I am a supporter of bringing even younger children to Walt Disney World. My twins made their first visit to Disney at nine months old and we had fun gathering characters, riding It’s a Small World, watching the ubiquitous ducks and splashing in the resort pool. However, there is a substantial subset of tourists who choose to wait to visit Disney World until their child can experience ALL the trips. What exactly does this mean? And how that affects your ability to book a vacation in advance.
Some potential Disney World guests may have the misconception that there’s not much to do at Walt Disney World if you’re not “tall enough”. Let’s discuss this right away. A look at the official Magic Kingdom online map shows 40 attractions in the Magic Kingdom. If you filter by height and click “any height”, there are 31 attractions left. Therefore, 3/4 of the Magic Kingdom’s attractions are available to everyone, even babies and young children, regardless of height. These include favorites like Pirates of Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. The situation is similar to other WDW theme parks, with many attractions available to everyone.
But guests who want to wait to visit Walt Disney World also have a point. If you are only traveling, we recommend that you make sure that your children are available to the fullest.
There are several attractions at each theme park that, for health and safety reasons, require participants to have a specific height to ride, with height requirements ranging from 32 ″ (Alien Swirling Saucers to Hollywood Studios and Rides at Tomorrowland Speedway at Magic Kingdom) at 54 ″ (leading to Tomorrowland Speedway). Note: There are also some attractions, especially in water parks, that have a maximum height, rather than a minimum height, to prevent older and older children from crushing small chips.
If you plan your visit when your child is 40 inches tall, you can have him or her walk with you on all the attractions of the Magic Kingdom other than Space Mountain. If you wait until they are 44 inches tall, it will be within reach of the entire Magic Kingdom and all the attractions except the two of the other theme parks (plus some large slides at the water parks).
Take a look at the standard growth charts for boys and girls in the United States, published by the CDC.
I plotted points on the growth graphs where WDW height requirements intersect with the 50th percentile age to reach that height. For example, in the boys graph, the height requirement of 44 ″ Space Mountain will be reached when approximately half of the boys in the United States are 5 1/2 years old. The vast majority of younger boys, up to the age of seven, will be tall enough for Space Mountain. The graph of the girls is similar, varying only a few months in most relevant places.
By working with your healthcare provider, you can make a detailed guess about your child’s likely growth curve to see where their path aligns with Disney’s requirements. There is nothing guaranteed, but knowing approximately when your child will be tall enough to participate in a particular attraction can help you take advantage of hotel or ticket prices for a trip of a year or more. .
Also keep in mind that when children are measured at attractions, it will be measured while the child is wearing shoes. While you never recommend extreme measures to circumvent safety measures, the choice between flat sandals and large sneakers can make the difference for a child’s participation in certain attractions.
Of course, even if your child is technically tall enough for an attraction like Space Mountain, you may not yet be emotionally ready to do so, but that’s another story. An additional confounding factor involves the timing of a trip when several children are involved, with different levels of height and different growth paths confusing issues.
What thoughts do you have? Is it worth waiting until your child is tall enough for all the attractions or is it better to go sooner rather than later? Let us know in the comments.
First published on June 3, 2021. Updated on October 10, 2021.