Is Your Child Ready for Disney?
A Five Question Evaluation
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.
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.”
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.