As a Travel Specialist, I am often asked, “What is the best age to take a child to Disney?” That is a question loaded with expectations… Though the answer is different for every family, by asking the right questions, you can figure out what works for your family.
Parents often feel overwhelmed by the Disney question… you are investing in a trip that is considered a childhood rite of passage, and you absolutely want your little ones to be engaged and cherish the experience. So what’s the perfect age? Assuming that there is an ultimate answer to the ‘age’ question is a trap that even I as a travel professional have fallen into. My husband and I didn’t want to go until all our kids could ‘remember’ the trip. We waited until the youngest was three (young and perhaps pushing it from a memory perspective). Our oldest however was eight and while we had a wonderful time, I feel like he lost something by being asked to wait until he was eight to see this wondrous place. Still, it was a great trip and we learned a lot. At that point in time, we weren’t seasoned travelers with our kids and we had no concept of how they would adjust to a lot of things. It wasn’t just Disney, we had postponed experiences and we didn’t train them well for travel in doing so.
My then eight year old never knew the wonder of seeing Mickey and believing in the magic of him…and I never got to see it either. He is my first – fondly called my ‘practice child’ and all mistakes were and still are made on him. I remember that first birthday party. He turned one and we invited everyone we knew to bring things we didn’t need. Friends and family gathered to watch him dive into a cake and guess what…he doesn’t remember that. But I do. If our children’s childhoods were all about what they could remember, many of our decisions would be different. A lot of their young lives are about how we remember it. How many parents took photos of your child the first time they experienced snow, or sand or put their toes in the ocean (or tasted lemon – my personal favorite)? We have to do some of the remembering for them and retell the experiences through our stories and pictures. We have to prepare them for experiences by giving them experiences. It’s a process.
That’s why you can take your children to Walt Disney World as young as you would like (and are comfortable) because we need to have vacations, even with our babies and toddlers. Of course we may have to adjust our expectations of the trip; naps may be in order, familiar foods and snack packs are essential, and pool time is a requirement (do not underestimate the benefit of water therapy in a land as hyperkinetic as a Disney theme park). But taking it at a slower pace does not mean it will be less enjoyable. As parents we spend all sorts of time adjusting – our schedules and yes, our vacations. We’re pros at this sort of thing.
So in answer to the question, “What is the best age to take your child to Disney?” my response is… soon, very soon.
Ready to experience the magic of Disney with your children? Take one of our charter flights from local airports in Reading, Wilkes-Barre, Harrisburg, or Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Learn more here.
Jennifer Fegan is a Travel Specialist at Boscov’s Travel within Boscov’s at the Camp Hill Shopping Mall. With five years’ experience in the travel industry, Jennifer has helped her family, friends and clients bring their travel dreams to life. As a mother, Jennifer has become an expert on all things Disney. Whether you’re looking to visit the happiest place on earth or set sail to a tropical paradise, Jennifer will help you to maximize your budget and make unforgettable memories for you and your family.