What age is the right age for a childs first trip to Disney World is often a subject of debate, at least it was in my family.
My mom’s opinion was that you didn’t do Disney till a kid was 5 and free of diapers, strollers and naps. I always thought this was a good answer to the question and I still think it is especially if you are the type who wants to hit the parks and not have to break for diapers and naps.
One of the books I read suggests 7 or 8 as a good age because kids are old enough to ride most rides and for the same reasons that I think 5 is a good age.
However, once you have kids the answer to this question can change. I knew once Jack was born that I could not wait till he was 5 to go to Disney. And once he started to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and love all things Mickey I knew it was time to make that first trip.
We took Jack to Disney for the first time at 23 months. The magic that was this vacation is hard to describe. For a nearly 2-year-old everything is real. Mickey is not a costumed character but the mouse live and in person. His eyes were wide and in wonder, from the moment we arrived at the All Start Music Resort to the moment we left.
For us, this was the right age and we had no regrets. But I get that every family is different so I’ve come up with a list of things to consider when deciding when is the right time for your families first trip to Disney World.
What is the Right Age for a First Disney Vacation
Are you strict about your kids routine?
If so then waiting till your child has outgrown naptime may be best for you. I am a stickler for nap but I forced myself to be flexible when we went and Jack always got a nap.
Are you ok with going back to the hotel for a break?
We never did this as kids, but as an adult, with a kid, I think it’s necessary and will probably always plan downtime into my vacation. We went back every day for a nap and some rest and we all loved it. However, if you are a person who wants to stay in the park from open to close wait till the kids are old enough to hang with you.
Do you travel lightly?
If so going to with young kids may not be for you. While I hate lugging a bag around DVC I found that this Vera Bradley Bag is the absolute perfect size for the parks and held everything I need. This bag will soon be available in a Disney pattern.
Do you want to ride the rollercoasters?
If you do look into doing a kid swap, where one of you rides and one of you stays with the kid, and then you swap. I didn’t want to ride alone so I took Jack on other rides while the hubs rode a couple of the roller coasters. I’m not sure I would want to spend my day kid swapping just so i could ride the big rides, because for me the trip was all about Jackson.
How do you feel about character meet and greats?
Hate them then wait till the kids are older. But if you love them or don’t mind then take the little ones. Jack’s favorite part of the vacation other than Dumbo and spotting “Mickey buses” was the character meetings. He loved hugging all of his favorite friends and seriously it’s so sweet.
Early mornings and early nights.
Little travelers get up early and usually go to bed early. On most nights of our trip we found ourselves back in the room between 8 and 9 and honestly, we were exhausted too. We skipped the fireworks and nighttime shows and didn’t feel like we missed out. Also, it leaves us with new adventures for our next trip.
Quick service or sit down dinners?
If enjoying a nice long meal is one of your favorite things to do on vacation then you probably don’t have kids or you don’t travel with them or take them to restaurants. Traveling with a toddler means quick eats are a must. And while service at Disney is top notch we did find that dining at Quick Service spots was so much easier than doing a sit-down meal with the little guy. When we did do table service we dined at off-peak hours and had reservations in order to get in and out.
How often do you plan on going to Disney?
As a kid, we went every year from about age 9 on. My first trip was when I was 5 and my brother had his first trip at 5 (he went every year from age 5 on). My plan is to go every year or every other year. My parents are Disney Vacation Club members so this works for us. I think if a Disney vacation was a once in a lifetime event then I probably would have held out till Jack was older and could enjoy the full experience. Though I really think there was nothing more magical than a 2-year-old in Disney.
All tips aside. I think anytime is the right time for a Disney vacation. When you have kids the time flies and the magic will fade. I say go as often and as early as you can.