If you ask me what are the best Disney World rides? I would have to say, “for which age?” If you have read any of my other Disney posts, you know I am a huge advocate for taking kids of all ages to Walt Disney World. I firmly believe Disney is an EXPERIENCE, not just a destination, and there is something for every age and stage in life.
And not just rides. There are magical Disney experiences beyond rides, many of which are perfect for the preschool to school-age set.
There are pixie-dusted shows and experiences that bring Disney magic to life, and even educate kids, that are well worth the price of admission. And let's not forget the experiential activities in the theme parks and hotels!
Starting at the preschool age, you could come to Walt Disney World year after year and enjoy a completely new Walt Disney World vacation. Here are my recommendations for the best Disney World rides for preschool to school-aged kids.
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The Best Disney World Rides For Preschool To School-Aged Kids
While I firmly believe there is no “perfect age” to visit Walt Disney World, preschool to school-age kids are at a great stage for much of what Disney has to offer.
Able to ride any of the “no height requirement” rides popular for toddlers and babies, as well as tall enough to try some roller coasters and shows, there so many ways this age group can enjoy Disney World.
In addition to all of the “no height requirement” rides available for toddlers and babies, here are my favorite rides and experiences for the preschool to school-aged kids.
Why Disney World Is Great For Preschool To School Aged Kids
They Meet Height Requirements At Walt Disney World
At this age, from about three to 12 years old, preschool through school-age kids are now tall enough to ride new attractions. They may also be ready for some of the fantastic starter roller coasters in the theme parks.
They Can Enjoy Educational Activities
Disney Resort Hotels often have educational and fun activities for kids. This is especially true at Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Kidani Village, which overlook the savannah near Animal Kingdom park.
They Can Learn About World Cultures And Try New Foods
Kids this age can embrace the education experiences at Epcot, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and they can sit for some of the longer shows. The Epcot World Showcase is a great place to introduce your children to world cultures and foods from different countries! It is one of our family's favorite things to do in all of Walt Disney World.
They Can Enjoy Interactive Activities
Lastly, kids this age will have the interest and attention span for some of the fun, interactive scavenger hunt activities through the theme parks. Download the Play Disney Parks app to see what magic awaits you.
One of our favorites is Agent P's World Showcase Adventure in Epcot, which has recently closed. But it is reported to soon be replaced with a similar experience themed after Disney's Duck Tails (whoo-oo.)
First trip to Disney or need some expert tips? Check out my Walt Disney Resort For Beginners: A Complete Guide To Plan A Disney Vacation for my ultimate planning tips!
Best Disney World Rides (and Experiences) At Magic Kingdom Park For Preschool To School-Age Kids
In addition to all of the best Disney World rides in Magic Kingdom Park for toddlers that are good for ALL AGES, preschool to school-age kids would also love these attractions:
Enchanted Tales With Belle
An interactive experience that feels like you stepped right into the Beast's castle from Beauty and The Beast, this storytime experience is a must-do for any Belle fan!
A 12-minute magical and musical 3D show, this fun experience takes you into a bit of Fantasia combined with Disney tunes, with the added mischief of Donald Duck.
A Pirate's Adventure
An interactive adventure looking for treasure in Adventureland is a preschool or school-aged pirate's dream come true!
Sorcerers Of The Magic Kingdom
This interactive scavenger hunt where kids can cast spells and find hidden portals throughout Magic Kingdom Park.
Swiss Family Treehouse
Living in a treehouse is any kid's dream and exploring the swiss family treehouse will make their dreams come true, even if it's just for a while.
An oldie, but goodie, this is a great ride for any space cadet who doesn't mind a high-flying circle ride!
One of my favorite rides from my childhood, this ride through a semi-scary haunted house with the cutest ghosts you've ever seen is great for kids ready for this experience.
Any Cars fan would love to feel like they are on the speedway with this fun car driving ride for kids 32″ and taller!
Pirates of the Caribbean
Your kids will experience the life of the pirates of the Caribbean as they sail away in a boat. The cave is a bit dark but pre-school and school-aged kids are likely not to find it scary, but if they do, just keep them close.
A great junior roller coaster ride with the great Goofini, this is a great starter roller coaster for kids 35″ and taller.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
For kids ages 40″ and taller who are ready for a bit more of a higher speed adventure, this is a great family roller coaster experience.
Photo credit: Renato Mitra/Unsplash stock image
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Another fantastic junior roller coaster ride on the mine train from the Seven Dwarfs, this one is great thematic fun that will have your kids singing “hi ho” the rest of the day.
Another Disney classic and a rite of passage for most kids, this fun roller coaster in the dark is suitable for kids 44″ and taller.
Another big roller coaster for kids 40″ and taller, this log ride with a sizeable drop is great for elementary age kids and up who are ready for this splash-heavy water roller coaster.
Check out my post for more of the best Disney World rides for all ages.
Best Disney World Rides (and Experiences) At Epcot For Preschool To School-Age Kids
In addition to all of the best Disney World rides in Epcot for toddlers that are good for ALL AGES, preschool to school-age kids would also love these attractions:
Epcot's World Showcase
Every country in Epcot's World Showcase is great for kids to explore. Through experiences, movies, shops, and restaurants, as well as the Kidcot Fun Stop, this is great to introduce kids to world cultures.
Kidcot Fun Stop
This is an amazing way for kids to meet Cast Members from other countries and learn a little about World Cultures. Kids go around the world to the countries in Epcot's World Showcase to a designated spot and collect a card or memento from each country they are visiting.
Turtle Talk With Crush
Everyone's favorite “dude” turtle interacts with “little dudes” in this fun experience under the sea.
Advanced Training Lab
Space cadets will love this interactive experience to prepare for a mission to Mars in a high-tech play area featuring space-themed games!
Moana’s Journey of Water
This is another exciting attraction coming to EPCOT. Based on the hit movie Moana, your kids will be able to interact with living water in magical ways they never imagined possible. It's the perfect place to slow down while still doing something fun.
Journey Into Imagination With Figment
Kids will love this ride into the Imagination labs with Figment, the little playful dragon.
Mission Space (Green Mission)
For astronauts 40″ and above, this kid-friendly version (meaning it doesn't spin) will put kids in the driver's seat to blast off to outer space! Kids 44″ and taller can try the Orange Mission, but for anyone that gets motion sickness, the Green Mission is the option to choose.
It's not Lightning McQueen, but this fun experience allows guests 40″ and taller to create your own car by touch screen while you wait for your turn to hit the track!
Another magical experience for kids 40″ and taller allows you to soar high above the wonders of the world and experience the sights, sounds and smells along the way.
Remy's Ratatouille Adventure
Based on the popular movie, Ratatouille, this ride brings out the true meaning of “life is more adventurous when you're tiny.” You and your kids will enjoy being shrunk into tiny rat sizes as you follow Remy's adventures of making the perfect Ratatouille dish in Gusteau's kitchen.
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Best Rides (and Experiences) At Animal Kingdom For Preschool To School-Age Kids
Preschool-age to school-age kids can enjoy all of the best rides and animal attractions at Animal Kingdom for toddlers that are also good for ALL AGES. And, they will also love these attractions:
There are quite a few enjoyable stage shows in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Our favorites include:
- Festival of the Lion King
- Finding Nemo – The Musical
- Donald's Dino-Bash this age group will enjoy!
An interactive experience kids will love as they follow in the footsteps of Russell from the Disney movie “Up” as they earn adventure badges around the park.
See The Best Disney World Rides For Toddlers for additional rides and experiences with no height requirement that preschoolers and school-age kids will also enjoy!
Avatar Flight of Passage
For kids 44″ and taller, kids climb onboard their own banshee for a 3D experience over Pandora's landscape.
Kids 40″ and taller will enjoy this ride back in time. Become a paleontologist and try to rescue a dinosaur before the meteor strikes.
It's Tough To Be A Bug
Little ones interested in nature will enjoy this 3D experience into a bug's world. Feel the sights, sounds, and smells of life as a bug! *Note that it is dark inside the theater. Kids afraid of the dark or creepy crawlies may not love this experience.
Kali River Rapids
Kids 38″ and taller will love getting wet on this white water adventure through Asian river rapids!
Best Rides (and Experiences) At Hollywood Studios For Preschool To School-Age Kids
Preschool and school-age kids can enjoy the very best Disney World rides for toddlers, AND add these attractions too!
There are several stage-shows preschoolers and school-age kids will love. My favorites include:
- Beauty and The Beast
- Disney Junior Dance Party
- For The First Time In Forever Frozen Singalong
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Jedi Training
- Voyage Of The Little Mermaid
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
What 38″ or taller Star Wars fan wouldn't love the chance to drive the Millennium Falcon on this interactive mission!
This 3D space adventure takes guests 40″ and taller on a galactic journey to legendary places from Star Wars.
Star Wars Datapad
An interactive adventure on the Play Disney Parks app, this experience is great fun for all Star Wars super fans!
Star Wars Rise Of The Resistance
You might be part of the resistance but Star Wars fans can't resist this super cool experience! If you are 40″or taller, you can battle against the First Order on this exciting ride.
Tower Of Terror
My eight-year-old twins were the perfect age to try this oldie but goodie through the Twilight Zone elevator drop! Guests 40″ or taller are ready for this ride if they are okay with stomach jumping thrill ride!
Slinky Dog Dash
For kids 38″ or taller, this junior roller coaster takes you on a ride with slinky, over Andy's backyard.
Tips for Enjoying Disney With Preschool and School-Age Kids
Now that you know the best rides and attractions for preschool and school-age kids, there are some tips you need to know to get the most out of your visit.
Take Advantage of Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Lightning Lane Services
If you're one of the people who were mad about the removal of Fastpass, then you'll be happy to know that Disney has introduced new features that are even much more effective!
Found in the My Disney Experience App, Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Lightning services are all the buzz now and for a good reason.
With these new services, you'll be able to plan your Disney trip with your preschool and school-aged kids in a breeze! Think of them as your new private Disney guide that will help you come up with a personalized plan. No more zig-zagging around the park with no actual agenda.
But since these services can be quite confusing for some people, I am going to explain how each works in detail.
How Disney Genie works
First off is the Disney Genie service that I recommend everyone use since it's FREE! I mean you lose nothing but instead gain a lot! Genie will come up with a personalized plan depending on the attractions you and your preschoolers are interested in.
You just need to select the attractions you're interested in say the Barnstormer or a general theme like Disney Animals and Genie will come up with a customized plan. It will also keep suggesting other attractions to check out throughout the day depending on the rides you selected earlier.
On top of suggesting attractions to go to, Genie will also show you approximate wait times for each attraction so that you know exactly when to go! In my opinion, Disney just got a whole lot easier to navigate!
Disney Genie + Service
If Disney Genie blew your mind, wait until you see what Genie+ can do. Additionally to what Genie does, Genie+ goes the extra mile to save you time.
Instead of just knowing the wait times for attractions, with Genie+, you'll be able to book the next available arrival window to over 40 attractions in all the Walt Disney World theme parks for the new Lightning Lane entrances so that you arrive just in time to hop onto the ride.
Granted, it's not free as you'll need to pay an extra $15 for it per person per day, but you get to enjoy more attractions with the time you save.
On top of that, Genie+ will give you access to both Disney PhotoPass Lenses and Audio Tales.
If you don't know what these are; Disney Photopass lenses will help you enjoy new and exciting augmented reality effects, while Audio Tales will give you behind-the-scenes insights that you can listen to on your phone throughout the day.
If you ask me, $15 is very much worth it for the benefits you get with Genie+.
A Quick Overview of How Disney Genie+ Works
While all this is exciting, you need to know exactly how Genie+ works because there is a catch.
Yes, you can pre-book arrival windows to attractions but only for one attraction at a time from 7 am on the day of your visit. Simply put, you can't pre-book arrival windows for all the attractions you want to enjoy in a day at once.
The only time you can pre-book another arrival window is when you visit the pre-booked attraction or when the pre-booked arrival window expires. The cycle goes on until the end of your visit– kinda like how the old Fastpass system used to work.
Lightning Lane Service
Here is another service that kids who don't like waiting in lines will love! With the ability to enjoy fast entry to 2 attractions in a day, Lightning Lane Service is my favorite feature so far.
But since many people usually confuse it with Genie+, I will explain how it works in detail.
A Quick Overview of How Lightning Lane Service works
While you can use Lightning Lane Service with Genie+, you can still take advantage of it even if you don't pay for Genie+.
Yes, you can use it even with the free Disney Genie service but only at the most popular attractions. You can find the complete list of participating attractions here.
Still confused? In brief, Lightning Lane Service is just an a la carte feature which means that even if you pay the $15 for Genie+, you'll still need to pay a bit more to take advantage of the Lightning Lane Service
When it comes to pricing, unlike Genie+ which has a fixed rate, the price of Lightning Lane Service varies according to the type of attraction and the time of the year. However, you'll be able to know how much you'll pay after choosing the attraction you want to use it for and the day of your visit.
Also, note that you can only book the lightning lane for a specific attraction once a day! If your preschool or school-aged kid enjoyed a specific attraction and wants to ride it the second time, the Lightning Lane Service won't work, so you'll need to queue normally.
Dine at Newly Opened Epcot's Space 220 Restaurant With Your Kids
I am not joking when I say this will probably be the most exciting thing for your kids!
Disney never stops surprising us, and this time they created the never-seen restaurant in EPCOT called Space 220 — literally a restaurant in Space. But it is more than just a restaurant, it's an attraction that gives a glimpse into Space.
I don't know any preschooler or a school-aged kid who has been to Space 220 and not gush about it every second they get!
The highlight of this “attraction” besides dining in Space will be the moment your kids get on the special elevator and ascend through the stars. And once in the Space restaurant, you'll be able to enjoy stunning daytime and nighttime views of the earth (EPCOT in this case)! It's truly a once in a life experience.
And when it's time to eat, you will be served with space-themed meals and delicious desserts including my earthly favorite, Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Make sure you reserve a table in advance so that you don't miss out on this incredible experience. And also, note that you can't just come to dine at the restaurant. You'll need to have a theme park ticket as well.
Party With Your Pre-schoolers at the 50th Anniversary Celebration
There is no better time to take your preschool to school-aged kids to Disney than now when it's celebrating its 50th anniversary! Disney has organized an 18-month long celebration, and if I am to spoil it for you a bit; it's the best Disney celebration ever!
With new looks for Mickey and his friends, enchanting night spectacles, outstanding performances from cast members, and new attractions, your kids will be in awe of everything they experience in this magical place! Talk about taking something that has already been magical to the next level.
And luckily for you, the celebrations will happen in all four parks so regardless of whichever you visit, you'll be able to join the celebrations.
Unlike the usual entertainment you may have heard about before, this season has come with new features, impressive fireworks, Disney music, and a whole lot of fun.
To make sure you plan ahead, I'll be sharing some of the new features, attractions, and entertainment that you and your preschooler can enjoy during the anniversary celebration.
- Remy's Ratatouille Adventure: This is all the rave right now in EPCOT! Similar to the one in Disneyland Paris, this ride tells the story of Remy in the Kitchen in Gusteau's restaurant as he tries to perfect the Ratatouille dish! Be sure to watch the “Ratatouille” movie before you go for your kids to connect with it more.
- Disney Enchantment: This night spectacle will take any night at Disney to the next level. From magical fireworks, catchy Disney songs to impressive projections, your kids will feel all the magic at Magic Kingdom.
- Harmonious: This is another night spectacle at EPCOT that is sure to make your pre-school and school-aged kids excited as they dance to Disney music and listen to beautiful Disney stories.
- Disney Kite Tails: There is something new at Disney's Animal Kingdom! Your kids will love watching imaginary characters soaring through the sky as they listen to Disney songs.
- Fab 50 Color Collection: To prove that they're celebrating 50 golden years, Disney is displaying 50 golden statues across all 4 parks! Your kids will love interacting with them.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coaster: Located in Epcot, this is expected to be one of the longest indoor roller coasters not only in Disney but in the world. It might not be suitable for toddlers since we anticipate it'll have a height requirement of around 44″ based on other similar rides! (Disney hasn't come out to state the exact height requirement, so this is just my speculation)!
Delicious treats: Of course, all this magic comes with new treats, including the 50th fireworks dessert parties, new restaurants like California Grill, Steakhouse 71, and so many others.
- Moana: Journey of Water: Found at EPCOT, your kids will be able to interact with water in ways they never thought possible.
- Beacons of Magic: Night times will become even more magical as each park's icons light up in magical colors. This will however be nightly at select parks, so be sure to check which park's icons will light up the night you plan to visit.
- MagicBand+: To replace Magic bands, Disney has introduced MagicBand+, which comes with more cool features. In addition to the features of the Magic Bands, with MagicBand +, your kids will be able to interact with the 50 golden statues I mentioned earlier and uncover virtual bounties in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. On top of that, the MagicBand+ syncs well with the colors of the fireworks, which is pretty exciting.
These and much more are some of the exciting new attractions and entertainment you can expect to enjoy with your pre-school and school-aged kids.
Final Thought On The Best Rides For Preschool To School-Age Kids
I always say that my kids literally grow WITH Disney. As they grow physically and developmentally, there are new experiences to be had at each age and stage.
Not only can preschool and school-age kids learn things at Walt Disney World. They also experience all of the pixie dust and magic that is Disney.
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