Orlando for Teens and Tweens

If your teen or tween thinks the Mouse is too cheesy now, that doesn't mean they've outgrown Orlando. They are too old for dress-up parties and Dumbo rides, but Walt Disney World and Orlando work their magic on even the most discerning teen. The world's most-visited destination is filled with some of the best roller coasters on the planet, some of the coolest, high-tech immersion experiences, over-the-top restaurants and amazing pools and water parks for the ultimate family vacation.

Ansley Gasaway, a 15-year-old student in the Disney-created town of Celebration, definitely recommends an Orlando vacation to her peers. "I like the theme parks—Universal and SeaWorld especially; they have the better roller coasters," she says. "But I also like paddleboarding—getting out on the lakes is cool. Farmers markets are also fun in Lake Eola and Celebration, and downtown Orlando has the best restaurants."

Though Ansley is a local, she has played tourist a time or two and thinks other teens will be as impressed as she is with the area hotels and resorts. "The Hyatt Grand Cypress is a fun hotel. You just sign your name and room number for access to a canoe and other boats on the lake. I also like their pool."

Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios

Be a part of the Hollywood experience with thrilling roller coasters, simulators and 3D shows. Don't miss the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley, featuring the Escape from Gringotts ride and Hogwarts Express. Other must-sees are Men in Black, Revenge of the Mummy and the Simpsons Ride.

Universal CityWalk

Think Times Square Orlando style. At this free entertainment complex just outside Universal's theme parks, you’ll find an electric mix of clubs and restaurants such as Hard Rock Café, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Red Coconut, The Groove and Rising Star. 11 am-2 am. No admission fee, but cover charges apply.

Blue Man Group

Expect original rock music, audience participation and a performance like you’ve never seen before at this permanent show at Universal Orlando.

Walt Disney World, Hollywood Studios

This theme park dives into Hollywood with live stage shows and movie-themed rides. Must-stops are Tower of Terror, Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania and the Disney Jr. and "Frozen" live shows.

SeaWorld's Aquatica

Enjoy the serene to the wild, with white, sandy beaches, up-close animal experiences, lush landscaping and thrilling rides. Try the new Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, an 80-foot slide with four, 360-degree turns.

Madame Tussauds Orlando

Experience famous Americans with this immersive and interactive wax attraction under the ICON Orlando. Shake hands with the president, get on stage with Lady Gaga or up close and personal with Taylor Swift and take the ultimate selfie. Free parking. Open daily. Adult tickets starting at $25 with packages available.

Sugar Factory

This upscale eatery that's popular in cities like Vegas, New York and Chicago, just opened an Orlando outpost. The restaurant serves everything from brunch and burgers to candy-infused cocktails and a King Kong Sundae with 16 scoops of ice cream. L (Sa-Su), D (nightly).

K1 Speed

Race electric, Italian pro-karts that reach speeds of 50 mph, all on a huge, indoor track. In addition to a professionally designed, indoor racetrack, there are also spacious lounges, snack bars and authentic racing memorabilia on display. Open daily.

Paddleboard Orlando

Orlando is home to hundreds of lakes, and getting out on a paddleboard or kayak is the ideal way to explore. Choose from beginner lessons on the beautiful Lake Killarney or take a full-day excursion to Wekiva Springs. Open daily.  

Lake Eola Park

Popular downtown public park for strolling and feeding ducks. A playground and swan-boat rentals are on-site. Trendy restaurants, bars and shopping are steps away.