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At What Age Should You Take Your Kids on a Walt Disney World Vacation?

Updated on April 16, 2011

The first question most parents ask themselves when they think of a Walt Disney World vacation, is if their kids are even ready.  What age should you take your kid to Walt Disney World?  Is it worth it?  Will they remember?  If you go sooner will they enjoy more?  Or less?  How do you decide?

Walt Disney made his theme parks for families. Disney is for kids of all ages—from one to one hundred and one. Even if there was one perfect age, many people have more than one child, so you couldn’t hit it with all of them. Unless, of course, they are all multiples. So, I am going to present with you that there is no wrong age to visit Walt Disney World. Every age is perfect.

Now, that doesn’t mean that every age will have the same experience, even on the same trip.  

Infants will most likely enjoy the sights and sounds of what is going on around them.  Studies even show that the more young children are exposed to, the brighter the child.  Babies and small children learn by observation.  Babies aren’t any more work at Disney World than they are at home; you just do the work on location.  Babies are the most portable and the easiest of all the ages to take to Walt Disney World; they simply go along.  Some of the best memories I have of Walt Disney World is when my children were infants.  At one time, Pocahontas even got down on the ground and played with my seven month old baby for 20 minutes (there was no one else around).  That kind of character interaction does not usually happen and had my child been older, it wouldn’t have.  A very special memory indeed.

Toddlers will likely be in the same boat, but they will enjoy participating in some things also.  There are splash areas and toddler playgrounds.  They will have preferences for many of the things they ride on.  They may or may not enjoy the characters; from what I’ve seen that’s usually a 50-50 thing at this age. Actually, any age beyond infancy.  I’ve seen 10 year old children frightened of the characters.  Chances are your toddler will not remember the trip, but the impressions of the trip will be forever etched into their mind.  They may come home with a great fondness for Donald Duck, but not remember having a character meal starring Donald Duck.

Preschoolers will find themselves wrapped up in the magic of Walt Disney World. Everything will be “real.”   They will have definite likes and dislikes.  They will want to do many things, including partake in shopping.  Your biggest problem will be reining them in.  They may or may not remember it.  I know many people who have memories (actual memories), myself included, of trips to Walt Disney World that they took during the preschool years.  

Elementary aged children will most likely be able to ride most rides and have memories of the trip.  However, they won’t experience the magic of Walt Disney World in quite the same way.  Elementary aged children understand that the characters are dress-up; that the attractions are illusion.  It doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy it, they will, but the experience will not be the same.

You may think teenagers have outgrown a trip to Walt Disney World, but you couldn’t be more wrong!  Walt Disney World has tons of items that appeal to the teenager—Rockin’ Rollercoaster and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney Studios, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, Test Track at Epcot, and Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom, to name a very few.  Plus, it is the one place teenagers do not need to worry about being “cool” and can let themselves go and enjoy a smidge more of childhood.

Even adults at Walt Disney World enjoy themselves immensely.  Winnie-the-Pooh, Peter Pan and Dumbo fascinate an adult as much as a child.  As Walt Disney said, "Adults are only kids grown up, anyway."  Adults enjoy the culture of the countries at Epcot.  Animal Kingdom has many subtle aspects to it with its culture and attractions.  The shows at Disney Studios or the Magic Kingdom are phenomenal.  And, some of the dining experiences at Walt Disney World cannot be beat.

Even the elderly are not left out.  Not only do the enjoy what everyone else does, Walt Disney World makes it easy for them if they have any limitations.  Wheelchairs and EVCs are available to rent.  Disney can even store your personal wheelchair or walker, if upgrading, for you.  

Yes, any age is the right age for Walt Disney World.  The only thing you must do is plan your Walt Disney World trip for the ages you have!

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