There is no denying that Disneyland and Disney World are among the happiest places on earth — where else can you go that brings equal amounts of joy to both children and adults? But here's the big question that has caused many a debate among parents everywhere: how old should your children be before crossing that threshold into paradise? I don't want to rain on anyone's (Disney) parade, but I think waiting until your child is out of toddlerhood and able to remember the trip of a lifetime is the best idea. Here is why I think you should wait to bring your toddler to a Disney park.
1. Toddlers are easily disappointed.
You know this firsthand, but toddlers get overwhelmed. If you've ever been superexcited for your toddler to experience something new, only to arrive at that particular destination or activity to find your kid has become tremendously cranky or totally underwhelmed, then you know what a disappointment planned events can sometimes be for the under-5 set. When you've spent hundreds of dollars to travel to Florida or California on a Disney trip, you won't want either of these scenarios on your hands.
2. Disney might cause the exact same reaction than a day at your local playground.
Children under 5 are still very much in the land of make-believe, so even their local playground or home's playroom feels like a theme park. Sure, this can make Disney more enticing for parents, getting to witness their children's reaction to a pure fairy tale, "real-life" princesses, and rides straight out of their wildest imagination. But keep in mind, this is an expensive and slightly over-the-top way of taking your children to the land of make-believe.
When a toddler gets excited and mesmerised by a trip to a local park, maybe spending the time, money, and energy that it takes to travel to Disney to get the exact same reaction is not the best idea. Take advantage of the wonders around you while you can, and wait until your kids can truly understand the scale of Disney to bring them to one of the parks.
3. Toddlers can't experience everything that Disney has to offer.
There's the height limits on rides, of course — a major upset for tiny tots who are surrounded by taller and older children squealing with delight as they fly through the air — but because your little ones are, well, still little children, they might not even like the food, get tired at the shows and parades, and not want to spend hours (or even a few minutes) waiting in line to meet Mickey for a photo op. If a child isn't old enough to appreciate and understand all that Disney has to offer, chances are you'll end up coming back again when they are old enough to enjoy all the fun.
4. They like to wander.
We're not saying you're not keeping a close eye on your little one at all times, but consider this if you have a runner: attendance statistics found that Disney World had over 20 million visitors in 2016. If your toddler is a little wanderer, this may prove to be an extremely stressful trip.
5. They probably won't remember the trip at all.
This is the obvious reason you've probably heard over and over again. We all want to give our children the gift of adventure, travel, new experiences, and excitement, but I'm pretty sure we also want them to recognise and remember that feeling of unbridled joy for years to come. You can take photos, but if they're very little, they'll look back at them and not remember a thing.
6. Toddlers won't help you plan.
You can plan the entire Disney trip yourself, or wait until your kids are a little older and can actually tell you exactly what they want to do and eat while at the parks. Sometimes the planning of a trip to Disney can be just as exciting as the actual trip, and anticipation is wonderful as well.
This is just one side of the Mickey Mouse coin, and every child is different. Yes, a trip to Disney World is never a bad idea, but to me, a visit to the park with a little toddler seems a little impossible. Then again, in the words of Walt Disney, "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."