Many people will say that Disney Parks are only made for families with children. Obviously, since I’m an adult with a Disney blog, I think that is ridiculous. I believe the parks and resorts have attractions that are fit for every age and life style, just some ages and lifestyles are more obvious than others. In Walt Disney World, this is especially true. With four fairly diverse parks, two water parks, an ever-expanding Disney Springs, an array of resort amenities and countless other outdoor activities, Walt Disney World has something for the whole family. And then WDW even has something else for those who aren’t going with family!
With all that in mind, I’m starting a series of guides about Walt Disney World for each member of the family and then will expand on the series once I’m done with those. Of course, all families are different so I’m going to have to generalize here as I start with boys then will move on to girls, teenagers, and then moms and dads. I also am aware that writing these posts means that I’m having to stereotype genders and age groups. This isn’t really my intention and I will give more specific descriptions to the types of people these guides are for in each post. Mainly titling a post ‘A Boy’s Guide to Walt Disney World’ is a lot easier than ‘An Adventure-Seeking, Action-Loving Kid Under The Age Of 13 Years Guide to Walt Disney World’. See, I don’t even know how to use proper grammar
with that title. My hope is that you’ll know the type of person you’re going with and then will mix and match from these guides to create a great experience for your family, friend or yourself. With all that covered, let’s get started!
Walt Disney World is known for catering to young girls, but what about young boys? To be honest, they get a shorter end of the stick compared to the opposite gender of the same age. Disney puts a ton of emphasis on the princesses in the Parks that most of the ‘kid’ experiences are either not exciting enough or don’t appeal to these kids due to the content. So, for boys (or girls) who are seeking adventure and aren’t impressed by princess dark rides, the parks could be a little less magical than the typical kid. There are ways around this though and that’s why you’re probably reading this!
There are some specific areas and attractions in Walt Disney World that will appeal to these kids that are in it for the thrills. I’ll write about some of those areas, starting with the parks and then moving on to obscure and lesser known areas on property.
Typically, younger kids who love action can be in a somewhat tough spot due to height limits on the big thrill rides. Even with height limits, each park boasts certain attractions that will give young kids a bit of a thrill.
I’ll go park by park and give a few attractions and areas that I think adventure-seeking kids (that aren’t tall enough for the big thrills) will enjoy. I’m going to leave parades off of this list because I don’t know how much they belong. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom’s daytime parade) is a classic Disney parade but is well done. The Main Street Electrical Parade might be more exciting to an adventurous young ‘un because of all of the lights and fun soundtrack. I’m always surprised at how much boys enjoy parades so measure how well your child is enjoying the character interactions and that will likely help tell you how much they will like the parades. On to the parks!
As far as areas in Magic Kingdom go, I believe that Adventureland, Tomorrowland and Frontierland are the most appealing to young boys or kids who love adventure. Liberty Square could also be appealing to young kids with the water near and may be a good bridge to parents teaching a little bit about American history. Some kids will be drawn to areas but for the most part I think young children will mostly focus on the attractions that they will get to ride. With that in mind, let’s get to some rides!
Astro Orbiter & Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
These two attractions are definitely not the two best overall attractions that Magic Kingdom has to offer, but they do give adventure-seekers a chance to do something quite appealing; controlling their experience. The Astro Orbiter is just a spinner ride like Dumbo, except it looks like a rocket and goes fairly high in the air. That’s enough for me to think it’s cool and I’m guessing it’s one of the best ‘thrills’ a 5 year-old boy could get at Magic Kingdom.
As for Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, this is another interactive attraction that teaches kids a very important lesson: We must defeat Zurg. While I think the Magic Kingdom version of this attraction isn’t executed as well as Disneyland’s, I still think it’s a blast for kids as they have the chance to compete with their family to see who can get the highest score in shooting targets. There’s also a chance to spin around a lot, which seems to be a thing some people like to do. Basically these two attractions are giving kids a chance to control their experience.
Pirate’s Adventures and Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
In the same vein as the attractions above are these relatively new interactive games in the Magic Kingdom. These games are said to be pretty entertaining, keep you away from attractions with long lines (which is a positive and a negative) and are again, attractions that put the kid in control. I wouldn’t recommend doing both of these, at least not in the same day. I would guess the Pirate’s Adventure is a little more ‘exciting’ because, you know, pirates. But the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom always gets good reviews and is the more recognized of the two attractions.
Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, and Pirates of the Caribbean
These are classic Disney attractions that don’t have height limits. None of them are especially fast-moving, but surviving wild animals, ghosts, and pirates is the type of thing 6-year-old tough guys are looking to put on their resume. Plus, this is a great way for parents to share the Disney they know with their kids.
Epcot is probably the hardest park for action-seeking kids and just kids in general. For as great as World Showcase is, it’s a bit of a dead zone for attractions that are enticing to the younger crowd. They may find a few of the shows fun, most notably the acrobats in China and the street performers in France. As far as areas go, The Seas is basically an aquarium so that should be a safe bet for a boy. The Imagination Pavilion is lacking in attractions but does have a few great fountains and areas to play around or in. Let’s get to the rides.
The Seas With Nemo and Friends and Turtle Talk With Crush
Finding Nemo is the type of content that is appealing to almost all kids so it makes the cut on this list. Turtle Talk is interactive and may be more apt to holding attention, but that depends on how interested your little guy is in aquariums, as the Nemo attraction features real fish. Both may become boring to pre-teens, but any age before that will most likely be intrigued.
Test Track and Soarin’ (40-inch height limit for both)
I’ll try to stay away from most height limit attractions but these two only have 40-inch limits, which is pretty small compared to others. They are also the most exciting attractions in Epcot, by a long ways. Test Track especially will give some much-needed action to kid’s day in Epcot. If your boy is too short for these attractions, there are a few things of interest in Innoventions that may fill the action void.
Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
If you’re a parent, you almost certainly want to enjoy some time in World Showcase. Having a bored kid makes it hard to accomplish that. This game (based on Phineas & Ferb) is similar to the ones I mentioned in Magic Kingdom. Kids will hunt around in the pavilions, looking for clues. This is interactive and will keep most boys entertained.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Well, this won’t be as hard as Epcot for long (I’ll update this as the years pass) but for now there simply isn’t much here for kids to do. Our kids searching for adventure will probably be drawn to the shrieks and thrills of Sunset Boulevard, but that will most likely be a letdown as there are height limits there (40 inches of Tower of Terror, 48 inches for Rock n’ Roller Coaster). Pixar Place is fairly empty at the moment but may draw some boys in due to its Toy Story presence. That leaves Echo Lake and the Star Wars section there will likely be the most exciting area for kids in Hollywood Studios. As far as the attractions go…
Toy Story Midway Mania
This is the obvious one. The attraction is interactive, a competition, themed to Toy Story, like a video game, and it spins. That fits most of the important aspects of what I’m looking for in these attractions. The wait times are a pain, but get FastPass+ and get ready to see your kid love this one.
Tower of Terror and Star Tours (40-inch height limit for both)
These are the actual action rides in the park that may be an option for children. Like Epcot before it, 40-inch height limits are not very tall. Star Tours will likely not scare anyone and kids who love Star Wars or are even just familiar with the name will likely enjoy this attraction.
Tower of Terror was almost left off this list. It was ultimately kept on because it is probably the biggest thrill in Walt Disney World and it has a relatively short height limit. With that being said, I think it’s scary and could be too much for some of the younger kids this list targets. Anything 8+ should be okay, but I definitely wouldn’t start with this attraction if this is their first time at a theme park. This is all coming from a 25-year-old chicken – so don’t take what I say as law. You know your child and I don’t (well unless I know you…) so you obviously have a better read on them. Just know that Tower of Terror is probably the most frightening overall attraction at Walt Disney World.
Well, this is put on the list because the park is lacking and because I love the Muppets and think everyone else should. The film is frankly outdated, but the jokes still work and if you’re a Muppets fan then it might be fun to share this film with your child. It was the last ‘Muppets’ film or show that Jim Henson worked on before he passed away so that’s some history to see with your boy. Also, Sweetums walks around and that guy is always looking for an adventure!
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
This show will likely keep your kid entertained for at least half of it. While the overall show is too long, watching how they do stunts in the movies is pretty fascinating to kids and adults alike. That is what the goal of the show is and it’s fairly successful in accomplishing that.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
My bias will come into play here, as I love Animal Kingdom. Most areas will be pretty interesting as many kids seem fascinated by animals. If you have one of those children that is fascinated, then this park will be a gold mine. If not, then hiking around some of the trails on Discovery Island could be pretty interesting and the Harambe section has a lot to see and hear. On to attractions…
Dinosaur (40-inch height limit) and Kali River Rapids (38-inch height limit)
These relatively short height limits allow for adventure-seeking kids to be able to enjoy some action rides. Both are fun attractions and go at fairly fast speeds. I don’t see why a brave little kid wouldn’t like either of these.
It’s Tough to be a Bug
Forget everything I said about Tower of Terror, this is the scariest attraction at Walt Disney World. It’s aimed for children though and most of them seem to like it. Just me and a few other children scream and cry through this 3D-film while everyone else just laughs and enjoys themselves. There really are some jumpy moments throughout, but chances are this type of kid will like this attraction.
Going on a safari is pretty exciting, right? This attraction shows hundreds of different animal species and takes you over some pretty interesting and fun terrain. It will most likely keep your action-lover entertained and definitely will if they love animals. The ride isn’t very fast but there is a ton to look at and the jeeps get very close to some animals.
Maharajah Jungle Trek and The Boneyard
Any of the trails at Animal Kingdom are really well done with my favorite being the Maharajah Jungle Trek. There are a ton of exhibits for your child to explore here, as well as many animals to see. The architecture is really interesting and this area allows for getting around on their own two feet which can be pretty fun compared to waiting in line.
The Boneyard is Animal Kingdom’s playground and is a blast. It’s themed after an archaeological site where they are digging up dinosaur bones. While The Boneyard isn’t an action ride it’s a place for kids to run off some energy and has lots of safe areas for them to explore.
The Festival of the Lion King
This show takes play in Harambe and is a sort of variety-show that’s loosely themed off the Lion King. Since the Lion King isn’t a princess movie and the acts are pretty exciting, this show made the list. There are trampoline jumpers and fire-dancers, as well as several other acts. Of most shows at Walt Disney World, this will most likely keep a busy kid entertained.
Ranking the Night Time Shows For Adventurous Kids
I think most people enjoy night-time shows regardless of age or personality. That doesn’t mean every group will rank them evenly. Here’s my best guess at how boy’s would rank the nighttime entertainment (I will update with Rivers of Light in Animal Kingdom once I’m able to see it):
- Wishes (Magic Kingdom) – With the projections before it (Celebrate the Magic) and the stunning fireworks with recognizable songs, I think this show is a fairly clear number one unless…
- Star Wars Fireworks (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – Your child might love Star Wars! This isn’t the name of the actual show, but they are changing the show that it is now to a new one this summer, so I will update with the actual name once that show comes out. Fireworks set to the Star Wars soundtrack is incredible and will be jaw-dropping for kids who love the franchise.
- Illuminations (Epcot) – The shows theme might be a little bit over some kids head but there sure is a lot to look at and that may keep them more entertained than any of these shows.
- Fantasmic! (Hollywood Studios) – It is a classic show, but doesn’t have as many jaw-dropping moments as the other shows on this list. I did nearly move this up due to the show having seating, making it easier for kids to see. In the end, I didn’t think it was worth it.
Of course, the parks have much more for boys to do. Make sure to plan in advance and see what attractions you think your kid might be into and then go there. Those were just a few of the ones that stood out to me.
The Water Parks
Whether to go to the water parks or not is one of the biggest questions when it comes to a Disney vacation. Is it worth the extra money and do you have the extra time? When it comes to kids, especially kids who like action, the water parks could be a blast. There are a few slides that have height limits, but for the most part, kids are able to do what they please. The slides are a good chance to go fast at Disney World.
Deciding between the two parks may be slightly more difficult than deciding to go. If your kid loves to swim then they will likely love the water parks. Now, if they get a thrill from swimming and actually being in the water than Typhoon Lagoon might be the place for them. The giant wave pool there is basically one of a kind and is a great place to spend the afternoon. But, if your adventurous child likes jumping in the pool or has an affinity for slides than Blizzard Beach may be the better choice as it has more slides.
Both water parks are really fun and will likely be enjoyed by your child. If you have more than 5 days at Walt Disney World, I’d recommend doing a water park/rest day in the middle of your vacation. You child might enjoy some down time as well as spending some time in the water. Not to mention, parents might enjoy the rest as well.
Eating is a big part of Walt Disney World and although that aspect may be more important to adults, it can definitely play a role in a child’s vacation. While many thrill-seeking kids won’t be fans of sitting down to eat for an hour a day at one of the most exciting places on Earth, it’s important to give them some rest and the restaurants can be fun! I’ll be spending more time on this section when we get to the adult guides, but here are a few table-service (sit down) restaurants that may capture some boy’s imaginations.
Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge) and The Tusker House (Animal Kingdom)
Both of these restaurants pick up with the thinking I had in Kilimanjaro Safaris being exciting for kids. Animals are fascinating so these restaurants should be fun! Sanaa has animals roaming around out the window as you eat. The food is very good, but adventurous as far as picky eaters go. The theming may be worth having a hard time picking out an entree. The Tusker House also has an African theme and entrees, but it’s a buffet so finding something appealing may be easier for a little one. The Tusker House doesn’t feature any living animals, but is a character dining experience with Mickey Mouse and his pals visiting your table in their best safari gear. This isn’t your typical princess dining and is a good way to meet some characters in a more adventurous setting.
Beaches & Cream Soda Shop (Beach Club Resort)
This is just a typical soda shop, but with Disney theming and more than your average ice cream. The old-fashioned theme combined with the casual environment make for an easy, fun experience for a young thrill-seeker. The ice cream is a major selling point, as well.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Hollywood Studios)
Score on for theming here. This restaurant isn’t generally known for great food, but is themed to a drive-in movie theater. Sci-Fi is one of the most immersive restaurants in Walt Disney World and will most likely delight any child, especially one who’s not very impressed by princesses. While the food may not be as fancy as other places, it is simple and conducive to the tastes of most kids.
The Garden Grill (Epcot)
Take what I said for The Tusker House and replicate here except this place has barbecue food. Also this restaurant rotates slowly in a circle as you eat, so that’s pretty cool!
Via Napoli (Epcot)
What kid doesn’t like pizza? This place has some of the best pizza on property and a fun theme to boot. Located in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion, the restaurant is pretty fun for families and is a nice compromise for kids and parents.
There are surely more sit-down restaurants that are appealing to kids. As with everything at Walt Disney World, many of these choices come down to tastes and opinions. As for counter-service restaurants, there are a few that may be fun for boys. Here’s a quick list:
- Pizzafari (Animal Kingdom)
- Gaston’s Tavern (Magic Kingdom)
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (Magic Kingdom)
- Sunshine Seasons (Epcot)
All of the restaurants I’ve mentioned I can recommend outside of Pizzafari which just reopened after a refurbishment. Some of the food looks to be much better, but I haven’t personally tasted it. Even so, the theming of Pizzafari is really well done for a counter-service restaurant. If you have questions about certain restaurants, please leave them in the comments!
If staying on-site, your resort is likely to have an excellent pool. I was listening to a podcast the other day in which a travel agent said that they get many reports back of the hotel pool being the favorite part of a child’s vacation. While this may make some people question if the whole trip was worth the money, I think it speaks to the elaborate pools that WDW resorts offer. Take a look at Disney Tourist Blog’s list of top-ten pools, if that’s an important aspect of booking your vacation.
Most resorts offer nice trails to walk or run on, play areas and games for children to play. I love shuffleboard (I’m very excited to be 70 years-old) and play that, as many resorts offer different games along those lines. Many times these little, relaxed amenities can be a great way for kids to unwind and enjoy their time with family. As I said in the water park portion, I’d encourage guests to have a rest day on longer vacations. Even if you aren’t going to a water park, just exploring the hotel and using their amenities is a good way to spend the day.
Other Entertainment Options
There are still a wide variety of attractions outside of the parks and resorts that boy’s will enjoy. The mini golf courses near Epcot get rave reviews and are a fun competition for the family. Like the resorts, that’s another relaxed activity with the family that can be a great memory for kids.
Disney Springs isn’t exactly geared towards young boy’s. There is a lot of shopping and not much action, especially with Disney Quest closing. Not that Disney Quest was worth the money, anyway. The Lego Store is really cool and entertaining, but I don’t think kids could spend hours in there. The World of Disney Store follows in the same boat. Maybe Disney Springs will become more kid-friendly over time, but I don’t think that’s what Disney is going for in that area.
Wide World of Sports complex and some of the water activities may be of interest to kids. The sports complex has some different areas to explore and a few activities. I wouldn’t recommend taking a special trip to it, but I’m not the best one to ask about that. There are different water activities from fishing to parasailing. You can see all of those options here. Most of them include an extra charge, but I’ve only heard good reviews on most of these events. I have enjoyed the few that I’ve tried.
YeHaa Bob at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort is a great show that the whole family will probably enjoy. It’s a fairly interactive show with fun songs and light-hearted humor. YeHaa Bob is becoming a Disney legend of sorts and I’m never heard anyone say they regret going to one of his shows. He plays from Wednesday-Saturday at the River Roost Lounge at Port Orleans Resort.
There are certainly even more things to do at Walt Disney World for boys, but this is a good start. As I’ve repeated throughout the post, much of what you decide to do comes down to your boy’s taste. This post will be updated as time goes by to showcase what has been added to Walt Disney World.
I’ll be working on different guides throughout the next few weeks and I’d love some feedback. This post is certainly long, but I was trying to be fairly thorough and didn’t feel as if it should be split in to two. I’m open to suggestions on format and content though. Please let me know what you think (if any of you made it this far, anyway!) in the comments. Thank you for reading!