My dh and I are really stuck on this question. We only foresee being able to afford to go to Disney World like twice during our kids lives. So. . .what is the best age to take them? We have a dd age 5 and twin ds and dd age 2. We think the twins are too young to enjoy it, but worry that dd will be past the "princess" stage is we wait too long. On the other hand, I believe the twins would be free until they turn 3, but is that too hard to handle with 3 little kids? Grandparents will likely want to come along, so we would have some help. So, the options are to go before December (when the twins turn 3) or put it off until ???
Oh, and if it matters, all of our kids are short, so our 5 year old will barely meet the 40" requirement for some rides and obviously it will be a while before the twins do. On the other hand, the 5-yo is not brave at all as far as rides and such while the younger ones are much more so.
Thanks so much!
DD2 12/09 & DS1 12/09
I would wait a while. My family visited when I was 7 and my brother was 5, and while I remember having a blast, he doesn't remember much at all and was also short, so wasn't big enough to enjoy it much! My family went again at age 15 when he was 13, and we all had a TON of fun! We were only too old for a few things, but still had a ton of fun. We were definitely not too old. And FWIW I wasn't past the "princess" stage until I turned 18 (and sometimes I feel like I'm still not past it!)... so I'm sure DD1 can wait a year or two to get the princess treatment until her siblings can be old enough to have fun too! Any age between 6-10 seems ideal to me.
I've taken my kids to Disneyland since they were infants, but it was when I had an annual pass and they were always day trips, so much cheaper than a WDW vacation. They have always enjoyed Disneyland, and there are plenty of rides and experiences for little kids without going on the roller coasters.
We went to WDW for 2 days recently, when my kids were 2.5 and 6.5 years old. The toddler was fearful of most of the dark rides (even ones she had been on a year before at Disneyland with no problem), but that actually worked out well because my husband took her on tamer rides like Small World and the tea cups while my 6.5 year old and I went on roller coasters. We went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 3 times and he loved it! But we would have had a great time going on Dumbo over and over again too. :)
I think any age is a great age for Disney! And my kids are spoiled because it's so familiar to them, but I think that my son was at a perfect age for Disney World, especially because we will likely never go again (we were in Florida for a wedding which was the only reason we went to WDW).
No matter what you decide, I'm sure you will all have a magical time. That's what Disney does best!
I've gone to disney yearly since my oldest was born, but that's only because my parents have a timeshare down there.
Mid December is a great time to go. Christmas decorations up but not super crowded. My dd1 does have memories from Disney from age 3yrs 4m(a super rainy trip). The twins being free is also a big plus.
Not that waiting would be awful, just different.
I would go when the twins are free and later when the twins are 5/6 or so. It's not bad at all, we have gone during crazy hot and busy times of the year with all kinds of little kids. Just be prepared to not over do it and a stroller is such a help. Seriously.
DS was 9ish and DD was 6ish and they had a blast. I recently found some old photos and asked DD if she believed she was really meeting Cinderella, Snow White etc. and she said yes. She wondered about Ariel, the Littlest Mermaid, because there was no water around her!
I think your children will enjoy the trip at any age, but a little older was definitely easier for us. Just take it easy and pace yourself.
I just took my dd for the first time and she was ten. She still loved the magic of all of it and will remember most of it, I hope! I'm glad we waited until now. :)
Have fun, whenever you decide to go!
We took our two last spring, when DD was almost five and DS was seven. I would wait until the twins are at least five. Even if you're not paying admission, everything else is still really expensive, and your twins are soooo young. It will be a ton of work for you, too. It will still be magical for your DD in a couple years!
Momma to 8 y.o. DS and 5 y.o. DD. Married to a Maker!
We went the first time when mine were 4 and 5. They were young enough to enjoy the "magic" of Disney - they loved the character breakfasts and seeing different characters around the park, and they got a real kick out of the fun things maid service did in the room each day. On the other hand, slogging through the parks with 2 kids too young for that much walking but too old for strollers made for some epic meltdowns. There is nothing like 1 million eyes staring at your kid flailing on the ground because his balloon popped. They were also young enough that I panicked if I didn't have them in sight every second, so it was very stressful. When I ask the kids about that trip, what they remember most is the hotel pool.
The second time, the kids were 12 and 13. They did not give a flip about the characters or the atmosphere, they just wanted to ride ride ride. This trip was much less stressful, but much more expensive. We wanted a bigger room, so we stayed at the Polynesian rather than at Carribean Beach. The kids also couldn't split meals and snacks anymore. They were on the go so much that they were hungry and thirsty constantly, and we had flown down and didn't rent a car. We were stuck paying whatever Disney charged.
I think taking them when they were 8-10 would have been just about perfect.
We just got back from Disneyland - my kiddos are 8, 6 and 3. I should probably preface this by saying that we come from a pretty small town. We were there in between Xmas and NYE and my little guy especially was pretty overwhelmed by all the people, all the stuff, etc. We had a good time, but my youngest didn't really want to do any of the rides (we took him on some, anyway - he did end up liking it's a small world and the teacups, stuff like that) AND he made me carry him everywhere because he couldn't/wouldn't walk and he wouldn't go in a stroller (we don't even have one for him at home). And obviously, it's a LOT of walking. He loved the characters, though, which kind of surprised me. My daughter, the 6 year old, liked everything (a lot!) but would also get tired after a few hours. I would usually take the younger two back to the hotel after about noon to swim in the pool and rest while my husband would stay with my oldest son and do some of the rides that the younger 2 couldn't go on. If your parents come with you, this may not be a problem, but for us it wasn't ideal. I think in another 2 years it would have been a bit better, but it was a fun trip and I'm glad they got to go.
In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you." Buddha
Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I appreciate all of the replys. For those of you that go yearly, do you remember a particular age of your children when it was just perfect? Have any of your girls outgrown the thrill of cinderella's castle by a certain age?
Reading teh responses, I'm also realizing that it partly depends on how much dh and I want to go. If we really want to go, then we might try before we have to pay for the twins, but if it's not that important to us, then I'm leaning more towards waiting (much to DD1's dissapointment as everyone has already gone.)
DD2 12/09 & DS1 12/09
DD is 15 now and she's a pretty mature person. She wouldn't have the same thrill about visiting Cinderella, but as recently as last winter she and her friends had Disney movie marathons with a lot of nostalgia. She wants to visit Harry Potter world, but told me that if we go, she also wants time to visit Disney again too.
Absolutely wait a while. The twins will not be able to go on many of the attractions, and while Disney is great about letting parents do a rider swap, little ones do feel left out when an older sib gets to do everything and they can't. I found 5-8 is the perfect time to go. The kids have enough stamina too, since you'll be walking MILES every day.
Mama to five babies. The newest one made her debut 7.10.12!
I took my kids for the first time when DD was 3 1/2 and DS was 1. DD was SO into everything, and she remembered a LOT of it when we went back this past year (DD was 6 and DS was 3). The little ones can actually ride lots of stuff and it's so much fun to see everything through such young eyes.
At 6, DD was still into the princesses and whatnot this year. The only "big ride" she was willing to try was Splash Mountain even though she was tall enough to ride most everything.
Definitely go in the off-season if you can; lines are SO much shorter, there are less people around, and hotel prices are cheaper, which makes doing things with small children much more enjoyable. Our first trip with the kids was in late January and this past year we went in September. (I prefer January over September simply because of the weather. Crowds are comparable - we never waited more than 20 minutes for any ride, and most of them had less than a 5 minute wait - but the heat in September can zap you! That said, because the lines were short, we could go into the parks in the morning and spend the afternoons at the pool.)
Also keep in mind that when your oldest turns 10, they require an adult (more expensive) ticket.
DD 06/05, DD 02/07, DS 02/08, DD 01/12
Eta: on my phone so auto correct. With the younger kids, they can enjoy it but with the older kids. It really does seem more magical. And the experience stays with them.
I'm not sure if that's the book we used, it could have been something similar. It was very helpful.
I knew we wouldn't make a return visit for a long time, if ever, since we mostly prefer other kinds of vacation. Using the book and talking to other people helped us plan the visit and make the most of our time there, and still have an enjoyable, relatively relaxing vacation.
I could not agree more! I also have The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and referred to it even when I was going weekly!
The best advice is to plan on getting to the parks before they open. Make a loose itinerary of rides and shows to maximize your time. Then you can head back to the hotel in the afternoon for a swim or nap, and either go back to the park at night or call it a day and get to bed early.
We were at the Magic Kingdom for just 2 days, did everything we wanted to do, and were back at the hotel by dinnertime each night. We did miss the evening parades and shows (which we were ok with), but the kids were never so exhausted or overstimulated that it was a problem, because we didn't try to spend the whole day in the park.
I remember going to Magic Kingdom one day and Epcot another when my family was on vacation in Florida when I was 11. We went from open to close in August, and I totally melted down by the end of the day both days. It was just too much heat, too much walking, too many people...as a moody pubescent girl who was still a child, it was just way too much.
That said, I've taken my kids to Disneyland from open to close on shorter hour days in the off-season (9 or 10am-8pm) and they did fine because they were young enough to be in their strollers a lot, and napped in the stroller. I had the luxury of being able to follow their leads because I had an annual pass and could just go back another time if they were done.