By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Taking Your Too Short/Young Kids Anyway, &*#$@!!

By Dave Shute

OVERVIEW: THE LONG AND SHORT OF DISNEY WORLD

This site recommends waiting to go until your kids are at least 48 inches tall and in the third grade or older. If you do, all of the best of Disney World is open to them.

Of course, as noted several times before, kids of all ages can have a great time at Disney World. So you may be ignoring this instruction…

The problem with younger kids is that

  • Younger kids enjoy attractions that older ones and their parents would view as skippable
  • Older kids and their parents enjoy things that younger kids can’t or shouldn’t ride
  • Moreover, little kids also slow everyone else down, as they can’t keep up at the same pace as the rest of the family

The result is that it is very hard to keep everyone happy on a single Disney World trip, and the family overall does not have the best possible trip.

Note that Disney World’s “Rider Switch” program–sometimes know as Child Swap–can help.  See this for more.

TYPES OF PEOPLE WHO WON’T FOLLOW SUGGESTIONS

The best—not great, but still best—answer depends on your family circumstances. Two variables are critical:

  • First, are all your kids too young or short, or do you have a mix of some the right age/height and others not?
  • Second, could you afford to return?

Suggestions are grouped below based on these two variables; you can also see them organized a little more simply by clicking on the thumbnail to the right.

YOU CAN AFFORD TO RETURN, AND ALL YOUR KIDS ARE TOO SHORT/YOUNG

Go now for a shorter, simpler trip, focused on what little kids like, and return later when they are older for a full scale version of one of this site’s itineraries.

YOU CAN AFFORD TO RETURN, AND ONLY SOME OF YOUR KIDS ARE TOO SHORT/YOUNG

  • Leave your youngest kids behind (grandma, police, kennel) and go on a regular trip with your properly aged kids; return later for a regular trip when your youngest kids are old and tall enough, or
  • Go now with everyone for a regular trip, but split up often and use babysitters often (see below); return later for a regular trip when your youngest kids are old and tall enough

YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO RETURN, AND ALL YOUR KIDS ARE TOO SHORT/YOUNG

  • Wait until they are (you knew you were going to hear that again), or,
  • Go now for a shorter, simpler trip, banking the money saved compared to the regular trip for a short return later when they are old and tall enough, focused on what you missed this time around

YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO RETURN, AND ONLY SOME OF YOUR KIDS ARE TOO SHORT/YOUNG

  • Wait until they are older and taller… (you knew you were going to hear that again), or,
  • Go now with everyone for a regular trip, but split up often and use babysitters often (see below); if you possibly can, return later for a regular trip when your youngest kids are old and tall enough

MANAGING A DISNEY WORLD TRIP WITH KIDS OF WILDLY DIFFERENT AGES

The core problem is that little kids enjoy rides that the rest of the family could skip, and that older kids and parents enjoy rides that little kids either can’t or shouldn’t ride.To help you figure out what is what, all the rides at Walt Disney World have been sorted based on how little kids and older kids and their parents see them.

You can see this sorting in The Comprehensive Guide to Rides by going to this page.

The problem areas are especially the lower left and upper right corners of the page.

  • The lower left highlights how many of the rides that are best loved by pre-school kids fall into the “skippable” category for older kids. (See this for more detail on skippable rides, because not all are equally skippable; especially skippable ones are in italics in the The Comprehensive Guide to Rides)
  • The upper right highlights how many of the rides that are favorites for older kids and their parents should be avoided—or have height limits too high—for little kids. These include 8 of the ten most popular rides at Walt Disney World (in bold).

To keep everyone as happy as they possibly can be, follow these approaches:

  1. See the rides that little kids like. Even though they may be a little dull for the rest of the kids, the joy of the little ones should be enough to keep at least the parents motivated
  2. Take more/longer afternoon breaks, swims, and naps than the itineraries already indicate
  3. Parents, take turns entertaining little kids during the morning stretches that present ride after ride inappropriate for little kids, especially at Hollywood Studios, Epcot and the Animal Kingdom. Check your morning itineraries at these parks, and note where they have a number of rides that little ones should or must avoid. You can do this entertaining one of two ways: (1) The parent on duty sleeps in with, or goes for a morning swim, with the littlest ones, rejoining the rest of the family 60-90 minutes into their tour of the park; or (2) The parent with little one duty can follow the same schedule as the rest of the family, but take the child to the more skippable child rides at the park or the character greeting areas while the rest of the family is on the inappropriate rides.
  4. Use babysitters (check at your resort’s concierge desk for recommendations) for the littlest kids for when the rest of the family is at Cirque du Soleil, is spending late evenings at Epcot and the Hollywood Studios, and is at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue.

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39 comments

1 Matt { 04.17.15 at 12:21 pm }

We had a blast with the really little ones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMGwyrDMd0I&feature=youtu.be

2 Erinn Prebil { 05.18.15 at 3:33 pm }

Hi! My husband and I are planning to take our (by then) one year old son to WDW in January or February of 2016. I’ve been to WDW 8 times so this will definitely not be our first or last trip there. My question is – since we don’t really care too much about making restaurant reservations since our baby won’t really enjoy the character dinners anyway and we won’t be going on any of the rides that need a fast pass (except maybe Peter Pan & Winnie the Pooh), do we REALLY need to book this 180 days out? Especially given that we will be traveling during one of the low crowd times of year. We plan to stay at the Wilderness Lodge fyi! Never stayed there but always wanted to. I’m a huge disney world fan and I love your site by the way!

3 Dave { 05.18.15 at 6:00 pm }

Hi Erinn! If dining is not a thing, then yes, you don’t need to book 180 days ahead! Honestly, you still need FastPass+, though, so for sure I’d book by 60 days ahead. Moreover, resorts do sell out, even in lower-crowd periods, so I would book as soon as you can…

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