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What Is The Best Age To Take Your Child On A Disney Vacation?

June 1, 2023

One of my most frequently asked questions has to do with what age your child should be before taking them on their very first Disney vacation.

And it’s a valid question. A Disney vacation is an unforgettable experience for both you and your child. But, there’s so much that goes into how I answer this question.

And the reason is that there’s no right or wrong age. Like mostly everything else in life, what is perfect for one family isn’t necessarily perfect for another.

So, the best age has to do with why you want to go on a Disney vacation in the first place. Is it because it’s a right of passage for many families? Do you want to celebrate a special occasion or milestone? Are you just looking to have some fun?

The perfect age has to do with what your goals are.

The Best Age for Budget Travelers

Under 3 years old

Budget-wise, the best age to take your child to Disney is when they are under 3 years old. And that’s because children under 3 are Free.

Children under 3 years old:

  • Don’t need a Park Ticket
  • Aren’t charged for what they eat at buffets, including character dining
  • Don’t count towards occupancy at the Disney Resorts
  • Can ride Lightning Lane attractions without a Lightning Lane, as long as they meet the height requirement

Under 10 years old

Children, ages 3 to 9, are no longer free. But, children under 10 do get a lot of price savings. This includes things like Park Tickets, Dining, and more.

But, once your child turns 3, you’ll have to remember to make all of the same reservations for your young child that you would when you’re traveling with an adult. If they want to ride an attraction with you, they will also need a Lightning Lane. And, until January 9, 2024, they’ll also need a Park Reservation to get into the Theme Parks.

What happens if your child turns 3 or 10 while on vacation?

Much like the children in Neverland, children don’t age at Disney.

This means that even if your child turns 3 or 10 during your vacation, you don’t pay more once their birthday passes. The age they are on check-in day is the age they remain for the entirety of their trip, at least pricewise.

That’s me on the right!

How Much Of Your Vacation Do You Want Your Child To Remember?

Many families don’t want to go to the Disney Parks until their child is old enough to remember the trip. And understanding that not everyone has the budget for multiple Disney Trips, I absolutely understand why parents want to make their once-in-a-lifetime vacation perfect.

However, memories vary per person. And what your child remembers will depend on a variety of factors.

I discuss different options with my clients. But, the main questions I like to ask are:

  • What are they interested in?
    • If your child is interested in a special character, topic, or activity, plan an itinerary that includes these things. They’re more likely to remember their vacation if they did something they’re already interested in.
  • What type of experiences are you planning?
    • Anyone can go to a Theme Park and stand in a line. What are the unique or exciting experiences that you would want your child to remember?

By focusing on creating meaningful experiences and balancing activity with rest, you can help ensure that your child has a positive and memorable vacation.

Sleeping in a rental stroller from Kingdom Strollers

Are You Willing To Deal With Strollers?

The average Disney Guest can walk upwards of 10 miles per day. This means that even if your child no longer uses a stroller at home, they could be begging for someone to pick them up before the end of day 1.

There are advantages and disadvantages to having a stroller in the Disney Parks. And while I do think that renting a stroller from Kingdom Strollers absolutely makes things easier, it’s still one more thing you have to deal with on vacation.

If your trip would be ruined by the constant parking, finding, and folding whenever you need to travel between destinations, you may want to consider holding off until you know your child can handle larger amounts of walking.

Baby's first time seeing Mickey Mouse

Adorable Meet and Greets

There’s nothing more adorable than seeing a little one meet the characters for the first time. I may or may not have teared up when our youngest smiled at Mickey. Ok, I definitely did.

Meeting characters is great at any age. But, taking your kids to Disney before they realize “the truth” about who those characters really are is something special and magical.

My teens still humor me by taking pictures with the characters. But, given the choice, they’d rather do something else.

I survived Expedition Everest

The Attractions

There’s a misconception that if you didn’t take your kids to Disney when they were really little, you missed your chance. But, Disney was never meant to be just for small kids. It was meant to be for the entire family.

That’s why you’ll find everything from everything from the slow boat rides to the thrill rides in each Park. No matter how old you are, there’s something for you to ride.

However, if your goal is to get on as many rides as possible, it can be challenging with a small child. Walt Disney World and Disneyland does use Rider Switch when your little one doesn’t meet the height requirement or they’re too scared to ride with the rest of the family.

Although it can be more challenging to travel with a baby or toddler, it’s also fun and magical.

I feel extremely lucky right now. I get to watch my youngest see and experience the Parks for the very first time. But, I also have teenagers that want to ride the Expedition Everest and Rock n Roller Coaster with me.

As a mom of kids who fall on both sides of “they’re too old” and the “they’re too young” argument, I know that there’s not a best age to visit the Disney Parks. How do I know? Because no matter how old my kids have been when we went, they’ve always been exactly the right age to enjoy the Parks.

Riding Toy Story Mania, in Hollywood Studios, with an infant

Have questions? Feeling anxious? Don’t know where to start? That’s where we step in.

We know what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do. We’ve done the training, we’ve made the mistakes, and have learned from them, And that’s what makes us the perfect people to help you.

From perfectly curated itineraries to direct access to your Travel Professional, our goal is to take the stress out of planning your vacation.

Simply fill out whichever form works better for you, and we’ll discuss your options.

ExploreWithCatherine.com is not authorized or endorsed by, or officially connected with The Walt Disney Company, or any of their affiliates. For official Disney information, visit http://www.disney.com.

Hawaii Destination Specialist

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