It’s been years since your now 6-foot-tall son begged for a pair of mouse ears and jumped up and down with excitement whenever he saw Donald Duck. And your daughter rolls her eyes every time you mention how much she loved “The Little Mermaid” when she was a toddler.
Now that the kids are teenagers, you might think that a trip to Disneyland is out of the question. Disneyland is for little kids, right? There’s nothing there for the older kids.
You couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, there’s just as much for teens (and adults) to do, see and enjoy at Disneyland as there is for the little ones — in fact maybe more.
Thrills and Chills
Sure, Disneyland all started with an animated mouse, but today it’s much more than just Mickey and Minnie. First, Disneyland has grown since the early days, and now includes two parks: Disneyland Magic Kingdom and Disney’s California Adventure. If you’re planning a trip with teens, be sure to plan enough time for them to explore both parks, as both have rides and attractions that are sure to appeal to older kids, such as:
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (California Adventure). A spooky ride on a haunted elevator that suddenly drops out on the 13th floor.
- Toy Story Midway Mania (California Adventure). Brave the long waits for this addictively fun ride/game. Riders wear 3-D glasses as they move through various arcade games hosted by the beloved characters from the “Toy Story” films.
- California Screamin’ (California Adventure). A wild boardwalk-style rollercoaster.
Of course, it’s not all thrills and excitement. Even the “coolest” teen will get nostalgic for their childhood when they ride The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, or catch “Aladdin: The Musical Spectacular.” And of course, Disneyland has all of the classic attractions, including the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain, which are great fun for all ages.
Since there is so much to do — and usually not enough time to do it — let your teens know about the Fastpass system. On certain rides, park guests can essentially “reserve” a time to ride using their park admission ticket. They insert their ticket into the kiosk, and receive a pass stating when to return to the ride — and when they do, they’ll ride with little to no wait time.
Beyond the Rides
Disneyland Resort is much more than just a collection of thrill rides, though. The best Disneyland packages include accommodations at the park and park tickets, allowing your teens to experience everything that the parks have to offer. Hotels like the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel allow you to stay right in the center of the action.
One area that many teens enjoy exploring is the Downtown Disney District. This shopping and dining area offers dozens of restaurants and shops, as well as live entertainment most nights of the week. Teens might especially enjoy the ESPN Zone, which has a sports arcade, 120 HD televisions and great food, or the House of Blues, where they might catch an up-and-coming (or even an established) band playing live music. And for teens looking for something a bit more laid-back, Downtown Disney houses a 12-screen theatre playing the latest releases.
Keeping Everyone Happy
One of the best parts about Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure is that it’s safe and well-contained — meaning it’s pretty hard for even the most rambunctious teen to get in trouble here. Consider letting older teens head out on their own — with regular check — while mom and dad relax in New Orleans Square or get pampered at the Disneyland Spa. Since both parks stay open well into the night and offer spectacular fireworks and light shows before closing, the older and youngest members of the family can head to bed while the teens burn off their boundless energy.
Disneyland is truly a destination for all ages. Sure, your teen might balk and roll her eyes when you tell her where you’re going, but chances are, that same teen will be grinning from ear to ear when she catches her first glimpse of her once upon a time favorite princess.
About the Author: A lifelong Disney fan, Lily Jasper holds an annual pass to Disneyland, and visits at least half a dozen times a year. She contributes her reviews and opinions to several Disney related blogs.