What is the best age for Disneyland Paris?
By Helen Wright
When it comes to kids, what is the best age for Disneyland Paris? It is one of the most common things I am asked by families considering a trip to Disneyland Paris with younger children and a tricky one to answer. Planning a Disney trip is a big deal, especially if it’s your first visit, a special occasion or budgeting means you’ll only ever go once. It’s understandable that you’ll want to hit the sweet spot when it comes to your kids’ ages, but that can be different for everyone.
Working out the best age to go to Disneyland Paris as a family is definitely a compromise. It very much depends on the type of holiday you want, the ages and tastes of everyone in the group and, of course, the children themselves. No matter what age you decide to take kids to Disneyland Paris, you will have a wonderful time – but in some ways, that almost makes it harder to decide. Below, I have broken down the key things to consider when deciding on the best age for Disneyland Paris to plan your family trip.
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1. The best age for Disneyland Paris may not even be an age at all…
According to the official website, there are 50 attractions at Disneyland Paris. These are split between traditional Disneyland Park, where you will find the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle, and neighbouring Walt Disney Studios Park, home to some of my favourite areas, Toy Story Land and Avengers Campus. To do both parks during your trip, you will need a two-park ticket and I recommend at least two days, but ideally three.
A common misconception about the Europe Disney parks is that there won’t be enough to do for younger kids. I have to say, that is definitely not the case, but even I was surprised at how family-friendly almost all of the rides are. On our last visit, my daughter was three years old and there were only five attractions that she couldn’t go on. So, before the age of four she could ride on 90% of attractions at Disneyland Paris, which I thought was pretty good! My son, who was six years old, could experience 46/50 attractions.
Sometimes, the best age for Disneyland Paris is not as important as how tall your children are when you visit the parks. At three-years-old, Isobel was 102cm tall, which means she was just able to ride Big Thunder Mountain and Tower of Terror*, which both have a height minimum of exactly that size. However, surprisingly, she was too small for AC Racer at Toy Story Land.
Checking in advance can manage expectations for your children about which attractions they will physically be able to enjoy, but can also play a big part in deciding the best age for Disneyland Paris.
(*Even though she was tall enough, we decided against Tower of Terror for her, because she’s a bit young for the scary theme).
If you have pre-teens, they may want to ride the bigger, thrill attractions at Disneyland Paris. The tallest height restriction at Disneyland Paris is for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril (140cm) and other fast rides, including Space Mountain and Avengers Assemble Flight Force are 120cm. If you have children on the cusp of growing that extra inch to be able to ride the thrill rides, I would highly recommend waiting until they do to ensure no one is disappointed.
When it comes to younger children, the very best age for Disneyland Paris is how old they are when they reach 102cm, meaning they can have their pick of 45 different Disneyland Paris attractions. This is the most ideal height for pre-schoolers and younger kids.
However, if your little one is at least 81cm, that’s a great place to start. There are a couple of extra rides requiring kids to be 81cm (Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop and Autopia) and everything else can be ridden at any age or height.
If you want to see what attractions will be open during your visit, along with any height requirements, download the official Disneyland Paris app, which has the most updated information on all the rides and shows.
2. The best age for Disneyland Paris: Will they be going to school soon?
Okay, so here is the biggie. Unless you have been living under the sea like Ariel, you will be aware that everything that is ‘where the people are’ is more expensive in the school holidays and Disneyland Paris is no exception. From flights and Eurostar fares, to hotels both in and around Disney, it’s a lot cheaper to go during term time. Therefore, some might argue the best age for Disneyland Paris is the eldest age they are BEFORE they start school.
As well as cheaper fares for pre-schoolers, you will also find the parks are less crowded with shorter lines if you don’t travel in the holidays. The good news is that tickets for Disneyland Paris do not increase during peak times but you may find days where the parks are packed to capacity, so ensure you buy your tickets in advance and reserve your park days as early as you can.
(Of course, if you want to sneak your kid out of school for a bit of Disney fun when thet are older, there is no judgement here!)
3. Rides shouldn’t be a deal breaker when considering the best age for Disneyland Paris
If you can’t wait to do Disneyland Paris with a baby or toddler, it’s worth remembering that rides don’t have to be at the centre of your Disney plan. The best thing about all Disney parks around the world is the happy atmosphere and magical feeling you get when you walk through the gates. There really is nowhere like it and the Disney bubble exists whether you’re flying upside down on a crazy coaster or getting a big hug from Mickey Mouse.
In fact, visiting Disneyland Paris with a baby or toddler can be one of the most beautiful times to go. No one is captivated by the wonder and magic of Disney like young children, who are enchanted by the music, the characters and all of the colours and activity.
There is a daily parade, called Disney Stars on Parade, which my kids loved. Isobel had her Tiana doll with her and when Tiana danced past us during the parade, she spotted the doll and blew a kiss at Isobel. Of course, Isobel was thrilled and talked about it non-stop all day.
There are also extra performances for the 30th Anniversary closing party, a range of shows, including the new TOGETHER: A Pixar Musical, The Lion King and Mickey and the Magician.
As well as Mickey Mouse and the Princesses, you can meet a range of Disney Characters at pop up spots all over the parks. Isobel and I also did a character breakfast at L’Auberge de Cendrillon, which we loved.
I find visiting with younger kids makes the Disney experience less stressful than with older kids and adults. It’s not about dashing from ride to ride with pre-schoolers and more about sharing a memorable experience as a family. Plus, less lines mean more time to try all the best Mickey-shaped sweets and treats.
4. They probably won’t remember it – but you will
When parents tell me they are waiting for their children to be ‘old enough to remember it’ (and virtually everyone says this, so you’re not alone), I always feel a bit sad. Of course, we want to create magical memories for our children and the cost of a Disneyland trip does add pressure to make it worthwhile. However, as in many aspects of life, parents often forget to consider themselves in this crazy journey of parenting. As mums, dads or carers – and as adults – our experiences and memories are just as important – perhaps even more so. The children may not remember this trip, but you will.
The majority of research says that children do not start making long-term memories until the ages of six or seven, but in reality, how much can you remember of your life at that age? I first went to Walt Disney World age eight and although I remember little highlights from that trip, it is by no means a full memory. Adults, however, have the ability to remember far longer, meaning you will keep your precious memories, probably forever, and that is pretty special.
A memory is officially defined as the ‘retrieval of an experience over time’. As someone who travels often with my children, this is something I feel very passionate about. Specific memories may be forgotten, but they do become part of our identities, knowledge and experience and there is no way of telling how their visit to Disneyland Paris, or anywhere, will shape them in the future. Hey, they might even become a Disney blogger! Wouldn’t that be fun?
5. We need to talk about teenagers…
No shade to our adolescent peers, but grumpy (always hungry), hormonal mini-adults might be a great age for Disneyland Paris in terms of memories and being able to ride all the attractions, but will they be as invested in the Disney magic as younger kids?
Obviously, it depends on the teen. My friends Carly and Tracy have both recently returned from Disneyland Paris with teenagers and had a blast. When they are little, there is no way of knowing if your teenager will be a singing, dancing Disney-loving energy or ‘too cool for school’ and hunched over a smartphone. I guess, if I was only going to go once or for the first time, I wouldn’t take the gamble.
6. Multi-generation trips can be magical for everyone
As well as your children’s ages, you might also want to consider the ages of everyone else in the group – including (sorry to say) yours. Multi-generational trips to Disney can be truly magical and if you want to share your experience with parents or grandparents too, you’ll want to make sure everyone is healthy and able to have a wonderful time. Disney parks command a lot of walking and some rides have warnings about existing injuries, such as back or vision problems. There is no ‘perfect’ age for Disneyland but making your trip an entire family event can be extra special, so don’t wait until it’s too late.
Life has been turbulent recently and you never know if there will be a major world event (ahem, Covid…) or whether a personal setback will derail your plans. I don’t want to get all ‘carpe diem’ on you, but sometimes there is no better time than now.
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