This seems to be a common question among parents who are thinking of taking their child(ren) to Disney. “What is the best age to take that Magical Trip to Disney.” Understanding that not everyone has the budget for multiple Disney Trips, families want to make their possibly once-in-a-lifetime vacation perfect.
But, the reason why you may not find that answer…or find too many contradicting answers to this question is because there is no right or wrong age. Like mostly everything else in life, what is perfect for one family isn’t necessarily perfect for another
So, while I can’t give you that “perfect age”, what I can do is give you some things to think about to help you choose an age that will work best for your family.
If you’re strictly talking budget, the best age to take your child to Disney is when they are under 3 years old. Children under 3 do not need a ticket to enter the parks which mean they get all the fun for none of the price. This also applies to FastPasses. As long as an adult has a FastPass for a ride, your child can skip the Standby line and come along for the ride (as long as they meet the height requirement for that ride). Just remember that this also means that child will not get a MagicBand in the mail with the rest of the family, if you purchase a Vacation Package at Walt Disney World.
If your child is older than 3, the next age to think about, in terms of price, is age 10. Children 3 – 9 get a little bit of a price break, so if your child is approaching that 10 year old mark, you may want to visit before their birthday to save yourself a little money. There is no difference in the number of Fastpasses or Dining Credits between a 9 and 10 year old, so the only difference is the price.
What happens if your child turns 3 or 10 while on vacation? Much like Neverland, children don’t age at Disney. Which means that even if your child turns 3 or 10 on Day 2 of your trip, they remain the same age they were at Day 1 for the entire length of the trip. Plus, what an awesome birthday that would be!
This one is a difficult age to pinpoint. Every parent wants their child to have a lasting memory of their time at Disney. But that age is different for every child. But, if I had to give my honest opinion, anything before 5-6 years old will most likely not be remembered, no matter how much fun your child had.
The reason I give this age is solely based on experience. On our first trip, I was 6 and my sister was a little over 3 1/2. While I don’t remember every detail ( I mean, that was 30 years ago!), I do have some very vivid memories of things like riding the Peoplemover with my Grandpa, hopping back and forth between Peter Pan and It’s a Small World (back when it was possible to hop back and forth with not much waiting), and even how much my sister was petrified of Pirates of the Caribbean and the Enchanted Tiki Room. Unfortunately, my sister remembers none of this. She’s seen the pictures that were taken, but as far as memories go, she has none from this trip.
Lugging Around those Darn Strollers
Again, every child is different in terms of how far they can walk before their little legs just need a break. So unless you plan on carrying your child all over Disney, a stroller is a good option for taking a break from walking or oftentimes, taking a nap. As great as they are, parking them, finding them, and folding them up whenever you need to travel between destinations can be a big pain. If you don’t want your memories tarnished by stroller issues, you may want to consider holding off until you know your child can handle larger amounts of walking.
Disney was made not just for kids, but for adults, as well. Which means that parents look forward to the rides just as much as their kids do. If your children are too young or doesn’t want to ride a specific ride, parents can always participate in Rider Switch (this allows one adult to watch the kids while the other adult rides, then switch so the other adult can ride). However, I know some single parents who took their kids to Disney by themself, so the Rider Switch wouldn’t work. In these cases, waiting until your child hits certain height requirements or wants to go on more rides could be beneficial.
And speaking from experience, having one son who will now go on Expedition Everest with me makes the ride so much more fun than riding alone. 🙂