walt Disney World Resort is just for little kids. They’re wrong. Not only can parents fully enjoy the parks with their little ones, so can tweens, teens, single individuals, couples, seniors, and everyone in between. We would never suggest someone should skip Disney World just because there are no small children in their party.
Still, some parents feel a bit nervous about taking their teens to a Disney Park. They get concerned their older kids may not enjoy themselves as much as the little ones. While we understand where this concern is coming from, it’s not really something to be worried about.
Even though it’s true that teenagers will enjoy the Disney parks differently than tiny tots and elementary school-aged kids, they can still fully enjoy the Resort in their own way. The key is to go in knowing what to expect and be prepared to explore the Parks teen-style during your Disney vacation.
Below are some of our top tips for doing Disney World with teenagers.
Time Your Trip Wisely
First, before you plan anything, make sure you consider your teen’s schedule. Keep in mind that they are becoming their own person, meaning they may have plans you aren’t aware of. Consider their extracurricular(s), any upcoming school testing, and social events.
Scheduling a vacation that conflicts with an important event in your teenager’s life is a surefire way to make them resent the trip, starting the whole venture off on the wrong foot.
Related: January is Our Favorite Time to Visit Disney World: Here’s Why
Ask Their Opinion
While planning your Disney World vacation (and while you’re in the Parks), make sure to consult your teen and take their opinion into account. Ask them which Disney resort they’d like to stay at, which restaurants they’d prefer, which rides they’d like to do, and which shows they hope to see. Make sure to get at least some of those things into your itinerary, so the trip is just as exciting for them as it is for everyone else.
Start Later, Stay Later
We have yet to meet a teenager who enjoys waking up early in the morning (though we’re sure a few must exist). If your teen is like the vast majority of people in their age group and hates waking up early, cater to that as much as you can. Avoid getting up at the crack of dawn in order to make rope drop, and plan to stay until the theme park closes instead.
This will make for much better moods, and you will likely get just as much time in the parks.
Travel with Friends
Many teens may be resistant to leaving their friends behind for a family vacation. If you can, consider taking a friend with you, or traveling with another family with teens. This is especially helpful if your teenager is an only child or if their only sibling is much older or younger than them, as it gives them someone to hang out with during the getaway.
Be Prepared to Offer Some Freedom
Teens crave freedom. While some might be happy to wander the parks with mom and dad for a while, there are likely to be times when your teen or tween wants to split off to ride a thrill ride or check out a store in World Showcase. Let them! On the whole, Disney is a fairly safe place to let older kids try their hand at being independent. Just make sure you have a solid plan for meeting back up, along with phones for keeping in contact.
Divide and Conquer
If you’re traveling with teens and young children, there will almost certainly be times when the little ones want to do one thing and the older kids want to do something else. A great strategy in these instances is to divide and conquer.
Split your group so that those who want to try Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster can do that while the rest of the family goes to the Disney Junior Dance Party. This way everyone gets to enjoy the Disney World rides that interest them, and you can meet back up afterward to do something together.
Not sure which attractions your teens might like best? Consider the following:
- Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom park
- Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom
- Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom
- Avatar Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios
- Star Tours in Hollywood Studios
- Star Wars Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios
- Smuggler’s Run in Hollywood Studios
- Test Track in Epcot
- Soarin’ Around the World in Epcot
Keep Phones Charged
Of course, if you’re going to split your group, you will want to make sure every party has at least one phone. That phone will need to be charged, so your parties can keep in touch with one another. The problem? Phone batteries don’t always last an entire Disney day, especially when you’re using the Disney app to look at wait times and make plans.
For this reason, it is always a good idea to carry external battery packs to recharge phones whenever they get low. Just make sure to recharge the packs each night!
If you happen to forget your phone charger for your vacation (we’ve all been there) Disney does offer a service called FuelRod. You pay $30 for a charger, and you can swap it out for a new charger as many times as you want. It’s unlimited and great for those who forgot their chargers. The original purchase even includes a charging USB cable if you don’t have one on you.
…and Phone Games on Hand
Another thing that phones are excellent for? Keeping everyone happy in line for every ride. We mentioned using your phone as a last resort to keep your toddler happy while waiting in queues, but they also work quite well with older kids.
We recommend downloading games like “Heads Up” so the whole family can play together. This promotes family bonding and makes the longer ride waits feel much less tedious.
Schedule in Downtime
Finally, we highly recommend scheduling some downtime during your Walt Disney World vacation. Your teen probably works hard in school and extracurricular activities. They deserve some time to relax, and they’re sure to love the chance to just hang out with whatever friends you bring along. If you have little ones as well, this is an excellent opportunity to make sure they are caught up on rest, and you might even get a nap in yourself.
Clearly, taking teens to Disney World requires a different mindset than taking babies and younger children. That said, it can be a totally fun Disney experience, and might even be more fun than trying to wrangle toddlers or a preschool-aged kid. Ready to give it a try? We’re betting you’ll have a fantastic time as you explore the Disney theme park locations!