39 answers

Disney with a 3 Year Old

I was wondering if anyone has gone to Disney with a three year old that no longer rides in a stroller? We are thinking of going, but not sure if he is old enough to really enjoy it yet and if all the walking would be too much. Would he be old enough/ tall enough to go on rides? He is about 40 inches tall. Any feedback would be great it has been a long time since I have been there.

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We went last summer with a 2 and 4 year old. We ended up renting 2 strollers b/c the park is so large! The strollers are only $10 a day and it will cost you more than that to bring one on the plane. I think it now costs $15 per stroller/suitcase for each airline.


I took my then almost three year to Disney. Frankly, she really didn't like it. The rides were too scary even though we only did the tame ones. The shows were too loud. There's a lot of stimulation and it just got to her. She was great in a lot of situations but that wasn't one of them. It took 4 days for her to relax enough to actually like it. We left on the 5th day.

As far as she was concerned, swimming in the pool was the best thing. I could have saved a ton of money by going to a hotel around here.

I haven't taken my youngest yet and she's 5.5. She doesn't even like the little kid rides at Kiddieland so Disney would be a waste of time and money. From talking to friends, it seems like 5-6 is when they really enjoy it. My oldest went back at age 6 and had a total blast!

There's a ton of walking. But they rent strollers all over the parks so that shouldn't be a problem. At 40" he can ride most of the rides.


buy a wagon or a trycicle that you can push from behind. Both worked well and they have more fun. Good luck

More Answers

This weekend, we just watched our "daddy movies" (family movies) of when we took our 4 1/2 year old daughter and 1 1/2 year old son to DisneyWorld. Very fun! We have been there about a dozen times and my kids are now, 13 1/2 and 10 1/2 years old. We all have made wonderful memories there! You just have to know your son and his endurance level. At that age, you can rent a stroller at the park if you get in a bind and your child needs to ride in a stroller. We usually brougt an umbrella stroller, not for the reason of our child riding in it all day, but to cart some of our stuff around (i.e. cooler, rain gear, jackets depending on season and how long we were staying at the park, light snacks, water bottles, etc...) You can buy this stuff there, however, it just can get costly. At night, one of the kids usually rode in the stroller - we have spend up to 15 hours and 20 minutes at the parks, in one day. Sometimes they rode on Dad's shoulders; other times we went to shows and they took a little catnap. Yes, we had some melt downs but our rule has been, on a 10-day trip, we would try to go to the park for a full day - every other day or do some 1/2 day parks so that no one would get burnt out.

Just curious what time of the year you were considering??? There are lots of small rides to go on. However, my daughter at 3 1/2 years, went on the Tower of Terror and loved it (she STILL is crazy about wild rides!) My son is a bit more conservative. Depends on your child's thrill factor and what they will tolerate. He will not meet the height requirements for some of the larger rides but you can do a "parent-swap" feature of the rides, which means that one parent will stay in an area with him, closer to the front of the line, while your partner rides, then make a quick swap after the ride so that you both get to enjoy the ride and not have to wait in a long line again. Probably for the park that has the most rides for his height, I would go to Magic Kingdom. However, don't rule out EPCOT! My kids love it there. When you visit the countries, he'll be able to make a mask and add new embellishments by visiting each country. Each country has different shows and attractions that you can take advantage of - not to mention good food!

Nothing beats a 3 year old in a monorail, approaching Cinderella's castle,happily in awe, screaming, "Oh.... Mommy... Oh... Daddy... I see it! It's just like the pictures! It's a dream come true - I'm going to meet Cinderella and Mickey!" Yep, been there!!! Truly, it's a great age to bring a little one. My son's first trip there was 5 months old. It's a very physical trip - the type of trip that you may need a relaxing vacation AFTER your vacation but it definitely is worth it if you do a lot of advance planning and your expectations are (semi) realistic! If you are looking for specific advise, just Personal Message me.

Have fun!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.,

I do agree that each child is different, and I can only speak from my own personal experience. We took our daughter to Disney last year after she just turned 3 and she had a really good time. I was going to wait until she is a little older as I had the same concern as you do, but my daughter kept talking about the Disney and sounded like she was ready for the trip. So we took her there and boy she had a blast! However, I have to tell you that we didn't go on lots of ride as she is not big enough. We mostly spent time in the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood studio and animal kindom etc, which are more little kids friendly. So if you want to plan a trip that involves more rides, i suggest you wait another couple of years, but if you just want to show him the Disney for the first time, I think 3 is not impossible at all!

I do suggest that you go there off season if possible, the rates are lower and more importantly, it's so much less crowded. I don't know if a 3 year old can handle long lines everywhere, that's definitely a potential melt-down. I know I can't do that either!:)

If you plan ahead and prepare well, you guys will have so much fun!

1 mom found this helpful

You WILL need a stroller or at least a little pull wagon. There is ALOT of walking!
You will have some fun, but I would suggest waiting another 2 years. It will be much more
pleasurable and relaxing for everyone involved! Let's face it, it's not cheap. That's my 2 cents!

1 mom found this helpful

We took our little guy a few months before his 2nd birthday and he loved it. Up until that point he really only knew Mickey and Pooh so it's not like he was a Disney fanatic. I always said I would never take a young child becuase half of the time you see them crying. He loved this experience and so did we. I would have to say it was one of our favorite family vacations. We only went to the Magic Kingdom (we were visiting with family too) because we didn't know how he would be and there was no way we were going to keep going to parks with him if he didn't like it. My advice would be just don't plan too much. I think alot of parents over due and try to get their money's worth, and you just can't do that with a little one. You have to see how they are and go at their flow. He walked almost the entire park and he wasn't even 2 yet! He would get in his stroller occasionally for a break and he was able to go on all of the rides and even enjoyed the shows.

We took my daughter at 3 and a half and even though the stroller days may be over after a while he will take a ride. By the way you can rent one there. The best part of the vacation was seeing her see it all for the first time and some rides will be fine but truthfully none of it matters because if you go to the parts for little kids then there is nothing they can't do. The other part of the vacation was boarding the bus to go back to the hotel when the park closes and kids tend to fall asleep and they sleep all night. "Maybe that was the best part of my vacation with my 3 year old." The memories you bring home will be more than the things you couldn't do with your son. Have a great time.

Whether you rent or bring your own, make sure your child is wearing lots of sunscreen and has a sun hat/baseball cap of some kind to shade his head. Also, child's sunglasses. The sun is very intense, especially while standing in lines. That was the worst part of the trip for us and if you're prepared, it will be better. I loved going early in the morning and going back to the hotel for lunch/nap, then heading back to the park for dinner and the evening, especially if you're staying in a hotel on-site. Have a great time!!

Personally I didn't take my kids til they were seven and eight. They loved it. My co-worker went last year with his three year old and it sounded like a waste of time and money. They really couldn't do anything. But if you do go, I highly suggest renting one of their strollers. We did with the older kids and it came in handy when one of them got tired and we used it for all our "stuff" when they weren't in it.

buy a wagon or a trycicle that you can push from behind. Both worked well and they have more fun. Good luck

My youngest son was 3 the first time we went to Disney. There are definitely rides that are made for smaller children, and he loved it. We also went with friends when their daughter was 3 and she loved it. There is a lot to do at Disney with little kids, and at the Magic Kingdom Toon Town is great for them. My husband definitely spent a lot of time with our 3 yr old on his shoulders, but he did everywhere we went. I say go. It's great to see Disney through the eyes of someone that young.

As you can see, there are as many opinions as there are kids which confirms that every child will respond differently. HOWEVER! I took my 3 yr old in Nov 2008...it was Off Season and the long line we waited in was 20 minutes and most had NO WAIT. My 3 yr old loved it and still talks about all the things he did. There are plenty of rides and activities for 3 yr olds, mostly in Magic Kingdom but I think it helped that we traveled with another family who had a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old and the kids kept each other entertained if there was a line.

What's nice is that we plan to return to Disney when he turns 5 because the experience will be different as he ages. That's the whole point of Disney. Even I had a great time and surprisingly, I had the most fun at Magic Kingdom when initially I thought it was too kiddie for me(The last time I went was when I was a teen)- boy, you'll be amazed how things have changed there.

Compared to a 5yr old, there aren't as many rides that a 3 yr old can go on due to height restrictions, but the little ones also move slower and still nap so they don't need to experience Disney like an older child...not yet.

Every kid is different, but I would would wait til he is a little older maybe closer to 5. A good friend of mine just came back with their 3 year old and said it was waste. There is so much walking and waiting in line. Consider a couple questions: Will your son mind waiting in line to get in a ride (45minutes plus), is he potty trained (or else that is even more junk to carrie and making diaper changing stops), does he still nap (you will have to go back to the room in the middle of the day to let him rest, does he like loud noisy situation? Honestly, you will probably be doing more work than if you are at home and he won't remember too much from the trip. If you do go, definitely stay in the park for closer access and bring or stroller or plan to rent one. Don't plan a million things to do and stick to Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom. Maybe as practice, you can consider doing a trip to great america when they open. I know its not Disney World, but its only an hour away, has lots of rides and theme stuff for kids age 2-6, and would give you an idea how he will react to waiting in line and being in a big crowded amusement park. That Key Lime Cove waterpark/hotel is across the street too for added fun! Have fun whatever you decide!

We went last summer with a 2 and 4 year old. We ended up renting 2 strollers b/c the park is so large! The strollers are only $10 a day and it will cost you more than that to bring one on the plane. I think it now costs $15 per stroller/suitcase for each airline.

T., I would suggest that you go the first day without a stroller and then see if you need to rent one. We always did. Not just for the little one but to put all our stuff in. (totebag, camera bag, water bottles, coats (snowed in december once when we were there just flurries but we got pictures it was like a snow globe) etc... Is your little one old enough for the rides. he will love everything in the magic kingdom. a lot of the disney rides are shows also so should be fine for that to. you will have to judge whether he is old enough for some of the others. My middle son hated any rides that were like rollercoasters. had meltdowns at the gate. so he would walk with us to the gate and a disney person would take him to the end for us so the rest of us got to go on the rides. have a wonderful time

We went when my daughter was around 18th months. We all had a great time! I was worried she might be too young but we purposely went in with the attitude of no plans. We went at her pace and when she got tired we went back to the hotel and took a nap. Even at 3 try not to plan too much. Be sure to leave a lot of time for whatever LOOKS fun. Have a GREAT time.

You'll love it. I just got back 3 weeks ago. Took my 3 year old. If you can get him to 40 inches you'll be golden on the rides. Most rides are 40 inches. Some of the bigger ones are 44, but ones you most likely wont want to do anyway. Bring shoes with big soles :) They have them walk under a bar to see if there head touches.

I took my son when he was 2 1/2 and then just now at 3 1/2. He loved it both times. You will want a stroller so either bring one if you have one you love (I do) or just rent one down there.

I can tell you what rides are best if you want. My boss goes every year so he makes my trip a breeze, plans it all out for me before I leave. You can go to Disney.com and plan it out on a map. They have height requirements listed as well.

Make sure you don't miss these with that age . . Magic Kingdom: Buzz Light Year, Peter Pan, Mickey's 3D show, and then if he's up to a little speed Goofys Barn Burner & Splash Mountain.

I think that your child will love it! I would start out without a stroller, but I am sure that you will need one. I often wished for my very own stroller! it is a ton of walking and you do get tired. You will also really enjoy sea world.

We lived in Southern CA and went to Disneyland all the time with the kids (from 8 weeks on). It is definitely a lot of walking and a stroller came in handy in between rides and during nap time. Disneyland is also more compact, so if you are going to Disneyworld you would definitely be doing a lot more walking. There are so many rides even for the little ones, but 40 inches is the cutoff height for some of the roller coaster type rides. We are going to Disneyworld in March - our first Disney trip since leaving CA last year, so we are so excited. I hope you enjoy the park!

My advice is either bring an umbrella type stroller or rent one when in the Parks. There is so much walking that eventually you will end up carrying around your 3 year old. We went when my daughters were 13 months and 4 years old. The 4 year old did need to sit in the stroller once in a while - it saved us! Also, my 4 year old loved Disney! She was the best behaved child - was completely awe struck the whole time.

We just returned from Disney this week with our daughters 4 and 7. They both loved it. We went to Playhouse Disney Live, saw Nemo, took pictures with the little Einstein characters, Handy Mandy and other Disney characters. We rented a double stroller so if the kids got tired they were able to ride for a while. And we took snacks. She may not remember it later but they both truly enjoyed themselves.


You will have a FABULOUS time because at that age EVERYTHING is so real to them. You will have no problem at Magic Kingdom as far as rides. I do suggest renting a stroller there or bringing a foldable umbrella stroller. It is a lot of walking, but also it is so much easier to keep track of them if you are pushing them around. There are places for stroller parking near every ride and nobody ever messes with your stuff "it's Disney!' My daughter is just about 7 and she has been there 7 times and my son is 4 and has been there 4 times. I take a lot of pictures so they remember the trips because of the pictures. They really enjoy getting the characters autographs and each have a book for each trip we've gone on. We are looking forward to the days that they will enjoy the bigger rides too. Don't forget the parades every park has one and (except maybe Epcot) they are so fun. So many people have said to me that it's a waste of money because my kids were so little, but like I said the older they are, the less "real" it is to them. And where else can you go that will keep your kids and you busy all day-no entertaining them on vacation and they will be so tired at night they'll forget that they aren't sleeping in their own bed. :)

Hope you get to go and have a GREAT time.


Hi T.,

We were just at Disney over New Year's and my daughter is turning 3 this week. There is a whole little kids area to the Magic Kingdom that she loved. She was perfectly old enough to ride the rides, such as Dumbo and Snow White's Adventure. We also took her on the Haunted House, but that proved to be a little too scary for her. Still, she was able to go on the ride - her age and height were not a restriction. There are many of other things to do as well, like the Tiki Room show, boat ride through the jungle, etc. And of course, meeting Mickey & Minnie (which, by the way, you have to now wait in line for.) You will not lack for things to do! We also went to Epcot and she really enjoyed the Nemo ride there.

As for the walking, you can rent strollers there for about $12.50 per day. We did this and by the end of the day, my daughter was ready to use it. I would also recommend choosing a hotel on the property - these include the Contemporary, the Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, and Grand Floridian. The monorail stops right in the lobby of these hotels - makes it SUPER easy to come and go for naps, which will be a must (maybe even for you too!)

Hope this helps! :)

We took our almost 5 and almost 3 yr olds last year and it was a blast. No diapers, no bottles, and actually not having a stroller is a blessing! There are so many strollers and carts that it would be very difficult manuvering through the park. At least when you're just walking, it's easier to get by people. And suprisingly, the kids did great with walking the whole day. It just meant that when we went back to the hotel, they were out cold! And there was tons of stuff for the 3 yr old to do. Especialy at the Magic Kingdom. Have a great trip!

First off no matter if they dont normaly use a stroller in disney you will definitely need a umbroller stroller we went with my 3 year old and five year old and thirteen year old and my five year old even took turns in the stroller it also is a good place to store stuff my daughter loved disney the parades and the charecters there was nothing she didnt like no she could not go on everything but mostly in the magic kingdom there is loads to do for little ones i strongly reccomend the book the unofficial guide to disney great refrence gives alot of good info including wich rides are scary or will make you sick have a great i always do disney is the best

My husband is a HUGE Disney World fan and he and I go every year (sometimes twice). We just took our 14mo old in Dec. he liked the rides and characters, but hated the shows because they were too loud and he got nervous. Other than that you will have a great time. Here's a website we've found to be helpful to us: www.allears.net

If your son does get tired they have strollers to rent here's a pic:

Here is a link you can put in the height and it will show all the rides they can ride:

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. My husband knows quite a few helpful links.

A. R.

It's been a couple years since I've been to Disney, but there are 3 parks total and even if you do it in stages there is alot of walking/standing. I would suggest bringing an umbrella type stroller (light weight, doesn't take alot of room, etc.) He will definatly get enough walking even with the stroller. We had fun at disney, but my daughter (who was younger than 3.. about 20 mos I think) had more fun at Sea World. She loved the dolfin and whale shows. Anyway... have fun!
P.S. don't forget the sunscreen! sun is alot more intense down there than here in the midwest.

I just got back from Disney Febuary 1. It was my sons fifth trip and he is only going to be 4. This time my 8 month old daughter was there. He remembers that place so well there are very few rides that he wasnt able to ride on, in fact my 8 month did them too. Your child may not remember it in a few years but I guarntee you you will never forget the look on your childs face when they see everything. As far as the stoller you can try and have your child walk the park and if it doesnt work you can rent a stoller at each of the parks. Please feel free to email me at ____@____.com

Hi, first off, all kids are different!!! My 3-1/2 year old went a few years ago and had the BEST TIME in her life. That is all she wants to do is go back! She looks at her pictures all the time, and just LOVED it! Which we are (with her 2-1/2 year old brother) in a few months!!! There is sooo much to do for all age groups, you just have to do your homework!!! When she went, in Epcot, there are different crafts around the world, the themed breakfasts are the best, when kids are usually at their best, etc., etc. Just make sure you have some snacks and water with you!!! And no matter what - BRING A STROLLER!!! Necessity... You can either rent them there, or bring your own...Plus it is nice to carry stuff that you have with you. Heck, my now 6-year old would ride in a stroller in a heartbeat if I let her! ha!!!!

If you go, have a GREAT time and take LOTS of pics...Just don't force them with the characters the first day - smoooth into it! ha!

You can do it with a three year old, but four or five is more fun, or at least it was for our family. You know your child best, can he identify many disney characters? can he walk for long periods of time. Even with a stroller, you have to park it outside of the lines, and depending on when you go, the lines can be over an hour long. Does he get whinny waiting in a long line at the grocery store? if so you might be wiser to wait until you get the value out of the visit. It can be very expensive. Umbrella stroller, good suggestion, juice boxes and snacks, great suggestion. If you purchase any item in the park and don't want to carry it around all day, they have a service where they will deliver it to a holding check room near the entrance and you pick up all your stuff at the end of the day. (at least at Magic Kingdom they have that).

Totally old enough and you can rent strollers there when he/she gets tired. They're big and plastic and easy to push, you'll want one to put her purse and bags on anyway. m

Best thing we ever did. Call ahead and book a Princess breakfast or meal, too. My daughter didn't use a stroller, but we rented one at the park...if you have as much fun as we did, you'll be there til closing time! Now that she is 11, it is a totally different thing (like Christmas when they believe vs not) and I would rather do it younger than older. Have fun!

I would say rent the stroller cart thing at the parks. It is way to much walking for a 3 year old. We went in 2007 with our then 3 1/2 year old and almost 6 year old boys. We got the double stroller thing and were very glad we did. That was too much walking for even our almost 6 year old. HTH


we did disney with our 1st son at 3, he is now 8 and he loved it. there was lots to do. i recommend doing the water parks whild you are there. my son couldnt get enough.
M. silver

Hi T.,
When my twins were 3 & my neice was 4 we all went to Disney World. We did bring a stroller even though most of the time the children were running through the park. Also, when we went we only saw parades, character autographs, & shows. While we were waiting, we ate lunch or snacks so the children were always occupied. The children lit up when they saw Mickey & Minney mouse. Also, we left the park a few times during the day when the park was at its peak hours so we all could nap or eat dinner. It was a fun experience. So much so we went back the next year.

Hi T.,

I just went to Disney in Dec with my 2 1/2 year old and 5 year old. Even though your 3 1/2 year doesn't use a stroller much, I would definitely bring one with you. Disney is a big place and she will definitely get tired. Disney also has strollers available to rent if you do not want to bring one with you. I brought one for my 2 1/2 year and even brought one for my 5 year old.
Have fun! Let me know if you have any additonal questions.
A. (____@____.com)


I took my then almost three year to Disney. Frankly, she really didn't like it. The rides were too scary even though we only did the tame ones. The shows were too loud. There's a lot of stimulation and it just got to her. She was great in a lot of situations but that wasn't one of them. It took 4 days for her to relax enough to actually like it. We left on the 5th day.

As far as she was concerned, swimming in the pool was the best thing. I could have saved a ton of money by going to a hotel around here.

I haven't taken my youngest yet and she's 5.5. She doesn't even like the little kid rides at Kiddieland so Disney would be a waste of time and money. From talking to friends, it seems like 5-6 is when they really enjoy it. My oldest went back at age 6 and had a total blast!

There's a ton of walking. But they rent strollers all over the parks so that shouldn't be a problem. At 40" he can ride most of the rides.


Hi T.,

We took our twins boy/girls when they were 3 and it was TONS of work. My Son was at a stage where everytime we were in a restaurant he had a melt down and we had to take him outside for a time out. It was just exhausting for us. Of course every child is different, my Daughter was so well behaved. They don't remember much only by looking at photos.

We just took them last December and they are now 5 and what a difference. I really think they got more out of it this time around and my Son was soooo much more well behaved.

If I were to do it all again, I would have not taken them at age 3 and just waited.

When we went in December, we rented a double stroller (pay in advance for all the days u plan on using it, it's cheaper). I know they are alittle old for the stroller, but it was so worth it, they got pretty exhausted by the middle of the day. We actually took a break and went back to the pool so they could relax. We went back to the parks later in the early evening.

Take lots of photos :)

I worked at Disney so this is my personal opinion based on the families I saw on a daily basis. I would not recommend going to Disney until a child is older. I think 5 is the earliest I would suggest but I recommend more like 6 or 7. At this time they are totally done with naps and able to handle a longer more physically exhausting day without having a total melt down. At 3 and 4 many of the children are at the in between stage where they can't ride the big rides they want to ride but may not be interested in the smaller ones. Also, some of the characters may be scary depending on the child when they are 3 (but hey - they are scary to older children sometimes to so that is dependent on the child).

If you choose to go, please stay on site. I recommend that because then you can go to the park early when they wake up and play for a coupld of hours. I would take the tram back to the resort to eat and NAP and then head back to the park later in the afternoon evening. The parents I saw who were the most stressed out weret he ones that said "I paid a lot of money for this day so you will enjoy it and we will be here from open to close." It isn't worth it as no one was having fun at that time.

I woudl suggest waiting but if you do go just take your time and take all the breaks necesary so both your child AND you can enjoy it.

We have gone with our kids 3 times in the last 5-6 years, and there isn't a bad age for Disney!! It is great, but go prepared. I highly recommend the book, The Unofficial Guide to Disney World. It is wonderful! I personally like having a stroller with us. I bring one that's light-weight and inexpensive, but a little nicer than an umbrella because I like having a basket underneath to hold things. Plus I like it to have cupholders, and a tray for the child riding to use as a snack tray.

I think 3 is a good age for a child to enjoy Disney. I took my son to Disneyland when he was 3 and Disneyworld when he was 5. He had a ball both times. However, I would not suggest you leaving your stroller behind. it's a large place and you'll do better if you have one and there is a place for stroller to be laft at most rides. Enjoy!

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