Disney World is one of the most loved and most visited attractions in the world, especially for families, but you might be wondering if there was a specific age at which you should be visiting with your children.
Disney World is perfect for children between the ages of 4 and 12 as they are old enough to be more self-sufficient, can enjoy everything, including the rides and are young enough to still believe in the magic of fairies and princesses. However, anyone with interest in Disney should go.
Disney World is a perfect family vacation for anyone who enjoys the magic of Disney. There is something for everyone to enjoy: food and cocktails for adults, rides for teens, or the magical character meets for children.
Table of Contents
- Walt Disney World With a Baby (Under 2 Years)
- Walt Disney World With a Toddler (2-4 Years)
- Walt Disney World With Kids (5-12 Years)
- Walt Disney World With Teens & Tweens (12+)
Walt Disney World With a Baby (Under 2 Years)
Some may think that Disney World is great for babies; after all, it’s Disney. However, when your child is a baby, it will likely be the most challenging age to take them for various reasons.
Taking a baby to Disney World isn’t ideal but not impossible. There are several facilities in place for feeding and changing within the park, and of course, not to forget the parks are stroller friendly. However, it may be harder to enjoy rides as someone always has to supervise the baby.
The first thing you’ll want to think about when you’re considering taking your baby to Disney is the weather. Generally speaking, babies don’t tolerate heat and hours of direct sunlight very well. As a result, they may get a little overheated and irritated, but there are ways you can counteract this.
Many choose to buy fans that attach to the pram to help keep your baby cool and also use hoods to create a sense of shade from the direct sunlight.
Another thing that you’ll want to consider is where to put your baby down for naps. Some babies sleep well in a stroller, so this could be a nonissue for some families, but others don’t. For example, when you enter Disney, you want to spend your whole day there most of the time, but your baby can’t make it through the entire day without a nap.
You can counteract this by working with your baby’s natural sleep routine going to the parks earlier in the day, going back to your accommodation for the nap and then returning to the park for the afternoon/evening. Going back in the middle of the day is much easier to do when staying on-site or close by.
Finally, you’ll want to consider how having them with you will impact your day at the parks. For example, babies can’t ride roller coasters and probably shouldn’t ride most of the rides at the park at all. Meaning someone within your party would be required to miss out on the ride and supervise.
Alternatively, you can still enjoy all the perks and activities of Disney World by using child swap options on the rides. You can also do family activities that don’t require one person to miss out. You may also find that not every person wants to go on every ride so that the non-rider can supervise.
If you have an infant closer to the age of 2 or 3, there are more options and rides that they can go on. These are great fun and perfect for helping everyone enjoy the Disney World experience fully.
While Disney World isn’t built for children under the age of 3, you can still visit with a baby as there is much more to do at Disney World than just the rides. If you are looking for the experience alone, it is entirely doable, and you can still enjoy every single part of it.
Walt Disney World With a Toddler (2-4 Years)
The toddler years can be easier and trickier for some families; we speak from experience as when we visited Disney World for our wedding, our niece was three years old. We found that she could thoroughly enjoy the experience from meeting characters, going on some of the rides and even enjoying the theming of the parks.
Disney World with toddlers can be more challenging than babies due to them being more alert and more self-sufficient. We found our niece wanted to stay awake and take part in everything and refused to sit in a stroller, and this was our only struggle during our trip. You can counteract this with naps, going back to your accommodation for breaks or wearing a harness to carry them.
Bringing a toddler to Disney World can go super well. However, it can also go exceptionally bad. All of this will depend on how well your baby can handle new situations. You may also find the longer you spend at Disney World the easier it will be with a routine and having more time to see everything you wish to see.
Generally speaking, toddlers are most happy with a routine, and vacationing is the opposite. They’ll be exposed to new foods, new people, and a new place to sleep, all of which can be incredibly disrupting, leading to some pretty explosive tantrums.
With a toddler, you can participate in more of the activities than you could with a baby, so there will be some fun involved for them. They can do all of the character meets and greets, go on several rides and even join in some non-ride attractions from dancing to learning opportunities at Epcot.
Keep in mind that although all of these rides and attractions are safe for toddlers, your toddler may or may not enjoy them. Some, like the Dumbo ride, still go up off the ground, so it could frighten your toddler if they’re scared of heights. Only you know your toddler and what they can handle.
Best Rides for Toddlers
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
One of the most highly recommended rides for toddlers is the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride. In this ride, you and your toddler can climb into your own Dumbo basket and be lifted into the air to soar around in a circle.
It’s gentle and low enough that most children should be able to tolerate them well. Plus, the music and cute elephants should help make it a hit with the kids.
It’s a Small World
If heights aren’t your child’s thing, then another great ride to consider is “It’s a Small World.” Named after the iconic song, your whole family can take a boat ride through the animated world and listen to the incredibly catchy music the entire time.
The set displays characters from all around the world and helps to teach children about unity and how, in the end, we’re all more similar than we are different.
Both of these rides are gentle enough that toddlers can ride them, plus they don’t have any height requirements, which makes them great for everyone in the family.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid
The Under The Sea ride was one of the kid’s favourite rides during our visit, and that meant we had a three-year-old, five-year-old and a seven-year-old all in love with this ride.
The ride is pretty simple, where you sit in a clamshell and enjoy a smooth ride along through the ‘sea’ and see scenes from the film. It is simply enchanting and whimsical, perfect for young children as there is nothing scary, jumpy or even loud that could upset them.
There is a very similar ride over in Epcot following Nemo and his friends. Along with many more suitable rides across the parks.
Walt Disney World With Kids (5-12 Years)
If you’ve been debating whether or not you’ll go to Disney this year and your kids are between the ages of five and twelve, do it.
Walt Disney World with kids aged 5-12 is the best age for doing as much stuff as possible and keeping the magic alive. Kids this age will be tall enough to ride almost every ride while still being young enough to believe in the magic of Disney.
In the previous age group, toddlers, we dealt with many physical limitations. Toddlers get tired, and most of the time, they’re not tall enough to ride a lot of the rides. With this age group, you’re not going to have as many of these issues. The children will probably be tall and confident enough to ride most rides.
Another huge difference with this age group is that they have the maturity to deal with some of the more unpleasant conditions that can come with spending all day in a Disney park. They’ll be able to tolerate the conditions knowing the reward of the attractions in a way that younger children simply aren’t able to.
While they’re old enough to appreciate the parks, this age group is still young enough to become fully immersed in the Disney magic. While older children and adults can still love Disney, we go into it knowing that it’s all there for our entertainment.
Unfortunately, the magic isn’t there anymore. But, for children in the 5-12 age group, it’s still there, which will allow them to have an incredible experience.
Best Rides for Kids 5-12
Toy Story Mania!
The ride is hands down one of the best rides for kids in this age group, and I know plenty of adults who enjoy it as well. Not only will your kids get to travel through the Toy Story world, but it’s also made interactive through a 4D shooting game.
Children of all ages and heights can enjoy this ride, although children younger than five may find this ride too scary.
Frozen Ever After
It’s hard to decide where to put this one as all ages could honestly enjoy it. Toddlers would likely love it just as much, but they could find some of the lights and water features a bit frightening, which is why I’ve decided to place it with this age group.
In this ride, you’ll get on a boat and sail through the magical kingdom of Arendelle. You’ll get to see Olaf and Sven and live through the iconic “Let It Go” scene. Children of all ages are sure to delight in this ride and will annoy you for days to come, singing “Let It Go” at the top of their lungs in true Elsa fashion.
Walt Disney World With Teens & Tweens (12+)
Teens and tweens can be a tricky age group to decipher; while many will understand that the characters aren’t real and there isn’t magical pixie dust, they can still enjoy a lot of the amusements and characteristics of the parks. It can come down to the child in question, whether they like Disney or tolerate it.
In terms of ease, it is probably the easiest to bring teens and tweens to Disney World. However, they’re not the target age group. While they may enjoy the rides, Disney to them will be just like any other theme park. Not exactly what you want for the price you’re paying.
If you’re specifically focusing on ease and enjoying Disney as an adult, teens and tweens are probably the best age group to go to Disney with. After all, at this point, they can do every ride, and you won’t have to think about them getting too tired and needing a nap halfway through the day. Sounds perfect, right?
Unfortunately, there are a couple of downsides to bringing your teens and tweens to Disney with you. The main one is that most children will have grown out of the Disney magic at this point.
Yes, they’ll still enjoy it, but you won’t have the same magical moments like spotting their favourite princess and running to her like you would with smaller children.
The other downside, which is funny but very true, is that your cost of food will increase significantly. But, of course, when you bring small children, they really won’t eat that much, and you can keep your food costs at a minimum.
When you start bringing the tweens and teens along, you can fully expect to be spending at least $20 per person per day on food, and that’s if you’re not buying snacks along the way.
There are, of course, other benefits to bringing teens and tweens; for example, if you are visiting as a larger family, it can help have more hands to help out. If you have younger children, they can be helpful, or if they enjoy Disney, it can be a fantastic experience.
Disney is rapidly expanding to be more than just princesses and fairytales. There are actions from films such as Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, along with many more, making the entire trip to Disney World much more inclusive to all ages.
Best Rides for Tweens & Teens
One of the best rides for tweens and teens that you’ll find in Disney World is Disney’s Haunted Mansion. While younger children can ride this one, as the height requirements are relatively short, they may find it too scary. That makes tweens and teens the sweet spot for this ride.
It’s a drop tower with an additional storyline. While the storyline may be a bit too graphic for younger children, it’s perfect for this age group.
This ride will greatly depend on your teen as some will likely love it, while others will find it mind-numbing. However, it’s a great activity, especially if you’ve been hitting the brightly coloured rides for a couple of days and you want a bit of a break from the typical Disney stuff.
On this ride, you’ll be taken through naturalistic animal habitats and view how the animals would naturally interact with each other. For your nature-obsessed teen or tween, this could be their dream come true.