This is probably one of the most common questions that parents ask themselves, their friends, and their travel agents when deciding when to spend the money to take their children to Disney. You want your child to have fun, be able to handle the heat, crowds and waits, and also, ideally, remember the trip. The answer to this is truly is not “one size fits all,” but hopefully some information in this post can help you decide if you are ready to bring your young child to the Disney theme parks!
I have brought my own son at the ages of 4 months, 18 months and 2 years, and while each age has had its challenges each age has also had many rewards! I am a firm believer that no child is “too young” to go to Disney. With that said, I am a “Disney Regular”. I have been both with children and without, and I plan to continue bringing my son through all of the stages of his life. For those deciding on a once in a lifetime trip, you may get more bang for your buck if you wait until your child is 5 or older and will remember more. However, if you are at a point where you can go and simply think your child is too young, they will likely still enjoy it!
Children are the focus demographic of Disney and for a good reason! They believe in the magic like no one else…Mickey is REALLY Mickey, the rides are real to them, the awe on their faces when they watch the parades and fireworks cannot be replicated. Bringing my 4-month-old was challenging in many ways, but when he leaned over and kissed Minnie Mouse on the nose my heart absolutely melted! I know that he doesn’t remember one moment from that trip, but the memories that I have will last forever.
As your children get older, they will enjoy the parks more. They will interact more with the parks and appreciate what they are seeing. From 18 months to 24 months I saw noticeable differences in how my son acted on the rides, with the characters etc. Again, seeing his eyes light up when he pointed out “Nemo!!” on The Seas with Nemo and Friends when we took him for his 2nd birthday, is something that my husband and I will never forget. He truly believed that he was seeing Nemo in that moment and watching him while knowing that he honestly believes in the magic is irreplaceable.
With younger children the trip is different, but here are some tips to maximize your time in Disney and make sure that everyone has a great trip:
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! Bring diapers, favorite snacks, water, cooling cloths, loveys, toys, fans…anything that you think will make the day easier for your child and for you!
Bring a stroller! Even if you think that your child is too old and wouldn’t ever use one at home, bring or rent one!! The parks are big and little legs get tired (so do big legs). It can also serve as a way to help carry everything listed above.
Familiarize yourself with the locations of the baby care centers. There is one located in every park and these air-conditioned facilities offer rooms for feeding and changing little ones, rooms for resting or avoiding loud fireworks, snacks, diapers etc. for purchase, kitchens for preparing and heating bottles and meals.
TAKE BREAKS! Whether it is back in the room, at the pool at your resort, or simply on a quiet park bench take the time to just sit, have a snack, recoup a bit and recover from the busy parks. My son LOVED the splash pads at EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom and it was a great way for him to cool down and get out some extra energy leading to nice stroller naps.
Be patient with the characters. Some children love them and some are scared. My son loved some and hated others…no real reason why!
Move slow! Too many people run through the parks trying to accomplish everything, and the truth is you just can’t. Remember the little legs moving with you and allow them to set the pace for your day as much as possible.
Most of all, have fun! I can promise you that seeing the magic through those little eyes and watching those little faces light up will show you the true magic of Disney like nothing else!
Alyssa Wharton is a Vacation Specialist with Coasters and Castles Travel. She would love to help you plan your next vacation! You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (978) 500-4532