Disney Parks: For Kids of All Ages
By David Platt, your Mouse Master specialist
Originally printed in the June 2016 issue of NW Kids Magazine
I visit Disney (both Land and World) a lot, and friends often ask what the perfect age to take your kids is. My answer: any age.
Disneyland® Resort and Walt Disney World® Resort aren’t just for young kids. While there certainly is something to be said for taking your 4-8 year olds who see Disney parks with wide-eyed wonder, those same parks can be just as exciting for toddlers and teenagers.
“Why should I take them now? They won’t remember it!” That’s the number one statement I get from parents thinking about a Disney trip with younger kids. I’ll let you in on a secret: it isn’t all about the kids. Disney vacations are about creating magical family memories. You’re creating and strengthening a bond with your younger kids when you soar through the air for the first time on Dumbo the Flying Elephant or buckle in for their first magical journey on Peter Pan’s Flight. While they might not remember their very first trip, YOU will—and you’ll have lots of pictures and memories to share with them as they grow older.
Disney parks are extremely baby- and toddler-friendly, with lots of rides, character meets, and shows with no height requirements. You’ll find Baby Care Centers in every park with plenty of feeding areas, child-size pottys, and private nursing areas. These quiet centers can be an oasis for over-stimulated children needing a mid-day break.
“They’re the perfect age! I want to go now!” This seems to be a ‘magical age’ to take kids to Disney parks. For preschoolers and early elementary-age kids, everything around them is absolutely real. They don’t doubt for a second that they’re meeting the Mickey Mouse and the Anna & Elsa.
For older elementary kids who may have started figuring things out, they’re now hitting that magical height of 46” when they can ride almost everything in the parks. Speaking from personal experience, there’s nothing like seeing your daughter proudly walk up to Space Mountain, have a Disney cast member declare her tall enough, then launch into a space adventure only dreamed about back when she was still a ‘little’ kid.
“My kids are too old for Disney!” Here’s another Disney secret: they’re probably going to love it. Walking through those turnstiles and down Main Street reignites the childlike wonder in most tweens and teens. You may find your nostalgic teenager wanting to rub shoulders with Mickey Mouse or take a selfie with Ariel.
Even if they don’t shave off a few years of attitude during their trip, tweens and teens alike will still revel in the glory of such thrill rides as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Star Tours, and Space Mountain. They may also enjoy the freedom to explore the parks on their own for a bit, something they may have wanted to do for years when younger.
Best ways to enjoy the new nighttime show at Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park
By David Platt, your Mouse Master specialist
The Jungle Book-Alive with Magic opened Memorial Day weekend to mixed reviews. It's a different kind of nighttime show compared to nighttime spectaculars like the Wishes fireworks show in the Magic Kingdom® Park or IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth in Epcot®. This limited-engagement show, infused with Bollywood style and based on the new hit live-action film The Jungle Book, requires a unique approach for the best possible experience.
Somewhat like Fantasmic!, performance is a big part of show. Complex dance numbers take place on barges moving on Discovery River, combining with fountain and lighting effects as well as water screens and projection to create a truly unique experience. Because the seating area was designed for the yet-to-debut Rivers of Light show, sight lines for this limited engagement show can be challenging. You essentially have two options to get the best views: 1) Book a FastPass+ reservation for the show, AND show up at least 30 minutes prior to show time. This will get you seated in the best viewing area on the Asia side of the River. 2) Book a Dining Package AND show up at least 30 minutes prior to show time. This will get you seated in the best viewing area on the DinoLand U.S.A.® Land side of the River. If you're not seated in one of the first two rows, you'll probably have a better view standing in the back of the viewing area than in the middle rows - the rake of the seating is not steep enough for this show.
Tusker House dining packages cost $37+tax & gratuity/adult for breakfast; $49+tax & gratuity/adult for lunch or dinner (or 1 Table Service Dining credit). The packages are the same great character dining experience as the regular meal at Tusker House, just restricted to more limited times. The best cash value is the Tiffins dining package, for lunch or dinner. The whole menu is available, and unless you order the vegetarian option, the prix fixe dining package option, priced at $67+tax & gratuity/adult for lunch and dinner, is less expensive than ordering the same items but NOT getting the special seating for the show!
Have you seen The Jungle Book-Alive with Magic yet? Let me know what your experience was like!
I'm David Platt, your Mouse Master Disney Destination specialist. I'm delighted to bring you the latest news on Disney Destinations.