Children ages four to six are young enough to enjoy a lot of Disney World in a way that will soon disappear, once the earnestness and awe of early childhood gives way to cynicism and the inevitable been-there, done-that cockiness. And if you wait too long, they may be bored by delightful rides like the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Dumbo the Flying Elephant. They'll be more opinionated, and less interested in fulfilling fantasies like posing with the Little Mermaid's Ariel, who sits patiently in her grotto and poses endlessly for adoring youngsters. As they get older, you gain scarier and more adventurous thrills and will inevitably find yourself in elaborate water parks like Blizzard Beach, River Country and Typhoon Lagoon.
Height restrictions, meanwhile, will keep smaller kids off some of the wilder rides. That means 48 inches at Space Mountain and Alien Encounter in Magic Kingdom, the Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom and the Rock and Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at MGM. There's a less restrictive 40-inch requirement for some mildly frightening rides such as Countdown to Extinction in the Animal Kingdomï¿½now known as Dinosaur, in honor of Disney's newest releaseï¿½and Splash Mountain in the Magic Kingdom, a huge hit with our four-year-old.
"A basic piece of advice is, don't do it all, be realistic," says Disney's Sylvain. "This is a very big place and many are compelled to try to do it all, but it's probably a mistake with real young kids." Perhaps the best survival tip we got was this: Arrive at the parks early and take a mid-day break. That means heading back to your pool for the early afternoon, then returning to the parks at around 3 p.m., in time for parades, dinner, more parades and fireworks.