It seems it has become an official right of passage for children to take their first trip to Walt Disney World.
The big question then becomes… WHAT IS THE BEST AGE TO TAKE A CHILD?
There are many big factors to consider in this decision. Let’s explore them together!
- How willing are you to disrupt your child’s current daily schedule? As children age, they often adjust better to variations to their schedule. Chances are your schedule will be quite different on your Walt Disney World vacation. In our experience, the best way to “do” Disney is to get to the parks early, leave and take a nap mid-day, and then stay as late as you can stand when lines for rides slow significantly. This may be quite different than your child’s typical schedule. Essentially two-year-olds are more likely to freak out to their schedule changing than four-year-olds are, so the older they are in that case, the better.
- How important to you is it that they remember the trip? Due to the expense, for many Walt Disney World is a “once in a childhood” vacation. While photographs do a great job of reminding us as we age, to some parents it’s important to them that the child actually remember going on the trip. Obviously, the chances of the child actually remembering the trip improve with the age of the child. In my research, most people begin actually remembering around age 4. Before that, they’re likely to have what’s called “infantile amnesia”. So if it’s very important to you that the child actually remembers the trip, waiting until after age 4 might be smart.
- How much do you want them to walk? Little legs tire out fast and constantly parking a stroller over and over and over again will become mind-numbing. Renting strollers also add an expense to your trip. However, I will tell you that we used the Disney double strollers as long as our children could fit in them. Any bit of energy you can salvage at Walt Disney World is worth it. Many times I’ve wished I could sit in the stroller for a while and have them push me! Thinking about this ahead of time will save you a lot of drama later!
- Do you want your child to believe the characters are the “real” ones? This is an important one to think about. On one hand, for some little ones seeing a giant mouse, or dog is quite terrifying. On the other hand, some of the magic gets lost when they no longer believe it’s “actually Mickey!!” So I suggest you tip-toe the line between belief and non-belief. There are few things more exciting than seeing your child meet their favorite character for the first time when they are 100% convinced that is THE REAL ONE! Again, we’ve found this happy medium seems to be between 4 and 6. Of course, some children keep their imaginations live longer than others, and others (especially ones with older siblings) lose the magic earlier. Only you, as the guardians, can make this call.
So if you’re wanting MY opinion of the perfect age to take your child to Walt Disney World for the first time I would say between 4 and 6 years old. We took each of our children at age four and it was perfect.
What do you think? What do you think would be the perfect age for YOUR child?