The Magic Kingdom is the most beloved of the four Walt Disney World parks. It’s the place where the magic started back in 1972, and multiple generations have posed for family photos in front of Cinderella Castle and given hugs to Mickey Mouse.
The park is a favorite of young kids and nostalgic adults, but what about cynical teens? They’re too old to get excited about meeting Mickey or the Disney Princesses and too cool to show their delight over fireworks and parades. Does the Magic Kingdom have anything that they’ll like (even if they won’t admit it)?
The Mountains of the Magic Kingdom
The best teen attractions at the Magic Kingdom are the three mountains: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. While most of the park’s rides are aimed at children, those three have a bit of a thrill. They don’t pack the punch of Dragon Challenge, the intertwined suspended roller coasters at Islands of Adventure or Manta, the SeaWorld coaster that you ride in a lying down position, but they’re still fun.
Space Mountain is an indoor roller coaster in Tomorrowland. The darkness of “outer space” makes it feel faster than its 27 mile per hour top speed. It has no big drops, but the twists and turns and small dips are unexpected because you can’t see the track. This coaster actually has two sides and two separate sets of tracks, so you don’t get the full experience unless you ride both sides.
Big Thunder Mountain is a runaway mine train in the Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland section. Like Space Mountain, it has no major drops and doesn’t top 30 miles per hour, but it whips riders from side to side in a decidedly vicious manner.
Teens will consider most of Splash Mountain to be too cutesy, since it starts off as a dark ride floating through scenes inspired by “Song of the South.” However, the tone gets decidedly darker as Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear finally seem to figure out how to get rid of Br’er Rabbit for good. This leads to a treacherous 53 foot plunge that leaves riders soaked, with their stomachs in their throats.
That pretty much covers the thrills to be found within the Magic Kingdom. The rides in Fantasyland and New Fantasyland are mainly dark rides that appeal to the younger set, with journeys into the world of characters like Peter Pan, the Little Mermaid, and Winnie the Pooh. You might talk your teen into riding them, but your chance of success with It’s a Small World is probably quite remote. If you have teen girls, they’ll probably enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean, if only to see the guest appearances by Johnny Depp’s Animatronic likeness in several spots.
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Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
Gamer teens might just get drawn in by Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, a free interactive experience. It’s much more simplistic than the average video game, but as you get to the higher levels, it starts to rely on strategy in a manner that appeals to those who enjoy role-playing games.
If your family is interested in played Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, stop by one of the two recruiting stations. The main one is in the firehouse near the beginning of Main Street USA. If that one is too crowded, head to the other, which is tucked behind the Christmas-themed store in Liberty Square.
Each family member gets a key card, a packet of spell cards and instructions for a mission in Fantasyland, Adventureland, or Frontierland/Liberty Square. Merlin the Magician needs help protecting the Magic Kingdom from Hades of “Hercules” fame, who has recruited a troop of Disney villains to aid in a take-over attempt. Players visit “magic portals” that are really video screens. Their key card activates the portals, and they wield spell cards to do battle with the villains as they work their way through several missions.
The first level missions are easy, although you’ll notice that the power of certain spells increases if you use them repeatedly. Teens aren’t likely to feel challenged yet, but if they make it to the higher levels, they’ll need to use some strategy and do some experimentation. Combing certain spells boosts their power, but some cards are ineffective against certain villains.
It’s the luck of the draw on which cards you get in your free pack, since there are 60 possibilities. If your teen falls for the game and confiscates cards from other family members, he or she can also trade with other guests. There are ten other cards that can only be obtained in play-at-home game sets for sale in the Emporium on Main Street. Don’t be surprised if your gamer teen clamors for a set.