Even before we became parents, and even before we got married for that matter, Susanne and I have been very clear about how much we value travel. It’s not about staying at the fanciest hotels or enjoying the most extravagant meals; it’s about the experience. It’s about seeing the world through a different perspective…. or rather, it’s about seeing a whole new world.

For kids (and for the young at heart), there are few experiences that rival taking the time to visit Disneyland. And while I’m thinking of the park in California, the fundamental argument still holds true for the other locations around the world. Speaking for myself, I’ve been to Disneyland twice: once as a young child and once as a tween. It’s been about 20 years or so.

Do You Want to Buy a Snowman?

Now that we have an inquisitive and active little girl of our own, I’ve really been thinking about when we should take her to Disneyland. I’ve also questioned whether or not we should do it, really, because I do have my reservations about perpetuating the princess culture that companies like Disney continue to champion. Addie, like so many other little girls, has become obsessed with Frozen, but she hasn’t really been exposed all that much to the other Disney princesses.

She’s no stranger to travel at this point, having recently returned from the sandy beaches in Mexico and having explored Old Montreal last year too. I’m not sure how much of any of these trips she’ll actually remember, which also factors into the decision for when to visit Disneyland.

I want the (exorbitant) cost of the trip to be “worth it.”

By some estimations, a typical day at Disneyland can run $1,000 or more for a family. That factors in the cost of admission tickets, a hotel night, food, upgraded “experiences” and maybe a couple small souvenirs. Multiply this through by a few days, add in the cost of the flight and maybe a rental car, and it’s all looking rather spendy. If she won’t remember any of it, is that really money well spent?

They Don’t Call It the Magic Kingdom for Nothing

But then again, I’ve been told by fellow parents that seeing Disneyland through the eyes of their toddlers is priceless. When they’re only 2 or 3 years old, the “magic” of Disney is still so real to them and it will melt your heart to witness such purity of joy and wonder.

You can always come back and visit Disneyland again, they say, when the kid is a little older and can go on some of the bigger rides. Maybe she’ll have a better time when the new Star Wars themed section of Disneyland opens in a couple years. I know I’d enjoy it more. The Force is strong with this one.

I don’t know. If that’s the case, shouldn’t I just save for that trip and skip the toddler visit entirely? For all the parents who have taken their children to visit Disneyland before, what has your experience been? What would you say is the ideal age where kids and parents alike would extract the greatest value?