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Disney With Teens


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DS has been gifted a 5 day trip for our family to FL with three day passes for us all to Disney.  We have never been.  (We are bad parents.). Our kids are 20 (but emotionally closer to 12ish), 16. and 14.  The last time I was at Disney, they were just starting Epcot, so it's been... awhile.  DH has not been.  

I am overwhelmed.  I know nothing.  What parks should we hit?  I am definitely wanting to do Animal Kingdom.  But what is there at the other parks for teens?  Not 100% sure they will all love roller coasters, but we will try some.  DD20 might actually want to do some of the younger Disney princess type things, but I don't actually know what those are.  Is Magic Kingdom where we meet the characters?  

A family friend told me to get a Disney guide who maps out the whole trip for us.  Where does one find one of those?  Through Disney?

We are going in mid January.  DH does not like major crowds and our DD cannot do high heat.


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Head over to the disboards.com  Seriously, every question you can ask is right there.

We've taken a teen to Disney.  He grew up with it every few years (different parks) so we were mostly prepared.  We went in with the idea of being flexible - he went off by himself a few times to ride some things that the 5yo wasn't interested in - but some of the things he really enjoyed were Epcot (Mission Space & Test Track are there along with Soarin'), Animal Kingdom, and some of the shows at Magic Kingdom/Hollywood Studios.  We did not allow him to have charging privileges on his Magic Band, but that was the only serious restriction we thought about.

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We love wdw in January!  It is such a nice time to visit (cooler weather, less chance in rain storms, and lower crowds). 

For 3 days with teens, I would do Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. If you are staying at a Disney resort you need to reserve your fast passes 60 days before arriving or 30 days before arriving if you are staying off property.  For Epcot I recommend getting a  fastpass (fp) for Test Track and heading to Soarin as soon as the park opens.  You may also want a go for Spaceship Earth.  The third fp at Epcot is not as important.  You can do a character meet and greet pass if you want character photos

At Magic Kingdom we typically arrive at park opening and head straight to Space Mountain followed by Buzz Lightyear.  MK has a lot a good of options including: Space Mtn (roller coaster in dark), Splash Mtn (log ride- we put on our rain jackets), Big Thunder Mtn R.R. (mild roller coaster), and Pirates of the Caribbean (family friendly) but you can only pick 3 in advance  after you use your passes, you can try to get more on the app on your phone one pass at a time  

At Animal Kingdom the hot ride is Flight of Passage.  If you can’t get a fp, arrive at the park 45-60 minutes before park open.  We have had success riding before the park opens.  fp the Kilimanjaro Safari too  


Gotta go to church now.  If you have more questions as others said disboards and the unofficial guidebook to wdw are great resources

Have a magical vacation!






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Agree that this is a specialized question and you should follow the link to.disboard or similar. Disney families who obsess about this can save you a lot of time researching.

When I was a teen we loved planning the journey ourselves. We planned everything, drew maps, had schedules, etc. It was fun. Hopefully your kids will also enjoy making their plans, and you guys can have some parents choice time as well.

Edited by Tsuga
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The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2018 (The Unofficial Guides)  Buy this book (or get it through the library), then sign up on their site. It's maybe $10. That way you'll be able to use their app and trip planning. Makes it a snap to figure out what you want, and all the reviews for restaurants, etc. are both in the guide and on the website. The book is IMMENSELY helpful.

Tickets can be either single park or park hopper. If your benefactor would go for park hopper, that would be your most flexible option. They might really enjoy things at Hollywood Studios (one of the parks you seemed to be planning to skip), and HS is the kind of park you can do 1/2 day after or before doing other stuff. So park hoppers, while a little more $$, would take care of that.

Other things to think through? Are you staying on-property or off? You can stay at the Hyatt (about 15 minutes away, amazing breakfast buffet) or the Residence Inn at Seaworld by Marriott (also 15 minutes, also breakfast buffet) for some astonishingly low prices during off-season, when using priceline, etc. On-property has advantages too, like being able to send someone back to the room for a nap or to change clothes without feeling like the whole party needs to leave.

Disney is quite safe, and if you put the magic bands on them (which you will), technically they can help you find your dc. Are they able to operate cell phones? My ds has ASD support level 2, and he's not ready to be alone in the park. He uses the DAS, because waiting is a significant issue for him still and causes meltdowns and dangerous levels of stimming. You can look into the DAS and see if any of your dc require it. It's discreet and there if you need it. DAS=Disability Access Service. Are your other two dc typical or all 3 with disabilities? I ask, because it is my personal experience, just me, that a 1:1 ratio with disabilities can be good. Someone is going to have needs and the party will sometimes need to take a break or separate. So look at your needs and think through how that will roll. If the other two do *not* have disabilities, honestly I would let them go do whatever they want, anywhere, and I would make your plans only with the oldest SN dc. The DAS will allow you all to ride together, but they might like to have their own itineraries.

The Touring Plans site has a reservation finder. Almost anything you want you can get, if you just put it in and are patient. Set your phone to receive the texts and put a specialized ring so you know and can hit it immediately. I'm working on a trip (our annual passes are expiring and this will be our last trip for a while, sigh), and I was able to get lunch at Be Our Guest for every single day, dinner at Ohana, everything I wanted, just by being patient and putting them into the reservation finder.

Food is a huge hog. I recommend taking some time there to look at options. Some of the quick service, like in Animal Kingdom, is REALLY GOOD. And some of the quick service, like in Magic Kingdom, is so low you might wish you hadn't spent the money. So plan ahead. Lunch at Be Our Guest is utterly not to be missed!

If you have someone who wants to meet princesses, arrive early and do the dinner buffet at 1900 Park Place. Oh, that's Cinderella. Well they are opening another one in January that will be more characters over at Wilderness Lodge. They just announced it. If you can hit those characters off-property, it won't eat up so much time during your time in the parks. My ds won't do any character meet and greets btw. That's just an individual thing, but he won't. I don't know your SN dc, but it's something to watch out for. Even with FP (fast passes), etc., there will still be a wait. If the person is very averse, maybe have plans. That said, the Mickey Meet and greet in MK is BRILLIANT and they got ds off my back and in the picture, no clue how. They were seriously magical. And he actually participated really well in the Tales with Belle too, which was probably the herd effect. But just to go meet Olaf? Nope, never.

Oh, so why HS? Because if you don't cross the door you'll never get to the do the Frozen Sing-Along, which I'm telling you is a sleeper, the thing that will blow your mind. Crazy fun, and it's air conditioned, and you get to sit. January is AWESOME in Florida, but still you'll be glad to sit. I also happen to love the Fantasmic show at HS. I always skip River of Light at AK, and it will close early. That means if you do only AK for a day, you're done when it closes, whch can be as early as 7pm in January. Seriously. So you with park hoppers you'll start at AK then go over to HS to finish out the evening. In January, you should be able to just go late and not wait in line and still get a seat for Fantasmic. I've done it with VIP, which was fun. You can get the tickets and eat at Mama Melrose's, which is better than the reviews let on and not terribly pricy. We got front row seats that way, right in the middle, loved it. But we've also just gone after everyone was in and just gone to the side and gotten front row when it's not crowded. I think that last time was February. All the views are good all the way around, and front row is fun because you see all the characters up close when they go by on the floats. I'm a super duper Fantasmic fan. Watch a youtube video and you'll see why. :biggrin:

The Touring Plans book gives lists of rides for each age group, puts stars by them, marks for fear factor, etc. I think you have to be realistic about your people and make plans they'll enjoy. Some people should only do shows, lol. There's MORE THAN ENOUGH to keep you busy at Disney without anything more wild than you could take an infant on. But it would be a shame for someone to miss Rock n Roller coaster or Tower of Terror if they LIKE the rides, as they are crazy fun. For people who like the rides, you're wanting Pandora Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, Rock n Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain. The not to be missed shows are Lion King in AK and the Frozen Sing Along in HS. If you have a Beauty and the Beast fan, doing the show of it at HS is breathtaking. 

You're going to have a super, super time!! We really like Biergarten, which takes a hard rap with reviews, lol. I went because it said it was kid-friendly, and for ds it really works. I try to schedule restaurants at the beginning of the window for that meal, so they're not behind or use mobile ordering. LOTS of restaurants now have mobile ordering, and if anyone in your party struggles with waiting, it can be very helpful. We even hacked it with the Restaurantosaurus, which was a hoot. We were standing in line, waiting for the restaurant to open, realized it had mobile ordering, placed our order the very second the mobile ordering opened, and we literally had our meal and were seated before anyone else was getting food. And they have a wonderful topping bar, making it a good value at Disney for a filling meal. Food will be your big drain unfortunately, so you just have to plan it out. 

The other thing to know is Disney will have significant security. The last times we've been there, we had to go through security at the Ticket & Transportation Center to get on the monorail (we were staying off-property) AND to get into the parks. So it takes a few extra minutes, but it's another reason why if you want to give your kids some leash it's really not a big deal. Now they have the bus tracking and live arrival times loaded into the MDE app. So if you download the app, you can probably even feel good about letting anyone who is independent to that level go, because they will see when the bus is coming and know how long they'd be waiting, etc.

Have fun!! 

Edited by PeterPan
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