Contributed by Shauna H.
We have been lucky to go on several trips to Disney since our kids were preschoolers. We had a great time with our kids at every age. How we experienced Disney changed with their ages, but it has always been positive. Here are some things to know before visiting Disney theme parks.
What is the best age to take kids to Disney?
I would say between three and nine years old were the most magical for my kids. They were mostly into Disney Princesses, Cars, Tinkerbell, and characters from Disney shows.
Disney with young kids.
Our children were three and five years old on our first trip to Disney World. My husband and I look back on this as one of our favorite family trips of all time. The kids were so excited by the characters, the rides and the atmosphere; it truly seemed like the happiest place on earth. My husband and I had never been to Disney World – it was just as magical for us!
Disney with teenagers.
Our kids are now 12 and 14 years old and our most recent trip to Disney World was still fabulous! Before we had to work around character dinners and meet/greets, but this last time it was all about the rides. Exciting bigger rides too, like Tower of Terror, Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Everest (our favorite at
When is the Best Time to go to Disney?
When we plan our trips it is usually based on not missing too much school (especially now that they are older), and avoiding crowded parks!
We do our best to avoid big crowds and long waits by using Touring Plans to check out the weeks we are considering and eventually what days we go to which park. The subscription is $20 and well worth it as they predict crowd levels at the Parks based on planned events, holidays, the economy and which park had magic-hour that day. We plan out our days based on avoiding the longest lines and use the Lines App once on site. You can even use it for an itinerary which we typically follow as a loose guideline.
Choose a slower or off-season time.
Choosing a ‘slower’ or more off-season time to visit typically means there are discounts to be had. For value and decent crowds look at January into early February, mid-August to end of September, and early November to mid-December (avoid Thanksgiving). If you go after mid-November you can enjoy the beautiful Christmas decorations!
We have been to Disney in November, February
Book Character Dinners and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique early!
To ensure you get dinner with your child’s most beloved characters, and the venue you most desire, you’ll need to book early, same with Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. If you are not sure about spending the time or money on these experiences, I’d recommend it at least once if you can. We did the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique when they were three and five. They both loved it – my daughter got to be a princess for the day, and my son was just as happy with his
I suggest booking your appointment for early in the day in order to enjoy it longer, and coordinate it with any special dinners with the Disney Princesses!
Use a Stroller at Disney.
I would 100% recommend a stroller for 4 and under, even if you don’t still use a stroller at home. It is a lot of walking, especially at Disney World. We brought our own for a few days and rented a few times. Personally, we found it less of a hassle to just rent a stroller. It was nice to not push it around all day – we waited until early afternoon to rent. Both of my kids napped in the stroller which was a lifesaver on long days when we stayed for the fireworks. There is a ton of stroller parking, just have something to make your stroller recognizable!
Bring a Backpack to Disney
We always bring at least one backpack with us to carry water bottles, snacks, sunscreen, and jackets/sweaters. Bringing water and snacks helps cut back on costs and is nice to have during the long lineups. It is also important to consider layers – early mornings can be chilly and it cools off fast when the sun goes down!
At Disney you can bring your backpack with you on rides which is great (at Universal Studios we had to rent a locker for most rides). We did rent a locker on a few occasions (to avoid carrying around 4 water bottles and sweaters all day). We would rent for the morning and take it out for the afternoon/evening.
Use Disney Fast Passes & Child Swap
We were surprised how many people at the Disney Parks were not aware of Fast Passes or Child Swap/Rider Switch. To make the most of your time, I’d recommend reading up on this before you go. You can book your Fast Passes online 30 days in advance of your trip (even longer if you are staying at a Disney resort).
If you will be using child swap, this article from WDW Prep School is a great resource to maximize use of Fast Passes in conjunction with child swap.
Should You Stay at a Disney Resort?
We have never stayed at a Disney Resort, but if I was to do it over again I would have when they were younger. I wish we had for our first trip when they were under five as it was very hot and the kids just wanted the pool. If we had been staying at a Disney Resort we’d have gone back to the hotel for a swim and nap! There are also some pretty good perks when staying at a Disney Resort:
- They will take your packages to your room (no carrying them around all day!).
- Save money on a car rental. Use Disney’s transportation to the Parks and the airport.
- The early magic hour access – game changer!
- You can book your Fast Passes further in advance.
- Other advantages like advance booking for Character dining.
Use Photo Pass and Buy Memory Maker (at least once!)
At the Disney Parks, there are many photo opportunities where
I hope these Disney World and Disneyland tips help inspire your trip! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!
Written by Shauna Heryford.
Shauna is a busy mom to two fantastic kids and a freelance Digital Marketing Consultant with over 20 years in the marketing industry. Shauna loves spending time with her family and friends. She thinks family vacations, girls’ weekends and couple’s trips are good for the soul; whether it is a weekend tenting or two weeks in Hawaii – it is important to reconnect and reset. You can connect with Shauna on LinkedIn.