View Full Version : Ideal ages for WDW?

11-19-2008, 01:52 PM
With all of the deals I'm seeing for Disney lately, I have begun to think about when we should go. I plan to do Disney one time only as we have so many other places we'd like to take the kids as they get older. So, DS1 is 7 y.o. and DS2 is 3.5 y.o. I want them both to be able to remember it and truly enjoy it. Obviously DS1 would be fine to go now. Should I wait a bit so DS2 can be a bit older? I want the "magic" to be there. DS1 is very bright but is also very much a kid and fully believes in Santa, tooth fairy, etc.

What do you think?


11-19-2008, 02:00 PM
Two years ago, I would have told you that bringing kids younger than 4 to WDW was not smart. Now that I've brought my 4yo and seen the place for myself from a parents perspective, I have to tell ya, it really DOES depend on the child. So trite to say it, but it just really is true. My thoughts -->

* My 3yo LOVED WDW (he was 10 days shy of 4). He was a kid in a candy store, he was tall enough for all the kids rides -- and most of the adult ones, too, and he went on them and loved nearly all of them, including Soarin' at Epcot. He will remember alot of this trip. But when we ask him what he loved best, ya know what he says? THE HOTEL.

* I believe that people who say they go to WDW for their baby-aged or even toddler-aged kids are fooling themselves. It's ok to bring them, and certainly they'd have a good time. But with babies and toddlers, you're going for YOU not for them. And there's absoltuely nothing wrong with that! But rationalizing it out to say it's for them is not realistic. Age 3 or 4, maybe, but not age 2 or younger. IMO.

* Disney makes it insanely easy for you, especially the MK. You got a baby? You got a toddler? You got a wheelchair? You got an infant just baked? They've got services for you. You got a huge ass and big boobs? They got rides for you. You need peace and quiet ... they don't got that for you.

Go! Have a wonderful time. Plan around your kids, get the right hotel for you, even if that means off-property, and you'll do just fine. My only real huge big advice is don't go in the heat.

11-19-2008, 03:00 PM
I just got back from our first trip with my twins who are one month away from turning 3. They had a blast, but it was overwhelming. There was a lot that they could do and they have talked about it constantly.

However - this was not our one and only trip since my dad lives in the area. If I did not think we would return, I would probably have waited a while. For you it is tricky since you have an older child to think about too... I would maybe wait a year, but hopefully parents of older kids can chime in and tell you if it is still magical at that age.

11-19-2008, 03:12 PM
We have an ongoing debate about this in our house. I think DD#1 is the ideal age and that she will NOT be the ideal age when DD#2 IS the ideal age, KWIM? DH is adamantly opposed to going to WDW until DD#2 is much older (its a 7 hr flight for us). DD#1 and I have told him that we are going (all four of us) to DL next year (2 hr flight).

I really want to go to at least one Disney park while DD#1 is still in her Princess stage. I know she would be over the moon!

11-19-2008, 03:26 PM
We have been taking Sarah to WDW since she was 14 months old. I'm honestly not sure what Fairy means by WDW at younger than 2 is for the parents and not the kids. If the kids enjoy it, is the trip not for them? Is it ONLY for them, no. But I wouldn't go to WDW again and again if I didn't enjoy it too. :) We just got back 2 weeks from our latest trip and my 2 year old had an absolutely amazing time. That being said, she is a HARD kid, very active and high energy, and it was a HARD trip for me with her, KWIM?

My 7 year old has been many, many, many times. She enjoys it differently every time. By this age much of the "magic" is no longer there for her. She knows that the characters are people in costumes and that it isn't really Mickey or Cinderella. (She also still believes in Santa, not so much the Tooth Fairy thanks to other kids.) She does still enjoy the characters but is now VERY into the thrill rides. So she and DH run around from ride to ride and meet up with us. So it's much different than when she was 4 and we went to the Princess Tea Party and she really believed it was Aurora.

So I don't believe there is a right or best age. Certainly an infant will get little from the trip. But my 2 year old is still talking about Mickey and some of the rides. Will she remember it as an adult, well of course not. But that isn't my yardstick of what to do when with my kids.

11-19-2008, 03:52 PM
I know my opinion about babies/toddlers at WDW is not shared by most. I don't think it's pointless to take them by any stretch. But a baby is not going to remember much about it. I think parents of babies aren't taking their babies to WDW, they're going to WDW and taking their babies with. The diff is that WDW with babies is ultimately going to be for the adult and not the baby. I used the age of 2 as a cut off, each 2yo is different. I"m probably in the minority on this, and that's ok :-)

11-19-2008, 04:16 PM
Honestly, I'm just confused about what you mean. :) Maybe it's just semantics, but I don't think ANY trip to ANYwhere is "just for the kids". We take trips that our family will enjoy as a family. We all get different things out of the experiences. We don't take family trip only for the reason that the kids will remember that particular experience forever. But DH and I went to WDW twice before we even had kids, so....

Just FYI though, Sarah remembers little about any trip we have taken. She remembers WDW itself well just because she has been so often. But if I ask her. for example, about the Princess Tea that she and I did when she was 4.5, she doesn't remember it, even when I show her pictures.

11-19-2008, 05:12 PM
Gotcha. Here's an example. Some years back, a friend of mine, who is a Disney nut, went to Disney with her daughter for the first time since having her, and she was about 15 months old? Soemthign like that. An older baby. She was saying how she couldn't wait to take her to see X and they're meeting Pooh at Crystal Palace and she just loves Pooh, and it's goign to be so exciting for her,a nd theywere staying at ... whichever one it was, I forget, cuz the daughter wanted to go on X ride, which is at MK, which is closest to whatever hotel it was. This is really paraphrased, it was, like 10 years ago. All phrased as, "DD can't wait to do this, she's really excited."

So, I have no kids at this point,a nd I'm thinking, huh? You're talking in terms of going to Disney World for your 15 month old baby. Cuz DD wants to see Pooh and cuz DD wants to go on X ride. And I thought, hold on. Now, at that time, I thoguht bringing babies/toddelrs to WDW was dumb. But I've changed my tune! But still, I thought, hold on, you're going to WDW FOR YOUR 15 MONTH OLD?! No, you're not. You're fooling yourself if you think you're going for a baby who is going to be more excited by whatever you give them to chew than going on whatever dumbo ride or whatever you were talkign about. I'm sure the baby will have a wonderful time looking at the light show or being on a boat ride, whatever. But don't say you're doing it all for your child, cuz at that age, you're child isn't in that zone, they don't get it. YOU get it, and you can love WATCHING your child love the moment they're in, but it was not for my friend's DD. She really talked like DD wanted to do this and was excited. at 15 monhts? No.

Hope that helps! Ya know, it really is harder to verbalize than I'd thoguht, now that I try to explain it :-)

11-19-2008, 08:17 PM
FWIW - We took DS to DL when he was 18 months, we would not have gone then except I had a conference there (whee!) He doesn't remember a thing - he had a great time, and we and the grands had a wonderful time seeing his excitement at everything and we have wonderful pictures - but he doesn't remember it at all. So, to Fairy and Beth's povs, the trip was enjoyed by DS at the time, but the trip for us was enjoyed then and in memories.

We hope to take DS to WDW when he is 7 - we thought that was the right age - tall enough for the rides, old enough to remember the highlights, old enough to enjoy those rides he'll be tall enough for, old enough to make a whole day of it, yet still young enough to enjoy the magic.

We are planning to go to DL for his 5th b-day as DH needs to fly out of LAX the day after DS's b-day. Otherwise we'd wait for the WDW trip. I don't think he'll last a whole day - when we go to new exciting places he gets overwhelmed and then, well, cranky. On our recent vacation, DS was 4.5yo, we were calling it a day at 2pm. So even at 5yo I'm thinking half days and then back to the hotel to unplug before dinner. For OP, at 4.5 you aren't going to get full days (well, we couldn't at any rate) so you might take that into consideration as well.

11-19-2008, 10:56 PM
For the OP's one-time-only trip, I'd probably wait another year and a half. Yes, you'll lose some of the magic for your older child, but your younger will be able to ride most of the rides vs. the family splitting up all the time.

I'm the wrong person to ask, but I think that Disney isn't made for a one-time-only trip. There's just so much to see, and it is enjoyed in different ways depending on the current age and interests of each family member. Would you consider going now as your older child's "main trip", and then going in 2 yrs or so to give your second a "main trip"?

11-21-2008, 08:52 PM
We just got back, my DC are 7 and a little over 3 and everyone had an amazing time! Honestly, I was expecting it to be a really tough week but it was great.

My younger dc loved it and it was truly magical for her. I am so glad that I took her at this age. She was not scared of the characters and loved riding the rides.


11-25-2008, 05:23 PM
My first trip to WDW was at 12. My brother was 8. It was our only trip to WDW for our whole lives. We both loved it like crazy. We rode all of the grownup rides with our parents, but got to really enjoy the non-ride attractions, that are sort of lost on younger kids.

As a parent now, I would think that was too old to wait, but as a kid, it was perfect. We could walk all day, stay up for the shows, not get crabby and carry our own stuff. Best of all, we remember ALL OF IT. For what was the one non-camping vaction we took as a family growing up, I appreciate that my parents waited until I would remember everything. And at 12, I was still excited to see that characters. No, I knew they weren't actually the characters, but you're living the Disney dream, right? There's a certain amount of suspended disbelief.

Plus I could practice my French that I had started when we went to Epcot, which was just awesome.

For the amount of money involved, your kids need to remember it. All of it, IMHO. Going before they can walk all day or remember everything is asking for crabby kids in strollers at 6 years old screaming for an ice cream and crying because they didn't get to see Mickey while the other kid is inevitably screaming for a potty, even though you spent $4000 to get the whole family to the "happiest place on Earth".

11-28-2008, 09:05 PM
I think 3 is the earliest I would consider taking a child to Disney. Just to add another variable-for us, the length of the trip was also factor. I went with family in Sept with 3 yo DS. Yes, DS is large enough to get on all the 40 inch rides, though clearly did not belong on all of them, and he was old enough to enjoy and remember it. however, I think 8 days was simply too long a trip for him to fully enjoy. he would have been better with a shorter trip, maybe 5 days. I think it became a bit much for him the second half of the week, he became afraid to try rides, and happy to just go back to the hotel whenever.

That being said, I met a lovely couple from England who were having the time of their lives with their 2 1/2 year old twin girls on a 2 week "holiday"- and I met them early in their second week.

So for me, it was age 3, not too long a stay, and definitely staying on resort property was key.

12-02-2008, 11:26 AM
I think it depends on the child. We visited when DS1 was 4 and his favorite part of the trip was hanging out at the pool and in our room. He was not into the characters or the rides and was actually somewhat overwhelmed by the entire experience. I don't think this is the norm though! He would LOVE it now at 5.5 but at 4 he wasn't ready.

12-27-2008, 06:46 AM
I know that it was a little young but we first took our DCs when they were 3.5 (DS) and 1.5 (DD). They were not afraid of any of the characters and remembered everything (!) right up to our next trip (quick day trip) a year and a half later (5 & almost 3).

If you are only doing ONE trip, I'd maybe wait another year or two for your younger one but then your older child might miss the "magic" of Disney. If you are planning on going again in the future, I'd say this year would be fine for your 3.5yo. This year 3yo DD LOVED Goofy's Barnstormer & Pirates this year. Dumbo and PeterPan were somehow beneath her!?! What happened to my baby?? As you can see, having an older sib might be to your younger DS's advantage.

Good luck!

12-27-2008, 10:39 AM
I too think that WDW has its different appeal for different ages. We went to WDL last yr when we were out in So Cal for my brother's wedding. We took our 2 and 3 yr old. The 2 yr old's favorite part was the monorail (train nut, so this was no surprise). The 3 yr old loved the nemo, dumbo ride and pirates of the carribean. The only thing is that when they are small for their age, they were too short to ride on a lot of the rides.

I think that in about 3 yrs we'll do WDW. The older two will be able to ride all the rides. However, we will have a toddler (I'm due in July), so we'll just have to deal with it. We'll probably go again when the kids are close to jr high aged too, b/c I think they will be more into some of the other rides and maybe we will do universal studios too. So, yeah, I kind of think that WDW isn't just a once in a lifetime kind of thing, it's kind of fun to go a few times. There are always new rides and then you always have memories of certain rides that you loved last time you were there and look forward on going on them again.

FWIW, I went to WDW for the first time when I was in high school and I loved it. My DH went for the first time on our honeymoon and he loved it. We took our oldest to WDL (conference) when he was only 6 mo old. He totally slept through most of it, BUT it was fun for DH and I to get out. If the child is under 2, they will remember little to nothing about the trip, but it doesn't mean that the rest of the family won't have a good time.