Disney is one of those getaways that excites travelers of all ages. From our formidable childhood to our golden years, Mickey Mouse and friends are there to build memories with us every step of the way. That being said, there are various spots that are better suited to certain age groups. That's why we put together this list of the best Disney trips for every decade of your life. All of this is to say there is undoubtedly a Disney experience for you, from age 2 to 82. And of course, the beauty of this list is it can just as easily be mixed and matched or reversed entirely. The journey is up to you.
YOUR CHILDHOOD: DISNEYLAND
For your first foray into Disney, we recommend hitting up the original Magic Kingdom in Anaheim, Calif. After all, Disneyland, which opened in 1955, is the only park Walt Disney himself enjoyed alongside guests, making it extra special to visit today. The park may be smaller than its Florida counterpart, but it's easier to navigate for children. Plus, it's the only one that features the Matterhorn Bobsleds between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. And there's always Disney California Adventure Park next door, which is home to Cars Land, Pixar Pier, and other kid-approved favorites.
Our hotel pick: Disney's Grand Californian Hotel
YOUR TWEENS AND TEENS: WALT DISNEY WORLD
Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Fla., anchors not just two, but four main gates, as well as a pair of water parks. Magic Kingdom is the most popular attraction here, thanks to its costumed characters, epic fireworks show and exciting rides. Meanwhile, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom, plus Disney's Blizzard Beach and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water parks, are perfect for older kids and adolescents. As children grow taller, they can access even more thrilling rides, like the exhilarating Test Track (Epcot) to mysterious Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom). Kids might even be patient enough now to enjoy Disney Springs' themed shopping, dining and entertainment offerings. If nothing else, the water parks' lazy rivers provide plenty of rest and relaxation.
Our hotel pick: Disney Boardwalk
YOUR 20S: DISNEYLAND PARIS
As it becomes more convenient to travel abroad, Disney lovers might want to consider two international parks. Covering 4,800 acres, Disneyland Paris comprises two theme parks (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios), multiple resort hotels, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, and a golf course. Disneyland Park takes the Magic Kingdom concept one step further with perhaps the best iterations of Big Thunder Mountain (on its own island) and Space Mountain (the only one to include inversions). Meanwhile, Walt Disney Studios is dedicated to all things show business, allowing visitors to experience stunning effects, cool animations and exciting rides. At the Parisian outpost, you can also ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which was replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy in California.
Our hotel pick: Radisson Blu Hotel at Disneyland Paris
YOUR 30S: SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND, HONG KONG DISNEYLAND, AND TOKYO DISNEYSEA
By your 30s, you'll likely have a bit more money and know-how to travel further. Luckily, lots more Disney awaits in Asia. In fact, there are three major properties on the continent: Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort and Tokyo Disney Resort. If you can, make a circuit and visit them all.
Each one has its own Magic Kingdom, with Shanghai Disneyland being the newest. Here, visitors will discover the most elaborate Pirates of the Caribbean ride, as well as the lauded Tron Lightcycle Power Run roller-coaster. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Disneyland exclusively highlights Mystic Manor, a more immersive variation of the Haunted Mansion. And in Japan, the 176-acre Tokyo DisneySea beckons. It's considered by many to be Disney's crowing achievement in theme park design. The ocean inspires its attractions, all of which are intricately detailed as a sort of prelude to the Disney Cruise Line.
Our hotel pick: Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta
YOUR 40S: AULANI, A DISNEY RESORT & SPA
When you're ready to start winding down a bit, and perhaps have teenagers of your own, Aulani in Oahu hits the sweet spot between leisure and play. Narratively, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and other classic characters are also on vacation, so you're in good company at the Hawaiian resort. Here, two towers shelter a volcano-themed pool area complete with waterslides, a lazy river, an interactive aquatic zone, a snorkeling aquarium, hot tubs and more. Families can have lots of fun together, and adults can escape, too, thanks to an 18-and-over pool tucked quietly around the side near the pampering Laniwai Spa.
Our hotel pick: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
YOUR 50S: ADVENTURES BY DISNEY
At this point in life, there may be two or even three generations ready to explore together. Adventures by Disney offers fun, guided family vacations to various domestic and international destinations. Even with less in the way of Mickey and the gang, Adventures by Disney strives to tell a story as it unveils the wonders of Asia, Africa, Australia, Central and South America, Europe, and North America. Trips include a behind-the-scenes peek at the Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering, a family-friendly river cruise with AmaWaterways, a magical Disney cruise, and more.
YOUR 60S: DISNEY CRUISE LINE
Disney Cruise Line is a great choice for grandparents and grandchildren to enjoy together, but make no mistake, this is not a mundane cruise with little to do. The Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder all have an abundance of attractions onboard. All of the elements that make Disney so irresistible on land are offered here, including kinetic waterslides, lavish stage shows, delicious dining and comfortable accommodations. It's a great experience for families with kids as well as couples without children. Older generations traveling alone will particularly appreciate the fineries of the Concierge Staterooms and Suites, as well as the exquisite adults-only Remy and Palo restaurants.
YOUR 70S AND BEYOND: DISNEY VACATION CLUB
Last but not least, the Disney Vacation Club gives mature fans the opportunity to experience loads of Disney properties domestically and abroad. With the vacation timeshare program, travelers can conveniently stay at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts (with added amenities) as well as a number of stand-alone hotels. Participants even have access to exclusive events and trips, and can redeem points on river and ocean cruises and at properties like Aulani.
Our hotel pick: Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas — Kidani Village