They say Walt Disney World is for all ages. We see it across the board at all of the parks and resort hotels. It doesn’t seem like anyone can ever be too old to enjoy time at Disney. Part of that has to do with exactly how expansive Disney World actually is. They also have many activities outside of the theme parks, including pro golf courses. There is even a very expensive living community inside Walt Disney World called Golden Oak where many of the luxury homes are purchased by retired people. While it’s clear that you need not ever outgrow Disney World, a common question I get from people with young children is can you be too young? Actually, what they ask is, “What is the best age to go to Disney World for the first time?” The answer quickly becomes complicated.
Too Young for Disney?
There are two camps when it comes to the best age to go to Disney World for the first time. Some say it’s never too early, while others don’t see the value. An infant won’t remember any of it and they only serve as an added weight for the trip. It’s true that an infant can encumber you while you are trying to get as much accomplished as you would pre-baby. On the other hand, memory is not necessarily the only value in an infant’s early exposure to Disney parks. The overwhelmingly positive environments contain thematically coherent built environments. That may have a healthy psychological effect on infants and toddlers. Don’t forget all the colors and musical stimulation everywhere you go. Babies may be easily amused, but that’s no reason to necessarily say Disney World isn’t worth it.
Ticket Prices and Height Requirements
One factor you could use to determine the value and therefore the best age to go to Disney World is the cost of admission. Children 2 years of age and under are free. That can mean one of two things. For starters, the fact that there is no additional cost may be counted as a benefit. However, it’s also an indication of what age Disney unofficially feels is the most appropriate age for children to first be introduced to the parks. Part of that, but not all, comes from the height requirements.
Related: 10 Tips for Visiting Disney’s Magic Kingdom
Although many of the rides, particularly those in Magic Kingdom, have no minimum height requirement, the lowest minimum height requirement is 32″. That’s right around the average height for a 3-year-old, which (surprise, surprise!) is the minimum age for requiring paid admission. That is a pretty cut and dry case for making 3 years old the best age to go to Disney World for the first time. However, a larger 2-year-old may get in for free just under the wire and get every bit as much out of the experience.
The highest minimum height requirement at Walt Disney World is 48 inches, which is about 8 years old give or take. Waiting until this age is best if you want all access to every attraction. However, it’s not necessarily an ideal introductory age. Part of the fun of Disney is the beautiful agony of not being tall enough for some rides. It adds mystery and intrigue.
Another thing to consider is travel time and how your child will fare on a flight from wherever you are to Orlando. If traveling by car, it’s not as much of an issue, but your location and travel time play a part in the whole value proposition. This peripheral factor can make the question more subjective. The cost of adding another plane ticket factors in as well.
While park admission is expensive, having to pay for an extra seat on the plane for a round trip is the real disadvantage in cost. Delta allows lap sitting and no additional ticket for children under 2 years old. If an infant uses an individual seat, they need a ticket. Anybody 2 years of age and older needs their own ticket and lap sitting is no longer permitted. These rules will have some bearing on your interpretation of the best age to go to Disney World.
One more consideration you may need to make when deciding when to visit Walt Disney World and introduce your child to the magic for the first time is whether there are older siblings. If you have an infant and a 3-year-old, you should go right away and not necessarily wait until the infant is the ideal age. Let the older sibling have their fun and the infant will be captivated as well. If the siblings are closer in age, it might make more sense to wait and take the trip when both children have reached your determined ideal age.