As I have discovered over the years, there is no right or wrong age to take children. I have taken them as young a 2 and as old as 70+. In my eyes, we are all children once we get to Walt Disney world! On one trip we took my 2, 4, 5 year old grandchildren and my 7 year old son. We had so much fun! The 7 year old readily took care of the 2 year old, which worked wonderfully.
One thing you have to remember when taking a young child is – you have to be flexible! Some young ones do not handle waiting in lines for the rides, some do. Some do not take kindly to over-size characters – some do. Some will sleep no matter where they are – some do not. Only you can answer that about your child.
A friend of my recently took their 2-1/2 year old grandchild. The trip was planned because it worked out for a marathon for his parents and also to give the young one exposure to the Happiest Place in the World. Some pre-planning made all the difference in the world:
Parks were divided up in the morning and then evening – allowing a mid-day break if needed. Late evenings depended on how it went – if the 2 year old was cranky, it was an early evening. If they just fell asleep in the stroller and then woke refreshed – later nights could be done.
Strollers were a must. Umbrella strollers are great for on and off the bus, but if you prefer having something larger to also carry other things, then maybe plan on taking your car to the park so you have a place to pack the larger stroller. I have done it both ways and they can both work.
Take some things along for the young one to play with while in lines for the rides or when waiting on meals. Think small and compact and nothing large or loud, but something that can distract them periodically such as an age appropriate ipad or something similar.
Pack some snacks; such as gold fish, fruit roll ups and fruit boxes work well. Make them healthy and not sugary. Trust me – a kid on a sugar high in a place with a lot of visual stimulus is not a good idea.
Think about what they will enjoy and plan accordingly, such as limited amount of character meetings, but planning on seeing the parades. Maybe a full sit down meal with a little one won’t work, but counter service will give them lots of options. Height restricted rides may not work, but if there are enough adults, think about a baby-switch. Or stick with easier rides, such as It’s a Small World, Peter Pan, Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico, Nemo & Friends.
Pre-pay for your Photo-Pass, so the Disney photographers can really capture all the memories for you.
The most important thing is to go with the flow and understand that little ones may not be able to handle an open to close day in the parks. I have heard way too many parents say “I paid good money for this trip and we are going to be in the parks from sun-up to sun-down”. To me – the look on your 2 year old’s face the first time he sees Mickey or takes in the sites of Magic Kingdom is worth more than what the cost is for 1 day at the park. Those are memories you won’t ever lose, especially if you take advantage of all the picture opportunities available.
Debbie and her husband live in Collegedale, TN where her youngest son is going to college. She is a huge Disney fan who dreams of someday retiring and working as a tour guide at Walt Disney World. She has enjoyed many trips to WDW with children, grandchildren and sometimes adults only. It is her ultimate goal to make sure everyone who visits WDW has the same magical time that she enjoys every time she visits.