If you go to Disney World these days, you may find yourself using the My Disney Experience app – a lot. With your MDE account at your fingertips, you can be the king or queen of your family’s planning. But should you be the only one with the keys to the castle? When is it time for your kid to have their own account? Let’s discuss.
What’s the Minimum Age?
If your kid is under 13 this question is moot, because they aren’t old enough to make their own account. You’ll need to create a child’s profile for them, and you’ll manage it.
If your under-13 teen has a phone and you want them to login to My Disney Experience, they’ll have to do it as you. This is also an option for teens (or spouses) who are old enough to have their own accounts, since there’s no maximum age on a managed profile.
What If They Login As You?
What’s the risk here? Well, the good news is they can’t change your password from the app and lock you out. If they try to change the password, you’ll get a passcode sent to the email associated with the account. Without the passcode, you can’t go further and make any password changes.
The other big risk is spending – they’ll have access to your stored payment method when logged in as you. They won’t be able to make expensive resort reservations, but they’ll be able to do everything else in the app that you might need to pay for, with one exception, and some of the things they could book will run into the hundreds of dollars.
For many families this won’t be an issue, and it’s not uncommon for families to choose this route even if their kids are over 13. Even if the whole family is using a single account, you can use a single MDE account on multiple devices at the same time. You’ll be able to try for a Virtual Queue on one device and a primo Lightning Lane pick on another at the same time.
Why Would They Want Access to MDE?
Hey, if they’re not going to be using MDE, they definitely don’t need their own account, right? So let’s take a minute and talk about why they might be using it.
Your kids need to be 14+ to head out to the parks on their own, but you may decide to let them tour separately from you for a bit while you are in the park. They don’t need to be signed in to see wait times. But they’ll need to be logged in to use many other features such as Genie, Genie+, Lightning Lane, Mobile Order for dining, or Mobile Checkout in stores. And if they don’t have their own MDE accounts, then whatever top picks are made on the Tip Board in Genie will apply to everyone because the same account is being used across devices. (Customize the Genie Tip Board for Convenience and Speed)
Even if you’re just hanging at the resort, I was not enthused when my hungry 14-year-old asked me first thing when I woke up (before I even cleared the crusties out of my eyes) if he could use my phone to Mobile Order breakfast. Of course, he could have just walked down to the Mara and ordered at the counter … but as he pointed out, if I’d been awake that isn’t how I would have done it, so why should he have to?
Aside from booking Lightning Lanes and joining Virtual Queues, there’s no aspect of park touring or a resort stay that absolutely can’t be managed without the app. But it does offer quite a lot of convenience, and as your kids get older and have more autonomy, they will naturally want access to that convenience themselves.
So They Should Have Their Own if They Can?
Not so fast. There are some downsides. None of them are things that have no workarounds, but they are things you might want to think about.
I already talked about using Mobile Order and other features that need you to pay in the app. Teens under 18 can’t store a payment method in MDE, so they’ll need to enter payment information every time they purchase. (How Can Kids and Teens Pay for Things at Disney World?) And you’ll find that accounts for minors can’t make dining reservations either.
Then there’s the younger sibling problem. We converted my daughter’s account from a managed profile to an individual account when she was 14. While she was under 18 she could still see her younger brothers and make reservations for them, but once she turned 18 they were no longer connected to her. There’s a standard process to get them reconnected, but it’s not uncommon for people to find that something isn’t right and a call to Disney IT is needed to get everything settled.
You won’t be able to view their tickets and passes anymore, or reassign tickets from them to someone else. This might not be an issue for your family, but I’ve spent more than one pre-trip evening parked in front of my computer checking MagicBand serial numbers to figure out whose was whose. Nothing that can’t be sorted from the individual accounts, but an example of something that’s easier if everything is in one place.
It’s harder to keep secrets. If your kids are logging in with your account, you can simply log them out when you’re not on a trip and they won’t be able to see any upcoming plans. If they have their own accounts, they’ll be able to see a hotel reservation as soon as you make it. Will they check? Maybe not but … I don’t try to predict the teenage mind, because I often get it wrong.
OK, When Do They Need to Have Their Own Account?
This sounds like it’s all up to you and there are no hard and fast rules. And mostly that’s true! But no matter what, there may come a time when it’s just really awkward if they don’t have their own account. When is that?
If you’re not willing to have everyone login with a single account, then they’ll need to have one when they start using MDE on their phones. If you are willing to keep the whole family on a single account, then they’ll need their own when (if) they begin traveling to Disney World on their own or making plans with friends who aren’t on your Friends & Family List.
How Should They Create Their Account?
If this is your first trip to Disney World and nobody has an account, then everyone can create one in the normal way and you can connect by linking to each other.
If your teen already has a profile that you have been managing, then what you want to avoid is having two versions of one person – one from the profile that already existed and one from their new account. I like to make sure the new account is connected to the profile by sending the invitation to connect from the profile. My kid gets an email with a link they can use to create their account, and they can take it from there. If they already created an account, not to worry – you can invite the email address that they used from the existing profile. The important thing is to make sure that you invite them, and not the other way around.
To send an invite, click “Update” next to their name, then “Share Planning With ________” in the upper right corner.
How to Connect to a Managed Profile in My Disney Experience
If your teen’s new account needs to be connected to someone else who has their own account, they can just send them an invite or use a linking code in the normal way. If they need to link to someone with a managed profile, here’s how that works (I’ll assume you’re the one managing the profile):
1. Make sure your Friends and Family List is shared.
2. Have your child (or other family member) select to Add a New Guest
3. Choose the “Find through my connected Guests” option.
Since your Family & Friends List is shared, they should be able to see the other people whose profiles you’re managing. They can request to connect to those guests, and you’ll get an email to approve or deny.
The big gotcha here is that if they’re trying to connect to your spouse whose profile you’re still managing, everything will probably be fine. But there are many stories of people not being able to see the managed profiles of minors and connect to them properly. If this happens to you – and it doesn’t always! – a call to Disney IT should straighten things out.
Do your kids have their own MDE accounts? What do you think the best reasons yay or nay are? Let us know in the comments!