“Should I wait to take my preschooler to Disney?” is something many parents wonder. What about the ride height requirements? Will my preschool aged child remember the trip? Here’s why my family chose to take our preschoolers to Disney World, the top 5 types of activities to include, and reasons why you should consider this option.
A vacation at Walt Disney World is on many family’s dream travel list. But many wait until their young, preschool kids are older and will remember the trip. Is that the right decision?
Well, obviously the choice is personal to you and yours. From my personal experience, however, I can tell you why I strongly urge parents to go ahead and take their preschooler to Disney World.
Should I Wait to Take my Preschooler to Disney… My Family’s First Trip
Hi, I’m Tami. And I’m addicted to Disney World.
For any who don’t know me, I’m the mom of two kids, ages 6 and 12, who plans Disney vacations as frequently as we can possibly stretch our budget to support. But I wasn’t always this way.
On our very first family trip to Disney World, we had only one child. My daughter had just turned age 4 at the time our vacation, and Disney was running a fantastic special offer. That’s what nudged us past the “what if she’s too young to remember?” hurdle.
But I was still nervous.
Was it too soon? Would I regret spending all that money on a vacation, if she may not retain any of the memories?
By the time we had spent our first day at Walt Disney World, my fears were completely gone. So much so that I started thinking… “This is so amazingly fun, I hope she FORGETS SO IT’S THE NEW AND MAGICAL ALL OVER AGAIN NEXT TIME!” Yes, I was hooked on this as a fabulous family vacation destination, and was already plotting to return someday.
Nothing Beats Disney Magic Through a 4-Year Old’s Eyes
Many growns ups love spending time at a Disney park because it surrounds us with a worry-free break from reality. Tired of adulting? You’ve come to the right place. Put on your sparkly Minnie Mouse ears and take a whimsical ride on a flying elephant.
But there’s nothing quite like the buy-in from a 4 year old. They BELIEVE. Here is where story telling is larger than life. Attractions, music, and performances are colorful, stimulating, and exciting. And maybe most importantly – where beloved Disney characters come to life.
They soak it all in, wide-eyed, and it exponentially increases your enjoyment of the experience as a parent. You may just find yourself like me, thinking “I’m so glad we didn’t miss taking him/her to Disney at this age!”
The Disney World Ride Height Requirements Debate
One of the most frequent comments I hear parents make is “as soon as my child is old enough to ride all the rides, we’ll go to Disney World.” It’s true, many classic favorites, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain, have ride requirement heights (to ride these two, you must be 40” tall).
One suggestion if mom and dad (or older siblings) are dying to try one of these out, is to use the rider switch option. This allows you to each take a turn riding, without having to stand in line twice.
And I would also argue that there is plenty to fill a wonderful vacation… even without riding “all the rides.” The beauty of a Disney vacation is that each and every one is unique. Taking a preschooler to Disney World is a very different, incredibly special type of trip. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime window, where you won’t just be dashing from ride to ride. Perhaps more than at any other life stage, you’ll be able to savor a well-rounded experience.
So if waiting and worrying about Disney World height requirements is your primary deciding factor, you just might be missing out. You won’t get a chance to roll back the clock!
Top 5 Preschooler Activities at Disney World
These are my general suggestions, which can apply to any of the four Walt Disney World parks. Filling your Disney days with the following types of activities will leave you with lots of fun memories, and no regrets.
1. Parades – Nobody does a parade like Disney. I mean nobody. Don’t miss these. Grab some snacks, stake a good spot out early (hey, you’ll have a stroller to mark your claim… it’s the perfect placeholder) and keep the camera ready. Characters wave, dance just inches away, and often interact with your child. It’s a wonderful time!
2. Character Dining Experience – When kids are older, you may not want to take the time for a sit down dining reservation. But a Disney trip with preschoolers is the perfect opportunity to slow down and schedule a Disney character dining experience. Spendy, yes. But absolutely fantastic. And they may even save you from other character greeting lines later on. “But we already MET Mickey, honey… remember??” Ok, that probably won’t work. But it’s worth a try!
3. Meeting Disney Characters – Be prepared for the character greetings your child will beg for incessantly. Meeting a Disney character, getting a photo taken, and snagging an autograph was my 4 year old’s absolute favorite thing during her first trip to Disney World. Would you believe me if I told you, you’ll miss these days…?
4. Stage Shows – There are multiple animatronic and musical stage shows to choose from at the four Disney World theme parks. This provides an excellent chance to slow the pace, sit down for a few minutes, and cool off in the air-conditioned environment. Your little one may even take a quick nap!
5. Preschooler Rides! Hey, each park has them, and honestly so many are classic Disney experiences (like Dumbo) that your older children may be “over” if you wait. Don’t miss these, they are priceless. Here’s a helpful ranking of among the four – Best Parks at Walt Disney World for Toddlers, In Order.