Disney to begin enforcing age limit for getting into the parks alone

March 18, 2013, 9:31 AM · The Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort theme parks this weekend will begin enforcing consistent rules on how old visitors must be to enter their theme parks. Starting March 23, visitors who appear to be under age 14 won't be allowed to enter the parks alone any longer.

The kids
Sorry, kids. If you're not in high school yet, you'll need someone else with you to get into the parks now.

Of course, since most kids in their early teens don't have IDs with their ages on them, it'll be up to front-gate cast members to play "guess my age" when deciding to let a kid into the park without a parent or older sibling.

Disney's not had a consistent rule on this before. I spoke with a Walt Disney World cast member this week who said that there had been a policy that one had to be 14 to be use the WDW transportation system alone, but that parks weren't consistently enforcing any age rules once you were at the front gate. When I worked at Disney, kids had to be at least seven to ride attractions on their own, but I don't recall any explicit age limit to get into the park without a parent. At Disneyland, in California, some local parents for years have been using the park as a babysitter, buying annual passes for their children who more often than not go to the park on their own.

Fourteen's the average age for a high school freshman, so the policy will hit some middle school and elementary students who'd been using the parks as an after-school getaway. Maybe some kids staying at the Epcot resorts won't be able to run over for pastries in France while their parents take a nap or hit the hotel bar, either. But I suspect that resourceful kids near the cutoff age simply will find a way to "blend in" with some adults or older kids who look like them when they're entering the park. And, of course, kids under 14 will continue to be able to go on many attractions alone once they are in the parks.


Replies (12)

March 18, 2013 at 9:47 AM · Wow Robert – I am not sure what to make of this. There are many Pros and cons to this policy. I do believe you should be with an adult, but what is the difference. If I go to the park, after the front gate, I could leave without my kids. Go take the nap you talked about, which I could use right now by the way….

I am not sure if this will do anything. What is the point? Are there many problems with young children in the Parks?

March 18, 2013 at 9:54 AM · I think Disney's trying to reduce the size of "after 3pm" crowds at Disneyland, and it's hoping that the publicity around this will discourage some local parents from sending kids into the parks unaccompanied. Disney wants to clear space for visitors who spend more on food and souvenirs than the middle school kids do. Now, if local parents want to visit with their kids, and bring their credit cards, I'm sure that Disney will continue to welcome them -- and their money -- with open arms.
March 18, 2013 at 10:20 AM · I don't think they can really enforce the rule either, but I have to agree that it's probably to reduce the crowds after school. It'll make some parents think twice about trying to send their kids to DLR as a baby sitter.
March 18, 2013 at 10:26 AM · Obviously this rule is going to next to impossible to enforce. However, I don't think it's Disney's intension to enforce the rule, just establish that they have a rule. By establishing the rule, they then have the option of how rigorously they enforce it. So unless some massive influx of sub 14-year olds start flooding the parks forcing Disney's hand, this announcement is more window dressing than anything else.
March 18, 2013 at 11:44 AM · I never really noticed a problem in the parks with this, but I had a trip to disneyquest that was miserable because the entire place was full of kids running wild and no parents in sight. It was just about 4:00 on a weekday, and when I talked to some of the workers about it, they said it was like this every day. Parents would get them a season pass and use it as day care. You couldn't even use the elevators because there were a dozen kids who spent the day just riding up and down from floor to floor. (My wife was in a wheelchair, so we had to use them and you'd push the button and get a full elevator, wait on the next one and it would be the same kids. Wait again, same thing.)

I am surprised 14 is the cutoff. I can see sending a 14 year old back for something in the hotel. I would have said under 10. either way, though, parents should be parenting their kids and not just dumping them off someplace to fend for themselves.

March 18, 2013 at 2:35 PM · I think this is one of those rules that Disney will get the results they want just be announcing it. Yeah, there are ways to get around it and it's hard to enforce, but there are many people who won't make the effort to circumvent the rule and others that are afraid they'll get "caught".
March 18, 2013 at 4:07 PM · I think it's a rather worthless rule. Kids 13 don't have to be with an adult; they only have to be with someone 14 or older. Huh? This makes zero sense to me.
March 18, 2013 at 4:47 PM · I think this would affect Disneyland more than Disney World
March 19, 2013 at 10:36 AM · I agree with most of the above comments. This isn't a hard rule that Disney will always enforce, but it's a rule that can be enforced if needed to be. If you have throngs of unsupervised kids showing up after school, then you not only have a bunch of customers with no money taking up line space and crowding the walkways, you also have the potential for the types of behavior that are "detrimental to the theme park experience"...(see bratty kids) Amusement parks sometimes get treated like babysitters, and Disney probably isn't interested in being one. It doesn't pay, and it increases liability. This is a rule that allows them to play it both ways. They'll probably let the good kids do their thing most of the time if they are already in the park, but they've also claimed the authority to turn kids away at the gate or kick them out for a very general reason instead of a specific one that singles out.

On that note, maybe they should raise it to 16. The vast majority will have an ID (license) by then, enabling them to actually check. I wouldn't be surprised to see more parks adopt this rule in the near future.

March 19, 2013 at 9:18 PM · They better enforce it strictly, if they are going to enforce it.

Because if they don't, someday soon they will stop some kid, maybe a minority, and they'll get labelled as racists for letting white 13-year-olds in the park and stopping black 13-year-olds. Or just get sued for discriminating, whether it's a minority thing or not.

You don't make rules just so you can randomly enforce them. That isn't fair.

BTW, at lot of swimming pools have rules about ages, but generally the age is 12. Either you have to BE twelve, or you have to be OVER 12.

Lastly, if you don't have a rule that says the kid has to be escorted by an adult, how are you going to claim you have any rational basis for the rule? So a parent who has free time can come to the park with their kid and escort them to the gate and send them in, but if the kid's parents have to work, and the kid gets out of school and comes on a bus, he can't get in?

March 19, 2013 at 10:54 PM · Once again, it says nothing about parents. Or, for that matter, adults.
March 20, 2013 at 11:37 PM · Don't you have to give your birthday when registering your season pass. The cast member will know when they scan their pass.

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