Is Your Child Ready for Disney?

A Five Question Evaluation

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Because I am a huge Disney geek, I participate in tons of Disney groups on social media. Often people will ask, “what is the right age to take my child to Disney?” Many people are expecting the “perfect Disney age” as an answer, but, guess what? There is no perfect age! And to be very clear, the decision is less about the kid’s age and more about the parent’s expectations.

We took our daughter to Disneyland when she was 3 1/2. Your child’s perfect age may be younger or older. Below are some questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if YOU are ready to take your kids to Disney:

(1) Do I want to carry around a diaper bag and change diapers in the public restrooms all day long? 

I have a friend who can practically change a diaper mid-stride; therefore, having a non-potty trained child was a non-issue for her. For me, however, I didn’t want to deal – so we waited until our daughter was potty trained. We could have taken her as soon as she was potty trained, but the prior year was a super-duper crappy year for us. Click here to read about a little about our crappy year and why we love Disneyland so much.

(2) Does your child have enough patience to stand in line for 30+ minutes?

As you know, every Disney trip comes with some waiting in lines. I watched some kids totally lose it, while most others managed it quite well. Know your child’s limits and also know your patience level with the temper tantrums! We brought snacks along and played a ton of “Eye Spy” to pass the time. We also vacationed to Disneyland during the week to help avoid long weekend lines.

(3) Is your child scared of the dark or sudden noises?

Nobody is going to have fun if your child is constantly scared while on the traditional “dark rides” at Disney. Your child will hate it and so will you. Now, I’m talking about a “freak out” kind-of fear in the dark – not your typical “prefer the lights on” fear.

(4) Will you be okay taking a mid-day break from the park to squeeze in naptime?

For younger kids, naptime is essential to surviving a Disney trip. However, some parents feel that they are losing money if they don’t spend every single moment inside the park. If your kids can successfully nap in their strollers, score – my daughter never did. We took a mid-day break back at the hotel for her to nap. It actually turned out to be the best thing ever for us all. We napped, swam in the pool, and then re-entered the park re-charged! Read about our favorite Disneyland hotel here.

(5) Will this be your only Disney trip ever?

When we took our daughter to Disneyland at age 3 1/2, tons of people just had to tell us it was a “stupid idea, because she would not remember the trip.” I told them, kindly, that I didn’t care. We knew we’d make more Disney trips and this trip was all about seeing the magic of Disney through her eyes.

However, if you are only planning one “once-in-a-lifetime” vacation to Disney, then wait until all family members can participate in the same activities and all will have some memory of the trip. Just remember, after a certain age, your kids might not light up when they see Mickey Mouse for the first time.

Side Note: I have discovered that the same people who will tell you that your kid is too young for Disney, will be the same people who question why you are returning to Disney for another trip. 

Wondering if your child is ready for Disney? Take our quiz to find... the answer might surprise you! #Disney #FamilyVacations

In conclusion, there is no specific age to take your child to Disney. Simply have awareness into your expectations of a Disney trip and how your child will respond! Now that you are ready, be sure to check out this amazing packing and tip guide from Henry and Andrew’s Guide: Packing List and Tips for Disneyland with Kids.

Also, check out From Toddler to Traveler’s “Disney’s California Adventure with Toddlers: A Complete Guide.

Headed to Disney World instead, check out this guide from More Than Mainstreet “Your First Trip to Disney: 21 Practical Tips.

Wondering if your child is ready for Disney? Take our quiz to find... the answer might surprise you! #Disney #FamilyVacations

Advertising Disclosure: As with all content on Travel + Family, this review was based on my own opinion. This post may or may not contain affiliate links, which if you click on, will give me a small commission at no cost or risk to you.

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  1. Your daughter is absolutely adorable! Her little face lighting up when she saw Tinkerbell would have made that trip worth ever penny to me. Plus even if she doesn’t remember it all you’ll have photos to show her. I agree kids these days lose out on the magic that is childhood way too early these days.

  2. The hubs and I took our youngest on a romantic getaway to Disney when she was just 11 months old….because she was still nursing and I couldn’t leave her that long. Every time people commented that she was too young, or that she’d never remember it, or that we were making a mistake, we reminded them that it wasn’t for her, it was for US, We had a blast and had no issue at all with a baby in tow. To be fair, miss Amelia was baby #5 and it had been a very, very long time since I’d done anything without a pile of kids under my feet so taking just the baby was a special treat. The older kids we took when they were 3, 5, 6, and 7 and we also had an amazing time. I think, if you only ever get to take the kids once, do it when they can remember it. But if you can take them more than once, there’s really never a bad time. -A fellow Disney fanatic. 🙂

  3. your daughter is super cute! I don’t know if there is a good first age – all depends on what the parents think… I took mine to Disney HK when they are 2 and 4 – it went very well 🙂 the little cannot remember though – but the big one still talks about tinker bell haha!

  4. Your daughter is gorgeous. I don’t have kids but when I will have, I would love to bring them with me when I travel. It’s not about the kid remembering a specific part of the trip, it’s about the family time spent together. As a parent, you will know when your kid is ready for something or not, there is no book telling you this.

  5. They made Disney for kids so of course your child is ready for it 🙂 I personally never been but I believe if something amazing happens to you when you a kids you will remember it for rest of your life 🙂 and yes, it might be a little bit complicated be there with little one but I would still take my kids! Your daughter is very cute !

  6. This is really useful, I don’t have children but I might in the future, so it’s always useful to be prepared 🙂 Love Disney

  7. This Is such a good idea for an article. Many parents wouldn’t consider all the extra precautions to take with a child or what kind of issues they may run into. It’s so expensive as well so it may save them a headache to wait until the child is a bit older.

  8. That’s a very useful post! Yes, there are so many die-hard Disney fans and we grew up with Disney ruling our childhood. And as we become adults, taking our kids to Disney land is like, the best thing we could do for them! But yeah, when to do that is a very valid question!

  9. I still don’t have children, but I’m in awe of the patience of all the traveller mum’s out there. So many things you have to think of… wow, kuddos to you!

  10. A lot more thought goes into that than I thought. I would just assume that everything would be ok and we would get by. I am clearly not ready to be a parent haha. Does your ticket allow you multiple entries per day into the park? That is genius to be able to go out and take a nap then come back.

    1. Yes, you can leave the park for a rest and then return. Even a great idea for people without kids… everyone needs a little R&R or pool time mixed in with a Disney vacation!

  11. All excellent points for consideration! After reading through your questions, I am happy to announce that my children ARE READY for Disney. Hooray! We intend to go in the next year or two, and I can hardly wait. It will be the second time for my oldest but only the first time for my younger two children.

  12. We went when my middle daughter was 2 1/2 (and I was pregnant with my now 2 year old). I just wanted to give the trip to my family while we had the opportunity. The diaper changes weren’t so bad for me and she DID nap great in her stroller. This list of questions is fantastic for people considering going with littles. Thanks for sharing!

  13. #5 – that can be said of ANY trip we take our kiddo on. We’re not going to wait until he’s “old enoigh” before we travel anywhere. He has a great one now, and so do we.

    I think this would be valid if you didn’t like Disney and were only going for THEIR enjoyment, but we want any trip to be fun for us, too.

  14. We first took V when she was 2 1/2 to Disneyland, and now we have an annual pass because she loved it so much. Living here in Southern California it’s easy just to take her for a half day. But this is a great checklist to determine the Disney-readiness. I would add exposure to Disney. We actually never watched the Disney channel til after she went on Disney cruise, and she was initially quite perplexed by the characters. She learned pretty quickly, though.

  15. I have to admit, when I read the title of this blog I thought, no a child is never to young for Disney. As a season pass holder, we bring our grand daughter often, she is 4 now. But you nailed it, all of these reasons are a factor. We did bring her once with a large group of family 15+ when she was about 1. Changing her diaper wasn’t an issue for us, but we also had a large group that would take turn on sitting out of rides so everyone could enjoy the rides they wanted. I think going to Disneyland so often at a young age has actually taught her to have more patience. These are great things to consider when taking small children.

  16. Ahh, I can’t wait to go to Disney! My son is only 18 months old now, though, and he definitely won’t wait in line. We had to jump out of the Santa line this year because he was throwing a fit! Haha.

  17. All of these are such great questions to ask! We’re taking my daughter for the first time this weekend (super excited!) and I’m still hoping the logistics of nap-time will work out well!

    1. Yes, that is really the entire point! I think with all vacations we have to level-set with our own expectations and determine what is going to be the best for us.

  18. Wow some superb tips. The lines can be daunting. We went when our kids were just 6. But. It wasn’t too bad. Although I think it’s better to waist 🙂

  19. Great tips! My husband and I were just chatting about this very topic a couple of days ago. I think we definitely have to wait until my 2 year old is potty trained! Maybe I could use it bribe her.

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