Theme parks are fun, exciting places for kids and adults alike. How young is too young to enjoy them? How old should you be before they become boring?
This article will discuss the age ranges that theme parks are appropriate for and the advantages and disadvantages of going to one at a certain age.
Magic Kingdom: Orlando, Florida
At Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, younger kids can go under the sea with the Little Mermaid, dine with Cinderella, fly with Dumbo, and, of course, meet their pal Mickey Mouse.
Magic Kingdom has more than 20 fun rides and attractions with no height requirement that families can ride together, including a few play areas where kids can run around if they’ve been pent up in the stroller (or had one too many Mickey ice cream bars).
Leave some time to explore Tom Sawyer Island, climb to the top of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, and cool off at the Casey Jr. Splash’ N’ Soak Station.
If your kid has their heart set on a particular character dining experience, those reservations can be made online up to 60 days in advance. They go fast, so you’ll want to secure those as early as possible.
Animal Kingdom: Orlando, Florida
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, kids can learn about the world around them while observing hundreds of wild animals in their natural habitats.
You can take a walk on the wild side at the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, Discovery Island Trails, and the Maharajah Jungle Trek or ride along on a guided tour of an African savanna on the Kilimanjaro Safaris (no height requirement).
While you’re there, take the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where there’s a petting zoo, animal education area, and a daily art lesson with a Disney animation expert. Kids can even become Wilderness Explorers, just like Russell from the movie Up!
Stop by the Wilderness Explorer Headquarters inside the park’s entrance and collect badges (and
wilderness skills) as you explore the park.
LEGOLAND: Multiple Locations
If kids can dream it, they can build it (and probably ride it) at LEGOLAND. With locations in Winter Haven, Florida, Carlsbad, California, and a brand new park in Goshen, New York, chances are you aren’t too far from a LEGOLAND park.
In addition to attractions themed to the LEGO Movie, LEGO City, LEGO Ningbo, and more, you can meet your favourite LEGO characters, build with LEGO bricks, and stay in a LEGO hotel (don’t worry, it’s not made from LEGO). Toddlers and preschoolers will especially love the Duplo rides and play areas.
Islands of Adventure: Orlando, Florida
Of Universal’s two parks, Islands of Adventure is your best bet with young children. In Seuss Landing, kids can enter the world of classic Dr Seuss stories like “Cat in the Hat” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” and even find out what Who Hash tastes like at the Green Eggs and Ham Cafe.
In the Jurassic Park section, there’s a prehistoric playground just for kids and an extraordinary ride that might make people visiting without kids a little jealous.
The Pteranodon Flyers is a sky-high suspended ride with some of the park’s best views, but adults are only allowed on with a child (36-inch minimum height).
SeaWorld: Multiple Locations
SeaWorld has locations in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego, and all three have kid-friendly rides, entertainment, and lots of opportunities to interact with aquatic animals. Each park has a unique Sesame Street area with rides, characters, and interactive play areas that young kids will love.
If you can drag them away, they can also see whales, dolphins, sharks, and tropical fish. Behind-the-scenes offerings vary from park to park, but you can make it a trip to remember by adding on a penguin encounter, dolphin swim, or sea lion tour.
Disneyland: Anaheim, California
There’s no better place for kids to experience a world of fantasy (and parents, a sense of nostalgia) than Walt Disney’s original park in Anaheim, California. Disneyland has many of the same lands and attractions as Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park, but there are a few things you can only find at Disneyland.
Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and a few other classic attractions can only be experienced at Disneyland.
You can also tour the homes of Mickey, Minnie, and their friends in Mickey’s Toon town and travel to a galaxy far, far away at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Don’t forget to leave time for a trip on the Disneyland Railroad – on top of a scenic ride around the park on an old-fashioned steam train; you’ll encounter dioramas of the Grand Canyon and the ancient world of the dinosaurs (complete with “live” dynos).
Sesame Place: Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Sesame Place is one of the few U.S. theme parks geared exclusively toward families with young kids. The rides are more mild than wild, and even the coasters are family-friendly.
Oscar’s Wacky Taxi coaster has the highest height requirement in the park, and it still comes in at only a 40 inches minimum. Entrance to the onsite water park is included with your admission, and both cabanas and changing rooms are available, so you don’t have to walk around in your wet swimsuit all day.
Sesame Place is also the first theme park to be designated as a Certified Autism Center. Team Members receive special training in servicing guests with special needs, and there are quiet rooms and low sensory areas available around the park.
Children’s Fairyland: Oakland, California
Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland opened in 1950, five whole years before Disneyland came on the scene, and it’s said that Walt Disney’s visit to Fairyland provided some inspiration for Disneyland.
With nearly 60 different storybook sets, kid-friendly rides, and live animals hanging out among the storybook sets, this fairytale-themed park is perfectly sized for kids to crawl, climb, play, and explore.
Daily Storytime’s and puppet shows will entertain your children when they need a little break to recharge.
Holiday World: Santa Claus, Indiana
Aside from lands themed to kids’ favourite holidays like Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, Holiday World has something that not many theme parks have – rides that adults aren’t even allowed to get on.
There are a few merry-go-round type rides in the Christmas section of the park and a kid-friendly drop ride, and in the Fourth of July section, the Tippecanoe boat ride is only for kids under 54 inches tall. The Howler is a family-friendly coaster that kids and parents can ride together (though you may be a bit uncomfortable if you’re over six feet tall), and if you howl, they’ll usually let you ride twice. There’s also midway games, play areas, and free soft drinks and sunscreen for all guests.
Story Land: Bartlett, New Hampshire
Story Land brings kids’ favourite storybook characters to life with more than 30 family-friendly rides themed to classic tales like Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, a petting zoo with “three little pigs” and “baa black sheep,” and a Nursery Rhyme play area.
There’s also daily live entertainment, including a magic show and royal red carpet show with fairytale princesses and an aquarium right next door. A separate ticket is needed to enter the Living Shores Aquarium, but it is included if you purchase an annual pass.
So, how old is too young for theme parks? How Young Is Too Young For Theme Parks? How Old Is Too Young For Disneyland? How Can You Make Your Child Safer At A Theme Park?
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How Long Does it Take to Get an Annual Pass at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida and Why Would I Want One Anyway?”
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