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Tips for Visiting Disneyland with Teens and Tweens

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Is it a good idea to visit Disneyland with teens and tweens? YES! Kids of all ages love the magic of Disneyland. Of course, Disneyland with big kids differs from visiting with young children. In many ways, it's better. There's no need to squeeze in naps, plus your family can enjoy later nights at the parks and more adventurous ride options. A Disneyland vacation with older kids requires different planning, too. Below are my best tips for doing Disneyland with tweens and teenagers.

Disneyland with teens
Disneyland with teens (Photo credit: Joshua Sudock, Disneyland Resort)

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1. Start late and stay late at the theme parks.

Adolescent kids need tons of sleep for their growing bodies. Teen body clocks make them want to go to bed later and wake up later, too. So, although 3-Day and longer Disneyland Tickets include one Magic Morning, this early entrance into the theme parks may not work at this phase of life. So, plan to sleep in and get a later start. Instead, take advantage of the incredible nighttime entertainment offered at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, like World of Color Nighttime Spectacular.

World of Color Nighttime Spectacular at Disney California Adventure Theme Park
World of Color Nighttime Spectacular at Disney California Adventure (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. Get teens and tweens involved in planning.

When you book your Disneyland vacation, encourage big kids to get involved in the process. Let them suggest restaurants that sound good and ask teens which rides and attractions are must-dos. It will make a world of difference for everyone!

Teens in Galaxy's Edge - Star Wars Land at Disneyland
My teenage kids in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

3. Upgrade to Genie+.

Replacing MaxPass and FastPass, Genie+ is an optional upgrade at Disneyland that offers electronic access via smartphones to make shortened queue wait-time requests. For popular attractions, use Genie+ to skip the standby line and give your tweens or teens better access to their favorite rides via the Lightning Lane. Reserve your spot in line upon entry to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. Note: you can reserve each Genie+ ride or attraction just once per day.

Additionally, since Genie+ includes unlimited PhotoPass downloads, your tech-savvy kid will love having access to professional photos during their time in the Parks. Selfies are great, but PhotoPass photos are even better!

Even if you don't purchase Genie+, you can still scope out theme park options like wait times, dining options, and Disney Park hotel reservations via your smartphone with Disneyland's Genie app.

Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance pool area
Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance & Water Park (Photo credit: Marriott)

4. Book extra room.

If possible, book a suite or adjoining rooms when traveling with teens and tweens. Giving everyone their own space while on vacation can make a big difference in attitudes, making Disneyland with big kids more enjoyable overall. Keep in mind that teen siblings may balk at sharing a pull-out sofa bed, so try to get each kid a separate bed, if possible.

Our partner, Get Away Today, offers Disney vacation packages and overnights at hotels near Disneyland that offer spacious accommodations. Here are some hotels near Disneyland with extra space for families:

A family with a teen and tween at Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure
A family with a teen and tween at Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure (Photo credit: Joshua Sudock, Disneyland Resort)

5. Scope out Disneyland rides for teens.

Are there rides at Disneyland Park for teenagers? You bet! Your kids may no longer be interested in taking a spin on Dumbo the Flying Elephant, but there are plenty of fun attractions at Disneyland for teens and tweens. For example, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run in Star Wars: Galaxy Edge is sure to please sci-fi fans when they board the Millennium Falcon and pilot it through outer space. Then challenge your teen or tween to a competition for the highest score in defeating Emperor Zurg on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters in Tomorrowland. You can also grab a spot in the Lightning Lane for Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, which allows guests to control and spins and twists of the taxi as it races through Roger Rabbit’s corner of Toontown.

Teens playing Pixar Promenade Games at Disney California Adventure
Teens playing Pixar Promenade Games (Photo credit: Joshua Sudock, Disneyland Resort)

Attractions for tweens and teens abound at Disney California Adventure Park as well. My teenagers' all-time favorite ride is Incredicoaster at Pixar Pier with an upside-down loop, high speeds, and the scent of Jack-Jacks Num Num cookies. Similar to Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Toy Story Midway Mania is a combination theme park ride and game. Next door, kids who enjoy carnival games will love playing the Games of Pixar Pier Pixar Promenade for a chance to win prizes. Plus, all ages enjoy Soarin' Around the World at Grizzly Peak, where riders explore the world on this simulation ride. Meanwhile, creative families can learn how to draw a beloved Disney character at Animation Academy in Hollywood Land.

Incredicoaster on Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure Park
Incredicoaster on Pixar Pier (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

6. Keep smartphones charged up.

Smartphones are essential for exploring Disneyland with teens and tweens. They enable kids and parents to explore separately and meet up easily without worry. Smart devices also allow kids to document their Disney vacation by snapping lots of pics. Plus, phones provide entertainment while waiting in long rides. (I suggest downloading the Heads Up app for a hilarious way to engage with your big kids while queued up!)

Rentable fuel rods and remote chargers are just two ways to stay powered up during your amusement park visit. Read our tips for charging your smartphone battery at Disneyland.

Teenager with Dole Whip at Disneyland
My teen daughter juggling a Dole Whip and her smartphone at Disneyland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. Take advantage of Disneyland tours.

Although many of Disneyland's guided tours are designed for guests of all ages, older kids will typically have more patience and interest in exploring the theme parks this way. Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps is a popular option, with stories about what inspired Disney's founder, the challenges he faced, and the excitement he encountered while designing his first amusement park. Other tours that might appeal to tweens and teens include Disneyland After Dark, Disney's Happiest Haunts, and Holiday Time at Disneyland Resort Guided Tour.

Learn more about Walt Disney and Disneyland on a special behind-the-scenes tour
Learn more about Walt Disney and Disneyland on a special behind-the-scenes tour (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

8. Bring along friends.

Consider allowing your child to bring along a friend on your Disneyland vacation. Friends mean everything to this age group. It's not that they don't love you. (They do!) But teens will probably have a lot more fun if they have someone their own age to share in Disney's magic. This is especially true for singletons who may have very different ride preferences than their parents, or older siblings who don't want to do the baby rides at Disneyland.

You might also choose to travel with another family with children of similar ages. Then parents and kids can explore the parks separately and meet up for meals or special rides together.

Teen girls with Captain Jack Sparrow at Disneyland
Teen friends posing with Captain Jack Sparrow at Disneyland (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

9. Let kids be kids.

It's tough being cool all the time as a teen or tween. Ask big kids if they'd like to ride the carousel, Peter Pan's Flight, or other beloved rides for youngsters. Don't assume teens are too old to pose with Mickey Mouse and other characters, either. Teens even enjoy Disneyland character dining so go ahead and book that special meal. Disneyland is one place where kids can let their guards down and embrace their playful side.

Jessie's Critter Carousel at Disney California Adventure
Jessie's Critter Carousel at Pixar Pier in Disney California Adventure (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)
Save money on your Disneyland Vacation with Get Away Today

10. Save money on your Disneyland vacation with teens.

Find all Disneyland vacations at www.getawaytoday.com, or call 855-GET-AWAY for personalized assistance. Be sure to let them know Travel Mamas sent you and use code TravelMamas to save an additional $10 on your theme park tickets and hotel package.

The drop at the end of Splash Mountain will make your heart race
Splash Mountain ride at Disneyland (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

Explore more things to do during your Disneyland vacation.

Got thrill-seeking teens? Take a look at the scariest rides at Disneyland.

Before you go to the Happiest Place on Earth, peruse the best hotels with pools near Disneyland.

Take a break from the parks during your Disneyland vacay with these things to do in Orange County.

Halloween is scary fun with teens and tweens at Disneyland! Read our complete guide to Halloween at Disneyland.

Tips for Visiting Disneyland with Teens and Tweens

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Have you ever been to Disneyland with teens and tweens? Or did you visit this theme park when you were a teen or tween? In the comments below, let us know your tips and questions for visiting Disneyland with older kids!

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, TravelMamas.com. She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments
  1. Elizabeth O says

    These are some great tips. I think it is really a great idea to include children on planning a trip, So they can enjoyed their travel more.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Yes! I love getting kids involved in the planning process — it adds to their enjoyment and makes life easier for me! 🙂

  2. Bridget Smith says

    We thought our trip to WDW was going to be a disaster and there was lots of drama but also truly magical moments and a surprising number of hugs while waiting in line. Hang in there moms and dads of teens. You can do this!

  3. Teen and Tweens will have a ball at Disneyland. I went to Disneyland for the first time as an adult had a blast.

  4. These are all such great tips, I like to think of myself as a big kid, so my partner might need this for me 😂

  5. Ntensibe Edgar Michael says

    Hihi….you almost had me there thinking that was the real Jack Sparrow! Otherwise, I would love to begin with the World of Color Nighttime Spectacular tour.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Ha! He’s a pretty good Jack Sparrow for sure! We love World of Color — hope you can experience it soon!

  6. emily Zielinski says

    I was fortunate enough that my parents took me to Disneyland when I was a teenager. Its one of my fondest memories and I loved every moment of it!!

  7. littlemisadvencha says

    it’s true disneyland is not only for kids, but also for kids at heart. haha! ive been to disneyland once, and the experience is really awesome! <3

  8. These were great tips! I could have really used this a couple of years ago when I went with my teens; I think they would have enjoyed it much more!

  9. I’ve never been to Disneyland but we have been to Disney World. I think these tips make sense for both!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      The tips definitely could work for both! Someday you’ll have to come see the other U.S. Disney theme park and see what you think!

  10. the joyous living says

    nice tips. i loved disneyland as a teen. felt so cool helping my folks plan which rides we’d go on and what shows we’d see. btw the pic of smugglers run is so cool – i love the cast members greeting the boy.

    • Christine Weis says

      I think these are great ideas for families with teens. I’d hate the see the ‘Magic” end as our kids get older. The idea of taking advantage of the later park hours and gong on tours is perfect. I think there is always something new to see and do at Disney no matter what age you are.

      • Colleen Lanin says

        Definitely! I love that my teen and tween still love Disneyland as much as they did when they were little kids!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      I love that your parents allowed you to help plan your Disney trip when you were a teen! Way to go, mom and dad!

  11. Disneyland is one of the coolest places on planet Earth where anyone can have fun! Your post has made me so excited to visit it someday

  12. Matt Taylor says

    Those are all great tips for planning a Disney trip with teens or tweens. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  13. Jessica Collazo says

    I love those tips for teens to go to Disney.The first time I went to Disney I was a teen those tips could have been helpful at that time 😆

  14. Emman Damian says

    Disneyland is a good family place to be at. I love that they offer a lot of rides and entertainment. Definitely a good place and magical to be at!

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