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Walt Disney World is a big vacation experience, and many families worry about timing their visit right. Whether you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime vacation or you simply want to make the best choices at every visit, there are some important things to keep in mind.

Walt Disney World is designed to cater to guests at every age, so there’s no solid answer to this question, but there are some guidelines that will help you get the experience that you’re after. Keep in mind that specific ages and averages are suggestions only. You know your children best. As they grow up, you’ll see the key signs that they’re falling into particular categories and getting ready for certain theme park experiences.

For free tickets

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

If you want to squeeze in a visit to Walt Disney World before you have to add another ticket to your budget, consider planning a visit before your child’s third birthday. While visiting with an infant will add quite a few complications to your visit, heading to Disney World with a child nearing the age of three can be a lot of fun.

Around this age, your child will likely recognize Disney Junior characters, Mickey Mouse and the gang, and perhaps some of his or her favorite princesses or animated movie stars. If you have a brave tot, you can have great fun with character meet-and-greets. Other highlights for visitors in this age range include:

  • Pointing out the animals at Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Taking a spin on Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Playing in the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station
  • Underwater explorations on The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • The musical antics of the Country Bear Jamboree

For the best character experiences

Character meet and greet

Preschool or very early elementary age children are often in the best stage for meeting characters. There’s a magic spot for most children between the age where a giant version of Pluto is terrifying and the age where you start to suspect there’s someone inside that suit. This varies from one child to the next. You know your kids the best. When they’re at the height of their magical belief in the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, and other characters, they’ll also be at a point where reality is just suspended enough for them to truly believe in the princesses, pirates, and cartoon characters that have come to life around them.

Most children will also reach 40 inches in height between four and five years of age, which can create the perfect sweet spot for a fun-filled early childhood visit, as many rides set their height restriction here. For these children, consider enjoying highlights like:

  • Character dining experiences
  • Epcot’s Kidcot stations
  • The Barnstormer (35” height requirement)
  • Kali River Rapids (38” height requirement)
  • Soarin’ (40” height requirement)
  • Star Tours (40” height requirement)

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