One of the most common questions I hear when friends are thinking about going to Disney is this:
"Are my kids too young? Will it be a waste of money to take them now?"
While I personally don't think I could handle taking a newborn to Disney, (and trust me, a lot of people do take newborns to Disney!) I do think it is perfectly reasonable to take toddlers to Disney.
If you think you will only take one trip to Disney, then I would suggest waiting until your kids are old enough to remember it and tall enough to go on all of the rides. However, if you plan on coming back, or are at least open to the possibility that after your first trip you might just fall in love with all things Disney and try to go back every year, then I would suggest going while your kids are small.
There's something I can't begin to explain about little kids and Disney. They totally believe everything they are seeing is real, and that the movies they watch on TV have come to life. I'll never forget watching my boys meet Jake (from Jake and the Neverland Pirates) for the first time. They were completely and totally in awe.
Here are a couple of tips for taking your young children to Disney:
- You probably won't be able to make it from rope drop (when the park opens) until closing...at least not without a significant nap. Another option if your kids are good nappers would be to show up at rope drop one day, and stay for the fireworks on another day.
- Take a break! Halfway through our trips we take a break and go to the beach or hang out at the resort. It helps to let everyone rest and relax so that you don't feel completely worn out at the end of the trip.
- Rent (or bring) a stroller. We always rent a stroller (I don't like taking a chance that the airline will tear ours up...it happened once!) which allows our kids to take breaks and even rest their eyes for a few minutes. By letting them ride instead of walk, they don't tire out so easily! Also, its great for hauling around your drinks and park purchases!
- Have a plan. Know what park you plan on going to every day and have an idea of what rides are important to you. You'll save yourself a lot of stress by consulting crowd calendars and have a plan before you go.
- Set up your Fast Passes. Little kids hate standing in long lines. By taking advantage of Disney's Fast Pass Plus system, you can avoid that. Figure out which rides have the longest lines (like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safari's to name a few) and be sure to secure FP's for those. It will save you lots of screaming!
- Sit, relax and take the People Mover. Make sure to take small breaks while at the parks. Stop and have a Dole Whip, sit and watch a parade and when all else fails, go ride the People Mover. These little breaks will really help recharge everyone's batteries!
- Let em' run! In complete contrast to my above tip, I also suggest finding a spot to let your kids run around for a bit. Sometimes, after standing in a long line, we found that letting them run for 3 or 4 minutes was exactly what they needed!