What is the right age to visit Disney?
As you have gathered, we travel A LOT with our children and Disney is something very high on most travel wishlist for children. I have been asked what is the perfect age to take children to Disneyland / DisneyWorld, and whether children will be too young or old to experience the magic of it all. Like most things in travel, the answer is very subjective and totally open ended. For me, there is no specific age that is the ideal to take children as each age range would enjoy the experience in different ways. Each family has different reasons for travelling so it is whatever works for your family! We haven’t yet made the trip state side for Walt Disney World but we have been to Disneyland Paris on three different occasions with children of different ages. There are lots of pros and cons for each age and we have listed some of these below to help you decide what is the right age to visit Disney?
- They are free to enter into the parks and free to travel so it will be the cheapest time to travel with them. This is especially relevant if you are planning a trip to the higger parks in the USA.
- Young children will be enchanted with all the lights, rides and music. Our 18 month old loved all the characters, music and the general magic feel that Disney brings. The whole of Disney is a sensory delight. They may not remember it but you will remember the excitement in their eyes!
- They are pretty content on watching fireworks, shows and the such like, I remember taking my boys out to shows with their sister and as babies it was the easiest time to take them (before they developed ants in their pants). You can time nap times and feeding around certain activities that you want to do. At this age you can still pretty much set them timetable of he day without (too much) fuss from the children.
- Disney operate a parent swap system so you can take it in turns to go on the adult rides. After visiting theme parks with my children, we have noticed that they are much more likely to want to go on the bigger rides with you once they are older. Baby stage is the best for both of you to have some adult rides with almost no tantrums.
- There are limited rides that babies will be able to go on, for those over 1 choices are better but still you will be limited.
- They can become easily bored so waiting in queues can be very tiresome and even waiting for the parade to start can lead to things like this….
- It is very hard to distract very young children in the queues and even bribing them with a treat just doesn’t work as well as when they are a little older.
- They are prone to walk off to explore the hundreds of things there are to see and do. Our 18 month old wanted to explore all the shops and it can get very tiresome when it is busy to keep trying to keep them in their pushchairs when there is so much to see and do.
- They wont remember the trip at all, Raihan loves that he has been to Disneyland (and Zayn hasn’t) but he cant remember anything of the trip at all. I have never let that stop me travelling with babies but if you are only going to make the trip once its worth baring in mind.
- Travelling with babies leads to lots of baby gear which you take with you. If you are planning on spending quite a few hours in the park it will be like taking the whole house with you.
- You will usually leave the park on a few occasions for naps and to try and ensure the baby is not too exhausted after long days. The Disneyland Hotel in Paris is perfect for naps, the others are still easy to return to but you have added wait of buses (or a 20 minute walk home). Our little adventurers fell asleep on a few occasions in this travel back and then would wake as soon as we returned to the hotel room.
2- 5 years old
For me this is a perfect age to take young children for them to REALLY feel the magic, they are at a lovely age where they can talk, enjoy and know the characters and the magic of it is vert much alive. We went with our 3 year old and she was enchanted. Literally her eyes were alight with the magic of it all and as a parent your heart will literally sing when you see your little one this excited
- The magic of Disney is well and truly alive and most children will be able to recognise the characters. It is a great age to talk to the children about the characters and get them into the Dinsye spirit.
- the children believe that they are seeing the actual characters and they will be truly excited. Its like seeing your favourite movie star up close and personal. With the charcater meet ups and parades you can have lots of characters built into your itinerary and the children can enjoy the rides too
- you will still have a pushchair with you which is perfect as a long day can lead to very tired legs. Giving them a break for a little while will mean that they get some much needed rest and you dont have to carry them around.
- The offers from Disney for stay & play for free are from 3-7 years old now so even though the travel may cost you money the tickets and accommodation should be free with paying adults.
- After lots of walking around the children will get very tired so a nap may still be required. We tried to make a day without a nap and by the time the Dreams show was on, the littl adventurers were very tired, grumpy and it was a bit of disastrous end to the day. Next day we built in a nap and things were a lot better!
- The parks are huge and it takes hours to cover all the ground with young children, so factor this into your plans as you will need to factor in lots of breaks, and time out jut for a run around and not moving from queue to queue.
- Queueing in lines for meeting the characters, rides can be very tiresome and it can be hard to entertain children as you will have to queue for most rides. I find this age even harder to entertain in lines as they are at the stage when they usually want most things instantly.
- The younger ones may find it hard to sit through the character meals and it can be a lot of money spent if they don’t enjoy their food or complaining during the meal times.
- Be warned, there is a chance that your child may really think a character is real and just refrain from saying hello to any of them, or petrified of others!
5- 8 years
This is again a lovely age to bring the children but the older ones will generally know that the characters aren’t real so one of the type of magic will be gone forever! But there is still lots for this to age to enjoy and
- You can plan a big reveal, this age would the age which would have the most impact on as they will remember it all you know all your effort on making it special will be worth it. I think the look of happiness once they know they are going will be a true memory to remember and the next time I go, two of my little adventurers would fall within this category.
- You can get the children involved in some of the planning.
- the children will remember most of their visit and you will have memories that you can share with your children time and time again. I know when we next visit Disney Maya and Raihan will remember their stays properly and when they will watch films or see anything Disney related they will be able to remember their own adventures.
- The children will be able to sit on almost all the rides and will really enjoy all the shows and displays. At this age the children will fully understand all the shows .
- Most children are able to sit through the paid meals and shows and you can actually enjoy them together. I know at 7 Maya’s at a lovely age to take to restaurants and think the Wild West show or the characters meals will be things that they would really enjoy.
- the older ones in this category may now know that the characters aren’t real so the magic is a little diminished. I first went when I was in my 20s and I was still super excited so I guess it depends on your kids!
- the children may be more interested in other things such as dinosaurs / harry potter so Disney may no longer hold as much appeal that it once did.
- the children can get very tired after a full day at the park (and all the walking/queueing) and as you no longer have a pushchair it is likely that the children will get a little whingy and exhausted by the end of each day.
- The children will want the day to be about rides and all the things they like. It is often hard to get a good compromise that works for everyone especially if you have younger children with you also.
- the children will be able to write and keep a journal and write down their favourite memories of their adventures. I love doing this with my little adventurers and its a great way to keep and make keepsakes to look back on in the future
8 – 11 years old
- Travelling with this age range is really lovely. The magic of Disney is not about the characters but you can start to enjoy the other aspects of the family trip.
- The children will still love Disney and all the films so you can have a bumper Disney session before you go and then see what you can find from the films.
- The shows in Disney studios will be much more enjoyable for this age and there is still lots of rides that they will enjoy.
- This is the perfect age for the children to take the map and decide what they want to do for the day. Maya at nearly 7 is now our map reader when we go to theme parks
- The children will be able to spend a full day at the parks with no complaints and you could easily finish both parks in a few days.
- It is likely that children from this age group do enjoy other activities as Disney will definitely not be as big a part of their lives as it was when they were younger.
- The theme parks like Disneyland Paris do not have that many big rides so the thrill seekers in this group may be a little disappointed and after one day become bored of the
- The children may complain a lot about things like sitting through the parades. I noticed with my nieces and nephews this was the age where things suddenly becoming “babyish” and a lot of complaining takes lace if you force them to enjoy them
I think this age would be more likely to enjoy the bigger parks with the larger roller coasters but that said I know my 15 year old niece would love the parades, how the shows have been put together and all the other details which the younger audiences may miss out on. I think this age falls in love with Disney again and a different type of magic is to be found (especially for teenage girls)
- You can do all the parks in a few days and even a day with a super early start and late finish would be fine. You really get the most bang for your buck at this age
- The children would love all the other details, some rides, a few shows but then you are just having quality family time without the need to constantly make it magical.
- The children can be tasked with planing the day and even the few days that you are at the parks. It will do wonders for their confidence and mean that they will pick up important skills such as planning, what things to look out for, trying to find something that everyone will like. The activity really ensures that the children get something from their travels and really involves them in all them in all aspects
- You can combine Disney with other activities. i.e. if you are in Paris you can combine a city trip with the magic of Disney. The children will be more then happy with the mix and unlike the younger children will not be complaining for Disney everyday.
- The children will be happy to watch the shows one day but the additional days they will be able to use the time wisely and make the most of the shorter queues for the more popular rides.
- you can easily stay offsite and make the trip into Disney for the day and know that the children are pretty self sufficient.
- The children will probably not want to watch the shows and everything that makes Disney, Disney
- If you are staying onsite and want to use the magic hours, it is often much harder to tempt teenagers with some Disney magic then a 5 year old.
- The children may have outgrown Disney and may prefer a bigger theme park with crazy roller coasters and more for teenagers, i.e. my 14 year old nephew loves all the thrills of Thorpe Park and the Disney effect would do nothing for him.
So, what is the right age for Disney? It is the age old question of how long is a piece of string. Focus on what you enjoy as a family and enjoy it. To be honest, whichever age you go, the Disney effect will get you and you will have an amazing family holiday (even in the super busy months). I hope the above help and I would love to know what you think!