Hey lovelies! I’m excited to have a special lady taking over the blog today–Alicia from Happily Ever Mickey. Alicia is a Disney travel agent and my go-to gal for all things Mickey! If you’re planning a visit to any of the Disney parks or cruises, I highly suggest checking out her services.
Hi, I’m Alicia! I am a travel agent that specializes in all things Disney and also write a blog full of Disney tips over at Happily Ever Mickey. Elizabeth and I met about a year ago when I planned her daughter’s first trip to Walt Disney World®! My own daughter just turned six and she has been visiting Disney destinations around the world since she was just two months old.
One of the questions that I get asked all of the time is “What is the perfect age for a first Disney trip?” Disney vacations can be a large investment and there is a lot of pressure to do it right. After planning first visit trips for over 100 kids and many adults too, I have finally figured out the answer.
What is the Best Age for a Disney Visit?
Spoiler alert: every age is the best age!
Perks: Children under three are free at Disney theme parks! They also eat for free at all buffet meals, which tend to be most character meals. There are over 100 attractions and shows at Walt Disney World® without a height requirement which means even your baby can ride! What if mom and dad want to ride a more thrilling ride? You can utilize Rider Switch. One parent rides first and then swaps with the second parent. Disney allows the second parent to go through the FastPass queue so that you aren’t waiting in line twice.
Tips: Bring a baby carrier. You will have to park your stroller outside of most rides and many restaurants. Disney cast members will move your strollers so bring an identifying object to place on your stroller to make it easy to find. Each park has a Baby Care Center where you can feed and change your little one or even just give them a quiet place to recharge.
What to Ride: Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, “It’s a Small World”, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
Where to Eat: Crystal Palace – babies and Winnie the Pooh just go together! | Coral Reef – babies will be mesmerized by the aquariums!
Where to Stay: Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Babies/toddlers will enjoy the quick ride to Magic Kingdom and parents will love that they don’t have to fold the stroller to get on/off the monorail! Some rooms even have views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks for parents to enjoy after the littles have gone to bed!
Fun Extra: Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street offers adorable first haircut packages complete with a set of Mickey ears!
Perks: The magic is so real for preschoolers! They love meeting their favorite characters and love to dress up. They are usually up early in the morning making rope drop easier. They still fit in strollers which means you can cover more ground without worrying about tired legs. You can be more flexible with dates since they haven’t started elementary school yet.
Tips: Take breaks – whether this means a break at the hotel each afternoon or a full break day in the middle of your trip. Pack a clickable Sharpie for their autograph books. These are easy for characters to use without help from your child. Be prepared that your little ones may get shy when it is their turn and you may need to jump in the picture too!
What to Ride: Dumbo, Kilimanjaro Safari, Peter Pan’s Flight
Where to Eat: Chef Mickey’s – It’s easy to find something for everyone at this buffet and you get to meet the Fab 5! | Sanaa – Watch the zebras, giraffes, and more on the savanna as you eat!
Where to Stay: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Kids will love the theming of the resort, the zero entry pool, and the splash pad! Parents will love that the suites have a separate bedroom, two bathrooms, and a kitchenette!
Fun Extra: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, located at Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs, offers magical makeovers for both little princesses and knights. The Pirate’s League, also located at the Magic Kingdom offers pirate and mermaid makeovers!
For Elementary Age
Perks: Elementary-aged kids are tall enough for most, if not all rides. They are old enough to help with the planning and also will have memories from their trip. They also don’t need breaks for a nap, but may benefit from a break at the pool!
Tips: Elementary-aged children will have fun trying to spot Hidden Mickeys around the theme parks. A Hidden Mickey is a representation of Mickey Mouse that has been subtly designed into a ride, attraction, or location. Over 1,000 Hidden Mickey’s have been found! They also may enjoy pin trading with Disney cast members. You can purchase lanyards and pins before you travel to save some money.
What to Ride: Toy Story Mania, 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, Frozen Ever After
Where to Eat: Cinderella’s Royal Table – You can’t get much more magical than eating inside Cinderella’s castle with your favorite princess friends! | Via Napoli – What kid doesn’t like pizza? This is consistently ranked the best pizza at Walt Disney World!
Where to Stay: Disney’s Beach Club Resort – Kids will love Stormalong Bay, arguably the best pool on Disney property! Parents will love that you can walk to Epcot!
Fun Extra: This is a great age to do one of Disney’s seasonal parties – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, offered in August, September, and October or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, offered in November and December. This is a separately ticketed event that includes a special parade and fireworks show, as well as unique character meets, live shows, and seasonal activities. The parties end late in the evening so it’s best for kids that can handle staying up late!
Perks: Tweens and teens are tall enough to do everything at Disney. They can stay up late for fireworks and nighttime shows without an issue, although rope drop might be difficult! They can take a lead in the planning and you just might see the kid in them come out!
Tips: Bring a portable battery charger for their phones. Between taking pictures and using the wifi, phone batteries don’t last all day at Disney. This age loves social media and there are quite a few places at Walt Disney World® that are “Instagram famous”. The “purple wall” started it all, but check out #wallsofdisney for more ideas! One of my favorites is the “hidden Mickey” wall!
What to Ride: Big Thunder Mountain, Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest
Where to Eat: ‘Ohana – a tween/teen friendly character meal with Stitch! They also will love the Hawaiian family style dinner. Time it right and you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks! | Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater – Themed after a 50s style drive-in, this is fun for all ages!
Where to Stay: Animal Kingdom Lodge – Tweens/teens will love using the night vision goggles to look at the animals on the savanna in the dark and having bunk beds! Parents will love the dining options and the educational opportunities!
Fun Extra: Tweens/teens will love visiting one of Disney’s two water parks – Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach!
Perks: You’re on your own schedule and can explore Disney at your own pace whether that means slow and relaxing or go, go, go from morning until night. You can visit at slower crowd times because you aren’t tied to a school schedule. You’ll love the seasonal events like the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival!
Tips: Book meals at a few of Disney’s signature restaurants. They are geared more towards adults and the food is fabulous. Also consider a fireworks dessert party, which includes sweets, drinks, and an amazing view of the fireworks.
What to Ride: Avatar: Flight of Passage, Soarin’, Rock n Roller Coaster
Where to Eat: Garden Grill – even adults like meeting Mickey and they will appreciate the farm fresh food! | California Grill – this signature restaurant has an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks!
Where to Stay: Disney’s BoardWalk Inn – Adults will love all of the activities offered from yoga and tennis to bike rentals and entertainment on Disney’s BoardWalk! They’ll also love that they can walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios and some great restaurants!
Fun Extra: Disney offers several fascinating tours. Go behind the scenes on the Backstage Magic tour, learn about the history of Magic Kingdom park on the Keys to the Kingdom tour, or go on a nighttime safari with night vision goggles on the Starlight Safari tour, just to name a few!
No matter the age, Disney can be a magical place for everyone. Whether you’ve been to Disney before or are dreaming of a first visit, I’d love to help you with a plan! I offer complimentary concierge-style planning services for all of my clients. To learn more, visit my website or follow along on social media!
disney travel agent + blogger
Happily Ever Mickey
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