I was talking to my Chemistry teacher recently about Disney. He was telling me that his wife really wants to take their two year old son to Disney, but he thinks it is way too soon. This got the wheels in my brain turning. Is there really a “perfect” age to go to Walt Disney World®? Is there such thing as a “too young” or “too old”? Whose side am I on, my Chemistry teacher who is in charge of my grade or his wife whom I have never met? What would I do for a Klondike bar? Wait… forget that last one… Anyway, I decided to break down the stages of our lives into four sections: infant/toddler, young child, pre-teen/teen and adult and began to think about the pros to going to Walt Disney World® at that age. Here is what I came up with!
Have you even seen a picture of Mickey Mouse holding a little baby girl in his arms? Or maybe a little baby prince covered in kisses from Aurora? I think those pictures are the sweetest things I have ever laid my eyes upon. This brings me to my first point. Taking a baby to Walt Disney World® creates a lot of memories for the parents of an infant, even if the infant doesn’t remember exactly everything that happens. I visited Disney when I was two, and I remember the monkeys on roller skates in the Tarzan stage show! Remember that? Beware, though, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Some babies are afraid of characters. However, sometimes these photos turn out better and funnier than the happy ones! Then there are the rides. These guests typically spend most of their visit in Fantasyland® with trips through “it’s a small world”®, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel and any other attraction that is calm and their parents want to ride with them. Your little ones may also be thrilled with the parades. There is nothing cuter than seeing little kids dancing in or next to their strollers to the music as the floats wander past.
In my head when writing this, I classify a young child as someone between the ages of 5-10. Most people believe that this is the ideal age, when in fact it is the most obvious. Children believe in the fairytales that Disney portrays, therefore their experiences are even more immersive. Meeting the characters fulfills dreams for many children. Disney responds with meet and greets, character meals and rides that tell the stories young children love. (Not to mention, many restaurants there have child-friendly food – like chicken fingers and pizza – so that kids don’t have to venture out of their comfort zone if they don’t want to.) The world of attractions opens even wider when young children gather the guts to ride Space Mountain®, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad®, Splash Mountain® or Pirates of the Caribbean®, and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin® becomes a truly competitive game. Instead of dancing on the sidelines, young children often join the pre-parade fun in the streets before singing along with the floats as the parade passes by. Stage shows capture their attention like no video game can. It is a truly magical time when little girls want to become princesses and little boys want to fight pirates, and Walt Disney World® is the perfect place to do it.
As a pre-teen/teen
As a fifteen year old teenager, I have to say that I absolutely LOVE going to the parks. Many people think that pre-teens/teens would just wander around uninterested while staring at their phones. In reality, a lot of teenagers love going to Walt Disney World®! Some of the more thrilling rides, like Rock N’ Roller Coaster® Starring Aerosmith, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™, and Mission: SPACE® (the orange version!) are perfect for this age range. If you are like me, I love learning about interesting things. Walt Disney World®, especially Epcot, is filled with learning experiences about the culture of different countries, what our future may be like, and energy. Food from all over the globe is at your fingertips if you are daring enough to taste. Instead of heading to Walt Disney World® for rides, you start looking for the secrets. What happens when you pull the rope that is clearly labeled “Do Not Pull”? What do you hear when you pick up the old fashioned phone in the back of the candy store? Then there are the Hidden Mickeys. Where is the smallest Hidden Mickey on Disney property? Where is the largest? Is that Mickey Mouse peeking from behind the fern? Not only that but you are now a part of the planning. Pick a favorite restaurant to dine in or find an activity to do on your park-free day. You can even surprise your family by creating Hidden Mickey and secret lists for them to find while in the park. Finally, the most important difference of them all is that as a teen you are now more appreciative. You realize the difference between make-believe and reality, and you begin to appreciate what Cast Members do to make magic for all the guests. I, myself, strongly believe that this is the change that has affected my Disney vacations the most, and it has led me to dream to become a Cast Member myself.
Even if you don’t have kids, going to Walt Disney World® as an adult is a totally different experience. Adults get the opportunity to participate in adult-only activities (like spa visits or behind the scene tours) and can try some of the alcoholic drinks Walt Disney World® is famous for. Adults also get to hop in the “learning” wagon with the teenagers, meaning that they also learn new things when they visit. Who knew it was possible to grow food into a molded shape? (Check out the Mickey head shaped vegetables in The Land!) Adults with children get to see their child light up when they see their favorite character or get to hear their giggles when they are on their favorite attraction. Seeing this World through your own children’s eyes must be a very heartwarming experience.
Let’s be honest, all ages are perfect! It all depends on the experience you are looking for. I am a firm believer regarding the fact that, if possible, all children should visit Walt Disney World® before the age of ten. It’s like a right of passage! However, if you don’t mind the fact that your child might not remember much, you should take them when they are very young. You may be surprised by my how much they will recall later! As a teen, you have the opportunity and guts to participate in more activities and learn things while still having the time of your life (tell your parents it’s an educational trip). When you are an adult, you can view Disney in a whole different light by doing adult-only things. If you have children, you also get to see them interact with this magical place, which I imagine would be priceless.
On second thought, maybe 15 is the PERFECT age to go to Walt Disney World®… C’mon Mom and Dad! I only have a few months left! After that, 16 will be the PERFECT age!
See ya REAL soon!
(All images from the author’s personal collection.)
Quote of the Week: “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.” ~ Walt Disney
Makena is a 15 year old high school student who spends much of her free time researching Disney. She enjoys sharing Disney facts and even plans Walt Disney World vacations (including searches for secrets and Hidden Mickeys) for friends and family. You can follow Makena on twitter @Makattack98 or on Facebook (Makena Wolcott). Makena began blogging for WDW Radio in December 2011.