Disney Bans Kids Under 14 from Entering Its Parks Alone

Hi Readers – Out of the blue, Disney has declared that no individual under age 14 can enter its parks solo anymore. According to NBC News:

The child’s parent or guardian would then be contacted if the visitor is underage, and that adult would need to physically come accompany the child into the park.

Disney chose the age of 14 after the company surveyed its guests and reached out to organizations that deal with child welfare, [spokeswoman Suzi] Brown said. She said both the organizations and visitors agreed on the new age limit.

“That was the age they felt was appropriate,” she said. “That’s also the age the Red Cross recommends for babysitting.”

Heck, let’s make sure we infantilize kids as long as possible. This seems the same impulse that prompted Amtrak to suddenly raise its solo travel age from 8 to 13 — yes, a 5-year infantilization increase — a couple years ago.

Both new rules were not due to any incidents, just so-called concern. I guess the concern is that if you treat young adults like young adults, you just don’t care enough about child safety.  – L

Hi there, young children! And by “young” I mean those capable of sexual reproduction…but not old enough to visit me by themselves! 

111 Responses to Disney Bans Kids Under 14 from Entering Its Parks Alone

  1. Silver Fang March 17, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    Time for a free range boycott of Disney and Amtrak.

  2. Sheila March 17, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    Yet, according to their website, the Red Cross recommended minimum age for its Babysitting Training course is 11. Which is the age I started babysitting for real clients (i.e., not babysitting my brother, which I had done since the age of 8).

  3. Jennifer March 17, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    And yet in their pricing schemes Disney treats 10 year olds as adults (in regards to admission ticket prices and pricing on their dining plans).

    Grrr.

  4. Donna March 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Meh. This seems like being irked over nothing. I could be wrong, but I don’t imagine that there is a large contingent of 13 and unders heading to Disney World by themselves. Since we would be traveling to a different state via plane to even get to Disney World, staying in a hotel, etc, it is kinda a family thing and not a solo kid trip. I view my child’s free range opportunities at Disney World to be more in the line of “you go off and do X while I do Y and we’ll meet up for lunch.” The rule just says you have to enter with an adult, not stay with your adult at all times while inside.

    I don’t fault Disney for not really wanting to be responsible for kids under teens on their own in an amusement park from 9am-11pm. Heck, I’m probably on the more liberal end of free range and I can’t imagine sending my under teenage kid to Disney World by herself for the day. Yes, the idea of hitting the spa while the kids did the Magic Kingdom sounds delightful but not something I would really anticipate doing much before age 14.

    My one concern about the rule is – can kids over 14 bring in younger siblings/charges sans parents? If not, that part of the rule needs to change. I would hope that my teenage babysitter would be allowed to take my 7 year old to Disney World while I hit the spa.

  5. Michael - DearHarrison.com March 17, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    This is a very sad development, especially because it directly impacts a goal I have made for promoting my child’s independence and autonomy: http://dearharrison.com/one-disneyland-map-two-10-year-olds-no-parents/

    You have challenged me a great deal, Lenore. Hopefully our society will slow the insanity so that I have at least a small chance to raise a self-sufficient child.

  6. Suzanne March 17, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Jennifer, that’s an interesting point – the ticket prices should reflect the age to enter without an adult or vice versa. I am of two minds about this new rule. Disney is a big place and I think 14 seems reasonable but 12 probably would have been a better choice. On the other hand here is another change reflecting America’s infantization of older children being made “official” for no good reason.

  7. Michael - DearHarrison.com March 17, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Jennifer, you make a GREAT point about their pricing. Shouldn’t the pricing match the policy? I won’t hold my breath.

  8. Stephanie March 17, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    Heading to Disneyland on Tuesday this week. Last week we gave the kids (10 & 8 years old) an hour on their own there. Sounds like I should make it longer this time. I know the article only talks about entry into the park and not what kids can do once they’re inside, but still.

  9. Joshua Gans March 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    Yes and what is more no child under 14 can enter unless accompanied by a person over 18.

    By the way that is enter. Once they are in you can apparently do what you want.

  10. Ann in L.A. March 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    When I was a kid (late 70’s) the Red Cross nighttime baby siting age was 11, daytime was 10.

  11. Janet C March 17, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    I grew up a town over from Disneyland. In my family when we were eight, we were allowed to go to Disneyland with a friend and without an adult. We would be dropped off at the park entrance and then picked up around 5:00pm at the hotel.

    I have to say Disneyland would not be fun going by oneself and if I read the new rule/guideline correctly, what I did a a child would still be allow since two eight year olds together would not be entering the park by themselves.

  12. hineata March 17, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    Oh, really, y’all should jut be grateful if you have a Disneyland on your continent, LOL! I would be happy to have to accompany my kids to any age they want (18, 20, 35!) …..just to have the excuse to go myself :-)

    Still loving Disneyland….and on the south side of forty! The only thing I want to shoot the Disney people about is that ridiculous part of the ‘Small World’ ride where they have a Maori standing in the Australian desert about to hurl a boomerang…..Just a little out of place, LOL!

  13. Tonia March 17, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    This is so sad! We are DVC members, so my experience is probably a little different – but I remember Disney World being one of the first places where I was sent off to do my own thing (parks, swimming pool, dining, etc) outside of my immediate neighborhood. Now, granted, we went to Disney every year, so by ten or twelve I was well versed in how to get around. Disney was so easy, because they have a protocol for lost children – if I hadn’t been able to manage it on my own, all I had to do was tell the nearest cast member that I was lost, and everything would have been taken care of.

  14. Emily March 17, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    1. As for Disneyland/Disney World, I’ve never been (and I never want to go), but I’m thinking that the group of kids this new rule would punish the most, are native Floridians/Californians, who are able to visit the parks much more frequently than out-of-towners, and know their way around, but can no longer do so. Also, it kind of feels like this is a ploy to get more money, by forcing adults to pay for a ticket along with their pre-teen/young teenaged children, who are, ironically, also required to pay the adult ticket prices. I think it should be a one or the other–if a park guest is a “child,” then he or she qualifies for a reduced ticket, but must be accompanied by an adult, and if a park guest is an “adult,” then he or she must pay the full ticket price, but can visit the park alone. Whatever age cut-off Disney chooses under this system would be fair, because they wouldn’t be trying to have it both ways, like they are now.

    2. As for Amtrak, we don’t have that here (at least not in my city), but a few years ago, Greyhound raised the minimum age for travelling alone, from 12 to 14, and clarified that there were NO EXCEPTIONS–so, a kid who was in, say, grade seven at one of the Toronto schools, but visits their parents in Barrie on the weekends, would no longer be allowed to independently ride back and forth, even if they’d been doing so for the entire school year. I don’t remember exactly when that rule was instituted, but I don’t think it’s too much for a twelve-year-old to take a Greyhound bus to a city that’s an hour or two away, especially if someone is picking them up on the other end.

  15. Jen Connelly March 17, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    At least it’s 14 and not something completely stupid like 18.

    The problem with an entry rule like this is they will eventually use it and extend it to any kid in the park. So even if said 12-13 year enters with his parents he will no longer be allowed to explore the park without immediate parental supervision. And if a kid under 14 is caught by themselves there’d be a whole ordeal of trying to contact the parents then humiliation of the parents, threats to call the police for neglect because Disney World is a terrifying place for a couple twelve year olds.

    I’ve only been to Disney World once and I was 23 at the time (went for our honeymoon). That place exhausted me, although I was like 3 months pregnant with my oldest child at the time.

    But when I was a kid I lived in Chicago, a short 1 1/2-2 hour drive to Six Flags Great America. The first time I went I was 12. My parents took me, my brother, our 2 cousins. We separated into 2 groups (this that liked coasters, those that refused to ride them) which happened to put 1 adult into each group. There were times, though my brother (10) sat by himself and waited for us all to get off a ride. Then I went in 8th grade where the kids were left to run around on their own with checkins to chaperones at certain times (had to be with at least 1 other kid–buddy system).

    But that summer my dad took me, my brother and a bunch of our friends and just dumped us at the gate with pre-bought tickets. We were 14 (me), 13, 12 (my brother), 12, 11 and 9 at the time. The 9yo stayed with me at all times but we broke into several groups at various times during the day. It was the best trip I ever took there. Not sure what it’s like now with all the fear. Back then there were always groups of kids alone and kids walked into the park without adults all the time because they lived in the neighborhood around the park and had season passes. That was in the early 90s.

  16. Ravana March 17, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    Money money money. If you have to bring in an adult you have to pay the added outlandish admission fee. An adult also means a credit card, so more food, drink and crap with Mickey Mouse on it being purchased.

  17. Linda Wightman March 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    We live in Central Florida, and all I can say is that it doesn’t get any safer than Disney World. Our kids never went by themselves at that age, that being below the age they could legally drive, and it’s pretty hard to get into WDW any other way. But they were always earning free tickets one way or another through school, so I can easily see why some parents would drop them off rather than pay $$$$$ to walk in with them. When they went with school groups, they always went their own way as soon as they entered, anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised if the main motivation on the part of WDW is to force more adults to buy tickets.

    Personally, I think the whole place is a rip-off and can’t understand why people persist in coming, though I thank you for supporting our economy.

  18. Kara March 17, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    I really think that if a 10 year old is considered an adult as far as pricing goes they should be able to enter alone. I also think it is completely ridiculous that my 12 year old wouldn’t be able to go in with his 14 and 16 year old siblings, while I bring the little kids an hour or two later.

  19. Donna March 17, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    The safety of the location really isn’t the issue. As Disney exec I would look at it this way: Since the park is open from 9am (and people start to line up earlier) until 11pm (and it will take at least a half hour to get out), you have to assume that everyone who buys a ticket will be there those hours. Of course, everyone won’t, but everyone can be. I don’t want packs of 10 year old kids roaming my property with absolutely no supervision whatsoever for 14+ hours – for many reasons none of which have anything to do with predators – so I’m not sure why Disney should either.

    I think 12 or 13 would be a better age but I definitely think it is reasonable for Disney to have an age limit on independent admission and 14 isn’t absurd.

    And this isn’t an Amtrak situation where they are dumbing down kids – previous generations could ride at 8 but now it’s 13. As I read it, Disney has never had an official age limit before. Who knows why they think they need one now. Maybe some stuff has been happening in the parks that makes them want to curb young kids being by themselves. By that I mean things getting broken, things being thrown off rides, kids misbehaving in other ways, kids being injured and not predators and kidnapping. And while in usual situations I would say just throw out the kids who are misbehaving we are talking about hundreds of acres and kids who don’t live nearby to walk home and parents who may not be findable being

  20. Donna March 17, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    The adult pricing has absolutely nothing to do with an age in which kids can take care of themselves for many hours. It has to do with age in which kids can make full use of the park. Other than as an encouragement to get families to come, I see no reason whatsoever that there should be separate prices for adults and children big enough to ride all the rides. There should be a kid price for little kids who can’t ride all the rides, but once you can, I’m not sure why you would let one person in cheaper than another.

  21. JJ March 17, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    The Amtrak thing is infuriating. One of the great things about living in Philadelphia is that you can get so many places on Amtrak. Yet my 10-year old can’t take it to her Aunt’s or her Granma’a without someone 18 or up and my 13-year old can’t take it unless he gets on and off at a staffed station. Philadelphia is no problem, but when you get into New England there are very few staffed stations. What could be safer or more American than taking Amtrak to see your Grandma–yet for our rural grandma’s location it just won’t work. And Megabus won’t let anyone under 17 ride without an adult. (This is a good time to mention that you can join the armed forces at 18, a mere 12-months after gaining Megabus privileges.)

  22. Emily March 17, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    @Donna–I agree, but I also think that most kids who are big enough to ride all the rides at Disney, are also old enough to traverse the park independently–especially if their parents feel that they are.

  23. Marni March 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    This is so sad. One of my best memories of childhood was the first time my parents let me and my sister go to the parks by ourselves. We had been going to WDW once a year since we were kids, since our grandparents lived nearby. When I was 12 and my sister was 11, we were allowed to go to the parks by ourselves. What a day! We only went on the rides that WE wanted to go on. No boring 360 movies at EPCOT for us! We got to eat what we wanted. We met our parents back at the Fort Wilderness campground after the parks closed and we all shared a late night pizza at Pioneer Hall.

    27 years later, I remember it so fondly. I’m sad that my kids will not get the same opportunity.

  24. Vicki March 17, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    I think parents should get to determine if their chil can handle it.

    There is some misunderstanding in some of the responses. If you read the article and others regarding the new policy. A child under age 14 can enter if they are accompanied by a person aged 14 or older, so younger children can enter with an older (at least 14) sibling/cousin/friend. And yes, I can’t find anywhere that prohibits them from goin off on their own once they are inside.

    I would have no problem letting my 11 and 13 year old go off together, but generally we all like to do similar rides. I have let my then 9 year old wait near the exit while older ds and I rode a roller coaster at Sea World a couple years ago. He was too short to ride.

  25. Sky March 17, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    It may be a ploy to increase ticket sales (now an adult must accompany these children, thus one more ticket sold), but it may backfire, and these kids may simply not come at all now. Though, to be honest, even a generation ago, even though I roamed free on my bike for 2-3 miles on a regular basis starting at age 9 or 10, and went to movies on my own (which I rode my bike do), I really don’t think my parents would have dropped me off alone at an amusement park all day. Not sure why, but I just don’t see them doing that. Of course, we didn’t have cell phones and it’s not like you could just ride your bike home from the amusement park if you needed/wanted to come home for some reason.

  26. pentamom March 17, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    “I think parents should get to determine if their chil can handle it.”

    The problem is that a lot of parents will determine if their child can “handle it” on the basis of whether they don’t want to be bothered with supervising their kids, not on the basis of whether their kids can be relied on behave themselves appropriately on someone else’s property.

    Granted it’s not Disney, but my kids work at a local amusement park in the summers and they report that the “season passes” are frequently used as “cheap summer babysitting” for kids 10 and up to just roam the park and detract from the experience of other paying customers.

    I’m with Donna — Disney has apparently decided that they’re better off selling fewer tickets to unaccompanied kids — there’s probably a sound business reason for that.

  27. lollipoplover March 17, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    We’re not a theme park loving family, but I do admire Walt Disney and the work and parks he created. Walt Disney once said, “For those of us who remember the carefree time it recreates, Main Street will bring back happy memories. For younger visitors, it is an adventure in turning back the calendar to the days of grandfather’s youth.”
    And now he is rolling in his grave.

  28. catspaw73 March 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    Loved Disneyland in LA when I did it at age 11 with my cousin, mother and grandmother.
    I think what is getting missed is the fact a lot (if not most) of the visitors are not locals and quite a few come from overseas. I know for us, it was the most people we had seen in one place at one time, we were not used to crowds and even though we had been very free range since birth it was overwhelming. That and the fact it is possible to send the kids off to Disneyland in the hotel shuttle, while you take the day trip to Mexico…..

  29. Emily March 17, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    @Pentamom–Maybe I’m alone in my opinion, but I don’t really think that kids ten and over need to be “babysat,” cheaply or otherwise. When my pianist friend and I ran our music camp together last summer, she told me that one of the biggest things she learned as a teacher was that kids live up (or down) to adults’ expectations of them. So, if you believe that kids want to do the right thing, and specifically try to catch them doing the right things (which we did, often), then they’ll live up to that expectation, and be friendly, helpful, wonderful young people–and, for the most part, they were. On the other hand, if you assume from the start that kids are going to behave like little hoodlums, and terrorize the neighbourhood the moment you take your eyes off of them, they’ll resent that description, and figure that they might as well act up, because they’re going to be punished/treated badly either way. So, I think it’d be reasonable to drop a ten-year-old kid off at an amusement park, with a friend or two, and say, “Meet me outside the gates at X o’clock, and here’s $Y for tickets/snacks/incidentals. This is a privilege, and whether you get to do it again will be contingent on how you handle it today. So, I know I can trust you to follow all the rules of the park, stay together, and be safe. Have a wonderful time.” You wouldn’t start with a full day at Disney, obviously, but an afternoon at a local amusement park or county fair would be fine. Also, as for kids “just roaming the park,” well, what are amusement parks for, if not roaming? They’re not like shopping malls; you can go there just to walk around or ride rides/watch shows that are included in your ticket price, and not spend anything. Most amusement parks I know of at least allow water bottles, and have drinking fountains, and some even have picnic areas, and look the other way when they see people bringing in something small, like an apple or a protein bar. Nobody complains when they see adults “roaming the park,” but for young people, it’s viewed as a problem, even if they aren’t doing anything wrong. I remember when I was in grade eight, and we went on an end-of-the-year field trip to Canada’s Wonderland. We had teacher chaperones, obviously, but we only had to check back in with them at lunch time, and when it was time to leave. For the rest of the day, we paired up in partners or small groups (chosen by us), and “roamed the park” at will. Nobody saw anything wrong with this, because that’s what amusement parks are for.

    @Pentamom–If Disney has decided to stop selling tickets to unaccompanied kids under fourteen, and this isn’t really for “safety,” but rather, as a business model, then they shouldn’t lie and say it’s for “safety.” They shouldn’t pretend that they’re doing this for the well-being of the children, when it’s really to put more money in their coffers. Of course, if they told the truth, then they’d have to say that they’re effectively discriminating against a whole group of people, to make more money. If it was any other group of people–women, or racial or religious minorities, for example–then it’d never fly, but if it’s children, then somehow, it’s fine.

  30. Warren March 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    @Donna,

    I can pretty much guarantee you that if Walt was still alive he would be telling you and the rest of the lawyers, that he built this place for kids, and you pencil pushers cannot take it away from the kids.

    Walt had this plan to build places where kids could be kids, have fun, be safe, and yes lose their parents.

    They never had a rule before, because in Walt’s vision, Land and World are for the kids, not the lawyers.

    As for Amtrack, it is more than likely down to busy bodies complaining they dont want kids on the trains.

  31. Jen1235 March 17, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    My parents loved taking us to Disney in the 90s when we were pre-teens/teens because of the freedom the parks provided. My sister and I were allowed to use the shuttle buses to go back to the hotel and swim if we didn’t want to watch a parade, or go do a different park than my parents if we wanted to ride roller coasters some day. This was in the days before cell phones too. This seems like a really terrible policy given the safety that exists at the park, but one that’s easy to avoid by lying about your age. I teach 14 year olds, and some of them look as young as 10.

  32. pentamom March 17, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    @Pentamom–Maybe I’m alone in my opinion, but I don’t really think that kids ten and over need to be “babysat,” cheaply or otherwise.

    Emily, I agree, but I was using “babysitting” loosely to describe “finding something for them to do all by themselves all day long, all summer long.” While kids of 10 or 11 don’t need to be “babysat” in the sense of not being left home alone for a few hours, I don’t think it makes sense to leave them to fend for themselves all day, every day, for three months out of the year — and that’s what this amounts to in *some cases.* The parents don’t want them hanging around the house with nothing to do all day and no adult supervision, so for $80 a year they become the park staff’s problem instead. Nice, simple solution if you’re broke or cheap, and don’t care how you inconvenience other people.

    “If Disney has decided to stop selling tickets to unaccompanied kids under fourteen, and this isn’t really for “safety,” but rather, as a business model, then they shouldn’t lie and say it’s for “safety.”

    I’m not finding where they said this. I think that’s a conclusion that’s being jumped to.

    ” If it was any other group of people–women, or racial or religious minorities, for example–then it’d never fly, but if it’s children, then somehow, it’s fine.”

    Well, yes, it IS fine, because it’s just common sense that all children do not have the same rights and privileges as all adults in all situations. This may not be the best application (but it’s up to Disney, they’re a business, to do what is either a dumb or a good business decision) but the principle that you can forbid kids from doing things that you allow adults to do is hardly comparable to discriminating against minorities or by sex.

  33. pentamom March 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    ” When my pianist friend and I ran our music camp together last summer, she told me that one of the biggest things she learned as a teacher was that kids live up (or down) to adults’ expectations of them. So, if you believe that kids want to do the right thing, and specifically try to catch them doing the right things (which we did, often), then they’ll live up to that expectation, and be friendly, helpful, wonderful young people–and, for the most part, they were.”

    That is a lovely rose-colored expectation, but it is not universally applicable.

    Most kids, probably by percentage, will be good kids and not cause trouble. But that doesn’t eliminate the problems caused by the ones who don’t live up to your expectations. And the kids who are hanging out at the park all day, every day specifically because paying $80 a year plus maybe that again for a three month bus pass is cheaper and easier than taking any other responsibility for what they’re doing all day are precisely the ones you have to worry about, because they probably haven’t well-parented before then. It’s not the kids whose parents plan ahead, gradually introduce them to freedom, and teach them responsibility that ARE the problem. It’s the ones who don’t — but Disney and other parks don’t really have any ability to “screen” for well-parented unsupervised kids as opposed to unparented unsupervised kids.

    Unfortunately, it’s the minority of people who ruin it for the rest, but Disney has their liabilities, their maintenance expenses, and *the happiness of their other guests* to look out for, as well. And pace Warren, Walt may indeed have felt that way, but this is not Walt’s world anymore, either. Kids had more freedom in his day, and also more accountability and responsibility. Nowadays the only tool for controlling the effect unsupervised kids have on an environment is the ban, in a lot of situations. It’s unfortunate, and maybe there’s a better way, but then again, maybe in some situations, there isn’t.

  34. Emily March 17, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    @Pentamom–I think Warren hit the nail squarely on the head this time. The Disney parks were designed specifically for kids, so it’s sad that the powers-that-be at Disney are now turning around and restricting access to kids under 14. I don’t think it has to be this way either, because, as you said, kids in Walt Disney’s day had more freedom and accountability. So, that’s the answer right there–trust young people more, give them responsibility, praise them when they do the right thing, and let them bear the consequences for negative behaviour, if necessary.

    As for the music camp scenario, that wasn’t a “lovely, rose-coloured vision,” that was our reality, because we made it so. During the “music” parts of the day, my friend and I set things up so that every child could succeed (for example, during recorder time, the kids who couldn’t play the melody could play the ostinato, and rhythmically play the the same note, or alternate two notes, repeatedly throughout the piece), and during the other parts of the day, we’d keep an eye out for the small positives, and at the end of each day, everyone (kids and adults) would have a chance to say what they liked and didn’t like about the day. I always used that time to specifically praise at least one kid for something positive they’d done that day, and I tried to get everyone at some point or another. It didn’t even have to be a music-related thing; in fact, one of my proudest moments was when a group of the kids were playing tag/”manhunt” at the park (we went every day after lunch, in addition to a few other shorter breaks during the day), and an unknown little girl came along on her bicycle, who wasn’t part of the music camp, and they let her join in the game. When “negatives” came up, we’d just tell the offending kid to stop, and sometimes I’d bring it up at the end of the day too, but the “infractions” were always fairly mild, and the kids wanted to please us. So, I don’t remember ever punishing anyone, because, as I said, the kids lived up to our expectations.

    If we extrapolated this practice, and followed it as a wider society, then maybe the idea of letting young people visit an amusement park unchaperoned wouldn’t be such a crazy idea, because the kids would want to do the right things. Maybe if the parks were staffed with “cast members” who gave, say, coupons for free fountain drinks or Sno-Cones, to kids who were particularly well-behaved (waiting politely in line, saying please and thank you, etc.), then that could act as an extra incentive.

  35. Puzzled March 17, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    I’m with those above who say this is a cynical ploy to sell more adult tickets.

  36. Emily March 17, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    I just thought of something else–I suffer from panic attacks, and so, I often don’t do well in crowded places like amusement parks. I’m also deathly afraid of most amusement park rides–I love water parks, and I can handle things like go-karts, but roller coasters, or Tilt-a-Whirls, or upside-down swinging pirate ships, are a no go for me. So, if I ever have a child, I’d probably at least consider dropping him or her off at an amusement park with a friend or two, at a reasonable age–say, ten for a smaller park, and twelve or thirteen for a bigger one–so that my child can enjoy visiting an amusement park, even if that’s not something I can necessarily do. I can also see myself doing the same thing with Chuck E. Cheese-type places before that–not sure about an age yet, but my point is, I’d hate to be put in the position of either having to endanger my health, or prevent my hypothetical future child from doing something fun, positive, and developmentally appropriate.

  37. Merrick March 17, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    I think the rule is ridiculous. But I do have to respond to a couple of points raised here.

    I would think that most kids who are likely to come to either WDW or DLR on their own are passholders, and so are their parents, so they won’t sell a lot of tickets this way. Locals are the ones most likely to take advantage of Disney as a day-attraction.

    My impression has always been that the age of 10 is chosen because it’s pretty generally prepubescent; people don’t try to pass off their 15 year olds as 10 to get a youth price as often as they might if the child’s price was up to 13. KWIM?

    Actually, Warren. While I agree that Walt’s own stories, and character tended to a more Free range idea… To be specific – Disney parks were designed to be a place where parents could go WITH their kids. Walt was disappointed that the amusements available to his children had nothing for adults to do. (You can see Walt talking about it himself in the One Man’s Dream film.)

  38. Gary March 18, 2013 at 12:32 am #

    As a local to Disneyland, my take is that this is aimed at limiting passholders. They have been raising the prices on passholders quite dramatically, this might further reduce the number of passholders Zoe at least reduce the number of times they go.

  39. Virginia March 18, 2013 at 1:50 am #

    Ack. We just recently went on a Disney vacation with our kids, ages 13 and 16. We enjoyed a lot of time as a family, but it was also delightful that the kids were old enough to go do their own thing, separately or together, for at least some of the time. We stayed in a Disney hotel, and a big part of the reason for that was knowing the kids could walk to the parks on their own if we parents needed a break. Good thing we didn’t wait for spring vacation.

    In sum: The “most magical place on earth” just got a little less magical.

  40. Ben March 18, 2013 at 4:29 am #

    Yep, kids are considered adults when it comes to entrance prices, but when they actually want to get in, they’re considered incapable.

    These parks should realize how incredibly inconsistent that is. Either raise the age for which kids prices are asked or lower the age at which a kid can freely enter the park again. On top of that. An adult shouldn’t have to pay extra for themselves for a kid to get into a park.

  41. Donna March 18, 2013 at 4:45 am #

    @Emily – Again, I don’t think this is an issue about safety in the park. I wouldn’t leave a 10 year old ANYWHERE, even my own home, for 14+ hours with no supervision. Some hours? Sure, but not starting at 9am and going until midnight. I wouldn’t want anyone else leaving their 10 year old on my property from 9 to midnight without someone at least checking in on them occasionally.

    @Warren – Actually Walt Disney created Disneyland as a place for FAMILIES to enjoy together and not just children (although he had the original vision, Walt died several years before Disney World opened and had no direct supervision of its outcome). Further, neither park is anywhere near what it was when I was a child, let alone what Walt envisioned. Nobody has any idea what Walt would do with the monolith these places now are.

    When I was under 12, Disneyland was a daylong experience at best if you took in the shows and parades. They still sold individual tickets for rides, not all day passes. You generally bought one packet of tickets – enough to get you on every ride once. And that was that. You didn’t stay until you dropped. There weren’t so many people that ride lines are 2-3 hours long (it was a 4 hour wait just to see the princesses the last time I was there). It was someplace you stopped by if you happened to be in SoCal, not a massive vacation destination itself. Disney World was just slightly bigger and more resortish but still just consisted of the Magic Kingdom and a couple hotels.

    I don’t have a problem with kids and parents parting ways in the parks. I just think a 10 year old shouldn’t be alone at an amusement park all day while mom and dad take a day trip to Mexico (yes that is possible from Disneyland). Since Disney can’t control what parents do outside, it controls parents by making them come inside.

  42. jennifer March 18, 2013 at 6:13 am #

    This is a very dangerous trend. What kind of adults do we think our children will be, being raised in this environment? No chance to make decisions, even in the safest/happiest place on earth?!!

    If I lived nearby, I would certainly drop off my kids (12 + 14) and pick them up at whatever time we agreed upon (or meet somewhere that they could find/get to on their own). And be reasonable, if my child was 10, I would not allow them to spend 14 hours in Disney ALONE; With friends/siblings, it’s a different story. And, if kids are misbehaving, they should be kicked out, just like adults who misbehave. Duh.

    My kids just learned how to ski and I often drop them off at the ski area in the morning and pick them up at closing time… seems like a lot more can happen there… Maybe we’ve been ‘lucky’, or maybe my kids are learning their limits and in a situation where they know they need to take care of themselves they are making more calculated decisions about what they should/shouldn’t do. I do know that their confidence has gone through the roof this winter!

    Next year they are planning on taking the public bus up to the ski area (2 hours each way) and back. Good thing we don’t live in the US, so don’t have crazy rules on who is old enough to do such things….

  43. suzyq March 18, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    I agree with Jennifer (way back at the top) that, if Disney is going to charge 10-year-olds an adult admission, they should be able to come to the park on their own at age 10. However, I also see that having a bunch of 13 to 14-year-olds in a theme park on their own can be a recipe for disaster. I am a free-ranger, but I also think about what a pain in the rear a bunch of unattended kids could be to other park patrons. They have pretty poor decision-making skills at age 14….I’m not talking about “don’t go with a stranger” or anything silly like that. I’m talking about making sure you follow ride safety rules, appropriate behaviors for waiting in line, and so forth. I’m with Disney on this one – but wish they would be honest about their rationale for it. We want parents to be here spending money, too, and we don’t want to take care of a bunch of kids who don’t behave themselves when they aren’t supervised.

  44. Jana March 18, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    This is actually a victory, as much as it seems counterproductive. At 14, they wouldn’t let me into Disney alone this summer, they shouldn’t have to have a guideline at all but previously it was enforced at 18.

  45. Earth.W March 18, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    I can’t think of one theme park in Australia that would allow children in unaccompanied by an adult. Quite often, signs on different business ventures demand adult supervision. We also have some shopping centres that have banned youth under the age of 18 without adult supervision. Mainly because the 50 years plus age group fear they are going to be beat up by them despite barely any of them ever having been accosted. Some shopping centres have admitted to playing a high pitch sound that is only heard by children so they stay away.

  46. Warren March 18, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    @Donna,

    Do your research, and watch some of Walt’s interviews, and promotions. He vision was for the kids, not families per say.

    And just because other things have changed since his death or because of the times, does not mean the man would have agreed to them, or allowed lawyers to rule the company.

  47. Snow March 18, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    Well, actually, I don’t really have a problem with that, although I can see one potential issue. We’ll be at Disney in a couple of weeks and it is one of our favorite places to go. My child, who is 11, won’t go into the parks by himself because it’s something we enjoy doing as a family. If he wanted, we’d set a place within the parks for him to meet us if he wanted to do something without us, but it looks like that would be ok because he’d already be in, he wouldn’t be entering alone. He won’t do that, though, we really love and cherish our family time there, doing stuff that we all like, together. I guess the issue I see would be, since we are staying on property, if he wanted to get a head start in the morning and take Disney transportation to a park without us, but, again, my husband and I are big kids, we’re usually up and ready before he is when we go to Disney, so I can’t see that happening with us. If he wanted to stay in the parks later and meet us at the resort that wouldn’t be a problem because the new rule states that they won’t let kids in by themselves, it doesn’t say anything about letting them stay by themselves once they are in. And if you’re not staying on property I’m not sure how a kid under 14 years old is going to get there, anyway, at least in Florida, I don’t know what it’s like in California.

    I really can’t wait to get to Disney in 2 weeks. It’s going to be a terrific vacation, it always is.

  48. Snow March 18, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    Oh, and there is no way he’d want to be at the parks later without us, because it wouldn’t be possible – we tend to get there before they open and stay until they close! We make the most out of our time with the mouse.

  49. Snow March 18, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    I just read through more of the comments and saw someone said they want the adults there because they have the credit cards. Actually, you link your credit card with your ‘keys to the world’ now, so if you want you can have your child charge as well, so that’s not the reasoning.

    Disney isn’t just for kids, as people have said. I didn’t even go there for the first time until I was 21, and my husband and I went there for our honeymoon – no kids! We have been there many times pre-parenthood. As a matter of fact, there is a restaurant there that won’t even allow kids under 12. In addition, there are many bars, has anyone ever done the monorail bar crawl? Disney World’s three monorail resorts – the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary – just take the monorail, get off at one of the resorts, go to the bar, enjoy, get back on the monorail, go to the next resort, rinse and repeat. Not for kids, but a lot of fun. :)

  50. oncefallendotcom March 18, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    Well, if nothing else, this gives young adults (18-22 or so) yet another entrepreneurial opportunity. Just as they buy smokes and booze for the teens, now they can get Disney-goers through the door after riding the Amtrak down to the OC.

  51. Linda Wightman March 18, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    The more I think about this, the more I see it as a non-issue, at least for Disney World. I’ve never been to Disneyland, but DW is just not the kind of place where you can drop someone off and pick him up. It’s just not laid out that way. Maybe it’s different if you’re staying on Disney property, but for locals — those of us not there on a family vacation — someone with a driver’s license is pretty much a necessity. And who’s going to pay the horrendous parking fees twice, just to drop off kids? There are plenty of more drop-off friendly places to go.

    But as to “packs” of teens roaming the park unsupervised — there’s nothing stopping that, anyway. That happens anywhere a school group goes. The DW staff are quite competent to handle crowds of any age.

    And in my observation, it’s only tourists who spend every moment in the park, trying to squeeze every penny out of their you-used-to-be-able-to-buy-a-car-with-it entrance fees, no matter how much their kids are screaming from exhaustion. Passholders know that the only way to enjoy Disney is without that kind of pressure.

    Unless you’re young and a little crazy. Like the time my daughter and some high school friends decided to see how many times they could ride the Tower of Terror, from opening to closing with no breaks. If you’re curious: From 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., longest wait 41 minutes, shortest wait 3 1/2 minutes (the minimum time to get through the pre-ride activities); total rides 32. They made friends with the cast members, who dubbed them the “Elmo People” (one of the girls had an Elmo doll with her) and sometimes saved them the best seats.

  52. Emily March 18, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    @Donna–Actually, I think leaving a ten-year-old for a few hours, or even a full day (maybe not 14 hours, though) at an amusement park or a ski resort might be safer in some ways than leaving them at home alone. First of all, the child would likely not be alone at the park/ski hill, but with at least one friend. Second, these places are staffed with people who are trained in First Aid, in case, anyone gets hurt. Third, ski resorts and amusement parks are semi-structured and fun environments. So, while a child left home alone might get bored and cause trouble, that same child would be less likely to get bored in a place where you can always do another run down XYZ Trail, or go and play in the wave pool, or visit the Magic Kingdom, or get a henna tattoo. Also, on a completely unrelated topic, you seriously waited four HOURS at Disney to see the princesses? I thought they had Fast Passes there, so you can make a reservation to, say, ride Space Mountain at 10 a.m., see the princesses at noon, and so forth.

  53. Kelly March 18, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    My friend and I used to have passes to disneyland in 7th grade (age 12ish) and my mom would drop us off for a few hours after school. It’s incredibly hard to get into trouble at disneyland. I’d think that quite a few 10 year olds would be able to handle it just fine as well depending on their maturity level and general comfort with the park.

    I think it is maybe a bit different for kids visiting the area rather than living there since they may not be familiar with things. Maybe if the family went together the first day, the second day they’d be ok to venture out on their own.

  54. Paul March 18, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    This directly affects our annual WDW trip, and I’ll explain why.

    Our next visit we’ll be staying at Bay Lake Tower, a 3 minute walk to Magic Kingdom. On our last trip, when he was 12, he would get up early, go to Magic Kingdom at opening, just to go in and go to the Fire House to get a daily complimentary package of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards. He would then return to our hotel if we were planning on visiting another park that day, or wait for us in the park if we were visiting Magic Kingdom.

    As a single parent, we’ve been to WDW enough times that I now allow my son to do stuff that he wants by himself if he doesn’t want to go on some of the attractions his sisters do. He’s comfortable doing this, and is extremely responsible at meeting us at a certain place at a certain time.

    Unfortunately, with this new rule, he won’t be able to go pick up his daily collectable cards without all ofmus going. While I’m not adverse to accompanying him, I should be allowed to decide what my child is able to do, not a company.

  55. Aimee March 18, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    I’ve been several times – 3 times as a kid, twice as an adult. We took our son to the Magic Kingdom when he was four. It was hot and crowded, and really not that magical. The best part of the day was when he (finally) took a nap.

    This is just Reason #559 why I refuse to give money to DisneyWorld for a plastic vacation experience. Epcot is cool, but seeing the REAL versions of all the countries around the Epcot “nations” is a LOT better. Even if it takes me a lifetime rather than an afternoon.

  56. Paul March 18, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    @aimee You can say you didn’t like something without insulting those that do. “Plastic experience”? Hardly.

  57. Sandi March 18, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    I’ve never been to Disney, but a couple of years ago when my daughter was 12 I bought her a seasons’ pass for our local amusement park, and dropped her off with some friends for the day on several occasions while I went to work in the area. I’ve done the same thing at a mall in downtown Toronto. The girls had cell phones they could use to call me if they had any problems. They loved it. Why penalize all kids because you’re afraid some kids might get out of control, or because you don’t think your kid can handle it?

  58. Susan2 March 18, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    A colleague’s ex-husband works for Disney. Her now-grown children were left to roam the park on their own all day at ages 5 & 8. (This isn’t as great as it sounds. They were actually quite frightened at being let loose in such a huge park by themselves, but that’s another story.) But I guess that would still be OK under this policy because they would enter with their parent.

  59. Emily March 18, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Another thing I’ve noticed here is that Disney didn’t specify any kind of “supervision ratio,” so theoretically, one person over 18 could accompany a group of 10, 15, 20, 30……however many pre-teens/young teens through the park gates, and then turn them loose. In fact, that seems like a perfectly good way to peacefully protest this stupidity. Alternatively, the adult(s) could wait outside the gates, and send in the group of twelve-and-thirteens into the park, with money, and just see if Disney would be willing to forgo all that potential revenue, just because these capable, functioning individuals (who, incidentally, have to pay the adult entrance fees) aren’t being escorted in by Mommy and Daddy.

  60. EmilyV March 18, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    So how do they decide if a child is 14 and over? Age profiling isn’t any more fair than racial profiling. So what about a 14 year old, who would be old enough to go solo in the parks, but looks young for their age? I wouldn’t think that most 14 year olds have IDs, so a young-looking 14 year old wouldn’t be able to enter the park on their own. I see this system not working out because most kids don’t have IDs, thus relying only on what age a child looks. I think it is a wise idea for a free range kid to get a government ID, especially if they look young for their age, to prove that they are old enough to be on their own.

  61. pentamom March 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    ” Why penalize all kids because you’re afraid some kids might get out of control, or because you don’t think your kid can handle it?”

    Not because you’re “afraid they might,” because they DO.

    It’s true that not all kids are going to cause trouble, and maybe banning them isn’t the right solution. But neither is pretending that because your kids know how to behave themselves, no kids will cause more trouble on someone else’s property than that property owner is willing to (and is under no obligation to) deal with.

    Emily, it is a rose-colored scenario that because it worked for you, in your situation, it will work for everyone, in every situation. I’m fairly sure there were more factors making it manageable for you than your and your co-teacher’s awesome camp management skills.

  62. Emily March 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    @Pentamom–I think the answer here is accountability. Kids need to be held accountable for their behaviour, and parents need to actually parent, by making sure their kids can behave before sending them into an amusement park or other public place unsupervised. Also, I think it’s unfair to crack down on a specific age group, before any negative behaviour has even happened, by saying they must be escorted by an adult. Young people aren’t the only ones who cause trouble–what about adults who get drunk and get in fights and destroy property? Blanket rules/bans don’t work, because, besides being unfair, they often don’t address the whole situation. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think society needs a free-range overhaul, starting with people like Lenore.

  63. mollie March 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    If a child is injured and unaccompanied, assist them, get them to the hospital if necessary, and contact their parents, if possible. If a child is causing trouble for other patrons, take them to the office and have them call for an adult to pick them up or, if they drove there themselves, have them leave.

    Who cares how old they are?

  64. pentamom March 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Emily, I largely agree with you. But:

    ” parents need to actually parent, by making sure their kids can behave before sending them into an amusement park or other public place unsupervised.”

    Yes, of course. But Disney has no control over what parents do and do not do. They only have control over their gates.

    People who “get in fights and destroy property” can be arrested and taken away. Kids who do nagging, low-level kinds of disruption and damage spoil things and turn off a certain number of appropriately-behaving paying customers.

    And Disney doesn’t have the staff to go around encouraging kids to behave responsibly and displaying trust in them so that they respond well and live up to expectations. A vast public entertainment complex is not a supervised music camp.

    Again, I’m not necessarily saying Disney is making the right choice here. I’m just saying that your saying “parents should” do this or that and “kids will do positive behavior X if we treat them in positive Y expectation fashion” doesn’t address any problems. Disney can only control what Disney can control, not how people raise their kids and how those kids act when not under at least someone else’s supervision who can be held responsible.

  65. pentamom March 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    ” If a child is causing trouble for other patrons, take them to the office and have them call for an adult to pick them up or, if they drove there themselves, have them leave.

    Who cares how old they are?”

    Child causing trouble accompanied by parents can be told to leave with parents.

    Child taken to office and made to call to be picked up takes up the time of at least one staff member. How much excess staff with nothing better to do than to babysit disruptive kids until their parents come, do you think Disney has?

    Limiting the age at least limits the number of possible incidents.

  66. Donna March 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    @ Emily – I said the wait was 4 hours, not that I waited 4 hours. They don’t have fastpasses for the princesses but even my 4 year old knew waiting 4 hours to see princesses was dumb and was talked out of getting into the line quickly.

    I generally agree that misbehaving kids should be dealt with individually. This is not your local library. Disneyland – the much smaller and less visited park – saw approximately 16.5 million visitors last year. And the place covers nearly a hundred acres. Tracking a particular group of kids making trouble would be damn near impossible.

    Alcohol isn’t served at Disneyland at all (well it is but only in a private club that costs thousands of dollars to join and has a years long waiting list). Wine is served at a single restaurant in the main park at Disney World but only at night. So there aren’t rampant alcohol-induced fights and property destruction in the Magic Kingdom. Alcohol is served more readily at the other parks in Florida but I’m sure requires a millionaire pedigree to get really drunk. Besides that is a dumb argument. One has nothing to do with the other. If kids are causing problems, they can be banned regardless of what other problems still exist. Disney need not solve all its problems at once.

    Further, that may not even be the reason. Maybe they’ve gotten sick of dealing with too many little kids freaking out over injuries and mom and dad taking hours to get to the park to deal with it. Maybe they are tired of holding children who throw things off rides (it happens) for hours while mom and dad get back to the park. Maybe there are too many idiotic parents who overestimate their child’s ability to hang in an amusement park all day alone. There could be a hundred reasons that Disney is tired of babysitting kids while their parents do other things. Just because you want your kids to enjoy Disney alone doesn’t mean that Disney has to agree.

    Even you agree that 10 year olds shouldn’t be left there for hours on end. Disney has absolutely no control over that. There is no way to monitor kids just coming in for an hour or two. Once you are in, you can stay until closing time. And plenty of parents who will leave their kids all day while they do their own thing, maybe hours away.

    While we have no idea why Disney did this, they are not coaching it in terms of irrational fears of pedophiles. That is 100% the people here who are assuming that. There could be many reasons Disney wants to do this.

    @Warren – Yes, Walt built it as a place that children would enjoy. I’ve read or seen absolutely nothing that says Walt envisioned it as a place where kids could kick back alone without their parents. Every thing I’ve seen shows that he envisioned it as a place for families to enjoy together. And you nor I nor anyone else on the planet has any idea whatsoever what Walt would do with what it exists today. Considering he left the world with one small amusement park in California that has since spawned an empire, even guessing is a fool’s game.

  67. Donna March 18, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Mollie –

    16.5 million people served a year at one – the smaller – park alone.

    Disney may not have the inclination to deal with every boo boo kids generate during the day. If the injury is more serious, Mickey is stuck babysitting until mom or dad gets there since hospitals won’t take unaccompanied children unless the injury is life threatening. It may be nice if Disney wanted to do this, but I don’t think they are obligated to want to do it.

    And as pentamom said, an unaccompanied misbehaving child means staff to deal with the child. Staff to round the kid up, contact parents, wait maybe hours for parents (many parents are not going to stop their golf game to pick up Jr who is misbehaving). Again, Disney can choose to do all this but they are not obligated to want to do it.

  68. Emily March 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    @Donna–For one thing, not serving alcohol at Disney doesn’t stop people from showing up already drunk. As for the core of the matter, it seems like the problem is that, although Disney is purportedly a park meant for children, they no longer want to deal with children, and the inevitable annoyances that come with children. If society in general had the attitude that young people were welcome and valued in (reasonable) public forums, especially those that are specifically aimed at young people in the first place, then maybe kids as a whole would be less likely to act up. If both parents AND park staff took the attitude that visiting the theme park was a privilege and not a right, and outlined specific consequences, for ANYONE who misbehaved, then maybe fewer people would do so. Besides, Disney has shuttle buses from the parks to the hotels, right? It’d be perfectly easy to take a black marker, put a slash through a misbehaving kid’s (or adult’s) ticket (or simply rip it in half), and put the kid on the shuttle bus back to their hotel. Surely a child of ten or so can walk from the shuttle bus stand to the hotel room, right?

    In any case, even if Disney has to ban unescorted kids under X age (whether X equals 14, or another age), then I still maintain that the only equitable way to do that is if they also made X age the cut-off for the adult admission price, as opposed the child’s price. It’s not fair to treat someone as an “adult” financially, but as a “child” with regards to rules and supervision policies.

  69. Donna March 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    Emily – Actually what it sounds like is that many people asked what the minimum age was and Disney didn’t have a consistent answer so they came up with one. End of story. Nobody is trying to justify this any other way. Nobody is saying Disney isn’t safe. Nobody is saying Disney doesn’t want to deal with kids. At best this is an example of watching what you ask for. The rest is simply us projecting onto Disney.

    In a perfect world parents and children would realize that visiting Disney is a priviledge. In the real world where Disney exists, many parents and children reek with a sense of entitlement about everything and ruin it for the rest of us. While that sucks for us who are responsible, it doesn’t mean that Disney can’t do what it can to protect its interests against those who aren’t.

    Is this a reflection of Disney getting too large and not having the capacity to deal individually with situations? Sure but we only have ourselves to blame for that.

    As for prices, prices are not set based on when you can get yourself to the park. They are based on when you can fully use the park. As far as rides go, an 11 year old is no different than a 40 year old. He can ride every ride (unless he has a growth issue) and takes up the same space. There is no valid reason whatsoever to charge a lesser price for him. Now a 5 year old that is likely too small to ride some of the rides should pay less. In fact Disney is giving you a gift making the age 10 since my very small 7 year old can ride most rides at the Magic Kingdom.

  70. pentamom March 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    “It’s not fair to treat someone as an “adult” financially, but as a “child” with regards to rules and supervision policies.”

    Then they should ban kids under 14 from some of the rides, too. It’s not fair to expect the park to treat you like a “kid” financially but allow you to do all the things people who pay more admission do.

    Whyever is it not fair for a place to treat a kid who is big enough to ride all the rides like a kid who is big enough to ride all the rides, but not like an adult? That’s who they ARE. Kids are not adults, and there is no moral principle that says they deserve to be treated just the same — it would be a pretty terrible world if they were. (No juvenile justice system? No child endangerment laws? No public schools?) I doubt you think that there should be NO policies that distinguish how kids are treated from how adults are treated — if they permit unaccompanied kids, then should they just kick misbehaving unaccompanied ten year olds out the front gate without making sure that they will be arriving somewhere else safely? That’s what they do with adults.

  71. Katie March 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    I would say I have to more or less agree with Donna. I don’t think this is about fear of pedophiles, but about what other guests want and about in a way profitability although I don’t think it is unfair or wrong for them to want to be profitable. In the articles I found the first reason cited is the request of guests and I’m guessing this has to do with various behaviors from middle school age kids. If I’ve paid hundreds of dollars for my family to go to Disney World, I don’t want my experience ruined by kids who while aren’t dangerous are engaging in behaviors that are annoying such as cutting lines, throwing paper or other things that shouldn’t be criminalized, doing things that result in damaged equipment, etc.

    It doesn’t also seem like Disney is going to strictly enforce this from an article I read. Basically what they are going to do is if they see someone alone who looks like they are under 14 they are going to try to get more info on if they are under 14. What I read between the lines of this is that if there is someone under 14 at the gates who is already engaging in low level problematic behavior they, then can go up to them and not allow them in to ruin the experience of other guests. If someone looks 12 or 13 but isn’t bothering anyone and is well behaved my guess is they will let them slip by.

    The way amusement parks work is that if a guest is unhappy often they have to give away stuff free even if the experience was caused by someone else in the park, so perhaps this is a smart move financially to give yourself the ability to limit problems at the gate.

  72. OCDad March 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Steve Martin (the comedian) was WORKING at Disneyland at age 10!!!!

    From ages 10-13. (1955-1958) weekends and summers.

    Selling Guidebooks.

    Lenore needs to get a statement from Steve. And then ask Disney on why it used to be fine to work there at age 10 but now you have to 14 just to enter the park.

  73. pentamom March 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    “What kind of adults do we think our children will be, being raised in this environment? No chance to make decisions, even in the safest/happiest place on earth?!!”

    The kind that doesn’t depend on businesses structuring the things they sell in a certain way in order for you to let your kids learn and make decisions on their own?

    As Donna has pointed out, kids and parents can split up in the park. A kid inside Disney can have as much freedom as a kid anywhere else where they can be within a couple of square miles of their parents, if their parents so choose. They just can’t be there with their parents being completely off premise and possibly inaccessible.

    Some of us can’t even take our kids to Disney. And yet, without a major entertainment corporation’s cooperation, we manage to raise our kids the way we want them to. The policies that Disney enforces on its own property to sell its own product should have zero effect on how much freedom parents give their kids in the whole rest of the world.

  74. pentamom March 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    ” And then ask Disney on why it used to be fine to work there at age 10 but now you have to 14 just to enter the park.”

    Oh, I think a quick look around at how people let their kids behave in public even when right under their eyes, as compared to when Steve Martin was a kid, might answer that one without even asking Disney.

  75. Emily March 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    @Pentamom–As I explained, I think they should deal with misbehaving kids by putting them on a (pre-exisiting) shuttle bus back to their hotels. Also, as for charging ten-to-thirteens the adult admission fee, but claiming that they count as “children” who must be escorted, does create an unfair double standard, because they have to pay a higher admission fee, but they have a stipulation on their ticket that adults don’t have. For example, as one previous poster stated, this rule prevents his twelve-year-old son from independently picking up free trading cards, and, as another poster stated, it prevents native Floridian kids with season’s passes from enjoying Disney for a few hours after school. Anyway, even if Disney sees no way around a blanket ban on unescorted under-fourteens, maybe if there was a middle ground kind of “adolescent” or (barf) “tween” ticket, that cost more than a child’s ticket, but less than an adult’s ticket, to reflect that this person can ride all the rides, but must be supervised, then that’d be closer to fair. That’d make up for at least part of the cost of the accompanying adult’s ticket.

  76. Warren March 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    Walt is on record in interviews about his vision and plans. These also include lost parent kiosks, instead of lost kids.

  77. Papilio March 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    I got curious after reading this and a bunch of reactions: would the local theme park (much smaller than your Disneylands, but still, same idea) here in the Netherlands have age limits at all?
    Answer: No. The park rules say nothing at all about a minimum age, or children being (un)accompanied by adults.
    One of the FAQs is actually ‘Where can I drop off and pick up my child without buying a parking ticket?’ :-)

  78. pentamom March 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    “As I explained, I think they should deal with misbehaving kids by putting them on a (pre-exisiting) shuttle bus back to their hotels. ”

    But that would not be treating them exactly like adults.

    And that’s proper, because they are NOT adults. It is not only permissible not to treat kids like adults, it would be wrong to treat them like adults in every respect.

    So Disney has no moral or legal duty to treat kids just like adults. Being a child is not incidental to being able to appropriate fend for oneself without supervision the way being of a certain race or sex or religion is. It’s not, of course, a perfect straight-line correlation — no two year olds are able to fend for themselves, but most 13 year olds are (or should be, but it’s not Disney’s responsibility to worry about “should,” but about “is.”) But there is a valid distinction between child and adult and it is not unfair to make it where it is applicable (how reliably a person can function without supervision) and not make the distinction where it is not applicable (how much of the park’s resources a person who is fully able to ride the rides consumes.)

  79. Emily March 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    @Pentamom–You’re right, putting a misbehaving kid on a shuttle bus back to their hotel wouldn’t be treating them exactly like an adult, but it’d be less time-consuming than taking them to the office, contacting their parents, and waiting until they arrive. Also, it’d be giving the kids the SPIRIT of an “adult consequence,” even if they couldn’t be kicked out with no way to get back to where they came from. Also, this might not be a bad way to handle a misbehaving adult either, because who’s to say that that adult (who might be a drunken college student on spring break) might not try to get back into the park after being evicted? If the adult had driven themselves to the park, and was sober enough to drive home, then the staff person would escort the offendor to his or her vehicle. Either way, the approach of banning people, instead of behaviours, is basically making an entire subset of people “guilty until proven innocent.”

  80. pentamom March 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    ” putting a misbehaving kid on a shuttle bus back to their hotel wouldn’t be treating them exactly like an adult, but it’d be less time-consuming than taking them to the office, contacting their parents, and waiting until they arrive. ”

    Well, I don’t think you’re taking my main point, which is that it is perfectly legitimate to treat kids and adults differently where kids and adults are actually different, and there’s no “fairness” issue about it.

    But anyway that solution only works if the kids have a hotel to go to. If they are local, either they’re going to have wait for their parents with some staff tied up doing that job, or Disney will somehow have to supervise them traveling across town — which is far more ridiculous to expect of Disney, than for Disney to set a policy about unaccompanied kids.

    “Either way, the approach of banning people, instead of behaviours, is basically making an entire subset of people “guilty until proven innocent.”

    No, no one is suggesting that any kid is guilty of anything. The fact that my children can’t get their driver’s licenses at 15 (even though most kids might have the physical ability and judgment to handle a vehicle at 15, since we allow anyone who can pass the test to do it at 16) does not imply that they’re “guilty” of being irresponsible drivers. I can’t imagine anyone thinking that 15 year olds should feel guilty, or are being called guilty of something, for not being old enough to get driver’s licenses because the state of Pennsylvania says they’re not. It is just a policy that is intended to avoid a certain set of problems, that the institution setting the policy has every right to set.

  81. nosy parker March 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    Sheila’s right – the Red Cross babysitting course is offered to kids at age 11. My son took it a month ago, he was 11.

    I agree with those that think this is a way to make $$$ by forcing parents to pay in order to accompany their kids.

  82. Donna March 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

    “As I explained, I think they should deal with misbehaving kids by putting them on a (pre-exisiting) shuttle bus back to their hotels.”

    First, those shuttles don’t just go to a specific hotel and park; they go all over the Disney Resort. Putting a child who can’t behave in one amusement park on a shuttle that now gives him access to 4 amusement parks, 15 or so hotels and downtown Disney sounds like a grand idea (read that dripping in sarcasm).

    Second, shuttles are only available for the extremely small percentage that stay in a $400 per night Disney Resort hotel with shuttle access (although some local hotels have their own shuttles). What exactly are you going to do with the majority of children who are staying at a hotel with no shuttle? How about those who are local?

    “Either way, the approach of banning people, instead of behaviours, is basically making an entire subset of people “guilty until proven innocent.”

    So is there no age that you think Disney can prohibit from entering its parks alone? If I want to send my 7 year old alone, that should be just fine with Disney and they should have to allow her in? Because otherwise your comment makes no sense.

    I agree that the age is SLIGHTLY old. 12 or 13 would be more appropriate. But that doesn’t mean that those under 12 or 13 are guilty of anything. Going to an amusement park at all is a privilege, not a right. Going to an amusement park without your parents is a further privilege, not a right. There is no magical age in which either becomes a right that you must have unless you are guilty of something.

  83. Donna March 18, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    “would the local theme park (much smaller than your Disneylands, but still, same idea)”

    But the size is kinda the kicker here to me. An institution that has 63 million visitors a year (47 million to Disney World and 16 million to Disneyland) spread over 6 amusement parks simply has limits on what the staff can accomplish. The owners of a place that has to deal with 63 million visitors a year are going to put different rules in place to control things than places that have considerably less than that.

    I took my daughter to an amusement park in Auckland when I was in New Zealand. It was small, compact and moderately attended. I’d totally expect that the workers could keep that place under control, even with unaccompanied 10 year olds doing typical 10 year old things. It simply wouldn’t be that onerous. Disney is a totally different animal. It is like trying to control a full grown lion with the same practices you use to control a 6 week old house cat.

    It is what it is. We created the monster and have to live with it.

  84. Emily March 18, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    @Donna–First of all, I’m sorry, I didn’t know the intricacies of the Disney shuttle system. So, that solution won’t work. However, if your daughter is 7, she qualifies for a child ticket, so if there was going to be an age limit for independent park access, then I think that cut-off should be the same as the cut-off for the adult rate, or if there’s going to be a middle ground, then charge a “middle ground” fare. So, child: must be supervised, presumably too small for some rides, ticket costs $X. Young adult: Can ride most or all rides, but must be supervised, ticket costs $Y. Adult: Can ride all rides, and enter, traverse, and leave the park independently: Ticket costs $Z. That seems like it’s the fairest way to put in an age restriction, if it’s expressed clearly.

  85. hineata March 18, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    All fascinating stuff, but personally I can’t see the problem. As I said upline somewhere, I will still be following my 35 year old ‘kids’ around the place, if they’re nice enough to tell me they’re going… Being a big kid at heart, I wouldn’t be missing out.

    I totally get Donna’s thinking on (most) over tens taking up the same ridesas adults, and therefore being charged the same price. Maybe ticket price should go on height rather than age. Some small people will never be able to ride the full complement of the attractions.

    And as an aside, I am surprised fourteen year olds wouldn’t have some form of id. All the high schools (13 to 18 years usually) I know of here issue i.d. cards yearly. It’s part of your school fees, and incredibly useful if you happen to be unusually short or tall. Mostly kids use them to prove they have either the right to a student/child pass, or the right to enter an R-rated movie…And, of course, that they belong in the particular school that issued them :-)

  86. Donna March 18, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    Emily, I’m really not sure why you insist that admission price should be tied to the age that you can get in the door by yourself rather than the age where you have full use of the attractions. It really makes no rational sense whatsoever. There are many people who can’t use Disney parks by themselves for various reasons who still pay full price.

    And nothing says a child of any age has to be supervised. A person over 14 (not even an adult) simply has to be on the grounds with children under 14. They don’t have to stay together. There is plenty of room for all without anyone stepping into each other’s space if that is what you want.

  87. Donna March 18, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    “These also include a lost parents kiosks, instead of lost kids.”

    If Walt’s vision was that kids should go to the parks by themselves, why would you need a lost anyone kiosk? Maybe a lost sibling/friend kiosk.

    The lost parents kiosks (which still exists) are a funny twist on a lost kids kiosk but still just a way to get parents and kids who have been separated back together. It is not a place that kids can go to ditch their parents. So I’m not sure what it has to do with anything.

  88. Emily March 19, 2013 at 6:45 am #

    Hey, who here remembers “Angela’s Airplane” by Robert Munsch? It starts out; “One day, Angela’s father took her to an airport. But when they got there, a horrible thing happened–Angela’s father got lost.” I think he did the same thing in “Something Good,” which is a story about kids always wanting junk food at the grocery store–instead of saying “Tyya got lost,” he said, “Tyya’s dad got lost.” Also, fun fact–“Something Good” was based on a true story about Mr. Munsch and his own kids, and Tyya is his youngest daughter. But anyway, just echoing Donna’s point here–Walt Disney and Robert Munsch are both making a joke here, which especially makes sense in a “lost at a theme park” context, because I, for one, would probably appreciate a bit of a laugh in a situation like that.

  89. Warren March 19, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    And Donna that is why lawyers are ruining everything. You are a prime example of it.

    You get caught up in the letter of the law, policies and rules. Not the spirit or vision in which they were written.

    And yes there are people that cannot use all the rides because of different reasons, yet still pay full adult fare. Those reasons are theirs, not imposed by the park itself.
    Logic, not litigation, dictates that if the facility deems you a child for all practical purposes, then they need to reflect that in the admission they charge. If you are not treated like an adult on the grounds, then you should not be charged as an adult to enter the grounds.
    This has nothing to do with special needs, or handicaps or anything else. I know logic is something they do not teach in law school, but it does have real world applications.

    My bet is that Walt would only ever make one restriction on entrance into the park………no lawyers.

  90. Warren March 19, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Take a gander at the movie Jurrasic Park. Part of that was taken from Walt’s past. The part where all he wanted to do was create a wonderful magical world for kids, but had lawyers and boards breathing down his neck making him jump through hoop after hoop.

  91. Sandi March 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Of course Disney has the right to set it own rules and limitations. I would argue that size has nothing to do with it, it’s really a question of number of visitors per staff member. I’ve never been to Disney but based on what I’ve heard, they likely have less issues with rowdy patrons than some of the smaller local beer-friendly amusement parks.

    What’s disappointing to me is that Disney is just another example of the pull of the lowest common denominator. Because some parents no longer instill the notion of personal responsiblity (which goes hand in hand with independence) they limit the freedoms previously enjoyed by others. And then those parents turn around and point “bad parent” fingers at those whose children are independent and responsible enough to enjoy a full day at an amusement park without their parents.

  92. Snow March 19, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    For the record, I would like to point out that alcohol is sold in ALL Disney parks in Florida, including the Magic Kingdom. Until recently, you could not get alcohol at the Magic Kingdom, but with the opening of the new Be Our Guest restaurant they now sell alcohol. You have always been able to get alcohol at the other 3 parks, plus the hotels and the Downtown Disney area. Not that the sale of alcohol has anything to do with this conversation, but I noticed a few people saying something about alcohol at Disney so I thought I’d point that out.

  93. Emily March 19, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    @Warren–Thank you. That was the point I was trying to get across the whole time. If the park considers a visitor to be an adult, then they should charge the full adult price. If they consider a visitor to be a child, then they should charge a reduced “child” admission. It’s not right to label someone as an “adult” at the ticket booth, but as a “child” once they get inside the park. Of course, Disney isn’t the only place that does that–a lot of movie theatres put the “adult” cut-off at 13 or 14, but still restrict NC-17 and R-rated movies to people over 17 or 18, unless accompanied by an adult.

  94. bmommyx2 March 19, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    Personally I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I mostly went with my parents & then went my own way. I didn’t go in the park without parents until I was 13 or 14. Unless you live in the neighborhood most people probably don’t drop off their kids & leave.

  95. Warren March 19, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    LoL

    This site was in an uproar at the age limit put into play, at the library, and here alot of you are either defending, rationalizing or indifferent to the same thing being done, at an amusement park designed for kids.

    I guess double standards are live and well even in the free range world.

  96. Paul March 20, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    @Warren. “Amusement park designed for kids”. Really? It’s designed for everyone.

    Beeen there 6 times with my kids, and in all seriousness, it’s not a big deal. Their park, their rules. if you don’t like it, don’t go.

  97. Warren March 20, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    @Paul
    Don’t worry, my kids have been and are now looking for different adventures.

    We had the RV in the parking lot first thing in the morning on day two at the park. My 11 yr olds wanted to get going, we wanted to have a coffee, and relax a bit before heading into the park. My kids suggested they go in ahead of us, and in two hours meet us back at the entrance. And off they went. Can’t happen now. And for no other reason than lawyers over regulating things.

    By your logic then Paul, any privately own business can discriminate against age, race, sex, creed or whatever…….their business, you don’t like it, don’t go?

  98. pentamom March 25, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    “I guess double standards are live and well even in the free range world.”

    I guess there’s a difference between a small publicly-funded area and a massive privately owned entertainment complex.

  99. pentamom March 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Emily — the only way it can work to charge a reduced price for kids old enough to do everything in the park, but too young to be unsupervised (according to their policies) is to raise the prices slightly for everyone, because it doesn’t cost them any less to let in the kids that need to be supervised but consume just as many resources, and the cost needs to be made up somewhere.

    That’s fair, but I get the feeling that really wouldn’t really make people happier.

  100. Warren March 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    If the park charges them the rate, that is designated “ADULT”, then those paying that rate should be afforded all the privelages that designation allows. No exceptions. Disney would be wise to come up with an adolescent designation and pricing. That term is vague enough they could set their own ages for it.

  101. Paul March 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who would absolutely agree that you should let your >14 year old walk around completely unsupervised in a massive theme park.

    some of them might even offer to help your child find you if they get lost! people are usually kind like that. I know I always had a wonderful time when strangers offered to help me find my parents. I was especially proud because i knew deep down it was because i was capable of sexual reproduction, which made me a real grown-up.

  102. Paul March 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    One time they even offered to show me the secret entrance to the castle! but i declined, cause that’s for girls. that other kid went with him though, and boy was everyone excited when i told them that he had gone with the guy with the big smile to the secret clubhouse entrance at the castle! i kind of wish i had gone now, especially since he got to have his picture in the newspaper and everything. I even saw him on a milk carton! lucky.

  103. dan March 27, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Just letting you know you’ve been “cracked.” Just be prepared for a barrage of spastic, moronic posts in your comment section. http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/4-recent-news-stories-you-wont-believe-happened-this-decade/

  104. BrienBear March 27, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    My partner and I (both adults) are premier annual passholders (The one that gets you into both Disneyland in CA and Disney World in Orlando) and we frequent both. I am on board with this, not because of the kids not having enough independence, but because the kids are becoming nightmares, and I don’t mean normal “kid” things, I mean things like cussing people out because they won’t let the kids cut in line, to threatening lawsuits “against you and this park” for explaining that hitting someone in the back is inappropriate.

    We were there about a month ago, and even WITH a parent, some kid was trying to kick the ducks that walk around….

    Yeah – In my opinion, I’m glad because hopefully it’ll help to have parents there teaching their kids to be respectful of others.

  105. Warren March 28, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    @BrienBear
    This is not right though. Rules like this are for lazy people. Instead of dealing with the problem kids, they just ban all kids. It is not right, to punish well mannered kids, because of ill mannered kids.

    Why not just expell the troublemakers. It is that easy.

    Why this does not happen? Because people are lazy, and do not want to get involved. Just easier to ban everyone in that demographic.

    I think they did that before didn’t they, with black people….Im just saying.

  106. sai March 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    I see that everybody talking about the ban w/e
    but is no one worried about the fact that mickey is telling 14 yr olds they can reproduce? is that why my school has so many pregnant teens and then leaving them with their parents so they can continue doing whatever they want? my mom had me at 15 and she tells me all the time that she didn’t know why people let her do what she wanted that she looks at it now and realizes that she wasn’t ready for the consequences

  107. mis March 28, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    The weird part is that this is actually pissing some people off. They argue that since 14-year-olds are capable of sexual reproduction, they should be allowed in the parks by themselves (which seems like one more reason why they shouldn’t, actually), or that the ban is somehow “crushing” kids’ dreams of … having parents who don’t want to go to Disney with them.

    Read more: http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/4-recent-news-stories-you-wont-believe-happened-this-decade/#ixzz2OrbDHLd7

  108. jc March 29, 2013 at 4:04 am #

    Yeah how am I gonna kidna.. uh I mean drop off my kids now? you people are idiots

  109. Bored On The Corner March 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Restricting it to a minimum of 14 years may be overkill, but other than that, ARE YOU PEOPLE NUTS??

    I would NEVER let a child younger than, say, 10, wander around Disney alone. Why? Because there are PEDOPHILES out there, and it’s too easy to lure to grab someone in a BUSY place like Disney World.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] Skenazy, host of the television program Bubble Wrap Kids, criticized the decision on her blog, which Disney said was not made in response to a particular incident, but just to standardize […]

  2. 4 Recent News Stories You Won’t Believe Happened This Decade - catchup24 - March 27, 2013

    […] some people off. They argue that since 14-year-olds are capable of sexual reproduction, they should be allowed in the parks by themselves (which seems like one more reason why they shouldn’t, actually), […]