Do teenagers still enjoy the Magic Kingdom? Is there enough for teenagers to enjoy there? Do they still “get the magic”? These are questions which are often asked before planning a holiday to Walt Disney World. It is of course, down to personal preference, and choice. We recognise that what works for some families will not work for all families. In our opinion here at Travel with the Tribe, the Magic Kingdom is one of the parks we visit with our teenagers regularly throughout our holiday, in fact it is one of our favourite parks and the park at the top of our list when we are planning our next Disney holiday. Morning numero uno for the Travel with the Tribe family is always spent at Magic Kingdom, and the excitement on the faces of our teenagers when we first see Cinderella’s castle as we approach the entrance on the Disney bus is still as evident now as it was when we visited the Magic Kingdom for the first time in 2009.
Our tribe of boy and girls undoubtedly still feel the magic, maybe it’s because we have been fortunate enough to visit Walt Disney World on several occasions over the past 10 years, and so our kids have grown up with Disney being part of their lives. But we think that even if our tribe hadn’t been to Walt Disney World as younger children, as teenagers they would still love it and find lots of things about the Magic Kingdom (in particular) to be magical. So if you have teenagers and are wondering about whether or not you should visit the park, and questions about whether it will be worth your while, take a look at the following to see why we think your teenagers will still enjoy their time at the Magic Kingdom, and leave still feeling a little bit of that special Disney Pixie Dust
The Rides – They’re not for massive thrill seekers, but there’s no denying the fun element – even for teenagers. OK, we’re not going to try and make ride comparisons between the rides you will find at the Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios, Orlando – yes, there are more thrill seeking rides outside of Walt Disney World, and yes, if your teenager loves the thrill seeking coasters and VR experiences, they will of course love Universal. We don’t deny that there are less of the “big” rides for the “bigger” children at the Magic Kingdom. Your teens however, can still have massive amounts of fun here, believe us, our teenagers absolutely love classic rides like Big Thunder Mountain (Frontierland), Splash Mountain (Frontierland), Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (which has now very quickly become a family favourite, even as a relatively new ride in Fantasyland), and still really want to ride Pirates of the Carribean (Adventureland) and Peter Pan (Fantasyland), rides they’ve been going on since they were babies! There is an infinite charm with all of these rides which you don’t arguably get on the bigger thrill rides, and our tribe love thrill rides too – they are hardcore teenagers when it comes to riding the big ones!! Having said that, Space Mountain (Tomorrowland) is more of a “thrill seekers” ride, so if your teenagers really feel the need to ride something quicker, faster, with sharp twisty turns in the dark, then Space Mountain will happily accommodate! We read many posts on Orlando and Walt Disney World specific forums where families ask whether the Magic Kingdom is worth the time spent visiting with their older children, and whilst we can’t guarantee that is is something everyone will relish and enjoy, we say here at Travel with the Tribe give the Magic Kingdom a go – the rides mean something more than the time you spend on them, they are part of Walt Disney’s narrative, his story about how it is possible in every day life to escape and immerse yourself totally in fantasy and fun. The rides here have it all, your favourite Disney characters in abundance, Ariel, Peter Pan, Jack Sparrow, Cinderella, Goofy, Dumbo, and of course Mickey and Minnie. There is the “wildest ride in the wilderness” on Big Thunder Mountain, you can sing “Hi Ho” on Severn Dwarfs Mine Train, Fly through London on Peter Pan because after all “You can fly, you can fly” and yes, “You will get wet” on Splash Mountain with Brere Rabbit (most probably you will be soaked, particularly if you sit in the front!). But like most things at Walt Disney World, it’s all excellent fun, even for the most cynical or unconvinced teen! Looking at the smiles on the faces of our teenagers this summer during and after those rides, we know those magical feelings will stay with them for the rest of their lives, and we know they will also stay with your family too.
Cinnamon Rolls and Dole Whips – Food! Apart from the ongoing question about what the Wi-Fi is like in the parks (another blog post planned for this one!), another big consideration for teenagers is of course their stomach – priority number two (after the rides of course!) is FOOD!!!! Luckily for your teens, there are some great eats at the Magic Kingdom, which will certainly fill a (large!) gap during the day, and keep their energy levels topped up whilst they enjoy the rides in the park. Our favourite place to eat mid-morning, when we’ve been in the parks for a couple of hours, is Gastons Tavern in Fantasyland. Built as part of the new Fantasyland expansion in 2012, Gastons Tavern is well known by Disney regulars as the place to go for the jaw-dropping, icing-dripping, bundle of loveliness all dressed up as a Cinnamon Roll. Available as a snack credit (can this get any better!) this sweet Danish-style pastry is quite possibly the biggest pastry we’ve ever seen, it is huge! Even for those who are not big fans of cinnamon, or pastry for that matter, you cannot fail to be impressed by the now- famous Cinnamon Rolls. You can even ask your server for extra icing, if you really don’t feel you already have enough! Joking aside, this is just one of the great places to eat in the Magic Kingdom, there are many great places for you and your teens to fill up in all areas of the park, and the variety and choice available means you won’t feel hungry. Our tribe like to use their snack credits to eat the Chocolate Banana Ice Lollies, another great mid-morning snack, or the Mickey Waffle with Strawberries and Cream (another great snack credit) from Sleepy Hollow, where you can also buy your Cookie Ice-Cream Sandwiches…..yum. But probably the most famous of all snacks to buy during your day at the Magic Kingdom is the snack of all snacks…..the Dole Whip! Situated now at Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland, these snacks are sure to put a wide grin on your face, and are great to eat when wanting to cool off from those hot Orlando days. Imagine Orange or Pineapple Juice, topped up with a big service of ice-cream, these snacks are seriously good, and a definite must-do if you are in the Magic Kingdom. If it’s more of a dining experience that you’re looking for with your teenagers, see our post on Dining in the Magic Kingdom, (coming soon) which goes into more detail about the best eateries in the park with older children. We’ve just briefly touched upon a few of the great ways you can eat in the Magic Kingdom, but believe us when we say there are so many good places to eat with something for everyone – Mexican, American, Italian, French serving food from Salad Nicoise to Cheeseburger and Fries – teens will love eating here and it certainly goes towards enjoying their time in the magic.
Happily Ever After – Is it worth hanging around at the end of a long day to watch the firework show? Absolutely! This firework show, shown every night at 9.15pm is truly something else, and we know how great Disney are at creating epic firework shows…..ask any regular visitor to Walt Disney World about how genuinely devastated they were when Disney announced they were going to replace the classic “Wishes” fireworks show, and replacing it with Happily Ever After. Why then is it so special, and why then will your teenagers love standing amongst hundreds of other people, all trying to find the perfect spot to see the fireworks? At times, the crowds can be a bit stressy, it is busy, bustling and bursting with anticipation for the show to start, and being perfectly honest, it hasn’t always felt very “magical”. BUT, this is all forgotten when the fireworks begin, and it’s not just the fireworks which are spectacular, the projections on the castle are breathtaking, and for 18 minutes you are all completely transfixed and transported into another world, with Disney music and memories of classic Disney characters, new and old playing into your ears, and taking you on a nostalgia trip of memories and childhood. The following link will show you this spectacular show in all of it’s glory;
No one can be failed to be moved by these fireworks, the best experience watching Happily Ever After we had with our tribe was this summer, when we were lucky enough to go to California Grill (Disney’s Contemporary Resort) for dinner. Having timed it just right, we were able to take our teens out on the hotel’s viewing platform to have a preferred view of the fireworks, and it didn’t disappoint. Most, if not all of us were in tears at some point during the show, it was simply stunning to watch, and a great way to end our family holiday. This is another must-do if you really do want have the ultimate view to watch the show, a cool restaurant, exquisite food and the fireworks right in front of view – it really doesn’t get any better than this, and we’re sure your teens will love it.
The Magic Kingdom isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It can be ridiculously busy during peak times, some of the smaller rides can be boring or babyish for older children, and the magic for some therefore can be a bit of a non-starter. But for us, we would never go on a holiday to Orlando without spending quality time at the Magic Kingdom, the magic of it is certainly not lost on our children who still value the time they spend there, and love it more now than ever. We say embrace the charm of it, allow yourself to become immersed in the fantasy of it, and for a short time even convince your (sometimes moody) teenage children to forget themselves – after all, Walt does say in the entrance to the Magic Kingdom…..
Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.
What could possibly be wrong with that?