My daughter meeting Max when she was 13 months-old
Ahh, yes. The age-old question. What’s the best age to start bringing a kid to a Disney Park? There are lots of varying opinions on this matter (check any Disney forum or group), but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus. Folks who may not be the biggest fans of Disney seem to think that older is better. Disney fans seem to think that younger is better. So here you are, a new addition to your family, wondering when you should share the magic of the parks with your little one. With such a lack of consensus, what do you do?!
When I faced this question, there were many opinions being thrown in my direction. “She’s too young.” “She won’t remember anything.” “She won’t have fun.” “She’s going to be overwhelmed and scared.” “A trip this young would be pointless.”
Regardless of all of those opinions, I made the executive decision to bring my daughter to Disneyland at only 6 months-old. Gasp. You’d think I told people that I was bringing her into a mosh-pit with the reaction I recieved. But yes, I brought my daughter into the parks at 6 months-old. I prepared myself for the very worst, as that’s what I was told to expect. I went in as pessimistic as possible. This trip’s primary purpose was to see if trips at a young age would be possible. You’ll never guess what happened...she loved it.
My daughter in awe of Tiana at only 6 months-old
Without going too far into detail, we did everything we possibly could. We went on every ride she was allowed on, tried the baby care centers, stayed the whole day, and even met characters. She giggled and enjoyed the rides, found comfort and peace in the baby care centers, took naps throughout the day in the stroller, and absolutely gushed over meeting Tiana. Beginner’s luck, right? This must’ve been a fluke.
My daughter at 9 months-old, when she was over the moon to meet Mickey Mouse
It wasn’t. We went again at 9 months, 11 months, and 13 months. Each trip was more fun than the one before. Throughout these visits, my daughter started to recognize where we were when we walked into the parks. She even started to remember the characters. Pooh Bear always receives a kiss on the nose when she sees him. Mickey is always greeted with the world’s biggest smile from my daughter. She bounces up and down to the parades. She points at the dolls she wants. She gleams with delight when she tastes a churro. She recognizes Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and increasingly gets more excited to return to the ride.
My daughter at 11 months-old, giving Pooh Bear a kiss on the nose
Never, and I mean never, has she thrown a fit. She never gets overwhelmed. She never cries out of fear or gets overstimulated. If anything, she gets more comfortable in the parks, and knows how to nap when she needs to, so that she can enjoy the rest of the day. So when I was finally able to solidify that it wasn’t just luck, I was left wondering why people were so pessimistic about bringing her so young.
When it comes down to it, every child is different. When my daughter met Mickey for the first time, a 7 year-old was in front of us screaming. He didn’t want to meet Mickey at all. He ran out. We saw children screaming and throwing fits in strollers. So while my daughter absolutely loves the parks, there are some children who don’t, and that applies to children of every age. Not just babies or toddlers.
My daughter at 13 months-old, enjoying the parade
You know your child better than anyone else does. My daughter has always been a free spirit, even at 6 months-old. She’s always been open to new experiences and activities, and is rarely frightened. From birth, Disney songs have brought an immediate smile to her face. So, I’ve always believed this was a good destination for us. And just as I suspected, it was.
There’s no consensus on this matter, because every child is unique. If you have a free-spirited child like my daughter, ignore other people’s pessimism. Give it a try. We now plan multiple trips a year, and she has fun every single time. It’s become an amazing bonding experience for my daughter and I. And, honestly, nothing beats watching your child’s eyes widen while walking down Main Street. If that doesn’t warm your heart and bring tears to your eyes, I don’t know what will.
If you need some information on how to have a fun/successful day in the parks with a little one, read my column that goes into detail on how to make that possible!