You know what I love most about Walt Disney World? You can enjoy being there at any age! Walt Disney was adamant when designing Disneyland that it should be a place for families to experience together, and this idea carried through to the design of Disney World. I’ve been going to these theme parks since I was a baby and have LOVED Disney World at every age I have been. It is so funny to hear people ask, “You’re going to Disney World again?” Of course I am! Everyone is welcome!
Although anyone can enjoy the parks, it’s important to experience them knowing that different ages like and react to different things. I want to break down some activities and events that certain age ranges will like. Then, I will tell you which age really is the best for Disney World.
Babies – Newborn To 2 Years Old
This age range might be the only slight exception to what I stated above. Being SO young at Disney World, babies are limited to what attractions they can ride, foods they can eat, and how much they can do in a day. Newborns are mostly unaware (or asleep) most of the day. As babies get closer into toddler hood, their choices expand and they become more aware of their surroundings. Another potential downside of bringing a baby under 2? There is a very good chance they won’t remember a thing about Disney in later years.
3 – 6 Years Old
If you were to ask my mother, she would tell you that these were her favorite ages for all of her kids. Young children have so much curiosity and wonderment, and love learning new things. It’s also fun to take them to meet their favorite Disney characters, ride “big kid” rides (even some thrill rides), and they can stay awake longer without needing to nap (but let’s face it – we all need a daily nap on a Disney trip). These ages can also start to tell you what they are interested in and want to see, giving them input into what they get to do.
7 – 9 years old
By the time most kids get to be 7 years old, they are probably tall enough to ride ALL of the rides, which is very exciting. They are also more verbal and independent. They tend to express their happiness and excitement more in something that pleases them than when they were younger. They are also able to start understanding more complex language that’s used in some attractions, making the experiences more fulfilling. AND, right before they turn 10 years old, they can still be on a children’s ticket, dining plan, etc., saving some money for mom and dad by not having to purchase an adult ticket for them yet.
10 – 12 Years Old
Kids these ages are gaining even more independence from their parents and enjoy experiencing parts of Disney on their own. These pre-teen years tend to start the trend of “Let’s ride all of the roller coasters 20 times today.” It’s nice for the parents now, though, to be able to let their kids ride without them. Bonus! On the other hand, kids in this age range may start to think that Disney World isn’t as cool as it once was, as their tastes and interests are changing.
13 – 17 Years Old
I can say, for a fact, that when I was an early to middle teenager, I was the least interested in Disney. There is so much going on for teenagers that a Disney vacation may not be on their radar. But, you know that if you bring them to the parks, they will have fun! It’s hard not to! Let them tour the parks on their own for a while. Teens still like to meet characters, ride attractions, and eat yummy food.
18 – 21 Years Old
This is another one of those age ranges that you may not necessarily find a ton of in the parks, not unless they are a part of the Disney College Program. While my love for Disney flourished during this time, because of being in college, working, and generally being busy, I didn’t have a chance to go as much. But when I could go, I enjoyed it SO much. And, I could start bringing more friends and boyfriends to experience it with me. I loved expanding my love of Disney World with new people.
Adults 21+ and Up
Just FYI, this age range could be as little as one year or 50+ years. It all depends on if and when a person has children of their own. Until that time, traveling as adults above the drinking age is a whole new ball game. There are so many special events, like the Food and Wine Festival, that include alcohol and adult oriented experiences. My husband loves going to Food and Wine and getting a specific beer from the Germany booth. Adults without children can also enjoy the dance clubs on The Boardwalk, and even grab a drink at one of the Disney Springs new restaurants or bars. I think now, more than ever, Disney is trying to include more “grown up” activities in their parks and events.
Adults with Young Children
Taking your toddler or young children to Disney World may be challenging in some ways, but it is SO worth doing. Not only do you get to take a Disney vacation with your family, but you can now experience the magic through your children’s eyes. It’s a whole new point of view, as you get to relive how you felt about Disney World as a child, granted you were able to go back then. I have to say that I am EXTREMELY excited to take my daughter to Disney World as much as I can and see the joy in her that it brought me at that age.
Similar to those with no children, once your children are out of the house and in college/first new job, Disney World can be a place to spend with your honey and reconnect. You can do Disney at your own pace and not have to worry about doing any kiddie rides or turning in early because your kids are exhausted from the long days. You can stay out late, eat wonderfully lavish meals, and meet new people on YOUR terms. This phase of life also tends to be when families are most financially stable and Disney won’t seem so expensive to do!
As we grow older, we tend to slow down, reflect, and take it easy. Just being in the presence of family is wonderful. Grandparents at the parks can go at a leisurely pace, maybe not even ride any rides, and still have a wonderful time. They just want to be with the ones they love and experience Disney with any grandchildren they have (or no grandchildren; whatever they want). I love that my daughter will have my parents to travel with and share new Disney experiences.
So having said all of that, which age is the best for visiting Walt Disney World? I’m not sure that there is one definite answer. I WILL say that newborns would be the age I would not take to Disney World. Of course, if you are traveling with your family and have older children that want to go, you do what you have to do. But making the trek to the parks with just you, your partner or family member and 1 month old is not easy.
Each age has its own perks to traveling to Disney World. Deciding to go or not to go based on your child’s age or you as an adult shouldn’t matter. Disney is such an inclusive company that literally EVERYONE will have a good time in the parks, no matter what age. If you are planning a Disney vacation then you should check out our review of the best Disney podcasts that can help you plan your next trip.
By Jamie Lee
Jamie is a lifelong Disney fanatic that has been going to Disney parks since she was a child. She is the head writer here at Capture The Magic & co-host of the Capture The Magic Podcast. When she isn't planning her next Disney vacation, she can be found helping people plan their own Disney vacations and enjoying quality time with her family.
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