Saturday, June 23, 2012

When should you bring the kids to a Disney Park?

This is a reprint of a post from my other blogsite, Thoughts From the Dark Side. After reading a post at Growing Up Disney today, I thought I might post it here as well. Hope you enjoy it.

When Disneyland was less than a decade old, my grandfather and my aunts became the first in our family to visit. I remember one of my aunts saying upon their return that Disneyland wasn't for kids. What she meant was that this is not a park with just amusement park rides for the kids and nothing else. After all, wasn't that Walt's purpose for building Disneyland in the first place?

But at what age should you bring a young child to one of the (now multiple) Disney Parks? Is there such as thing as too young to bring a child?

I have heard both sides of this argument, and there are points on both sides, but I think it really depends more on the individual child than any set and fast rule.

Many people would argue against it saying that if the child is too young they will not remember it. That is certainly true, but is it important to be remembered? Again, it depends. If going to a Disney Park will be a once in a lifetime event, then most certainly you should wait until the child is old enough to not only enjoy him/herself in the moment, but be able to remember it for years to come.

However, if you know that this will be just the first of many trips, why not let a young child enjoy the experience. But then you have to ask, how old are we talking about? Again you have to know your child, as well as your own tolerance for the extra care they will require. Is your child used to traveling and being in public situations, or will the theme park atmosphere overwhelm your child? Will your child be able to enjoy the characters and the atmosphere, or will it scare him/her? These are things you need to ask yourself before you consider when to bring (or not bring) them to a Disney Park. Remember also that if your child is having a melt-down, not only may it disrupt your day in the park, but the day of other guests as well.

But if your child is comfortable and happy in new situations and can handle the hubbub of a theme park with thousands of people, loud sounds and music, then why not bring them and allow them to enjoy themselves? They may be of an age where they will not remember their first visit, but they can certainly enjoy the experience as it happens.

Had it not been raining on the day my wife and I visited in 1979, my daughter would have made her first visit at 7 months old. As it turned out, she made her first visit at 4 years of age, while my son was 2 years during that same visit ... his first as well. Neither of them remember that trip, but we have been back many times since then. (Boy is that an understatement!)

In August 2010, my son - now the father of twins - and my daughter-in-law took those twins to Walt Disney World for their first trip. They were 10 months old at the time. They experienced attractions, parades, and food that they hadn't before. Did they enjoy themselves? You tell me ...

And no, this wasn't their only trip ... they have been back and will be many more times.


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