Q: We’re thinking about taking our 4 year old to Disney World for the first time, is this the right age? Also, we need to coordinate our visit with our big kids’ vacation schedules: What’s the best time to visit when it won’t be too crowded, or too expensive? – Michele K.
A: Hi Michele,
Disney is one of my favorite family topics, and also the destination I’m most frequently asked about. When to visit – both age wise and time of year – is usually at the top of most people’s question list.
First, I think 4 is a “magic” age to first visit Disney; kids that age are familiar with the Disney characters that wander the parks and usually really enjoy the milder rides such as Dumbo (which is now two separate rides to cut down on lines), it’s a small world, and Goofy’s Barnstormer (all in the Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom – a great first stop).
I agree that going when it’s less crowded will be easier for your preschooler.
September and October are historically the least crowded, and least expensive, months at the parks – if you have little kids and can pull them out of school during a non-holiday week, this will be your best bet. Otherwise, consider Columbus Day, the next three-day weekend on the school calendar. You’ll have the added bonus of two special WDW events during that time: Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, which in 2015 runs from September 25 to November 16 (although geared more towards grown ups, this is still a good junior-foodie stop) and “Mickey’s Not-Too-Scary Halloween Party” that starts September 15 and continues until November 1. It features trick or treating, special parades and fireworks, and Mickey and the gang dressed in Halloween costumes (note that there’s an additional fee for this). Your 4-year-old will have a blast, and the big kids can visit the Haunted Mansion in the dark!
If that’s too soon, January and February are two other slow months in Orlando (President’s Day weekend, though, gets crowded). Orlando has lovely mild weather during that time of year, plus some of the lowest hotel prices, especially at the Disney partner hotels such as The Swan and Dolphin (one of my favorite options to walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios) — the Martin Luther King long holiday weekend in January is a good option if you can’t skip out of school with your big kids.
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