By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

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c. How Old/Tall Your Children Should Be for Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute

“While every child is different, in general this guidance is dead on.” –David C. MD, Pediatrician, former Chief Resident, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital


If this will be your kids’ only childhood visit, as of your arrival date at Walt Disney World, your youngest child should be 8 or 9 or older, and your shortest child should be at least 48 inches tall.

See What if They’re Too Short/Young? if you just aren’t waiting til then.

How Old and Tall Your Kids Should Be For Walt Disney World from

Children of any height or age can enjoy Walt Disney World.  However, this site assumes that you are not sure whether or not you will ever be returning for another visit.

Because you may not be returning,  your children should be old enough, 8-9 years old or older, and tall enough, 48″ tall or taller, to fully enjoy Walt Disney World on what may be their only childhood visit.


Walt Disney World is not designed for children.  It is designed for children and their parents. One of Walt Disney’s original visions for Disneyland–the model for Walt Disney World–was to build a place where he could have as much fun as his daughters.

As a result much of the best of Walt Disney World has a level of sophistication, and a set of physical and emotional demands,  that will elude, or worse, overwhelm children younger than 8 or 9–third graders.

Third graders, on the other hand, are making the transition from primary school to higher abilities to experience and interpret the world.  They typically are substantially ahead of younger children in independence, personal responsibility, physical stamina, attention, and memory.

Moreover, they typically are open to suggestion, risks, and new adventures.*  Consequently, third graders are much more capable than younger children of appreciating a place that they possibly may not see again until they bring their own families.

A couple of notes:

  • The real issue is physical, emotional, and cognitive development, not chronological age. Some children will be ahead of, or behind, a typical chronological developmental schedule.  Evaluate your child, and since you need to make plans at least 180 days in advance, you will need to do a little forecasting, not only on the developmental side, but also on height (see below.)  It is better to delay your trip a year than to bring your child too immature or too short for their only visit.
  • On the other hand, there is a price break for children younger than ten at the time you check in.  Children younger than 10 are about $350+ less expensive over the recommended trip than children older than 10.  (See What to Budget.)
  •  The core issue is your child’s ability to enjoy the best Walt Disney World has to offer on what might be their only childhood visit.


Height is more straightforward.

Many rides at Walt Disney World–including many of the best–have minimum height requirements, usually determined by features of a ride’s safety system: its seat belts and such.

Some height requirements also serve as a proxy for sufficient maturity to not be emotionally overwhelmed by the “scary” aspects of a ride.

Seventeen major Walt Disney World theme park rides have minimum height requirements, of which the “highest” requirement is 48 inches.

So a child who will be 48 inches tall at the time of his or her visit will be able to experience all rides at the theme parks. A child who is 44 inches tall can experience all but two.



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1 Justin { 04.30.17 at 8:14 am }

Hi Dave, Awesome Site!!! I was wondering if you know much about the Bonnet Creek (Wyndham) resort and if so what you think is the best way for going to the parks. Do you think I would need a rental car? What tower to stay in? Any information you think might be helpful. We are planning our first trip in April 2018.

2 Dave { 04.30.17 at 10:52 am }

Justin, I don’t but a lot of people on Josh’s forum do. See this:

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