Disney is wonderful for many reasons, one being it caters to all ages.
But what do you do to please more than one age group at the same time?
Instead of splitting off and spending the whole day apart, families with children of varying ages and interests can find something to do all over the parks and stay nearby each other and share their experiences. The younger ones won’t understand why they can’t go on the big rides like their older siblings, so it helps to find some attraction geared toward their stage wherever you stop.
One adult might take the older (taller) child/ren if they still need supervision (age 7 and up can ride without adult for most rides if they are tall enough) and the other adult will take the younger ones. Using FastPasses whenever possible will help the wait times be shorter and asking for the “parent swap” pass will help the other parent get a turn to do some rides too and share in the experiences. You can ask for a “parent swap” pass on most rides that have height restrictions on them. The parent redeeming the parent swap pass won’t get another one. Depending on the ride, you either go to the exit to use it (like on Space Mountain) or to the FastPass line. Talk to the Cast Member at the front when you take the pass so you can guide the other person when they want to redeem their turn. We normally use them right away, but there isn’t really a time restriction on it- sometime during the park visit, just don’t lose it!
Some examples of how to work some rides at both Disneyland Resort (DLR) and Walt Disney World (WDW) parks:
Space Mountain (for riders 44″ at WDW, 40″ at DLR and up) has a few options nearby- if the younger child wants to do a ride on Autopia with dad while mom takes the big kids, this is one where dad should also grab a “parent swap” pass so mom can have a turn afterward with the younger kid so the big kid and dad can do Space Mountain together using that swap pass. Or mom and younger ones can go on the Buzz ride for something different and email a picture of themselves afterward, then the big kid and dad can go on Autopia together and not miss out.
Splash Mountain (40″) is located by Tom Sawyer’s island at both parks, this is a good place to get away and explore. At DLR, there is also the Winnie the Pooh ride next door and Pooh’s Corner which has a wonderful assortment of goodies- they are big enough to share!
Soarin’ (40″, EPCOT in WDW, California Adventure in DLR). This ride is near The Land pavilion of EPCOT, and next door is the Circle of Life film with the Lion King characters. At DLR, the closest spots are a quick-service restaurant and a shop but it is also pretty close to where the parade route goes by in the afternoon. Lightning McQueen and Mater currently hang out right across from here also until their new LAND is ready.
Barnstormer at WDW or Gadget’s Go-Coaster at DLR are the similar mini-coasters in Toon Town (TT Faire for WDW) for 35″ and up. It might be one that some of the younger kids can do if they ride with an adult. Nearby is Minnie and Mickey’s house to explore as well as Donald’s boat to play in for the even younger ones.
Walt Disney World only attractions and distractions
Test Track in EPCOT (40″ and up, coming soon as CARS! to Disneyland California Adventure)- there is a show every so often called JAMMitors, where the janitors bang and drum using trash cans. The little ones can dance and enjoy, they won’t even notice the big kids gone.
EPCOT also has their KidCot stations at each of the Pavilions with activities to do and stamps and charms to collect- this can give the bigger ones a chance to do what the sites have to offer while the kids are occupied. You can also get a special KimPossible mission at a specific time at one of the country pavilions (only 7 participate). You report there at the stated time to get your special family mission!
Expedition Everest (44″) which is in the Asia part of the Animal Kingdom Park is one of the more thrilling rides at that park. It is adjacent to the Flights of Wonder show with all sorts of winged animals like Eagles who are trained to show their stuff. You could also tour the Maharaja Jungle Trek (a zoo-like exhibit) or wait for the whole family to tour together.
Disneyland only attractions and distractions
Matterhorn (for 32″ and up) is right by the Alice and Wonderland and Mat Hatter’s tea cup rides or the Nemo Submarines if the line is short.
Indiana Jones’ ride (for 48″ and up) is fun for the adults, and right nearby is the Jungle Cruise and the Jungle Book tree house. This is a must with FastPass and Parent Swap.
California Screamin’ in California Adventure (for 52″ and up) has the King Triton Carousel right next door, and also the Mickey Fun Wheel and other Paradise Pier attractions nearby.
There are lots of options like this wherever you stop around the Disney parks. Plus the rides and shows that the whole family can do together- Small World, Fantasyland, Pirates of the Caribbean and more, so you don’t want to spend your whole day apart and miss out on these fun times where everyone can be involved.
If the younger ones need a nap later in the day, this is a good time to stop and do something more tame for them or just find a spot to sit down and grab a snack- it will do wonders for kids of all ages. This is the point you could separate and have a group go off and do other activities like swimming or shopping while the little ones nap in the hotel room. Then everyone will be refreshed and ready in time to enjoy dinner and the magic of the evening parades and shows.
Linds Pierce is a Hawaii and Disney vacation specialist with Pixie Vacations
Contact: Linds@PixieVacations.com or 1-678-3PIXIE9
Follow: or or her blog: Deals to Disney
Watch our latest Youtube Videos here.