Orlando for Tweens
Age range: 10-12
Your kids are in that middle ground where they feel too sophisticated for “kid stuff”, but aren’t so old where they might not still need a comforting hand during some thrill rides’ more thrilling segments. No problem!
If they’re fans of a famous galaxy far, far away, head to Walt Disney World Resort’s Hollywood Studios. It already has the largest Star Wars presence of any Disney theme park, and more is on the way courtesy of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, an all-new land opening in 2019.
If they’re more into fantasy than science-fiction, Universal Orlando® Resort has them covered with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Studios Florida™ and Universal’s Islands of Adventure™.
Your kids will also be able to have more fun than ever at Orlando water parks. They include Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, Universal’s Volcano Bay, Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark and LEGOLAND Florida Resort’s on-site water park.
At Gatorland, kids who are 37 inches or taller and accompanied by an adult can soar above the gators on the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line. The experience includes a nature walk through the swamp, five breathtaking zips and an exciting swing bridge. Another fun attraction at Gatorland is the Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure, in which your family will board a 12-foot-tall, off-road monster vehicle for a 15-minute trek through some of Florida’s wildest terrain.
If your kids are more interested in otherworldly adventures, check out the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Florida’s east coast. Located about an hour from downtown Orlando, it has a galaxy of hands-on exhibits and amazing sights related to space exploration.
Located at ICON Orlando 360 in the heart of the tourism district, the ICON Orlando is a great option. The 20-minute rides aboard an air-conditioned capsule provide unbeatable views of the Orlando area from 400 feet up. ICON Orlando 360 is also home to several other indoor attractions, such as Madame Tussauds Orlando, as well as numerous dining choices.
In downtown Orlando, you can expose your kids to culture — including numerous Broadway productions annually — at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Nearby, the Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando hosts the Grand Bohemian Gallery, filled with art that includes jewelry, glass and sculpture.
Tennis, anyone? Located in Lake Nona, about 20 minutes from Orlando International Airport, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Campus gives tennis enthusiasts of all ages and skill sets the opportunity to watch, learn and play at one of the world’s largest tennis facilities. More to the point, the facility’s Nemours Family Zone has professional-grade courts where the whole family can learn and develop tennis skills, but registration is required.
Additionally, your kids can get a taste of fresh air and blue skies on horseback with riding opportunities at Disney’s Tri-Circle-D Ranch.
At Boggy Creek Airboat Rides and Spirit of the Swamp Airboat Rides, kids will enjoy loud, fast airboats that skim through swamps and across lakes with ease. And at Orlando Watersports Complex, located close to Orlando International Airport, the whole family can get into wakeboarding, wakeskating, wakesurfing, kneeboarding and waterskiing, with a waiver being required for children under 18, and a one-hour safety lesson for children under 10.
Themed dinner shows continue to be safe bets at this age, and your children are probably old enough now to help solve a crime at Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show or dine with the mob at Capone’s Dinner & Show. That’s in addition to the Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show and Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, and all four are family-friendly. Character dining at the theme parks is also still a great choice for this age range.
Your kids will also likely enjoy some of the themed dining experiences available at Disney Springs and Universal CityWalk dining, shopping and entertainment districts. At Disney Springs, for instance, you’ll find Planet Hollywood Observatory, plus fast-service venues such as Pizza Ponte or Blaze Pizza. You can even eat while you bowl at Splitsville Luxury Lanes.
And at Universal CityWalk, choices include Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, Hot Dog Hall of Fame and more.
Many of our resorts and hotels have incredible pools, lazy rivers and other ways for your kids to have hours of aquatic fun. Some of them, such as The Grove Resort & Spa and Reunion Resort, even have their own on-site water parks. This is also a great age to help your kids’ imagination soar with some of the themed experiences available at Orlando resorts.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, for example, hundreds of exotic animals roam free on a 46-acre wildlife preserve, centered by an upscale, African-style lodge. If your children are more into cartoons than wildlife, the 1,120 family suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are designed after beloved Disney films, such as Finding Nemo, Cars and The Lion King.
If your kids can’t get enough of The Minions, check in to Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, which has six Despicable Me-themed suites designed just for kids. Similarly, dinosaur-loving kids will enjoy the Jurassic Park suites at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort has tropical island-themed rooms with adjacent Caribbean-themed kids’ suites.