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. In case you missed it, here was my first post in the series all about bringing boys to Walt Disney World. Today, I’m moving on to girls. This creates a few challenges, most notably me never having experienced being a girl. With that in mind, I brought in my wife to help write this post so many thanks to her. 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. If your daughter (or whatever-relation-girl) you’re bringing is more of a ‘tom-boy’ then following the boys guide for her might be a better option. More likely, taking all of these guides and combining them to fit the people you’re going with is the best possible route. Really this is all just trying to get you to view as many blog posts on Wandering in Disney as possible 😉 With all that being said, let’s get started!
Of all the guides I plan to write, writing one for stereotypical girls is probably the easiest. In a lot of ways these parks were made for them. This guide in particular will be focused on girls up to 12 years old who enjoy princesses, classic Disney films, less intense action and dressing up. With that being said, I know many girls who love the princesses also love thrill rides and I will try to include some of that. Not all of the attractions, restaurants and activities I recommend will fit a girl with these characteristics, but most will.
There are many specific areas and attractions in Walt Disney World that will appeal to a girl. I’ll write about some of those areas starting with the parks and then moving on to obscure and lesser known areas on property.
Kids who love princesses, dressing up and classic Disney stories will be a blast to take to Walt Disney World. Some parks absolutely cater to those kids. Unfortunately, there are some difficult parks to navigate with a young, soon-to-be princess.
I’ll go park by park and give a few attractions and areas that I think princess-loving, less-intense kids will enjoy. I’m going to leave parades off of this list because I think this type of kid will likely love them all. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom’s daytime parade) is a classic Disney parade showcasing many classic Disney characters, specifically princesses. The Main Street Electrical Parade might not fill this certain child’s wants quite as much, as it’s a little less princess themed. Young kids all seem to love parades. Between the upbeat music, characters they love, and getting to wave their arm off, parades are probably a must-do if you have a young girl with you. Find a shady spot to sit and grab your camera, as your child is hopefully going to give quite a few photogenic moments. I will talk about the nighttime shows after the parks. On to the parks!
As far as areas in Magic Kingdom go, I believe that Fantasyland (including New Fantasyland), Main Street, and Adventureland are the most appealing to young girls. 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. Liberty Square also has the Tangled bathrooms, which are just bathrooms… But, they are themed to Tangled so that is fun to see and a good photo-op. Some kids will be drawn to other 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!
Meet & Greets
I’ll get this out-of-the-way now. This type of kid will like meet & greets. Whether it’s meeting princesses, princes or Mickey, these will probably be a magical experience for them. There are meet & greets at every park so just know that I mean this option for each of them. As far as interesting characters in Magic Kingdom go, the most lifelike Mickey Mouse in WDW is on Main Street at the Town Square Theater. Ariel has a fun area by her attraction in New Fantasyland. There’s also Princess Fairy Tale Hall in Fantasyland which features a few princesses. (Check who’s there when actually on the trip, currently it’s Cinderella and Rapunzel, but it can change.)
Enchanted Tales With Belle
In this attraction you can explore Maurice’s cottage and then meet the princess herself. She will then read to you the Beauty and the Beast story and will have kids help her act it out. This attraction consistently gets rave reviews, perhaps due to the intimacy of it. If your girl loves Beauty and the Beast (and even if she doesn’t, but loves the princesses) then this attraction is a must-do. You can find Enchanted Tales in New Fantasyland.
Mickey’s PhilharMagic is a 3D movie that takes guests into classic Disney scenes. The soundtrack is great, the film is fairly funny, and young Disney fans get to see all their favorite characters in about 15 minutes. Maybe best of all, this is a great place for the whole family to cool off inside. You can find this one in Fantasyland.
Under the Sea -Journey of the Little Mermaid
I almost left this one off the list, as I’m not much of a fan of this attraction. I typically won’t recommend attractions that I don’t like, but I bit the bullet here. Magic Kingdom (compared to Disneyland) doesn’t have many classic princess dark rides, in fact this is basically the only one. While I think it’s lame that this attraction just retells the story of The Little Mermaid, a young girl probably wouldn’t share my opinion. This too is in New Fantasyland. (Andrew’s wife here…this is one of my favorites! Your little lovely will LOVE IT!)
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Let’s get to some action. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the attraction that checks all of the boxes on our list. Action that’s not too intense – check. Based on classic Disney – check. Has fun characters you’ll recognize – check. While the attraction is a step below some of the classic Disney rides it’s easy to see why Disney built it when thinking of this guide. This should be a perfect first roller coaster for your little girl. This is also in New Fantasyland.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Well, honestly, I just got tired of writing about attractions in Fantasyland. Pirates is classic Disney that has a few tie-ins to characters your young Disney-lover might have seen. (Whether those characters should be in there or not is a different story.) This attraction also teaches your child the dangers of running off with pirates. That’s a very valuable lesson to learn. Really, any classic Disney attraction should be a good fit for young girls. Big Thunder, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise aren’t too intense, but still offer a sense of thrill.
Epcot is probably the hardest park for 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. There are some meet & greets there for your young girl. That may make the time go faster as you snack/drink/make your way around World Showcase. They also 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’s fun for most kids. 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. If you have read the boy’s version of this guide, you’ll notice that my picks are largely the same. I’m not trying to be lazy, but Epcot really doesn’t offer much excitement for kids right now. Many of the pavilions in Future World are a shell of their former selves.
Frozen Ever After
While this isn’t open yet (probably late May or June), it’s sure to be the most exciting part of Epcot for young girls. It’s an attraction based on Frozen. Enough said.
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 girl 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 while neither is too intense. Of the two, Soarin’ is probably most exciting for young girls as the subject matter fits their characteristics a little better than designing cars on Test Track. Still, these are both some light-hearted attractions that have some action involved.
This attraction takes guests slowly through the World’s history while offering some interactive elements. While it might be seen as boring, there is also a decent amount to learn and look at. I think most young girls would probably enjoy the attraction at least once. Honestly, Spaceship Earth making the list really speaks to how few attractions there are that fit a kid’s checklist at Epcot.
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. For girls who have a little ‘tom-boy’ in them, the shrieks and thrills of Sunset Boulevard will be a draw, but there are height limits (40 inches of Tower of Terror, 48 inches for Rock n’ Roller Coaster) and they are very intense attractions. Pixar Place is fairly empty at the moment, but may draw some girls because Toy Story is so iconic. That leaves Echo Lake and Muppets Courtyard. Both probably won’t be at the top of your child’s list unless they have a connection to the Muppets or Star Wars (which they should because everyone should!)
Toy Story Midway Mania
This is an obvious choice for any kid. It’s filled with characters that are almost certainly familiar to all kids and it has interactive attractions inside. While I still think this attraction fits my boy’s guide more than the girl’s, I’m guessing almost all kids will have fun here.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage
Both of these shows are decent productions and retellings of classic Disney stories. While sitting through both right after each other might be a tall task for younger girls (they might get a little antsy) they’d probably enjoy both over the course of a day. Voyage of the Little Mermaid is much shorter and offers both live characters and ones on-screen. It’s not nearly the production Beauty and the Beast is, but I may like it more. Beauty and the Beast is more of a straight stage show with many choreographed dances and such. They’re both well done and enjoyable.
Muppet-Vision 3D or Star Tours
For now, the Muppets make the list for two reasons. 1. I love them. 2. There just aren’t enough options elsewhere. If your girl loves Star Wars, then that’s probably the better choice. If she’s unfamiliar with both, I would wager a guess (albeit a very small wager) that she may find the Muppets show a little more enjoyable. They’re very different attraction that will soon be replaced by whatever they are currently building.
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 Asia and the Harambe sections have 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 more adventurous princesses to be able to enjoy some action rides. Both are fun attractions that go at fairly fast speeds but they aren’t very intense. I have a theory that it’s impossible to not smile on a rapids ride unless you hate getting splashed. Most kids don’t mind getting splashed, so this is on here regardless of it not being my favorite rapids ride. Dinosaur is slightly more intense and was almost left off the list. Still it’s a nice break from the princesses and should be a decent action ride that doesn’t scare the snot out of your child.
Just so you know, this attraction will make it on to every guide that I do. It’s my favorite attraction at Walt Disney World and I think it’s made for all ages. It’s very unique, has a level of thrill, and is huge in scale. Even for a girl who’s mainly interested in meeting princesses, this should be a good bet.
Even a dressed-up princess needs to blow off some steam. This playground is my favorite in Walt Disney World (I felt very strange typing that) and is one of the few redeeming qualities of DinoLand U.S.A. There are many areas to climb around on and it’s a safe place to let your kid run around for a while.
The Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo the Musical
Festival of the Lion King takes place in Harambe and is a sort of variety-show that’s loosely themed off the Lion King. The film has some very recognizable characters and is fairly interactive, so it makes the list. There are many things to entertain your girl in this show.
Finding Nemo fits more of the characteristics we’re looking for. It’s uplifting, musical, and filled with favorite characters of children. The musical is also less action and more acting than Festival of the Lion King. While I think Festival is a slightly better show, Finding Nemo the Musical might be better for your girl and is still very enjoyable.
Ranking the Night Time Shows For Soon-To-Be Princesses
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 girl’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. There will be many moments for a girl to grasp on to and remember. The show is touching and uplifting making it the clear favorite.
- Fantasmic! (Hollywood Studios) – It is a classic show, but doesn’t have as many jaw-dropping moments as the other shows on this list. Still, it ranks second here because it has more of characters and a story that is easy to follow along with. The asterisk here is that if your girl has been to Disneyland then this probably drops to fourth since she’s already seen the better version.
- Star Wars Fireworks (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – While Star Wars continues to become more female friendly with the new character Rey (and Rogue One’s main character is a female) Star Wars themed attractions may become more interesting to a princess-loving girl. Still, it ranks third here because I think the first two options offer more of story and moments that a girl would latch on to. (As an aside, this show isn’t actually called Star Wars Fireworks, it’s yet to be named. There were Star Wars themed fireworks over the last year at the Studios and now there is a new show debuting this summer. This is somewhat of a projection and somewhat based off of the last Star Wars show.)
- 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.
Of course, the parks have much more for girls 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. If you have questions about specific attractions then please let me know in the comments and I’d be happy to help.
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, 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. One drawback of the water parks is that they don’t have any direct tie-ins to Disney characters. For a girl who’s looking forward to meeting all her favorite characters, the water parks will simply just offer slides and pools to play on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it may be a drawback to some. Adding water parks to your Disney vacation does cost a little extra, so make sure that you will take advantage of them before buying that feature.
If you decide that you want to go to the water parks, choosing between the two parks may be even 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. I’ve also seen that Blizzard Beach is adding a few activities at the park that have to do with Frozen. If that’s true then Blizzard Beach is probably the right spot for a princess-loving child. Of course, you can always go to both water parks.
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. I’ll talk about this more later, but a lot of times the resort pool will be more than enough of a pool to tide your child over, especially if they are under 5 or 6 years old. Again, weigh how much your child loves the water and then decide.
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 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 future princesses will enjoy.
Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom), Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot), 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian)
The common theme of these restaurants is that they are all character dining that feature princesses. Character dining in itself can be pretty fun and when they feature princesses, many kids lose their minds with excitement. Cinderella’s Royal Table is inside of the castle, so that’s cool enough already. Then you add in princesses and things go to a whole new level. But, you surely pay for that experience as this is one of the most expensive restaurants at Walt Disney World. The food is generally thought of as pretty good but not consistently great. 1900 Park Fare offers a dinner buffet at a slightly lower price than Cinderella’s Royal Table, but it’s not the same experience. Akershus is the best value of any of these and is a pretty good experience. They have a slightly more versatile menu, that has a Norwegian flare, adults might find more interesting. If your child is more interested in Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh characters then check out Chef Mickeys, The Tusker House, or Crystal Palace.
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 an excited child. The ice cream is a major selling point and this is one of the cheaper table-service restaurants on property..
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Hollywood Studios)
Score one 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. While the food may not be as fancy as other places, it is simple and conducive to the tastes of most kids.
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.
Coral Reef (Epcot)
This famous restaurant has guests sit right next to a huge aquarium as they eat their lunch or dinner. While I wasn’t impressed by the food when I was there, the experience is something that the whole family will enjoy and very unique. If your little girl is fascinated by animals she will love this place.
Whispering Canyon Cafe (Wilderness Lodge), 50’s Prime Time Cafe (Hollywood Studios)
If your child is easy-going and likes interacting with people then these restaurants may be a great experience. The wait staff at these places will be happy to tease and have some fun with your child. As an important bonus, the food gets good reviews at both of these places.
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:
Be Our Guest (for breakfast and lunch) & Gaston’s Tavern (Magic Kingdom)
Sunshine Seasons (Epcot)
Landscape of Flavors (Art of Animation)
I enjoy all of these places. Be Our Guest and Gaston’s make the list due to the incredible theming and connection to classic Disney characters. Sunshine Seasons and Landscape of Flavors are two of the better ‘food courts’ on property and I think it’s nice to have options on what to eat when going with children. There are an extraordinary amount of quick-service options. If you have questions about one please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer.
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
Disney Springs will offer some fun experiences for girls. The obvious one is shopping and if your little girl is a shopper she’ll likely enjoy the World of Disney store as well as some other options. If you’re looking for something very memorable to do at an extra cost, take your girl to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. If you do, I recommend scheduling a character dining experience after so that your little princess can show off her new style. Disney Springs is changing by the day but there are many interesting and fun options here, especially for shoppers.
Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian would be another experience that may cost extra, but would be a fun experience. If your girl is closer to her teenage years and is drawn to the elegant style (and tea) then she’d probably have fun on an afternoon at the Grand Flo. I think this would be a great mother-daughter experience. Learn more about it here.
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 girls, but this is a start. As I’ve repeated throughout the post, much of what you decide to do comes down to your girl’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!