Are you thinking about taking the family to Disneyland this summer? Perhaps you have some questions. I can help. You see, we’re big Disney fans in our house, but not in a weird way (opinions vary) and as such I am constantly receiving questions from people about planning a Disneyland family vacation. It’s a responsibility that I thoroughly enjoy and still take lightly. The most popular question from parents is about age, specifically:
“Is my child old enough to go to Disneyland?”
I get that question a lot. In fact, it is one of the top five questions that I hear on a regular basis (right between “Are we there yet?” and “Sir, are you okay?”).
Why do people ask me instead of their buddy Google? My guess is that people see my love of Disney and the fact that I write at a number of popular websites on parenting, family, travel, and entertainment, and they think that I might know something. They would be wrong, but I appreciate their vote of (perceived) confidence.
Also, I have a Mickey Mouse tattoo, but that’s a different post.
When I was a boy growing up in Arizona there was nothing more exciting than a family trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, California (just south of L.A.). Some of my best memories, ever, are from those trips with my dad driving through the night and the Platters playing softly on the radio. I suppose that those memories, combined with similar stories from my wife’s childhood, are the reason that our kids have visited Disneyland more in their few short years than most people do in a lifetime.
So when people ask, “Is my child old enough to go to Disneyland?” I answer with one word, “Yes.”
But what about the babies? Aren’t the babies too young?
Here’s the thing, obviously an infant isn’t going to remember their first time meeting Mickey Mouse or riding on Dumbo, but I believe that it is still worth going. Why? Brace yourself. The trip isn’t for the baby, the trip is for you. Let that sink in.
Please note, this does not mean that you should put baby in a corner. Nobody should do that.
The “baby trip” is when every moment is a Kodak moment (Instagram?) and every photo is a memory that will be cherished forever (not that the making of memories ever stops, but the earlier they start the better!). There are few things cuter than a picture of a small baby next to a giant rodent. As an added bonus, consider that you’re laying the groundwork for what could be a tradition of amazing family fun for decades to come. It’s a great time for parents to get a feel for, or reacquaint themselves with, Disneyland (and Disney California Adventure across the way). Establishing some familiarity with the park(s) will make subsequent trips all the easier and a little less daunting.
One thing to remember when taking a Disneyland vacation with small kids is that you won’t be able to do it all. This is a fact (it’s a fact whether you have kids with you or not, there’s just too much to do). Accepting it is a big step towards making your trip as enjoyable as possible (other steps include naps, shade, plenty of water and drinks with umbrellas in them). Some rides have height restrictions, and while adults have the luxury of Disney’s Rider Swap (from Disney: Guests take turns waiting with youngsters too small to ride a certain attraction, then “swap” with another adult guest from their party to experience the ride without standing in line twice.), if a kid isn’t tall enough for an attraction they aren’t able to ride. It happens. Side effects include crying.
Don’t worry, that just means that the next trip (and they’ll want a next trip) is already promising more fun and a sweet anticipation for that famous Disney magic. It’s okay to leave things for next time.
After that it rolls into a blurry montage of milestones. The child loves the characters. The child is afraid of the characters. Pirates of the Caribbean is the best ride ever. Pirates of the Caribbean is the scariest ride ever. Then Pirates of the Caribbean is secretly scary, but they love it anyway. Johnny Depp posters may or may not come into play. Then balloons, churros and dancing in the streets (literally).
Obviously, you know your child better than anyone else and there may be variables that contribute to your decision that aren’t addressed here. Also, I am painfully aware of the expense involved in taking a Disneyland vacation and did not factor that in because it’s relative to your personal situation. One thing to keep in mind is that children under the age of three get into Disneyland for free. Savings add up!
If it helps, I’m also a firm believer that children are never too old to go to Disneyland. Fit your Disneyland vacation into your life accordingly!
Here are some of our Disney memories from the past few years:
No, Disney did not ask me to write this.
Have you taken your children to Disneyland? Why or why not?
Whit Honea can be found writing about whatever he feels like at his personal site Honea Express (Honea sounds like pony) and DadCentric. If you’re really bored you can follow him on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).
Also from Whit: