This is a question that almost every family heading to Walt Disney World faces at least once – and there’s no perfect answer to “What age is the RIGHT age to bring them to Walt Disney World for the first time?”. I can’t answer the question for you – but I can give you some tips/things to think about when making the decision:
Packing: Generally speaking, the smaller the child, the more stuff they need for any trip away from home. A small infant/toddler would need at the very least: a stroller/carrier of some kind, a pack n play/cot, toys, blankets, feeding stuff (bottles, breastpump/accesscories, etc) – it can just get to be a lot really quickly. Luckily, many airlines allow you to check carseats/strollers at the gate for no additional cost – so that helps a little, but still – keeping track of all of your stuff PLUS the baby’s stuff can be a bit stressful. So think about what your child’s necessities are and if it is more than you can carry between you and your spouse – you might want to wait until the kid(s) are a bit older and can survive with a bit less gear
Schedule: Most little ones do best when they are on a set schedule of napping/eating/playing – and for some, when their schedule is thrown off – it can be truly disastrous for them (and for you, too!). You know your children best – so before you book your Disney trip – think about their schedule, and what parts of it can be easily altered, and what parts are set in stone and need to happen in order to ensure they are enjoying themselves – and take those into account. Most scheduling can still happen while you’re at Walt Disney World, it just might require a bit of extra pre-planning – making ADR’s to ensure you’re eating at the best time for the kids, or ensuring you leave the Parks early so that bedtime is on track, things like that. A child who needs a schedule is not a deal-breaker when it comes to Disney, it is just another thing to consider
Size: This may seem like a weird thing to consider – but the size of your kids can be a factor in this decision too – if they are 4 but small for their age, there may be a bunch of rides they are not quite tall enough for yet (which can lead to disappointment for everyone if you don’t research it ahead of time), or if they are 3 but big for their age they might get tired and want to be carried later in the day, which can be a strain on mom and dad. Of course, bringing a stroller is an option – but that takes us back to the packing dilemma. Whereas – a tiny baby is pretty easy to carry in a sling/carrier right on your person, but of course can’t ride many rides at all. So – in this case, size might matter – depending on how many rides you want to do and whether or not your children will get to enjoy them too. And – take your kid’s carry-ability into factor too – if they can’t be on their feet all day, plan on doing some heavy lifting or bringing a stroller
Maturity: Ask yourself – can your kids talk – enough to get themselves the proper help should they ever get separated from you (god forbid – and I know no one EVER wants to even consider this, but it happens). Can they say their name, and their parents name, and get across to another adult or Disney Cast Member that they are lost/separated from their parents? Furthermore – can they express themselves to you – can they easily let you know if they are tired/too hot/hungry/thirsty? Disney is a big, loud, crowded place – and while the ability to talk/express themselves is certainly not required, it might make things a bit easier for everyone involved if your little ones had this ability in their grasp. I know I will be practicing with my son what to say if he gets “lost”, and I also purchased some bracelets on amazon that are specifically used for this purpose – you can put the parents name/phone number on them in case the child gets separated from the group
Cost: It’s no big secret that a Walt Disney World vacation is not cheap – it can cost upwards of several thousand dollars for a family of 4 to head there for a week when you factor in airfare, food, lodging, incidentals, and everything in-between. Age wise – kids under 2 are free at Disney – and on most major airlines too (they don’t need their own ticket under 2 as you can hold them as a “lap infant”), but of course the main issue with that is – they might have fun, but they are never going to actually remember any of it or make any long term memories from it. Kids 3-9 are admitted at a discounted rate, so while they aren’t free it’s at least a bit better than a full price adult
For me – around age 4 seems to be the magic number. I was 4 when I went to Disney World for the first time with my parents, and my son will be just shy of 4 when we bring him there for the first time this fall. We have already started mentioning it to him (as he has seen commercials on TV and asked if we can go there – and we were tired of saying “someday” ha) – but he of course has no actual concept of time beyond today/tomorrow, so we are definitely being careful how much we reveal or how many details we share with him. Once it gets closer we can start talking more about the airplane/travel process, as well as give him some information on what he can expect when we arrive at Walt Disney World.
BUT – I know many people who swear that their kids as young as 2 get a LOT out of it and have a blast – so really it’s up to you to take it all into account – you will ultimately have to decide for yourself what the right age is for you to bring your little ones to Disney World for the first time. Hopefully these things to consider were useful in aiding in that decision!
So what about you – have you brought your babies/toddlers to Walt Disney World? What did you/they think of the experience? Let us know in the comments!
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