why 5 and 10 are the best ages to visit Disneyland
There is no bad time to visit Disneyland with your kids, from toddler to adult, but the most magical years are under 10.
As a mom of a 10, almost 11 year old, I know how close I am to the magic fading. I’m desperately grasping onto everything she still believes, a lot of which I know she is pretending for her little brother’s sake. But when we walked around Disneyland this week for our Halloween visit, that sparkle in my tween’s eye was still shining bright! …and that is why 10 is an awesome age to visit Disneyland, as is 5 (and I’ll tell you why)!
My absolute favorite time of year to visit Disneyland is during Mickey’s Halloween Party. Easily. Hands down. During the Halloween season, Disneyland transforms into a spooky place filled with our favorite villains. There are touches of Halloween everywhere and some attractions completely transform like the Haunted Mansion, which is an amazing tribute to Tim Burton’s the Nightmare Before Christmas.
So, I’ve already told you why 10 and under is the best age to visit Disneyland, but not specifically 5. My son is actually only 4 until January, but is tall for his age and also has great stamina and attention span, so I’m rounding up to 5.
before 5 can be a hassle
In previous years, we visited Disneyland for our older daughter’s sake. Had we only the little one, I would’ve passed. In truth, taking a baby/toddler to any Disney park can be a chore. You’re tied to the stroller, have to keep up with diaper changes and feeding times and, perhaps worst of all, overtired temper tantrums are inevitable. At very least, very young children will simply sleep through most of the experience. It’s doable and even fun at most times, but 5 and up is definitely an easier age to take on a huge park.
The hardest thing about taking kids of different ages to a theme park is height requirements. At 10, my daughter can/wants to ride everything in the park. Under 40″, you’re only left with the all ages rides. Hey, there are some great all height rides but independent and adventurous kiddos are going to want more.
Our top favorite all height rides (+ many more):
- Alice in Wonderland
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Haunted Mansion
- The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh
- Enchanted Tiki Room
- Tarzan’s Treehouse
- A Bug’s Land
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
- It’s a Small World
- Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
- Jungle Cruise
Once your child hits 40″ (ages 4-5) a lot opens up for them at Disneyland. I’m talking BIG BOY or girl rides like:
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Space Mountain (Ghost Galaxy during Halloween)
- Splash Mountain
- Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
stamina and attention span lengthens
Both stamina and attention span increase with age, a big leap happening around the age of 5. Kids are in school, some for full days, and you’ll find they can go the long haul at Disney now. You’ll still need a stroller, but only a small one (rent one for zero hassle) and no diaper bag needed. Convince them to let you push them between attractions to maximize their stamina throughout the day.
Gabriel started fading around 2 pm (we arrived at 8 AM opening) but after a rest and refuel inside a cool restaurant, he came back to life. Food is life for any kid, so bringing snacks is crucial, but you’ll also need to stop and chow at a restaurant. Disneyland has tons of awesome dining options (some, like character dinners, require reservations so plan ahead). When kids are less picky and more adventurous eaters, the whole family will benefit and enjoy all Disneyland has to offer. I’ve seen kids open up to a wider variety of food at age 5.
The attractions may be why we all pay entry into Disneyland, but don’t forget the magic of meeting characters! Make sure to bring or buy an autograph book that your child can hand the characters they meet. These are precious keepsakes that your kids will treasure! Each time we go to Disneyland, we meet a different grouping of characters and you cannot wipe the grin off either of my kids’ faces.
My 10 year old pulled me aside this trip and told me, “I know now they are just people wearing costumes, but I still love giving them hugs.” That, folks, is the magic of Disney.
Around Halloween, kids have the opportunity to meet villains that are not there year round. This trip we met Jafar, Cruella de Vil and the Queen of Hearts. In addition, the regulars like Mickey and Minnie dress up in special Halloween outfits or costumes!
they love all the things
I know, Disneyland can cause you to empty your pockets, but it’s so worth it, especially if you do not visit often. At age 5, kids have developed clear favorites – favorite attractions, favorite park foods and definitely favorite characters/movies. Our littlest loves everything Disney but has a big obsession with Star Wars. We hung around the Star Wars area and also took advantage of the gift shops in that area! “Make Your Own Lightsaber” … just saying. So buy the autograph book, buy the balloons, buy the bubble machine, buy the ears, buy something that your kids can treasure at home – a piece of magic from the happiest place on Earth, or at least in California. At 5, they’ll really appreciate it.
Have fun at Disneyland!!