We have been visiting Disney yearly since our son, O, was 5. And you know what, we enjoy our time way more now that he is a teenager. Let us tell you why Disney only gets better. as your kids grow up. And get our take on the very best Disney parks for teenagers, written by none other than our teenager son. 

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Disneyland Versus Disney World For Teenagers

Disney Castle with Teenagers
Teen Time is the Best Time

The decision as to what park is best with your teenager is dependent on how much time you have to spend. 

If you have limited time: 2-3 days then we definitely recommend Disneyland. The density of the rides in both parks means that you can easily do a park a day and pretty much ride everything. 

If you have more time, 3+ days,  then Disney World could be the better choice. One of the great – but also challenging – aspects of Disney World is that they have four parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. 

Even with a Park Hopper ticket (which allows you to visit multiple parks on the same day), you need a minimum of two days to explore all 4 parks.

While you certainly can do 3 parks a day, I am not sure why you would. So 3+ days is really a must. I mean you are flying or driving all the way there, right?

Since Disneyland with teens is about the rides, the challenge with Disney World over Disneyland is the higher intensity, thrill rides are really spread out. Enter the Park Hopper ticket.

When planning a trip to Disneyland on a budget, we don’t recommend buying the Park Hopper ticket. The two parks at Disneyland, California Adventure and Disneyland Park, are the perfect size for a day a piece. So if you are there for two days, visit one park each day…easy.

But at Disney World, we have definitely opted for the Hopper. 

What is important to know about the Hopper is that you pay the same price to add it to your ticket, no matter how many days you plan to visit.

Let me explain. Disney groups all your days together and calls it your tickets. So if you are going for 5 days or 1 day, you have 1 ticket. 

In 2022, the rate to add the Hopper was $60 per ticket. If you add a Hopper to a single day ticket it is a wild expense. But if you add it to a 4-day ticket it is literally just $15 per day for the added flexibility of moving between parks.

Given how spread out the rides are across multiple parks at Disney World, you may want to consider the Hopper. 

We use the Hopper at Disney World for the parks that are lower on O’s list. (Read on to where I turn it over to our teen to give you his “best of” list).

We devote one full day to the park that is #1 on O’s list. And then every other day, we use the hopper to pair a park that is higher on the list with one that is lower. 

So for example, a full day would be spent at Hollywood Studios. And then we would use the Hopper to spend the morning and afternoon at Animal Kingdom and then the evening at Magic Kingdom. 

Disney World Versus Universal Orlando Studio for Teenagers

Okay, so let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Universal Studios. While Universal Studios in California is cool,  it is no competition for Disneyland.

Yes, Universal Studios Hollywood has the classic studio tour, which is very cool.  But the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the California park is only half what it is in Florida. California also has the Jurassic Park Ride.

But really the vibe of Universal Studios Hollywood doesn’t beat Disney.

However,  in Orlando, Universal Studios is definitely a contender. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split between the 2 parks.

At Universal in Orlando, you  get to travel between Diagon Alley, which is the main park, and Hogsmead, which is on the Island of Adventure, via the Hogwarts Express. And of course, you have to get a two-park ticket for the full experience. Well played, Universal. 

But the world building of Harry Potter is Disney quality. It really is wonderful. 

And Universal Studios Orlando also has lots of other thrill rides for your teenager like the Incredible Hulk Coaster and The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. 

We are Disney faithful. But to be honest, we have split our time between Disney World and Universal. And will probably do it again. 

It is a tough call when you are traveling to Disney World with teenagers. If your teens are really into the big rides, then Universal is probably more your speed.

But if your teen, like ours, appreciates not only the rides, but also a bit more atmosphere, then Disney can still be king. 

So let’s talk more Disney…..

What Parks Inside Disney World Are Best for Teenagers

Hollywood Studios With Teenagers: Best Park for a Whole Day

Hollywood Studios is far and away the Disney Park for teenagers. It has the most thrills and best world building. Hollywood Studios was high on the teenager list before Star Wars Galaxy Edge. But after it was added in 2019, the #1 choice for teenagers became clear.

One of the best parts of this park is definitely the Star Wars area. Not only does it have two great rides: Millennium Falcon-Smuggler’s Run and Rise of the Resistance, the entire 14 acres is just so cool.

Styled after the land of Batuu, the Black Spire Outpost, transports you into a Lucasfilm World. 

Galaxy Edge With Teenagers

But if Star Wars isn’t your thing (and if so, what is wrong with you?), Hollywood Studios also has Toy Story Land.

Added in 2018, Toy Story Land is not only super nostalgic for teenagers since its built around such an important movie from my childhood, it also has some great rides.

O and Matthew in front of the Toy Story Land

While it is not a thrill ride, Midway Mania may be your teens’ favorite ride.

The ride allows teens to compete against their parents playing virtual midway games like balloon popping and ring toss. But be warned that  the Buzz Lightyear ride is at Hollywood Studios. You’ll have to go to Magic Kingdom for that classic experience. 

And even if your teenager isn’t particularly inspired by world building, there is still a larger percentage of thrill rides in Hollywood Studios than anywhere else on the property.

From Aerosmith Rock-n-Roll Coast to the classic Tower of Terror, Hollywood Studios is the #1 Disney park for teenagers.  

Animal Kingdom with Teenagers

Before 2017, Animal Kingdom would not have ranked this high. But in 2017, Animal Kingdom became home to Pandora-the World of Avatar.

Before the addition of Pandora, Animal Kingdom was great for younger kids.

Little ones can spend the entire day following in the steps of Russell from Up, visiting animals, learning fascinating facts, and getting stickers. 

However, the addition of Avatar with its two rides, definitely makes Animal Kingdom a much, much better park for teenagers.

The Flight of Passage, where you feel like you are riding on a mountain banshee, is perfect for teenagers. And even the second ride, Na’vi River Journey, is a unique experience. 

Animal Kingdom also has the Expedition Everest, which is similar to the classic Matterhorn. And there is also the Kali River Ride where teenagers and their parents get very, very soaked.

However, despite Animal Kingdom’s ranking as the second best Disney World Park, it is really a good park for rope drop (read more about rope drop under the Best Disney Schedule with Teenagers).

And then we suggest an afternoon hop to another park. 

Animal Kingdom closes much earlier than all the other parks. They have to feed and tend all those animals after all. So it is a great morning/afternoon park.

We have stayed for the night show and enjoyed it. But if you are short on evenings, skip this one for the more impressive Fantasmic and Fireworks at Magic Kingdom. 

Animal Kingdom is only connected to the other parks by bus so you’ll need to catch a bus to your evening destination. 

Hollywood Studios is geographically the closest to Animal Kingdom if your teenager wants to head back for a few more hours at my favorite park. 

Epcot with Teenagers

For teenagers, it is  definitely a toss up between Epcot and Magic Kingdom for 3rd and 4th position.  Magic Kingdom has all the classic rides like Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain.

But Epcot has several good thrill rides, including the brand new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. There is also Test Track and Mission Space, which are always a winner with teenagers. 

Most teenagers, including ours, are not fans of the World Village. But parents love the Food and Wine festival that happens from late summer to November. Or at least we do.

In fact, we often book our trip to Disney World over our fall break in late September, which is a great time to go.

Epcot also has Soarin’, which is a family favorite. And the fairly new ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, which is super charming. 

Magic Kingdom with Teenagers

To be honest, it was a little sad to list Magic Kingdom as #4 of the best Disney World Parks for teenagers. Because it is, well….Magic Kingdom. 

Of course, Magic Kingdom has all the classic rides like Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain. But there hasn’t been too much added in the last decade that really speaks to teenagers.

In 2023, Magic Kingdom is adding Tron and we hold the right to change this list once that addition to this park has been added. 

So if your teenager likes Disney for the rides, there are less thrill rides on offer. However, don’t take this ranking as a complaint, “hey, it is still Disney.”

And let’s be honest, the firework show and parades at Magic Kingdom can’t be beat. 

For that reason, we definitely recommend Magic Kingdom as the evening choice for any Park Hopper day.

One of the best things about Disney with teenagers is that your family can stay after the evening show. And Magic Kingdom is a great park to close down with teenagers. 

What Parks Inside Disneyland Are Best for Teenagers

More than Disney World with its 4 diverse parks, the two parks of Disneyland are definitely a toss up. We recommend when traveling to Disneyland with teenagers that you spend equal time in both parks.

California Adventure with Teenagers

If there is a slight edge between the two parks at Disneyland then it goes to California Adventure. And it makes sense as California Adventure is modeled after Hollywood Studios. 

With the Avengers Campus, Cars Land, and Pixar Pier, there is a lot for teenagers at California Adventure. One teen favorite rides is again Midway Mania.

But teenagers will also love the Incredible Coaster, the Guardians of the Galaxy Tower of Terror  and the newish ride of Spider Man Webslinger. 

The View of Pixar Pier from the Mickey Wheel

Radiator Springs Racers at Cars Land is also pretty great. It is definitely not a thrill ride. But similar to Toy Story Land, there is something perfectly nostalgic about this part of the park since teens grew up watching (and rewatching, and rewatching) Cars.

Now if Star Wars Galaxy Edge was at California Adventure as it is at Hollywood Studios, then there would be a clear winner between the two parks.

But unlike Orlando, Galaxy Edge is in Disneyland Park. And it is one of the best parts of Disneyland Park.

Disneyland Park with Teenagers

Disneyland Park gives you all the classic rides of Magic Kingdom with the addition of Star Wars Galaxy Edge. It is pretty hard to beat. 

It has been said that Galaxy’s Edge is almost like a separate park within Disneyland, and we agree. Rise of the Resistance is hands down the best ride in the entire park for teenagers so consider using your rope drop to get this one in.

But Galaxy’s Edge isn’t all there is on offer for teens. Any trip to Disneyland with teenagers should include the Indiana Jones Adventure, which is a thrill ride that is only at Disneyland and not Disney World. 

And of course, no teenager can miss Haunted Mansion, especially if you visit from September through January.

The park closes down the ride for two weeks in late August and the “Nightmare Before Christmas” overlay is set. This is hands down the best time to experience this ride. 

Tips for Experiencing All Disney Parks with Teens

When Disneying with a Teenager, Get There For Rope Drop

With teens it is all about the rides. And rides are the least busy at the very beginning and the very end of the day.

So getting through the security and ticket counter before the park “opens” is one of our top tips for experiencing Disney with your teen. 

Rope drop is basically the time when the attractions and rides within the parks officially open i.e.  the published “open time.” But the security lines and ticket counters allow guests in about 45 minutes before the published time. 

So if the park opens at 8 a.m., you can start making your way through the screening and ticketing process at around 7:15 a.m.

Of course, you can’t get back to the attractions, but you can cue up to the rope that separates the entrance from the rides. Hence the term, “rope drop.” 

Every night we “pregame” our next day by making a rope drop plan. Our pregame plan is our first, second and even third ride. Although, by the time we get to our 3rd, lines are definitely happening. 

For our first ride, we head straight to the one ride that we know we would be really disappointed if we didn’t get to ride.

This is most often the ride that has the crazy wait time or the ride that doesn’t have a single rider (see the next tip). More often than not this will be a new or newer attraction.

One of the great things with experiencing Disney with your teenager is they can move quickly with you to your destination. No longer slowed down by a cumbersome stroller, or short toddler legs, rope drop becomes a fast walker challenge. 

And to be honest, we have so much fun planning our “rope drop.” O will figure out the fastest route to the Rise of the Resistance or the Avatar Flight of Passage.

We all move out of the hotel with ease (and a cup of coffee) because we love the challenge of making it to our rope drop of the day.

When Disneying with a Teenager, Use the Single Rider

Singer rider is an option that allows guests who wish to ride alone to use a separate, typically faster line. Guests utilizing the single rider line then populate single seats on rides.

So for example, if the ride has seats for 4 and a family of 3 gets on, a single rider will occupy the 4th seat.

To ride a single rider, your kid has to be 7+ years old. 

In 2021, Disney started using Genie+ in lieu of Fast Passes. Prior to 2021, you could come into the park and pull a fast pass for the ride you were most interested in. And after you rode your first Fast Pass ride, you could select two more Fast Pass rides in a single day. 

But in 2021, Disney implemented Genie+ in place of Fast Plass. Genie+ has a component that is free. Basically the free portion is a limited service on the app that helps you plan your day. 

But with its implementation came a pay version where you pay a certain amount per day to basically get the Fast Pass option on several, high demand rides.  The price for Genie+ varies, but was $20 per person per day when we were in Disneyland in October 2022. 

And for rides that are super, super popular like Ride of the Resistance, even the daily rate you pay for the premium features of Genie+ doesn’t work.

For these high demand rides, Disney asks you to pay even more for Lightning Lane to get into that fast lane. And prices for Lightning Lane are steep. 

In fact, the Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance when we were there in October 2022, was $20 per person. Yep, a family of 3 is going to pay $60 to get the Fast Pass, which was once upon a magical time….free.

As budget-minded family travelers, we do not pay for Genie+ or Lightning Lane.

To be completely honest, while we could definitely swing the $15 or $20 Genie+ daily rate even on our budget, we don’t – on principle. 

Seriously, Disney. We just gave you nearly $100 a person per day to gain admission to a park, do we really have to give you more just so we don’t have to spend the entire day standing in long lines?

Enter single rider lanes.

While only a handful of attractions offer single rider lines in each park, they absolutely are one of the best perks of traveling to Disney with your teenager.

In general, we ride a new ride together for the first time. And then, if it has a single rider line, we use it.

Using the single rider line cuts down our time in line by at least 50%. And in truth about half the time, two of us will get on the same ride together. And the cost, $0.

Single Rider Line at Web Slinger

Be aware that single rider lines are subject to closure, especially in the early morning when the rides aren’t terribly busy.

But when they are open, you should definitely consider this tip. Below are the rides that have single rider lines:

What Rides at Disney Have Single Rider

Disney World

  • Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (Hollywood Studios)
  • Rock and Roll Coaster (Hollywood Studios)
  • Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom)
  • Test Track (Epcot)


  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Splash Mountain
  • Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
  • Grizzly River Run (California Adventure)
  • Incredicoaster (California Adventure)
  • Goofy Sky School (California Adventure)
  • Radiator Springs Racers (California Adventure)
  • Webslinger (California Adventure)

The Best Disney Daily Schedule with Teens

Because we know that the morning rope drop and the evenings after the night shows are the best time to ride, we build our Disney schedule around riding. 

We arrive at the park 1 hour before it opens with coffee, a breakfast snack in our hands, and a packed lunch in our backpack.

Then we ride until about 2 p.m. when it is starting to get hot or we are starting to get cranky.

At around 2 or 3, we tend to go back to our hotel to rest and swim. If we are at Disneyland, we also choose accommodations that allow us to make dinner. And then we head back into the Park around 5 or 6 p.m. 

We always stay at the park after whatever nighttime show to enjoy the lights and shorter lines for an hour or two before the park closes. 

We know that there is something pretty magical about your little one seeing their favorite Disney character.

But of course, that magic comes with 30 minutes waiting in line. And in that time your charming toddler in her Cinderella costume, might become a terror. 

Experiencing Disney with your teenager is definitely different from the character breakfast days of the past.  But our family has come to enjoy all the magic much more.

In truth, the best Disney park with a teenager is anyone you choose to visit together. When your little one becomes a teenager, you know time is limited. So all the more reason for the magic. 

FAQs for the Best Disney Park for Teenagers

What Disney Park is the best for teenagers?

We are biased, but Hollywood Studios is the best park for teenagers. With the most thrill rides and Star Wars, you can not go wrong prioritizing this park with your teens.

What is Disney Rope Drop?

Rope drop is basically the time when the attractions and rides within the parks officially open i.e.  the published “open time.” But the security lines and ticket counters allow guests in about 45 minutes before the published time.

What Disney Park is best for the entire family?

Magic Kingdom in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim are the best parks for the entire family.

While your teens may miss out on some of the larger thrill rides here, this is really home to the magic of Disney and a must for every family.

How many miles will I walk in Disneyland?

You should plan to walk about 6-10 miles per day in Disneyland.

Best Disney Park for Teenagers

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