We all want to share that special Disney magic with our children, but determining when is the right time to start visiting the Happiest Place on Earth can prove more complicated than a simple visit to meet Mickey Mouse. Here are some tips to help you decide if your child is ready to experience all the magic that the World of Disney has to offer!
When is the right time to start taking your child to a Disney park?
Everyone around you will offer differing opinions, but no one knows your child like you do. When determining if your child is ready, there are several things you should factor in:
- Does your little one require a nap?
- Do you have a schedule that is hard to stray from without major meltdowns?
- Does your child have any special requirements that will require extra planning or assistance?
You can plan half days for playtime in the park which would accommodate naps back at the resort, or you can take an extended break in the park if the stroller is a comfortable enough spot for a rest. Allow a few extra days to build in rest and pool time to keep everyone happy. Disney can be go, go, go all day if you want, but it can also be very relaxed.
Disney is great when addressing special considerations, including allergies, sensory overload, visual and auditory impairments, mobility issues, and more. Working with a travel planner who specializes in Disney can help alleviate your fears and provide you with information to best plan according to your family’s specific needs. Disney designates these agencies as “Authorized Disney Vacation Planners.” Not only can a specialist plan an itinerary specific to you, they can reserve strollers, wheelchairs, and scooters, notate allergies on dining reservations, help identify attractions with height or health restrictions, and even map out quiet zones for breaks.
What kind of experience to expect
It’s important to understand what a visit to a Disney park will be like with a little one:
- You will go at a slower pace, taking time to simply rest and people watch, maneuvering the crowds with a stroller, and taking breaks for diaper changes and snack times.
- Much of your attraction experiences will be limited to areas where rides tend to be slower and calmer for younger guests. If a day at Disney isn’t complete without your favorite thrill attractions, perhaps just the big kids should go, or take advantage of the rider swap option which allows the adults to take turns enjoying the larger rides while one adult stays back with the smaller children.
- Parades will be a highlight for all of you as you watch your children’s expressions! For very young guests, catch the earlier parade, if possible, as it often gets harder to keep them awake and happy the later in the evening you go.
- Your child may not be ready to meet characters, and that’s okay! Perhaps they are more comfortable with face characters and not full characters with large heads. Go at their pace and don’t rush them if they’re not ready. If they ARE ready, having something visible with your child’s name on it (a hat, a shirt, or an autograph book with your child’s name on the cover) can increase the chances of special magic with character interaction.
- The Baby Care Centers will be a blessing. Use them! Each park has a baby care center where you can find a quiet spot to eat, change diapers, use the toddler-sized potties, and nurse your young one. You can also purchase forgotten supplies, like diapers and formula.
If you think Walt Disney World in Florida will be too overwhelming with its four theme parks and the amount of time needed to see all the highlights, choose the Disneyland Resort in California which is comprised of only two parks with everything (including hotels) within walking distance!
Will your toddler remember their visit to the parks? Probably not. Honestly, it really will be for Mom and Dad to experience the magic of Disney with them. You WILL, however, have some amazing photo opportunities when they see their favorite characters, take their first train ride, or fly high on Dumbo!
You know your children. If they can handle a busy day out and about in town, then it’s time you can start taking the first steps to that first Disney vacation.
Before you leave for your Disney trip, check out 15 Tips for Traveling with Preschoolers.
Photo Credits: All photos copyright of the Walt Disney Corporation used with permission by an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner agency.