The first time my family went to Disney World back in 2007, my kids were 2 and 8. This weekend, when my family visited Disney World for the last time before we leave Central Florida for awhile, they were 6 and 11. As you would expect, our Disney experience has evolved over the last three years. Rides my kids were terrified of at 2 (like the Snow White attraction at Magic Kingdom) are now too “baby” for them, while rides they were too small for at 8 are now their favorites.
Although the Walt Disney World rides suitable for a 6-year old and 11-year old will vary, as will each child’s individual preferences, we’ve learned a lot over the last few years about the most kid-friendly rides. This is the first post in a series that shares the best Walt Disney World Rides for the school-aged set. Today we’re focusing on the best rides for kids at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
Best Rides for “Not So Little” Kids at Walt Disney World – Magic Kingdom
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Magic Kingdom Frontierland
This was the very first roller coaster my youngest child went on and it remains a family favorite to this day. It’s thrilling without being scary and you only have to be 40 inches to ride. I laugh and scream every single time I take one of my kids on this ride. The line can get long, so consider a Fast Pass and head to the nearby Tom Sawyer Island while you wait.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland
Not a roller coaster as much as it’s a life-sized video game. This is great if your kids enjoy video games, but could be a problem if they feel bad about not getting the highest score in the car. This ride does take place in a dark environment, which can be an issue if you have a kid that gets anxious going into dark places. You can often find Buzz Lightyear posing for photos and signing autographs outside this ride, which is great for younger kids who were freaked by the dark.
Space Mountain – Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland
You’d think this ride would be terrifying for kids, especially since the entire thing takes place in the dark, but the lack of upside down turns and spooky side effects actually makes this ride more kid-friendly than some of the attractions specifically geared towards young children. You have to be 44 inches to ride and the wait is always long – unless the ride is inexplicably closed down, which seems to happen quite a bit.
Splash Mountain – Magic Kingdom Frontierland
Of course your kids will love a ride that has the potential to leave everyone soaked. Some guests prepare for this ride with ponchos and other rain gear, but our family always takes our chances in our regular park gear. The kids think it’s hysterical if Mom or Dad end up the wettest. As an adult, I found Splash Mountain to be the best log ride I’ve been on at any theme park.
Tomorrowland Speedway – Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland
Kids of all ages get a kick out of getting to drive a miniature race car. Kids must be 52 inches to ride alone, but anyone over 32 inches can ride (or drive) along with an adult. For some real family fun, have the little one work the steering wheel while you use your longer legs to work the pedals!
Rides to Avoid
Although Disney rides have height restrictions that should be a guide as to what your kid can handle, there are a few rides that make you wonder a) what the heck they were thinking when they designed it, or b) if your kid is abnormally chicken. Whichever conclusion you come to, don’t be surprised if your kids are not big fans of a few attractions made just for them. A few popular attractions to think twice about:
- Haunted Mansion
- Snow White’s Scary Adventures
- Stitch’s Great Escape
Remember, of course, that every child is different and they know better than anyone what type of rides they’ll enjoy and what has the potential to scare the crap out of them.