By Emilyann Owens
Middle schooler and Disney-lover who lives in Colorado
Which theme park has four lands, an amazing fireworks show, and one of the most iconic characters in history living there?? If you didn’t guess, it’s Walt Disney World!!! I have grown up loving Disney and will continue loving Disney until I die. No one is ever too OLD for Disney.
As a 13-year-old who pretty much grew up living in Disneyland and Disney World (even though we live in Colorado my parents bought annual passes!), I can honestly tell you it is more fun the older you get. The magic keeps growing more and more.
MagicBand and FastPass+
The MagicBand is a great and easy way to not wait in lines. It‘s free if you are staying in a Disney hotel, and is only an extra $10 if you are a Passholder. It prevents you from losing your pass and also unlocks your hotel door if you are a Disney hotel guest. What I love is that it connects to your phone using the My Disney Experience mobile app, available for both apple and Samsung products. I use this app to schedule rides based on how long lines are and book a FastPass+.
A FastPass+ is easy to use and lets you walk to the front of the line for specific rides. It is also limited, meaning you can only get so many each hour or day. Using the My Disney Experience app or the FastPass+ kiosk, hold your band up to the Mickey Mouse head, then tap on the park you want: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom. The rides and times available for those rides will show up. If you are using the app just tap the FastPass+ tab.
Magic Kingdom is what most people think of when you say “Disney World.” This is the park for those who love the princesses and princes, and love the pirate side of things. Near the entrance, there is an old firehouse where you can help defeat the evil that lurks in Magic Kingdom. You get new spell cards each day and work with Merlin against all the villains. I have defeated Hades and Cruella De Ville. If you get the Pocahontas card, it works really well against Cruella.
Magic Kingdom has many themed lands within the park. Here are some highlights:
The rides are a little on the young side, but there is one Seven Dwarfs-themed rollercoaster here. This is new and fun, so the line is always long. (The longest I have seen is 150 minutes!) A FastPass+ is a fantastic way to not wait in line. This is also home to Peter Pan, one of the only rides I recommend not getting a FastPass+ for. You get to play with your shadow in line! Enchanted Tales with Belle and Mickey’s Philhar Magic are not rides but shows. They are meant for younger kids, but this is where you can cool off on hot days. Do not get a FastPass+ for these shows—I’ve never seen the wait be longer than 10 minutes.
Liberty Square is next to Fantasyland and has my absolute favorite ride: the Haunted Mansion. I have been going on this classic ride for as long as I can remember. Every teenager will love this. Those Grimm Grinning Ghosts really love to socialize. There is also the Hall of Presidents. I am a bit of a history nerd so this is a really cool place to see. Also it’s air-conditioned!
Travel back in time to when great things happened in the West. It’s also the best place to cool down on a hot and humid day. Splash Mountain brings you to your happy place by drenching you with water. Big Thunder Mountain is a “ghost train” rollercoaster. It doesn’t get better than a runaway train.
Adventureland is where you can find the best dessert in the whole park: Dole Whip in the Enchanted Tiki Room, a classic Disney show that includes singing birds and flowers.
The two other classic rides you can’t miss are Pirates of the Caribbean–Yo Ho Yo Ho a Pirates Life for Me!–and the Jungle Cruise, a corny and pun-filled ride. A guide takes you through the jungle while telling only a few jokes. There is also a cool scavenger hunt in the building next to the exit of Pirates of the Caribbean.
As a teen, money is not something that grows on trees. Most places to eat in Magic Kingdom are expensive. The Liberty Tree Tavern has great food and is not very expensive. Another option is the Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland, where you can watch people embark on their journey through It’s A Small World.
If you are looking for a more unique experience and have a bit of money to spend, I recommend Be Our Guest in beast’s Enchanted Castle. Reservations must be made very far in advance! They bring out menus, you can get a really cool light-up cup and there is a cart full of desserts. I am such a Beauty and the Beast fan I just had to get Graystuff. There is also Cinderella’s Royal Table inside the actual Magic Castle, and ‘Ohana inside the Polynesian Resort is a family-style buffet with the most delicious food ever. I love the pork dumplings and the bread pudding with a pot of caramel.
Park After Dark!
Families with younger kids all go home after the fireworks. After they leave, the park is much less crowded. The lines are shorter and the views better. The number of rides in Disney World for teens is crazy. Each different park has at least one roller coaster (more on that later). Park after Dark also sometimes includes a late fireworks show.
Beyond the Magic Kingdom
There are three Disney parks outside of Magic Kingdom: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is meant for the little people—like age six or seven. There is one roller coaster, Mount Everest, and that is the only reason I go there.
Hollywood Studios is really cool and has many more things to do. You do need a FastPass+ for pretty much every ride—lines are long. The Tower of Terror is not my favorite, but if you ask my younger sister she will say it is the best ride ever! It is one of those build up rides where you get high and then they drop you. I have a slight fear of heights and this ride absolutely terrifies me. If you are Star Wars fan you have to ride Star Tours. Pixar Studios is where you can become a toy and compete against your friends and family. My whole family does a competition together. I always lose because my aim is horrible, but we love getting our child on and just having fun. I recommend not aiming for the high points until you get the hang of the 3-D shooting.
Epcot is the last park and is very futuristic and historic at the same time. You can travel the world by just going around a lake. You can test a car of your own creation by going on the Test Track and find out who can make the best car. The big white golf ball at the entrance is actually a ride called Journey to the Future. Do NOT get a FastPass+ for this. The longest the wait has ever been is 10 minutes. You should, however, get a FastPass+ for Test Track.
No place in the world has as big a place in my heart as Disney World. From rollercoasters to shows, this place has all you need to make your vacation great. Though the cost is a bit high and the park is very large, Disney World truly is the Happiest Place on Earth.
About the Author
Emilyann Owens is a 13-year-old with a passion for music, Disney and the outdoors. She lives in Colorado and loves school. She is a little weird, but that is what makes her unique. She listens to country music mostly, especially Chris Young. Emilyann loves photography and believes a picture is worth a thousand words. She will also rapidly speak more than a thousand words. Disney has been a part of her life since she was three. She has been inspired by many people to always do her best. She works hard and hopes that one day her dreams will come true.
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”- Walt Disney.