Disney World with older kids – PREP053

Most Disney World info focuses on families with little ones, but how do you do put together a trip plan for older kids?

I have info for you today on doing that, including when to go, where to stay and places to eat.

I also have a quick tip on using Disney gift cards on your trip and a way to save money when you purchase them.

These are notes from this episode. There's much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.

Disney World with older kids

Following my 6 step planning process, this is what I'd recommend for families with older kids:

  • Step 1: pick your dates - many older kids don't like missing school so I'd recommend visiting at the end of May, end of August or during Spring Break (if your Spring Break isn't connected to Easter)
  • Step 2: choose a place to stay - I really like the Boardwalk area for older kids because they have the freedom to visit the Boardwalk activities, walk to two of the parks and use the Stormalong Bay pool if your family is staying at The Beach Club or Yacht Club
  • Step 3: make a daily plan - if you plan to cut out little kid rides, I'd suggest a day at each of the 4 parks plus a day or two at Universal
  • Step 4: decide where you'll eat - there are good character meals (1900 Park Fare dinner, Chef Mickey's), unique foods (Biergarten, Marrakesh, Teppan Edo, Boma), ornery/fun places (Whispering Canyon Cafe, 50s Prime Time Cafe, Sci-Fi Dine In, Ohana) and upscale restaurants that aren't pretentious (Artist Point, Jiko)
  • Step 5: plan park touring - I suggest following my normal touring plans, but you might want to skip most of the Fantasyland section of Magic Kingdom if you're trying to eliminate little kid rides
  • Step 6: add extra magic - The in-room celebrations from the Disney Florist are a nice way to surprise anybody, including older kids

Quick tip of the day

Disney gift cards can be used to pay for most anything at Disney World, including room charges. You'll want to stop by the front desk to pay it off before your account reaches $500 in charges and/or by the day before you depart so your credit card doesn't get charged.

You can get discounted Disney gift cards at Sam's Club ($150 worth of gift cards for $142.98) or by using your Target Red Card for 5% discount.

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Tom Cockerel

The Disney gift cards it a good tip, we are using it to pay for our vacation package. It is a pretty good savings on the vacation overall.

Sharron steele

Where can you not use the sam’s club gift cards?


Hello! Thank you for the information, however, I would love to know where this picture came from. Which restaurant 🙂 Thank you!

Jennifer B

My tip for using the Disney gift cards is this… I had read that you need to go to guest services the night before you check out to pay the balance before they run your credit card. We were staying at Port Orleans Riverside (a moderate resort.) I had previously purchased $850 in gift cards which we were intending to use to pay for dining instead of purchasing the Dining Plan. Thank goodness that I purposefully gave them a credit card with a limited credit limit because moderate resorts actually run your card when you reach ‘around $600.’ We reached that mark on The 4th day of our vacation. They actually run the card twice, once around the $600 mark and again the night before checkout. So, the limited card was declined and I simply went down and paid it with the gift cards. Then again, the night before checkout. Although my husband was mortified about the declined card, I was glad that I had thought ahead and not wasted the gift cards.


Ahh, the Disney gift cards! 🙂 Wish I had remembered your Quick tip on this post before our trip last week. We knew about the discounted Sam’s Club gift cards, so we bought enough of those to pay our hotel balance, but I forgot to apply them to our account before we arrived. When we checked in, I found out they already charged our credit card on file for the balance….about $1000. 🙁 I thought I’d be able to apply this at the front desk. Fortunately, we opted early on to NOT use the dining plan, so we were able to use our gift cards on food and souvenirs throughout the week and didn’t get stuck with any unused cards. It was just a little scary having all those gift cards, worrying about them getting stolen. So it was a good lesson learned, and worked out fine in the end. I’d definitely get the Sam’s Club cards again in the future for the discount, but I’ll be sure to use them sooner!


Hi Shannon,
I love your helpful tips. I’m planning to take my 21 year old daughter in May on a mother/daughter vacation adventure. Do I need to send an invitation to her email in My Disney Experience? I’m making all of the plans, so right now I just have her listed as a member of “My Family & Friends”. Unless I upgrade between now and May, she’ll be the one with a “smart” phone. I have considered just having her sign in under my account to use the My Disney Experience app on her phone while we are there. Is there an advantage or disadvantage either way? I already have our resort tickets linked to the account. Would it throw a kink in everything if I invited her now? I will greatly appreciate any advice you have to offer!


I bought Disney gift cards today at Target using my Red Card! I plan to use them to pay balances we have. Thanks for the tip!

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