Disney World with Teenagers 101
Disney with teenagers is definitely a different experience. Especially when they aren’t your own! That’s why Nick, from Mousecapades Podcast, and I took some time to talk about my experience in 2014. Scroll below for pictures of our time there, including the ones I mentioned at the Sword in the Stone, and a link to listen. Thanks for stopping by!
Here is the who went on vacation:
- Krystel (myself)
- Lisa (my friend)
- Eric (Lisa’s then 14-year-old brother)
- Mia (my 12-year-old sister)
Were there some crankiness and fake headaches involved? Most definitely, but we still had so much and I would do it all over again if I had to. At first, we were a little bit overwhelmed with teenagers at Disney World but we look back now and we laugh and wish we were there.
You can check out some of my (hopefully) helpful tips and tricks for traveling with teenagers below, and scroll further down for the pictures from my own experience!
If you want to skip the pictures here is the link to listen!
Here Are Answers to Some of the Most Common Questions About Traveling to Disney World With Teenagers!
Although some people may assume that Walt Disney World is a place that only kids and families can enjoy, we here all know that’s not true. Disney keeps all types of visitors in mind when designing the parks and various attractions, and there’s no shortage of things to do here for everyone, including teenagers. But maybe this is your first trip with a teenager to your party? Well don’t worry, any questions you have, I’ve got you covered.
Where to Stay at Disney With Teenagers?
Of course, a lot of this depends on your budget, but there are great options for accommodations at every level if you plan to stay on the property. Planning where you want to stay should take into consideration what park or parks you want to be closest to. All of the most affordable options, also known as Value Resorts like Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort or Disney’s Pop Century Resort, are located in either the Animal Kingdom or ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Resort Areas. They’re more out of the way than others, but still very accessible and manageable.
If you have a bit more funds in your budget, a higher-level resort can put you within walking distance to a lot of great locations. For example, if you want to travel to Hollywood Studios or Epcot either early in the day or late at night, one of the resorts in this area would be ideal. The location would also give you easy access to Disney’s BoardWalk, along with all of its stores, restaurants, and entertainment.
With teenagers, you should consider other options for entertainment outside of the parks, and this could factor into your choice of resort. Disney World has so much to offer, and some activities are better appreciated by teenagers than younger kids. A great option I recommend is planning to spend a couple of days at Disney Springs. I guarantee you will not be able to cover the area all at once, so you might as well give yourself extra time to meander and explore.
If your teenagers love swimming and hanging out at the pool, you should also look at the different resorts’ pool offerings when you decide where to stay. For instance, if you can get a reservation at Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club, then you’ve hit the jackpot because their pool area is unbelievable. I’d even consider spending two days just at the resort if you’re staying here.
As for room choices, if you are a Disney Vacation Club member, there are villa options with multiple bedrooms and lots of space. They also include a kitchen, which teenagers might appreciate having to snack and hang out some days instead of always going out for food.
If you are staying in a hotel-style accommodation, look into getting two connecting rooms. The separating door in between allows you the freedom to leave it open or closed depending on the time and situation, and it gives teenagers a stronger feeling of freedom. Having Magic Bands adds to this, as the teenagers have their own room and room key on them at all times.
How to Plan Activities for Your Teens?
The first thing I recommend is to really involve the teenagers in planning. Help them feel engaged, let them make choices, and encourage their input. They’ll have a much better time doing what they want to do and decide to do. This should continue through initial planning for the trip all the way to the day you enter the parks. The first thing you should do when you arrive is grab a park map, then let your teenagers plan the route, what rides you’ll do first, when and where you’ll eat, and anything else they think of.
Depending on the teenagers’ age and their comfort level, you should give teenagers some freedom to explore on their own. There are ways to allow this and stay safe, and Walt Disney World has plenty of security. Plus, this would give the adults some freedom to do their own thing or relax. Related to that, you should always plan some downtime here and there, and be ready and willing to adjust your plans.
What’s a Day at Disney Look Like With Teenagers?
Depending on the teenager, you may have someone who likes waking up early and getting a head start on the day, taking advantage of short lines and smaller crowds. Or maybe your teenager is a late riser. That’s not always a bad thing at Disney. Some of the parks stay open late for various reasons, and it’s a whole different world at night. Take Magic Kingdom for instance. If you are lucky enough to get to go to one of the special events such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the park is open until midnight.
Since there are only a certain number of guests allowed to attend, you’ll experience much shorter lines, lots of space to run around, and you won’t have to deal with the heat. Along with that, the park usually offers a variety of treats throughout the whole event, which is an awesome plus.
After seeing great success with these seasonal parties, Disney has actually expanded these offerings and started hosting After Hours events at their theme parks. They are an extra cost, a separate ticket than the day pass, but they are definitely worth it. Imagine heading into Magic Kingdom with a special ticket as everyone else leaves at the park’s normal closing hours. You feel like a VIP, that’s for sure.
During a normal visit, this event also includes special character meet and greets, and Disney usually brings out a few special characters that almost never appear in the parks during the day. There are also a variety of tours at the different parks that give you an inside look at the magic of Disney, like the Caring for Giants experience at Animal Kingdom, which lets you see behind the scenes how cast members take care of all the amazing animals you see during your visit.
Like I mentioned in the planning section, sometimes it’s better to just go with the flow and be adaptable. If you want to eat out at any specific restaurant, reservations are essential, so you should probably plan all or most of your meals ahead of time, and if you want to hit certain attractions, FastPass+ is the way to go. But sometimes things don’t work out, people change their mind, or something else comes up, and that’s just another part of the magic!
What Specific Activities Does Disney World Offer for Teenagers?
There are fun things for all ages at Disney and there’s no telling what your teen will want to do. But there are some special experiences that only older kids can do, and many are worth checking out. A lot of great options are located at Disney Springs, including riding in an Amphicar. If you head over to The Boathouse, you can book a ride in a fancy 1960’s classic convertible that smoothly drives down a ramp to float in the waterways around Disney Springs. The guided tour is 25 minutes of fun and sightseeing.
Another great experience at Disney Springs is Aerophile, “an 8-minute tethered adventure in the world’s largest hand-painted helium balloon,” as Disney so quaintly puts it on their website. Tickets are affordable, at only $20 for an adult and $15 for children ages 3 to 9, and on a clear day, you can see up to 10 miles away!
On top of that, Disney Springs offers live music, movies, and bowling at the Splitsville Luxury Lanes, which offer great food and tons of fun. There’s also lots of great shopping, with popular stores like Zara, Levi’s, Uniqlo, Anthropologie, and Columbia, along with a bunch of Disney-specific stores. You certainly shouldn’t leave without perusing the World of Disney, which fair warning, could take a couple of hours.
At various resorts, including the Grand Floridian, The Contemporary, The Beach and Yacht Club, and the Polynesian, you can also rent Sea Raycer mini motorboats to cruise around in, and go fishing. If the weather’s warm, I also recommend visiting the water parks. It’s a great place to let teens run wild, and Typhoon Lagoon also offers surfing lessons.
Disney did a fantastic job designing water parks that have plenty of great and exciting rides on top of areas for kids and the family. As for what’s in the theme parks, whether you are visiting Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios, there are plenty of rides for the thrillseekers, like Expedition Everest, Flight of Passage, and Rock N Roller Coaster, and many fantastic must-experience attractions like Soarin’ and Test Track.
General Tips for Traveling to Walt Disney World With Teens
There are some tips to keep in mind any time you are planning a visit to Disney, but they can be extra helpful if your party includes teenagers. First off, if you are lucky enough to be staying at a Disney World resort, definitely take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours. It might not seem like a lot, but the extra time before or after the normal park hours gives you a lot more freedom. There are smaller crowds, lower temperatures, and it’s the best time to get on the super popular rides, avoiding the huge lines that wrap around the parks during the day.
Try new dining options. With older kids, you (hopefully) get more expansive taste palates. For any and all foodies out there, you have to take advantage of this! Take risks and try new restaurants, and if you get the chance to visit during one of Epcot’s many fantastic festivals, eat around World Showcase. Food is a big bonding experience for my family and me, and Disney has amazing offerings. You can also do this at outside restaurants of course, or Disney Springs, where you can eat at places like Wine Bar George, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ and The Edison, and get scrumptious dessert at Amorette’s Patisserie, Ghirardelli Soda Fountain, and Chocolate Shop, and more.
You should consider giving your teens a set budget of spending money for the whole trip. It will help control your own spending, while also giving teenagers a feeling of independence. Along with that, it might just help teach them a bit about budgeting and deciding what’s worth purchasing. Overall, know that some teenagers don’t like thrill rides and other stereotypical teen activities. Make sure to ask your teenagers what they want to do and try your best to do it. Maybe they just want to hang out at the pool one day, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
Check Out the Pictures From My Vacation!
Can you see the castle in the distance? (Lisa, Mia, and Eric)
Tom Sawyer’s Island (Mia)
Eric being silly!
Look at those pin collections! (Eric and Mia)
All of us!
Someone being a teenager! -_- (Eric)
Last but no least!
My name is Krystel, and I am here to share the joy Disney gives me. If you want to learn more about planning the perfect Walt Disney World Vacation visit Planning The Magic. I’ve spent a lot of time creating the perfect Disney On A Budget eBook because I really want everyone to have a magical vacation within reach.