We regularly travel to Walt Disney World with our kids, and have always enjoyed our trips. Our experience has changed throughout the years, from visiting the baby care centers and renting strollers to riding all of the thrill rides at Disney. But we never had a bad vacation. One thing that people always ask is what is the best age for a first Walt Disney World trip? It’s not an easy answer because there’s something different to experience at every age.
I am a former member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel and have been on some complimentary press trips at Walt Disney World, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you.
What is the Best Age for a First Walt Disney World Trip?
Taking Infants and Toddlers
As avid travelers before we had kids, we knew that we needed to take a vacation when my kids were 10 months and 2 1/2 years old. We just couldn’t miss our annual vacation. We had visited Napa Valley, CA when my daughter was an infant, and Phoenix, AZ when I was pregnant with my son (and my daughter was 1 1/2).
We decided on a Walt Disney World vacation because it was so easy. With the complimentary Magical Express service from the airport, we didn’t have to worry about wheeling a double stroller along with our luggage through the airport and to the resort. Disney took care of bringing our luggage from the luggage carousel to our room.
The flight from Boston to Orlando is always filled with children, so we weren’t worried about having disruptive children on the flight. And, we weren’t concerned about having small children in the restaurants and in the hotel once we arrived at Walt Disney World.
The trip was fantastic. Our kids were a little nervous about the characters, but eventually warmed up. My daughter LOVED seeing her favorites. Her whole face lit up when she saw them. While we obviously skipped a bunch of the rides, there were plenty of other things they could enjoy. The baby care centers made feeding and diaper changing so easy – much, much easier than traveling elsewhere. Going with our kids at this age was fantastic.
Taking Preschoolers & Early Elementary-Aged Kids
When my kids were a little older, we also had great experiences at Walt Disney World. They knew all of the characters and truly believed that they were seeing the real characters. In my opinion, this is the best age, because they completely feel the magic and can still go on many of the attractions.
As the kids get older, they can start to spend more time in the parks, and may even be able to stay up for the parades and fireworks. Remember to be sensitive to their schedules though. If you do want to stay up late, you may want to go back to the hotel for a little while in the afternoon for a nap.
If at all possible, I’d recommend bringing kids for their first visit before they are tweens. At that age, they no longer believe that the characters are real. But, tweens often love the attractions, and they are usually tall enough to ride everything. It’s a completely different, but still fabulous, experience, especially since you can ditch the stroller and do lots of walking.
When my kids were tweens, they still enjoyed character meals and seeing their favorite characters. However, they definitely knew that these weren’t the actual, real characters.
Tweens can also stay up much later, so you won’t have to go back to the hotel for a nap, unless you’d all like to rest. Evening shows and fireworks are now much more doable.
So, if you can go multiple years, definitely consider taking toddlers to Walt Disney World. But, if you are saving up for a once or twice in a lifetime trip, instead wait until they are older preschoolers/younger elementary aged.
When do you plan to take your kids for their first Walt Disney World trip?
If you are traveling to Walt Disney World, here are some hotels that I recommend – check out prices and reviews at these links.
- Disney’s Beach Club
- Disney Swan and Dolphin
- Disney’s Art of Animation
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Gaylord Palms
- JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
- World Center Marriott