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Minimum Age Requirement for Park Entrance Policy To Change

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Starting on March 23, Disney will change its age of admission policy for entry into the gates. The new policy states that kids under the age of 14 must now be accompanied by a guest age 14 or older.

The previous rule was that guests under the age of 8 had to be accompanied by a guest age 14 of older.

This change will affect all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks, both Walt Disney World Water Parks, DisneyQuest, and both Disneyland Resort Parks.

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Rikki Niblett

I am a co-host of the Be Our Guest Podcast and do lots of other fun Disney stuff all around the interwebs! You can follow me on Twitter or Instagram at @RikkiNibs or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/rikkinibs

48 thoughts on “Minimum Age Requirement for Park Entrance Policy To Change

  • I don’t know Jeff. Perhaps it is because in my job I have seen the results of a parent, a good parent even, taking their eyes of their child for just one second and the child is molested, beaten and murdered. With my kid, I think 9 or 11 is too young to take my eyes off of them for one single second in a crowded park of thousands of strangers. I know that kind of thing is rare, but when it is your kid, it only takes once. I guess I just couldn’t live with the idea that I could have done something, anything to prevent that kind of thing. I don’t think a 20 minute ride at a theme park is worth the risk. When my son was 3 and 4 we’ve gone to WDW and if I wanted to ride something he couldn’t, I just lived with it. That’s what (in my eyes) being a parent means.

    I think far too many people think that WDW is this insulated, confined space where your kids are safe. Once they walk out of that hotel room, they are out in the world. They can go ANYWHERE (their choice or not) and ANYONE from ANYWHERE can get to them. Florida is third in the nation with registered sex offenders AND THAT IS JUST THE OENS WHO LIVE HERE, AND THE ONES WE KNOW ABOUT.

    I am not judging anyone who choses to do something different. Every family and every child is different. But with the information I have and the things I’ve seen, under 14 is just too young for me. For my son, it would probably be 15 before I’ll let him go off on his own in the same park I am in and 16 before he can go to the park on his own.

    The world just isn’t the same as it used to be (A LOT more people, A LOT more lawsuits, A LOT less personal responsibiliy for people’s actions). His whole life can change based on the decision to ride a roller coaster and leave him on a bench or sleep in and let my 9 year old hop on (what essentially is) a city bus and roam free. I’m sorry but no way.

    • That’s actually where I was leaning. I’ve already explained to my kids that just like they might miss out on some things due to time constraints or whatever else, I might miss out on things for various reasons, and that it’s important to focus more on all of the things we DO end up getting to do. Also, I plan to take them to the local amuesement park a couple of times (they’ve been before) before we go, and suggest (but not insist) that they maybe try a ride or two that “challenges” them a bit. If they choose not to, fine. If they want to, and they end up enjoying the ride, they can continue trying new things, re-ride to get more used to the ride, or whatever. Having a good idea with what they are comfortable with ahead of time should save some headaches for everyone. Anyway, I’m getting a bit off-topic; thanks for the reply!

  • How about a slightly different twist: one parent, two kids (in this case we’ll say 9 and 11). Suppose the parent wants to ride one ride that the kids don’t/cant. This would likely take a little while, but maybe not long enough to warrant a sitter/kids club. Would two well-behaved, but fairly young, kids be allowed to/able to handle waiting on a bench or having a snack for the duration of one ride (plus wait time)?

  • Last month, my 13, almost 14 year old got his first taste of freedom at Disney. We stayed on a monorail resort and he could visit Magic Kingdom or Epcot on his own. He was either ready before the rest of us or wanted to stay when we were heading back for a swim. You have to allow your kids to begin tasting freedom at some point and everyone should know what is right for their own child, but I’ve found that this time out on his own made his time with us more enjoyable for all. He got to test out his wings, we got to figure out if he can handle the responsibility and we still had plenty of family time on our vacation.

    • 13, okay, but was always shocked that Disney was okay with parents dropping 8 year olds off at the gate. I can’t imagine.

  • Just wanted to add a point here … just because a child under 14 enters the park alone, it does not mean he or she would have to be on his or her own all day long. I am all for responsibility in children and can see how a 12 year old who left something they “have to have” (cool sunglasses, for example) that is not particularly important to the family, the tween should be able to go to hotel & back to the park independently and meet up with family upon return. As is the way with society, blanket policies are limiting individual and family choices.

  • I guess my parents were negligent. They used to let my brother and I go off on our own together at 7 and 10 is amusement parks all the time for a few hours. There were regular check-in times, but this was pre-cell phone days. I regularly went to the local amusement park with friends from age 11-13, where someone’s parents would just drop us off at the gate.

    In many countries, children regularly ride public buses and subways by themselves to get to grade school. While in language school in Guatemala, I met an American 14-year-old whose parents had let him come, unacompanied to the country for a month over summer break. However, under Disney’s rules, this same kid could not have gotten on the Jungle Cruise by himself the year before. I feel like the decision should be left up to the parents. This does not excuse misbehaving children, but I believe misbehaving guests of any age should be promptly asked to leave the park.

    • Not just in other countries. When I went to college in Philly I saw kids routinely get on buses and subways to go to school as young as 8.

      A little independence is not a bad thing, although for my personal comfort level, WDW is a little to large of a place and I would be too worried.

  • Ric nailed this.

    It has to do with the data collection and tracking as part of NextGen.

  • Speaking as an only child, I think 14 is a little extreme from 8, which was probably to young to begin with. But 12 and up I think is fine. My parents never did rides with me, so I was pretty much on my own with that. It really depends on the kids maturity level. And the times that did have a friend, is we nice to have a little space from the parentals every once in a while and just feel a bit of freedom. Doesn’t mean it’s any less a family vacation.

  • I dunno, I went off to the parks with my brother when we were 12-13. We felt like big shots, were totally respectful and had a great time while my parents went back to the hotel to relax. I suppose it depends on the kid in question. But I will say I run into more rude, obnoxious adults these days at the park than tweens. It’s a shame for well behaved, mature kids. Though someone mentioned privacy laws and data collection and that sounds like a distinct possibility too.

  • As a kid, we grew up within 3 miles of Six Flags over Texas. Sure its not as big as Disney World, but we worked for our grandparents, and bought our own Season Passes. Every Wednesday during the summer, my grandmother would drop us off at the gate at 9am and pick us up at 5pm. We never missed a meal, never had an accident, it was perfectly safe. We knew park inside and out. We knew every shortcut, every ride, even the areas not to go (who wants to go see a bunch of people kissing by the roaring rapids when the Texas Giant is the newest coaster). We conquered a lot of our own fears in that park, my brother and I, and am grateful that we were trusted enough to go unsupervised. Can stuff happen, sure, but thats part of life, and I refuse to live it in a bubble, or allow my kid to grow up in a bubble of my protection. I would feel much more confident giving my kid a cell phone and saying have fun for the day than I’m sure my grandparents did dropping us off in the 80s.

  • Although I do agree that Disney should find a way to fix the age inconsistencies — hotel adult is under 18, but dining adult is over 10, etc. — I am glad to hear that they are not allowing unattended children in the parks. I cannot imagine allowing my kids to roam around in Disneyworld alone. They are very mature and well behaved. They would be respectful of others. I trust them. But I would NEVER send them out into a sea of tens of thousands of strangers unsupervised. I can’t imagine that anyone would think this was a responsible thing to do.

  • This must mean that Disney is acknowledging that kids under 14 are not actually adults. So from now on ticket prices will reflect this right? (She holds her breath…..)

  • I guess Disney was looking for something to make the new park maps look like less of a mistake.

    I think these new rules are far, far too strict. Especially at Disneyland, I see no reason two 12-13 year olds couldn’t enter the park.

  • This is cracking me up because it seems like my post was misunderstood completely! My husband, our other 3 kids, my kid’s friend’s parents and siblings were all getting on Big Thunder. We just told the 10 year olds they could run ahead while we parked strollers. They were never out of our sight, nor would we ever let them tour a park alone! They ran right back over to us and said they couldn’t get in line without us because they weren’t 12. My point was that if Disney knows 10, 11, 12 and 13 year olds are children, then they shouldn’t charge them for adult meals! That was all! : )

    • I don’t know about others, but I got your point. Kids are kids and should be charged as such.

      I think we are all kind of blown away that Disney had to actually make a policy to tell parents that they can’t send their 9 year old alone to the park. Completely aside from your point, I know. 🙂 And I am so with you. Too many crazy people in the world. I give my son some freedoms, but Disney is wayyyyyy to big with wayyyyy to many people to be the place where kids can “face their fears” and learn to be independent. That’s what the neighborhood park is for.

    • I thought 7 was the minimum age to go on a ride by yourself? That’s what multiple ride CMs told my (then 7yo) daughters on our trip in January. (They didn’t actually WANT to ride by themselves, but they wanted to know if they COULD.)

      • This is correct. Children age 7 and up can ride without an adult.

      • Depends on the ride.

  • Either my 10 year old son is very immature or I am crazy overproctective, but I can’t imagine letting him alone in a park. I sent my husband in the restroom with him. I am proud when he orders his own food!!! This does not bother me at all. It is crazy that they even have to have this policy. Who does that anyway?

    • I agree with you Felicia, we have an 11 yr old son who we can’t let out of our sight, no matter where we are. We were just at the doctor’s office today and he went to the restroom and damaged his DS in the sink.

  • Glad they are raising the age. The behavior of some middle school age kids with an adult is rude and safety should be considered first for all kids. This isn’t about the price of the meals. I paid $25 for me and my 9 yr old for a 3Dmovie to have to deal with 5 loud middle school age kids with no adults. And there is an safety issue letting an 11 year old all day in a park the size of any of the Disney parks. I don’t think Walt would want his family park to have unattended kids inside. What happen to family time?

  • My suspicion is that this has less to do with the maturity of the 8-13 set than it does with laws regarding privacy and data collection on children 13 and under. Pretty sure this is a legal precaution that comes along with a wider NextGen rollout.

    • 100% agree.

  • You scared me! When I read the headline I was sure they were raising ticket prices for toddlers or something. I think as long as kids are fairly well behaved it is ok, but younger than 13 does seem young!

  • I’m not sure I understand why anyone would send their kids off to a Disney Park by themselves. Isn’t this supposed to be enjoyed as a family vacation? What fun is it for them to be there alone? And certainly a 10-year-old (without an older sibling along) is far too young to not have a parent at least in the vicinity. So many things could go wrong.

  • Katie, you do make a very valid point about the “kid” rule. They should up the age on that. U14 is a kid for all purposes (entry, food, ect) or 10 and up is adult for all purposes. While I totally understand that some parents feel fine to let their children wander Disney alone, I for one couldn’t imagine allowing my child at 9, 10, 11, 12 or 13 wander the park alone. I know abductions are rare, but what isn’t is child sexual molestation. Nor is children making less than great decisions. What if your child gets hurt? What if some weirdo starts following your little girl and decides to sit next to her on Pirates of the Carribean? I’m sorry but 9 is too young to be thinking about what other grownups might be planning. At 14, a teen, I still would worry some. I would let my kid go do their own thing in the same park I was in with check-in times and points. By 16, I am all about them being able to go to the park on their own. But 9? I have to get behind Disney on this one. Parents aren’t what they used to be and nuisance children are more common today than ever. Disney can’t be responsible for keeping your kid out of trouble, nor can they be responsible for keeping predators from harassing your little girls.

    • I completely agree with you, Lisa.

    • In one of our large, crowded parks in my state — a well-known tourist attraction, frequented by thousands of families a year — a 14 year old girl went into the ladies’ room. Her parents were waiting outside for her. A weirdo had snuck into the building and was in a stall, waiting. I won’t go into detail on the rest. This was on the news a couple of years ago and it scared me to death. Luckily, an off duty police officer was there that day and had noticed the guy — he set off her “radar” so she sort of kept an eye on him. She saw him hanging out near the restroom building, but then lost track of him. Fortunately she went in and interrupted the situation. The guy was arrested, obviously.
      Now, should you be able to send a 14 year old into the restroom alone? Certainly. But the fact remains that crazy stuff does happen and there are some messed up people out there. It’s sad, but true.

  • I don’t get sending kids off by themselves. Never did that. We were on a family vacation and played together as a family. Our sons are grown with families of their own. We all still hang together while on a family trip.

  • Yet the 10, 11, 12 and 13 year olds are considered adults when dining anywhere on Disney property. On the same day that I paid $31 for my 10 year old to eat chicken nuggets off a buffet, he couldn’t get on Big Thunder Mountain with his friend without an adult. If Disney recognizes 10 year olds are children, then they should treat them as such throughout the resort.

    • Katie, very valid point!!!!

    • I have said this for years! I think they should have an option or 2nd age bracket for dining that is like a tween group. Half the time my kids who are 6 and 10 could split a child’s meal!!!

    • Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds–Ralph Waldo Emerson

    • Agree completely! It’s always been a bit weird to charge this younger demo as adults for meals and tix. Disney should address that too.

    • There used to be a “Junior” category of parks tickets for ages 12-17. It wasn’t a huge discount from adult tickets, but at one time the company did recognize a third age group.

  • Two years ago, we were riding on the bus going back to our resort after spending the day at Hollywood Studios. A boy struck up a conversation with my daughter and after talking to him for a few minutes, I asked where his parents were sitting. Turns out his parents weren’t with him; he had spent the day at HS by himself because his parents were “too tired.” He was ten years old! I told the bus driver and a guy at the front desk, but neither of them seemed too concerned.

    • I hung out at Disney alone when I was 10. I allowed my daughter to go to a park alone at 11; although it was hard for me, she had a cell phone, and I worried. Stranger abductions are extremely rare, that’s why they make the news. The world as we know it is actually much much safer than when we were kids, but parents are much much more paranoid.

    • I guess there are parents who don’t want to be parents. Thank you for your concern. At least one person was trying to look out for this kid.

      • There is a difference between parents not parenting, and parents having a different philosophy than you. While I would not let my 10 yo alone in the park, I can certainly understand and respect another parent’s choice to allow it.

        I believe my 12 yo could handle a day in the parks alone, but her parents would be worried sick so they probably won’t do that anytime soon.

  • I always have problems with the little bastards. If it were up to me, the age would be 25.

    • Thanks Scopa

      • Who the hell’s Scopa?

      • Good one!

    • Brilliant 😉

  • Have there been problems with unaccompanied 13-year-olds in the parks? Or is this just a case of Disney giving into paranoid delusions of middle-school aged kids unable to take care of themselves if they’re not constantly holding an adult’s hand?

    • We have an 11 yr old who has ADD and other issues adn we ouldn’et allow our son to enter the parks on his own. And yes 11, 12, 13 yr olds do cause a bit of trouble and need to be watched by there parents. Were have you been?

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