Hidden park gems

We are leaving in 8 days. Myself, DH and DD (16). DD has been to Disney 5 x in her life. We all love it and are huge fans, but lately some others have said, “isn’t she too old for Disney, my kids would be bored, it’s for little kids?”
I know each time we’ve visited with her at different ages we discovered new things and each time her interests were varied due to her age. I don’t think anyone could ever be bored in Disney! My DH and I could easily go ourselves and have a blast!
I am looking for some hidden treasures in each park that can help to keep this trip fresh, along with the favored attractions we cannot wait to see again. Things like the street performers or smaller shows that we may have missed when she was younger and we were racing to get in line for Peter Pan or buzz lightyear.
Anything that a teen would like! Or a 16 year old Disney professional kid!

My teens are bored with Disney. But I think we usually do all the same things, maybe switching up a ride or two. If I could convince them to go again, I would maybe stay on property (staying off is cheaper, but maybe not as fun) and take some pool time, maybe rent some bikes or play some mini-golf and definitely try to fit in at least one waterpark day.

You could also ask your teen what she wants to do. I know at that age, (well, still, as I never got to do it), I wanted to take the backstage tour at Living with the Land. That was just so amazing. There are other backstage tours that might interest your daughter, or she might really just love yet another hug from Mickey and a photo. Everyone is different.

People think Disney is for kids, but that’s just their primary market. They are certainly also for the kid in all of us as well. Don’t let others try to tell you what you should or shouldn’t enjoy.

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Too bad you don’t have a bit more time before your trip. My suggestion is to read some of the books on the many details that go into the parks, whether history or hidden Mickeys or trivia. It’s a way to enjoy the details of the place, especially if you never noticed them before. There are probably lists of such things online, too.

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When I went to Disney, when I was 15 or so, I still loved Disney for Disney’s sake. However, one of my favorite experiences that trip was eating at the Brown Derby. I felt very grown up, and it was a new side of this “adult” Disney I hadn’t experienced. Amongst all the quick service meals, I got to eat in one of Disney’s best signature restaurants. I can even still remember some of what I ordered (16 years ago mind you). If you haven’t done it already, she may enjoy having a "grown up " Disney meal somewhere like the Brown Derby, one of the restaurants at the Grand Floridian, Tiffins, or one of the nicer restaurants in Epcot. Obviously signature dining adds a little to the budget, but like I said ,16 years later I still remember it, and the Brown Derby was one of the first reservations I made for my upcoming trip with my husband. You may be cutting it close but you can still probably get a reservation somewhere.


Maybe it was different for us since my son’s first trip was when he was 12. We started going every year or two at that time but somehow he ended up going back with me over 20 times in 12 years- some years 3 or 4 times. When we first went Crystal Palace was a tradition, then Kona- now Jiko and Tiffins. When he was 12 we would go to the pool at night after a full day in the park. Over the last few years resort time and getting in a pool or hot tub is almost a daily occurrence. Disney is a kid thing? Once my son hit 21 he still wanted to go with me. Our last trip we had a list bars/lounges to return to: BlueZoo, Crew’s Cup, Trader Sam’s and he discovered the Geyser Bar and Grill.

My first trip was when I was 42. I never experienced Disney as a child. We all love Disney for our own reasons. For years I loved it because it was the one place my “know it all- parents are annoying-I do not need to talk to you” son magically transformed back to the boy who loved to spend time with me in his favorite place.


Disney is not just for kids! I went when I was 5 and 10 and did not remember much from the trips. Two years ago my little sister and I went together for our first time since we were little. She was 16 and I was 21. It was the best three days ever! We just went again last November but invited our parents to tag along. All four of us had a blast! I would say the nice meals were our favorite parts! The nicest meal we had was BOG but I’m sure Brown Derby would be a lot of fun too! You all will have a blast!!!

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Another idea might be to spend some time at DS…a dinner or Sunday Brunch at Ragland Road could be a great time, especially if you’ve never been. The music and dancing are a lot of fun; and he food is very good.
Or just wandering there to see all the new shops and eateries…a good break from the hustle and bustle in the parks…

Saw this a little while ago: Hidden details some of it is outdated, but it’s a good jumping off point. There’s been others, but I can’t find the one I’m after (someone, can’t for the life of me remember who, had a big comprehensive list for each park)

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My suggestion is to give her some time on her own. If she likes the idea let her go off on her own in the park of her choice and meet her later for a meal. My boys liked to do this from about 15.

Or some Dad or Mom time, without younger siblings. Maybe hire a kayak racer or canoe. If you can stretch to it a spa treatment, at GF or SSR. Or afternoon tea in one of the monorail lounges (probably too late to book the GF afternoon tea, but you could ask and see if they have space, or just go for tea and cakes at one of the lounges).

Hate to say it, but shopping at Disney Springs. You can set a limit on her band, so she can buy things herself.

Ask her to esearch and tell you what she’d like to do. Let her find out what there is. She might say she wants to do Sorcerers, look for hidden Mickey’s, spend all day in WS, spend the afternoon looking for the ‘spontaneous’ meet and greets. I’m sure she can come up with ideas, rather than you having to suggest things. Let her do some of the planning after all your hard work lol!

oooo mother daughter pedicures at the Grand Floridian or the Swan spa would be divine…

Get a hidden Mickey book from the library or bookstore. It has all sorts of cool info and makes you look deeper at corners of the park that you wouldn’t usually pay any attention. I would also second doing Sorcerers! My husband and I played it when we went a few months ago and had a great time!

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Thanks everyone, there are some good ideas! I’ll report back when we return!

My 16 yo and I are going this summer, after celebrating her 15th bday there last year. One thing that makes her happy on the trips is planning one particular place for dining- wherever she’d like to go. Last year it was Ohana for her birthday breakfast, this year she chose 1900 PF with the Mad Hatter. After all these years, she’s still food motivated. LOL. She still finds it magical, and as long as she does, I’ll keep taking her.


I take my kids to WDW every two weeks. They are ages 16, 14, and 9. They are boys. They are always thinking of something different to do on the rides. For instance, my nine year old rode Thunder Mountain looking backwards all the way through yesterday. We make up silly poses for the cameras that are on the rides and this is enough to get them riding over and over again. I took up Disney photography and each time I go I find something new to feature on a blog that I’m keeping. wdwlens.blogspot.com. Your daughter will follow your curiosity and your lead but don’t make an act out of it. You need to be genuine. Last week, we discovered a huge rock next to Pirates in the shape of a skull. Do you know how many times we have walked past that skull over the decades and had never seen it before? We talk about the science behind the rides; how did they make the ballroom dance scene in the Haunted Mansion? Did you know there’s a funny guy in his red long johns riding around in a circle in a bathtub on Thunder Mountain? That was my new discovery yesterday and I have been riding that for decades! Recently, my boys and I took refuge from the crowds on Tom Sawyer’s Island on a very hot and busy day. Did you know that the caves are air conditioned and that it has the coldest bathrooms in the whole park? And the gun roosts in the Fort are a good place for a parent to sit on a box in the dark and rest while the kids shoot at the train on Thunder Mountain. Did you know that if you lean into the turns on Thunder and Space (and any roller coaster in the parks, it increases the feeling of g-force and keeps you from getting as tired or sore? Did you know that you can get a giant sized baked potato at Sleepy Hollow and you can be right under the fireworks there in the sitting area and rest. Additionally, on a hot day like you will have while you here, we refuse to stand in any line that is not in the shade for more than 15 minutes. That’s a recipe for instant grumpiness. Instead, we go to the Country Bear Jamboree, Mickey’s Philharmagic, The Tiki Room, the People Mover. Keeping busy, moving, and cool will cut the discord in the family to next to nothing. I see many hot and grumpy in the lines this time of year. And, I could spent an entire day looking in the shops if I had the money. Did you know that the Monorail rides over a river that has a tunnel underneath it where the cars drive from here to there? There are soooo many gems and and so many extra details that you could go to WDW in a year and not find them all. That’s what I have read, and that’s what I have experienced. Hope this helps. Also, it’s going to be VERY hot when you are here. I highly recommend you take it easy, and take a two hour break in the middle of the day and go off site and take a rest and eat lunch away from the crowds. We go to Sweet Tomatoes on highway 192 at Rolling Oaks by the 429 toll road and take at least two hours. It’s quiet and away from the crowds and my boys can get their fill of food for under $10. Then we go back to the parks at 3:00 and by that time the parade is going and the crowds are drawn away from the things we like to do. It will take you double the time you want to complete your agenda if you don’t plan rest periods into the day because of the heat. It is oppressive. I grew up in the California desert and have never experienced heat such as this. Drink a lot of water and be prepared to go to the bathroom a lot. That is the way to survive the heat. I’m a local and that’s how the Floridians survive the heat. Make sure you bring a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Hope this helps. Oh, and if you don’t have a car and can’t go offsite for your two hour break, then back to your hotel and go swimming and take a nap. By the time you get here, I will be on my blockout dates. It would have been fun to meet up. Best of luck!