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Old 01-12-2013, 04:39 PM   #1
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Smile Best age to start Disney vacations?

We are debating when is the best age to start taking kids to Disney so that the trip is fun and meaningful not only to them, but enjoyable for the rest of the family as well... what do you think? And is there a point when it's just overwhelming and too much for everyone because they are too young? We are itching to get there, but want it to be a good experience for everyone. I'm sure this will have many different opinions... thanks for your thoughts!
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:44 PM   #2
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We took the boys when they were little...like when our oldest was one, then when they were one and three...and almost every year or so since (DLR mostly, until we moved to SC...now its WDW). We have always had fun, but this last trip in May 2012 when the boys were 8 and 9 was the best. They had more stamina and really knew what was going on. They love the Disney magic. And are OBSESSED with Disney. Maybe it's because we have gone so much. I think it just gets better...but I would start now! Any age has stuff to enjoy. Unless this is a once in a lifetime trip...I wouldn't wait. You just have to have different expectations (like naps/bedtime/meals/etc) for kiddos under five than you do for those who are older.

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Old 01-12-2013, 04:47 PM   #3
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My son was 2 1/2 on his first trip. Much earlier and he would have enjoyed it but not understood what he was seeing. He actually has active memories of that trip (including things we don't have photographic evidence of!).

If we had another child, we'd take that child almost immediately but only because our son is SO into it.
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:49 PM   #4
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I'm ab to take dd6 on her first trip I think she is finally ready. I have ds3 and DD almost 2 who will not be joining us. I personally want them to be old enough to actually experience it. Everyone is different.
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:55 PM   #5
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If you're asking when the best time to go I'd simply say NOW. You never know what in the future will prevent you from going.

If you're asking what age they'll be able to remember it (or some things) I'd say around 3-4.

If you're asking what age they'll be able to appreciate everything better I'd say around 8-9.

We've been Disney fans before our kids so when we had our first, we waited impatiently for 2 years before we took her.
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:55 PM   #6
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We began taking our children to WDW when our younger DD was 5. At that age she was big enough to go on any ride she wanted to, and was no longer shy of the characters (they were out and about mingling freely in those days). She was also old enough to really understand what the characters and the rides were all about, and to be excited by it all.

I'm glad we didn't take them when she was younger- they wouldn't have had the stamina for a day in the parks. She wouldn't have wanted to interact with the characters (being the shy thing that she was). We were able to tour without needing the hassle of a stroller, too.
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:57 PM   #7
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We have been taking our girls yearly since they were 3 and 5. They are getting ready to embark on their 4th trip in April (they are 6 and 8 now). Every trip with them has been awesome!!!!! DH and I went quite a bit before kids and we both agree that going with our children has made the trips even more amazing!!!
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:08 PM   #8
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I think it depends on if this is going to be your only trip. If that is the case I would say when they are old enough to ride most rides, so 6-7-8 ish.

If you plan to go frequently, I would say any time is fine. We have been going every year since my older DD was 15 months old. When my youngest came along her first trip was at 9 months. Every trip has been great and they discover more and more each time.

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Old 01-12-2013, 05:14 PM   #9
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We waited til our youngest was almost 5. We did not want to have to deal with a stroller. It worked out very well for us and we have been going back ever since. You will have a wonderful time - there is nothing like the first trip!!
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:27 PM   #10
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We took DD at 18 months, we got in on DS's daughter dance competition package and we had a great time. We went early in morning then back at noon then back after dark. We went back every year after that and each trip is different. The important part is remember their age and don't push. Come to terms that you will not be doing everything when they are young. The first time we only did MK then we added EP the next year. When she got older we went to HS, this was in 1992 so HS was different.
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:28 PM   #11
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DD was 2 years and 10 months on her first WDW trip. For us, it was a great time to start because they are free until they hit 3. DD is 6 now and we have been every year since. Of all the trips, I think that first was the most special, and I wouldn't give up having taken her at that age for anything. That was the trip where there were occasions where watching her brought tears to my eyes. Everything was real to her. She went through the entire week with a huge smile on her face. She absolutely threw herself into Pluto's arms (the first character she met which was our first day as we walked into MK) and held onto him like he was long lost family. Her little mouth dropped open when she saw the Spectromagic parade and she was so thrilled by it, she just couldn't help jumping up and down. She stood in front of Cinderella and sang the entire A Dream is a Wish song to her. They grow up so fast nowadays, that it doesn't stay real for them for long. That trip was just special. At age 6, she still remembers a lot from that trip. I don't know if she will remember it forever, or if it will just blend with the other trips, but I don't care because I will remember it forever and boy was she happy during that week.

As we go each year, it is really great to see how their tastes change as they grow, and to watch them experience different things as they grow. This year, DD got brave enough to try Space Mountain for the first time. We spent a whole lot of time doing Perry Missions. We stopped and watched the movie in France for the first time, because we just always have run out of time before, and she loved it. Of course, now she wants to take a vacation to France.

I will say that if you are only going to go once and don't plan on going back, I would wait until they are older than DD was on her first trip. If you plan on going every 1 to 3 years, I'd say start em young!

For those who say they will wait until their kids are old enough to ride things, just remember that just because they are tall enough, doesn't mean they WILL ride things. It completely depends on the kid. Some kids don't like thrill rides or aren't brave enough to ride them. I can remember, Dad tried to beg and bribe me onto roller coasters as a kid, and I wouldn't do it. I love them now.
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:36 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by hope23 View Post
We are debating when is the best age to start taking kids to Disney so that the trip is fun and meaningful not only to them, but enjoyable for the rest of the family as well... what do you think? And is there a point when it's just overwhelming and too much for everyone because they are too young? We are itching to get there, but want it to be a good experience for everyone. I'm sure this will have many different opinions... thanks for your thoughts!
I honestly think the BEST time to take a child is when they are 5-8 years old. I think they are just completely immersed in it. They are at the age where they still think the characters are real (ok, so do i and i'm 36). They still love Princesses or Princes or Pirates. At the same time they don't need a stroller so you don't have to worry about that. They don't have diapers so no need for bulky diaper bags and (nursing/milk bottles/changing etc). They are old enough to sit at a table and feed themselves so mom and dad might be able to have a decent meal. I think they are just full of wonder at that age.

Now having said that we have taken our THREE kids to disney world every single year since my first was born (he's now 9). We have taken them when they were just a couple months old up to every age since. All ages have their postives and negatives and younger kids are defintely more work. But the older ones start to lose their magic (wanting more thrill rides and such).

Either way, you will have a blast and so with they!
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:44 PM   #13
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These threads never end well because there is no correct answer.

The answer is always highly personal as to what each person considers an 'enjoyable vacation'.

Lots of folks will tell you they went with infants and had a great trip. Other folks will say they hate the idea of diapers, or strollers, or the kids being 'too little to remember'. Even that is highly subjective.

I started going to WDW as a toddler myself. We went once a year when I was young. I have distinct memories of being there when I was three. One distinct thing I remember from my trip as a three year old was that I had already been on some of the rides (as a two year old). I also have clear memories from my trip to WDW as a four year old.

Another thing I can tell you is that the make up of your family matters more than the age of the children, IMO, especially the number of adults. One adult, two, three or a large extended family mkae a big difference. One adult has to be on their toes the entire time. Two can take turns. Three/five adults is perfect, and very large family groups present their own challenges (though it's usually caused by the adults, not the small kids). It also matters how long you are talking, and how far away from WDW is. Going to MK one day as a day trip is quite different than going to WDW for a month coming from Europe or South America. (Again, that's part of the individual nature of each posters answer, we're all thinking of our trip to WDW.)

Another thing we know about childhood development, is that right from birth, stimulation is important for brain development. There are many ways to stimulate kids- most are non-WDW, but WDW is ONE powerhouse sensory experience! The minimum age depends on a child's immunity, and when their senses develop, but even fairly young infants benefit from stimulating their five senses.

Conversely....there are plenty of adults who become over stimulated at WDW, and any other vacation. What's the Las Vegas motto?
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:52 PM   #14
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We have now been four times, with the first trip being when my kids were 3 & 4. The best trip we ever had was last week....they are 7 & 8. They were able to help plan rides and they were able to go on everything. They are young enough to still enjoy the magic, but old enough to go on all the rides, stand in line patiently, and even understand reasoning ("we can't meet Alice right now or else we won't be able to go on Thunder Mountain").

So if you are only going to go once, I think 6-9 is the right age range.
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:54 PM   #15
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I agree with the people above who say it is a personal decision, as well as those who say that it depends on how often you plan to go.

If someone is only going to go one time -- or once every 4 or 5 years -- I would wait until the child is 5. I think that is the "sweet spot" for most rides, visiting with characters, and overall being immersed in the "magic."
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