Mommy Frog's Note: As a mom of a tween, I understand how it can be hard to plan a family activity or vacation with a teenager. Will they enjoy it or pretend not to know us? The good news is that most tweens and teens magically stop acting like typical teenagers when they enter Disneyland. Somehow we all magically turn back into little kids while we are there. Your teen may still love meeting favorite Disney characters, piloting the Millennium Falcon and riding the biggest thrill rides in the park. (Psst ... I've also written a complete guide to taking your teen or tween to Disneyland for even more tips on how to have a toadally awesome trip.)
Knowing how to entertain your teens in the park can lead to a successful trip and create hoppy family memories. I’ll turn it over to Tad so you can hear from him directly about his favorite thrill rides and small thrills at Disneyland so your tween or teen can anticipate the fun that is in store for them. As parents, Leap and I feel safe letting Tad experience a little bit of freedom to do his own exploring (sometimes on his own, and sometimes with a friend) to ride anything Lily is not quite tall enough for yet.
'Sup! Tad here. Some of my favorite thrill rides (and places to chill out) happen to be at Disney California Adventure. However, my favorite park is still Disneyland. Disneyland has a completely different feel from California Adventure and it has so much to offer people our age. Yes, there are thrill rides and I will tell you all about those, but there are also some simple thrills that you can get just walking around, being in the park or when you need to rest.
The Best Teen and Tween Thrills at Disneyland
How often do you get to drive your own car? It seems silly, but this ride so much fun for those of us not yet old enough to drive.
This one never gets old because there are different adventures, places and characters each time. And there is always the anticipation of finding out who the rebel spy is. Pick me, pick me!
This thrill ride roller coaster in the dark is pretty scary, fast and fun. I like to ride it during Halloween Time because some years it becomes Ghost Galaxy with a terrifying red skull that tries to get you. My most favorite layover of all is the Star Wars version, Hyperspace Mountain! I recommend riding early, getting a FASTPASS, or hopping in the Single Rider line for this one. It always has a long line. Speaking of FASTPASS, I highly recommend you add Disney MaxPass to your ticket to save time and get the most thrills in your day.
A few years ago, Harold, the Yeti, became scarier and more lifelike. The left track it is a little faster than the right. I often use the Single Rider line while Mommy Frog takes Lily on the nearby teacups or Alice in Wonderland. The Matterhorn ride gets scarier at night than during the day, so choose your own adventure: left, right, day or night!
"This here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!" Never gets old. This line moves fairly quickly and is one of my favorites, so I often hit it twice if the line is under 20 minutes. The front of the train is slower, and the back is a wilder and faster ride.
This thrill ride is so much fun. The line gets long on a hot day, but it is usually very short once it gets dark. I have found that I get soaked in the front seat. Mommy Frog prefers the back seats, where she does not get so wet. It seems as if they can adjust the water depending on the weather. On a cold night, we barely get a few drops on us, but on hot days we seem to get soaked. A heavier boat with more people will soak you more than a lighter boat. Be sure to smile for the camera at the top of the drop (look slightly to your right as you head down hill).
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
As a big time Star Wars fan, I always look forward to my next opportunity to hop into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. In the queue, you'll meet Hondo Ohnaka, who will explain your mission (with the help of Chewbacca). Then, you'll receive your assignment: pilot, gunner, or engineer. Can you obtain two containers of coaxium without damaging the ship? Hop over to my Galactic Guide to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge to learn more about this ride, Rise of the Resistance (coming 2020) and Disneyland's newest land. It's a must-read for young teen and tween padawans like myself.
The ride is exciting, but the line is fun and interesting, too — pull the bamboo pole and rope! This popular high-speed ride is also one you might want to get a FASTPASS for to reduce the wait.
Other Teen and Tween Thrills at Disneyland
Besides the thrill rides, there are other fun things to do in Disneyland. Here are some small thrills that I look forward to each time.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean is always a favorite long and air-conditioned ride, especially when I am hot and tired from the thrill rides. Its line moves quickly and there are two thrills in the dark. If you like pirates, you may also enjoy taking a raft over to Pirate’s Lair, an island with caves and trails and some pirates lurking around.
Haunted Mansion and Haunted Mansion Holiday
One of my favorite times of the year is when the Haunted Mansion is transformed into the Nightmare Before Christmas from September to early January. Keep your eyes open for Jack Skellington in front of the ride for a photo op! During the rest of the year, the Ghost Host keeps foolish mortals entertained with ghoulish delight. "There's no turning back now ... "
I have hopped around the park and seen the Disneyland fireworks from every location. I like to watch them from Main Street where I am surrounded by projection, and because I can hop in closer to show time. But it’s easier to catch a closer view of the fireworks, as well as another close-up type of projection that matches the castle projection, at "it’s a small world." The castle is a bit crowded for me. You can’t see all the fireworks as well from the Rivers of America, but the projection on water is pretty cool. I like to watch the fireworks from Rivers of America on nights when I am viewing the other nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic!
If you love shooting games and Toy Story, then this ride is for you. Join Buzz Lightyear in this interactive and intergalactic battle against the Evil Emperor Zurg. Shoot at targets to rack up points. If you like games (and who doesn't love games?), hop over to the Gamer's Guide to Disneyland for more fun.
Do you have any favorite teen rides and experiences at Disneyland? Please share them in the comments below. If you are looking for tickets, Undercover Tourist offers some hoppin' deals on Disneyland Resort tickets, including some tickets already loaded with MaxPass!
Related: Disney California Adventure's Best Thrills for Teens and Tweens