Little Girl with Cinderella on Wish
  • On May 6, 2023
    Keri from VA Asked Please note that experiences, policies, pricing and other offerings are subject to change and may have changed since the date of this answer.

    We have a Disney cruise booked in about 6 months - I know our 4 year old will be super excited when we tell her about it, how far in advance should we tell her? (She loves asking "how many days until ___?" questions.)

    Welcome, Keri!  

    What a fun question – I'm happy to share my experience with my young son and our Disney vacation planning with a fellow Virginian. I’m so excited to hear you have a Disney Cruise Line vacation planned later this year for your family.

    Part of the fun of any Disney vacation is the anticipation and planning that goes into such a special trip! Sharing the joy in your daughter’s excitement will certainly become part of your vacation memories. Little ones process time and conceptualize things differently than we do, and I learned when my son was that age to not share the big news too soon. It would only become a disappointment when he couldn’t understand what “six months” meant and kept asking about the vacation. Children can understand time passing with a visual aid, and making a fun Disney-style countdown is a great way to get her involved and focused while managing her expectations.

    My best advice is to make a visual countdown for her, and I enjoyed doing this about one to two months out (30 to 60 days) from our trips when my son was younger than elementary school age. This way they are not overwhelmed and can continue to build excitement without losing interest. I made a simple poster board calendar with days and purchased Disney stickers at a local craft store. We hung the calendar in our kitchen and every day my son would pick a sticker to physically mark off one more day. A large, fun graphic I either printed from online or made with craft supplies was the end goal on the calendar and each day he placed a sticker, he got closer to the trip. This clear visual was a fun routine together each day and felt fair to him in managing expectations and building excitement together. Another idea my fellow panelists use is a construction paper chain - each day, the child breaks one piece to make the chain shorter and you've written the number of days to go on the inside of each one to build anticipation.

    Another fun way to get in the spirit and help her understand all the fun ahead is to enjoy some official Disney Cruise Line content, either on their YouTube Channel or Disney+. On Disney+, my family loves "Making the Disney Wish" and don't miss the Mickey Mouse short "Shipped Out" (Season 4, Episode 6) for big laughs when Mickey and Minnie take a cruise vacation.

    There is so much included in your Disney Cruise Line vacation, and you’re going to have an amazing time! Be sure to become familiar with the Youth Clubs by visiting their Open House on embarkation day; as a family you can see the space and have your questions answered by the incredible counselors before leaving your daughter in their care during the cruise. I also highly recommend trying for a reservation for the Royal Gathering if offered on your sailing; there’s no fee for this activity but it must be reserved 30 days in advance under Onboard Fun, or you can inquire again for availability once onboard. I bet your daughter would adore this special time to meet several visiting princesses at once!

    Please let us know what other questions you have as you continue to plan for this amazing family vacation, Keri. We’d love to share more tips to make the most of this experience together.  

    Wishing you a magical cruise,
thumbnail image for Amy

Meet the Panelist: Amy, Virginia

Hi friends! I'm Amy, a lifelong Disney dreamer from horse-and-wine country, Virginia. My family of three is BIG on fun and treasures every adventure together. We've been making memories at the Walt Disney World Resort and aboard Disney Cruise Line since my son was a toddler; we love our family traditions balanced with "what's new" each visit. I have a passion for Disney details, a love of digital tools, and an eye for practical planning. I can't wait to help you make the MOST of your magical vacation! Learn More About Amy

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