Best Age To Take Kids to Disney World

A Trip I Can’t Remember

When I was six years old my Mom and Dad planned an elaborate trip to Disney World in Florida. We drove down from Missouri where we lived at the time. My parents paid for a week in a hotel and went to the park every day. We rode rides, met a variety of characters, and bought souvenirs. Now I’m a mother to my own six-year-old child. There is no way I’m going to take him to that once in a childhood experience this year.

Do you know what I remember from that elaborate and expensive trip? I have three memories that aren’t told to me from pictures:

  • exploring some outdoor place in Georgia on the trip down there
  • a dragon puppet tugged on my braid playfully while we were taking a picture
  • I rode Space Mountain twice with my eyes closed because the son of the other family was much braver than me

My brother was four and literally remembers nothing. The only reason he even knows we went is that we have a family album.

I want my own son’s experience to be vivid. This way we can share it with his future family as we amp them up for their own trip.

(I just want to put out there that I will be spry enough to go on.)

I want my own trip with my son to meet some criteria that I have learned from my parents’ own mistake and watching Disney Movies.

Childlike Enthusiasm

The first thing is that I want is for him to still want to be a kid. Childlike enthusiasm is important to me. I watched The Wizards of Waverly Place vacation movie where they go to the beach with their kids. The fact that the kids were difficult and didn’t want to spend much time with their parents resonated with me. I’ve decided you know you’ve gotten old when you identify with the adults instead of the kids in Disney Channel Original Movies. I’m fine with that though because I love being a Mom. I don’t want my own son to want very little to do with me during our trip. Maybe I am dreaming, but I want him to want to spend time with me and explore the parks with me.

Also, I want him to still be a Disney fan and not be going through the “Disney is for kids” phase some teens do. I want to spend the car ride singing Frozen and Moana and any other recent movie that has come out. And yes, I want to discuss the live action movies versus their animated counterparts. I don’t want eye rolling and attitude about how he doesn’t watch Disney anymore because it is for little kids.

Six Flags Mistakes

I want him to be tall enough to ride any ride we take our fancy to. This one is from my own mistake at Six Flags. The summer my son was four I was so excited to be his legal guardian. It thrilled me that I would be able to take him the next state over to Six Flags.

I bought season passes. We went once and realized our mistake quickly. He was far too young to leave the Kiddie Park. We had to split up as a family to allow his eleven-year-old sister to have any fun. It wasn’t what we imagined. It was the moment I decided to postpone the Disney Trip until he was much older.

Money Management

Most of all I want him to be able to have his own money that he’s earned and can make his own choices with. This last one is very important to me and requires advanced planning. The surprise videos of children spontaneously learning they’re going to Disney World look cute but are not what I want for my baby. I want my son to earn his money the whole year before watching his chart with how much he’s earned grow.

When we get to the park, I’ll have a set amount set aside to get him gifts but he’ll have his own money. I plan on letting him make his own purchase choices and then letting him live with the consequences. If he spends it all on the first day that is his bad. If he spends it on food and fleeting treats and realizes he has nothing to keep that’s his bad. It becomes both the trip of a lifetime and a life lesson about choices and budgeting without me having to put down any rules.

The Perfect Age Balance

Weighing all that I want from his once in a childhood trip I have decided that in four years when he is ten will be the perfect time to take him. Extra bonuses for this age include the fact that he doesn’t need and nap and can carry his own things. He’ll also be able to entertain himself in the evenings when I’m no doubt exhausted.

I have discovered that planning far in advance has come with advantages. Booking the hotel ahead of time makes it cheaper and I can make a savings plan that will give us plenty of money then. I can create a budget and separate money out into categories and meet goals in those categories. I can plan my projects around the week I’m going to be gone or if you work a traditional job you can arrange your vacation days around the trip.

Every family has different priorities and every family has a different balance of ages. Unfortunately, my plan has my daughter seventeen when she gets to go but she doesn’t mind. I made sure to discuss it with her and she says she would much rather be older anyway. The positive of her age is most girls are done growing by that age so any apparel we buy for her will most likely be something she can keep for years to come.  Even so, you have more than one child I would recommend shooting for either when the middle or the youngest child reaches ten. Homeschooling families have a lot more flexibility on this.

About the Author

Natasia Rea is regular Mom Advice Line contributor. She’s a 32-year-old native Kentucky resident and mother of two wonderful children.

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