I was surprised recently when a couple of travel clients told me at first contact that they didn’t “need” to do Magic Kingdom because their kids were older. As a regular visitor and Disney Addict, it never occurred to me that someone could be too old for the Magic Kingdom. Upon further questioning, these clients thought Magic Kingdom was all about Mickey, the Princesses, flying elephants and singing dolls. But there is so much more . . . plenty to appeal to kids of all ages, including older kids (over 10) and even those picky teenagers. These are my Top 10 things in the Magic Kingdom to appeal to older “big” kids:
Everyone enjoys a little shopping. Well most everyone. Magic Kingdom has some of the best places in the parks with a variety of t-shirts, collectibles, jewelry, art and more. I love shopping on Main Street in the Emporium, Uptown Jewelers, and Crystal Arts. There are also some fun attraction themed shops.
I have an almost 18 year old son, so I know big kids like to eat, especially boys. The Magic Kingdom has some great Counter Service options to keep big kids happy. Casey’s Corner is a fun place to grab a hot dog, Pecos Bill’s in Frontierland has the fixings bar to pile your nachos high, and there are plenty of shops for sweet treats (Dole Whip anyone?). One really fun place for big kids is Gaston’s Tavern where they can get a LeFou’s Brew.
This one may not be for teenagers, but the preteen set loves to travel to Tom Sawyer Island and explore on their own. And the advantage for parents is that you can find a rocking chair, give them a time to come find you, and sit back and relax while they run around the island. There are caves, a fort and a floating bridge to discover. Another great big kid spot is the Frontierland Shooting Arcade. There is a fee here (50 cents for about 25 shots), but with 100 interactive targets big kids love to try their hand. The guns use infrared technology, so it is safe even for the worst shot.
7. The Tomorrowland Speedway
For older kids who aren’t able to drive yet the Tomorrowland Speedway is a big thrill. At 32” kids can drive with someone in the car with them, and at 54” they can drive solo! A rail helps keep your big kid on track as he races around at a whopping 7 miles per hour.
Although this one features Disney characters and animated movies, the 3D (and 4D) technology is impressive. And most big kids have fond memories of these movies growing up (even if they claim they don’t watch them anymore). For those who enjoy 3D movies, this really takes it to an extreme.
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5. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
How many attractions encourage you to text while you wait? This show is funny, and if your joke is chosen that is pretty cool. Plus, if your dad is “that guy” you can make fun of him all day.
4. Happily Ever After
Who doesn’t like fireworks? The show at Magic Kingdom is remarkable, and I don’t think even a cool teenager can deny that. Find a good spot, get some popcorn or ice cream and close the night out with a bang. I guarantee they will be impressed.
3. Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
Yes, Buzz is a kid’s character, but this ride adds another element that big kids love: competition. It has re-ride-ability because you can choose to share a ride vehicle with different people and try to outscore them, or just improve your score each time. You can even make it a tournament of sorts if you have enough people traveling with you.
2. Classic Attractions
Though they are slow moving, the classic attractions featuring audio animatronics have universal appeal, big kids and teens included. Haunted Mansion’s humorous look at the afterlife and cool special effects are fun for kids of all ages. Big kids can groan at the corny jokes on the Jungle Cruise (you might even see them crack a smile). And who doesn’t love Pirates of the Caribbean? Especially now that Captain Jack Sparrow has been added with the tie in to the movies that is so familiar to many big kids and teens.
1. The Mountains
If your big kids love thrill rides the Magic Kingdom is the place to find them. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a fast ride on a runaway mine train found in Frontierland. For an even bigger thrill Space Mountain in Tomorrowland races through the dark. The third mountain is back in Frontierland, Splash Mountain. This one is log flume ride with a 5 story drop at the end (not for wimps like me). And you get wet! The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a mountain of sorts as well! It features an innovative ride vehicle that rocks back and forth as it rides along the roller coaster track. The Magic Kingdom should never be counted out as far as thrill rides are concerned.
I have always considered Walt Disney World and Magic Kingdom in particular as a perfect place for people of all ages to visit and enjoy. For me the whole point is to be a kid again, no matter what your age. I realize that some big kids and teenagers can think that they are “too cool” for the Magic Kingdom, but I think once they visit the park (or at least see what it has to offer) they will realize they can have a fun time there.
What would you recommend in the Magic Kingdom to a family with older kids?