Can teens really have fun at a place like Walt Disney World? Absolutely!
Actually, be prepared to have the time of your life. It’s a safe place to assert
some independence from your parents, a place you’ll never forget. Here are some
of the best experiences for teens at "The Most Magical Place on Earth":
Have a Splashing Good Time at Disney's Water Parks
For a blast of a time, head to one of Disney’s two water parks.
Blizzard Beach has a melting alpine resort theme where chairlifts carry swimmers
instead of skiers. It’s a place for daredevils to challenge wild, rushing water
and death-defying slides including the Summit Plummet, a 120-foot slide reaching
speeds of 60 miles per hour. Those a bit less adventuresome will love Typhoon
Lagoon, a tropical fantasyland offering a wave pool with the tallest simulated
waves in the world as well as a chance to snorkel among tropical fish, leopard and
nurse sharks, and picturesque coral at Shark Reef.
Live it Up at Downtown Disney
After the parks close hop a bus from your Disney resort for a
night on the town at Downtown Disney. Highlights include Disney Quest
with five floors of interactive games, a 24-screen AMC Theater, a Cirque
du Soleil show, and over 60 shops and restaurants. Favorite dining choices for
the younger crowd are Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Café. And definitely
consider House of Blues where teens are allowed to attend some of the almost
daily concerts in their live music venue next-door.
Cool Off at One of Disney’s Resort Pools
When your parents are wondering which resort to book for your
Disney vacation, be sure and put your two cents in and steer them toward one with
a great pool. Disney’s very best uniquely themed pools include the Yacht
and Beach Club’s Stormalong Bay, a 3-acre mini-water
park, the Swan and Dolphin’s lush, grotto-style lagoon pool, the boulder-strewn
wonderland at the Wilderness Lodge with its very own erupting geyser,
and the Volcano Pool at the Polynesian Resort with its luxuriant waterfall,
smoking peak, and perfect views of Cinderella’s Castle.
Plan Some Watersport Fun
Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the place for water-ski, parasail,
wakeboard, kneeboard, and jet-ski action under the guidance of a professional instructor.
There’s nothing better than a bird’s-eye-view of the Magic Kingdom as you parasail
high above the Seven Seas Lagoon. And the action down below on Bay Lake is a blast!
For reservations call 407-WDW-PLAY up to 90 days in advance, and be sure
to bring a parent along to sign a waiver to participate if you’re under age 18.
Pilot Your Own Boat
What could be more fun than renting a Sea Raycer, a 2-seater
mini-power boat perfect for zipping around Disney’s waterways and lakes. It’s a
great pastime for teens with a valid driver's license (those under 18 must bring
along a parent to sign a waiver). You’ll get the most bang for your buck at one
of the resorts near the Magic Kingdom (the Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian,
or Wilderness Lodge) where you’ll find miles of recreation on the Seven Seas Lagoon
and Bay Lake.
Scuba and Snorkel at Epcot’s Living Seas
Scuba dive or snorkel in The Living Seas 5.7-million-gallon saltwater
aquarium amid a variety of sharks, rays, fish, and turtles. Epcot's DiveQuest
Program along with the Seas Aqua Tour using a Scuba Assisted Snorkel
unit (snorkelers swim on the surface with a built-in flotation device while breathing
compressed air from a regulator attached to a small tank) are two of the most exciting
behind-the-scenes tours offered in all of Walt Disney World. Dives include all equipment,
but be sure to bring a bathing suit. DiveQuest is open to certified divers, but
those ages 14 and under need to dive along with a parent or guardian. The Seas Aqua
Tour is open to participants under age 18 as long as they are accompanied by a participating
adult. Call 407-WDW-TOUR for reservations.
Surf’s Up at Typhoon Lagoon
"Hang 10" before park opening hours in the 2.75-million-gallon
wave pool (some waves as high as 6 feet tall!) under the guidance of professional
instructors with surfboards provided. Guests must furnish their own transportation
to the park since Disney buses are not up and running that early in the morning,
and those under age 18 must have a signed waiver from their parents to participate.
Call 407-WDW-PLAY for reservations up to 90 days in advance.
White-Knuckle Riding at Richard Petty Driving Experience
Lying next to the Magic Kingdom is this speedway
where white-knuckle rides in a NASCAR Winston Cup–style race car are offered.
If you are at least 16 you can participate in the Ride-Along Program where you’ll
ride shotgun at speeds of up to 145 mph for three laps around the track with an
experienced instructor (riders 16 or 17 years of age must be accompanied by a parent
or legal guardian). Even more exciting, those ages 18 and older can drive the car
themselves after an introductory class. If you just want to observe you can do so
for no charge. Call 800-BE-PETTY for advance reservations.
Head for a Theme Parks
Last but certainly not least are the theme parks. If you’re staying
on Disney property it’s a cinch to board a monorail or a Disney bus and head out
to the parks on your own.
At the Magic Kingdom you’ll find all the old nostalgic
favorites like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean. And don’t
forget to head straight to Splash Mountain, an unforgettable ride that ends
in a plunge over a 5-story waterfall! Epcot’s main attractions for fun-loving
teens are Mission Space, a hair-raising rocket into space, and Test Track
where you’ll speed through hairpin turns and then barrel outside onto a high-speed
banking loop at over 60 mph. At Disney-MGM Studios you’ll be floored by
Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror,
both a thrill a minute. Then there’s the Animal Kingdom where a trip around
the African savanna at Kilimanjaro Safaris and back in time 65 million years
at Dinosaur are quite the adventure.
Super thrill seekers should plan a day at Universal Orlando’s
Islands of Adventure where attractions like the Incredible Hulk Coaster,
Dueling Dragons, and The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman will leave
your heart pounding.
So do you still think Disney is just for kids? I bet you can’t
wait to pack your bags. And don’t forget to thank your parents on your return home
for taking you to one of the most exciting places on the planet.
is the author of The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World: How to Get the Most Out
of the Best Disney Has to Offer available at 800-247-6553,
www.luxurydisneyguide.com, Amazon.com, or your local bookstore. Visit her at