Home » Blog » News & Refurbishments » Disney Parks & News: Disney Changes Admissions Policy; Universal Speeds Ahead on Construction

Disney Parks & News: Disney Changes Admissions Policy; Universal Speeds Ahead on Construction

by Leap on March 22, 2013 · 56 Comments · in News & Refurbishments

Hi there! We do a roundup every Friday of the most interesting news surrounding Disney and the Orlando theme parks. If you’re thinking about a trip to Disney World, we post news, tips and information to this blog throughout the week. If you’re ready to plan your trip, we recommend you start with our planning pages.

OK, let’s get started!

  • Disney made news this week when it announced it was instituting a policy that children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult to enter all of its U.S. theme parks. While Dad’s Guide to Walt Disney World asked the question of whether this was a “big deal or not,” The Los Angeles Times did a very good story that explored reasons for the change. It got us thinking about the “right age” to let a child visit the parks alone. I know splitting up inside the parks is common, but at what age would you (or did you) let you child go solo? Share your thoughts below.
  • TransformersConstruction at Universal Studios appears to be moving at a brisk pace, with MiceChat predicting a soft opening ahead for Transformers.
  • Speaking of Universal, a new trailer was released for “Despicable Me 2,” which hits theaters July 3 and reminds me of all the fun I had on Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios.
  • Cinderella at Epcot® International Flower & Garden FestivalMommy Frog and Tad paid a visit to the Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival this past weekend to check out the blooms (or play areas in Tad’s case) and put together a few tips for touring with kids!
  • With Easter right around the corner, Disney Floral & Gifts has put together a few Disney-themed baskets that Mickey Mouse can help the Easter bunny deliver if you’re staying at the Walt Disney World Resort over the holidays.
  • For those of you keeping an eye on the West Coast, SeaWorld has announced a July 1 opening date for Aquatica San Diego.
  • It seems like there is always debate about the value of the Disney Dining Plan, and for those of you who like math, one Disney fan has put together a spreadsheet to help you run the numbers.
  • Characters in FlightThe Disney Parks Blog explored some of the “gems” at Downtown Disney — soon to be Disney Springs — starting with Characters in Flight, the gigantic balloon that offers incredible views of the entire Walt Disney World Resort.
  • LEGOLAND Florida is planning to bring the “Legends of Chima” to life this summer  – with a new “world” in the park that will include an interactive water ride and battle arena.

That’s all for this week. Until next week, happy planning!

Related: How Much Planning Should You Do for a Disney World Vacation?

— Leap

 


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56 Responses to “Disney Parks & News: Disney Changes Admissions Policy; Universal Speeds Ahead on Construction”

  1. Tim says:

    I remember years ago growing up around Opryland in Nashville, TN. It was common for us to be dropped off at the park with friends to run around and hang out all day in the summer. We started doing that in middle school so we couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13. Of course, then we didn’t have the rash of child abductions or problems we do these days. I’d never let my kids do that now.

    • Jen says:

      I miss Opryland, that was the best amusement park I have ever attended. Glad to know others loved it as much as I did, too bad they dismantled it for a Mall

    • Art Rafferty says:

      I agree about Opryland. It was a great park. I was living in Gladeville (near Mount Juliet) when the decision was made to pull the plug on the park and build a mall instead. Sad day for Nashville!

  2. georgemoccio says:

    no child should left alone in any park.

  3. Erica says:

    My mother used to let my friends and I go off on our own in theme parks. We’d meet up with her every 2 hours and all was well, HOWEVER….that was in and about 1990-1996, the world seemed a whole lot safer then. There was no fear of leaving your kids like there is today. So sad.

  4. Mark says:

    I don’t consider 12 or 13 a child. This is a way Disney can capture additional revenue.

    • Sidney says:

      I do not wish to be subjected to poor behavior by teenagers without parents to parent them. UP the age to 17 and get on with life. No unattended teens please.

  5. Denise says:

    I remember being alone with friends in the park at the age of 14 (high school freshman). The problem is that parents were using the parks as childcare while they are at work. They buy the kids a season pass and drop them off in the morning when the park opens then pick them up at the end of the day. The kids (pre-teens/teens) run around unsupervised, cutting in lines and annoying tourists on vacation. That is why Disney implemented this new rule.

    • Art Vandelay says:

      As a child my dad dropped me off at the golf course every day. I got in 27 holes everyday and became quite good at the game. No riff raft , developed a lifelong passion for the game, and stayed out of trouble.

  6. Jacobi says:

    Just returned from Orlando four days ago, but if a kid younger than 14 is in the park and gets hurt, it would take parents over an hour just to get them and help them out. Even with EMTs, that’s a long time to wait as a child with a broken ankle or something. I am a teacher and I like the new rule. Disney Cast members need to be able to serve joyfully, not babysit kids that are too rowdy or be pulled away by medical emergencies with no parents to help.

  7. D. Marie says:

    I don’t like that new rule. I remember when I was between the ages of 15-17, I used to go to great adventures during the summer and my lil brother who was 6 years younger than I was. I didn’t have parents with me. It was convenient for us because most times my mom couldn’t make it because she had to work or just didn’t want to go. The same thing applied with Disney as well. So they need to rethink that. Also, what age do they consider an adult to be? 17 or 18

    • Jen says:

      I have to agree, we as Americans are such hypocrites, a group of mixed age kids would be fine. The problem is we take our childrens rights away, they have to be 18 or 21 for this or that. But what age are they an adult in the movie theater? And is Disney not going to charge them an adult admission rate and say the need ADULT supervision? And let me see how many kids are charged as adults?

    • EarlGrayHot says:

      Again, as per the other comments, why should other families be subjected to teenagers behaving badly with no parental supervision? The theme parks are not childcare options and clearly too many parents wrongly use them for that. It’s not a money-making idea-it’s a “Let’s make sure parents supervise their kids and keep them from being annoying little jerks without mom and dad to control them or attend them quickly in case of an accident. Good idea to restrict kids and demand parents act like parents.

    • Richard Moses says:

      Here in Kansas, the “Age of Consent” is posted at age 16. That is plenty young enough to be let to run loose in an amusement park. I also work for Ottaway Amusements, (Derby, KS), and during the carnival season, it is not uncommon to see local kids, at the towns we set for fairs, to be on the Midway, from the time it opens, until it closes; and many of them are under age 14. And where are the parents? Off doing their thing, while their kids run loose, unsupervised.

  8. Johnny V says:

    My knee jerk reaction was that a child would need to be a minimum of 18 before I let them go there on their own, but honestly, it would depend on the child…. If it was my clueless daughter, no way. If it was my strapping son who has a solid head on his shoulders and is aware of the world around him, then ok…But, probably age 21…

    Let’s stop pretending, you are not safe ANYWHERE in America… so we mind as well start realizing that and take precautions.

    • CTMom says:

      Are you really saying that your son/ daughter can go to war, but not Disneyworld? Interesting.

  9. Pyha S. says:

    As a current Cast Member at the Disneyland Resort in California, I must say that I stick behind the decision of Disney. As JACOBI stated, “Disney Cast membrs need to be able to serve joyfully, not babysit kids…” Our jobs focus 100% around safety! This is one thing that kids, wether it is intentional or not, have no concern over when having a good time with friends. I love my job, as do many of my cast members, but we must always focus on the safety of every person in the park. Not to mention, that should an injury occur, Disney health services can only go so far. Without proper supervision/authorization Disney cannot legally transport any child under a certain age to a medical facility. (i.e. a hospital). Besides, loophole 101, no one said the adult must accompany the minor INTO the park, they must be accompanied upto the TURNSTILE.

  10. Tammy says:

    A 10 year old is required to buy an adult ticket. I think Disney policy and ticket prices should correspond. If the policy “children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult to enter all of its U.S. theme parks,” their tickets (age 10-13) should not be adult tickets.

    • Monica says:

      Good point!

    • KL says:

      AMEN! Put your money where your mouth is. If they are not considered adults, stop charging admittance as adults. Bet somebody didn’t think about that before changing the policy!

  11. Bill says:

    It’s not a question of age you should drop your children off. The real question is who can afford to take their kids to this park.

  12. cabeachbaby says:

    They failed to mention that the also raised ticket prices last month to over $90 an adult ticket.

    So much for every child getting to visit the so called happiest place on earth

  13. STEVE says:

    As I remember, my daughter and her friend were allowed to catch the bus to the rope drop at MGM when she was 15. She had a cell phone and we were to meet and join them at 11AM. It was a big thing to her to be about to be alone in Disney. As part of her reward for being Validictorian she and four of her friends flew out of Indy for a five day stay after high school graduation.

  14. Mike says:

    They should charge more money for admission and t-shirts. The parks need to a profit just like any other business. If you don’t like the prices, don’t go. But complaining here won’t change anything

  15. Father of two says:

    I agreed, if the kids are not considered as adults then the entrance fees should be kids price too!

    • Cadet says:

      10-13 year olds will be riding the “adult” rides, not the kiddie rides with the 2 year olds…”adult” rides=adult prices.

  16. M says:

    Did they forget to mention they are raising the ticket price to 92 dollars?
    I went to Scary Knotts Farm freshman-sophomore year at my high school, at night. Once we arrived all the adults that did come let us on our merry way. All they said was, “Be back here before 10 or you’ll be left behind.”
    I think the new rule is for the best, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  17. M. Steele says:

    I think it is funny how people keep saying “back in the 80′s or 90′s the world was much safer and now we have many more abductions etc”. NO it wasn’t any different except that now with the internet and social media we hear and read and see a lot more vs. pre internet times.

    • Karen H. says:

      I agree with you. Back in the “good old days” you just didn’t hear about things. Just now read a story about a cold case where a child was kidnapped and murdered in a small town in 1957. People think things like that didn’t happen before but they did. It was just usually local news and if a crime was sexual in nature, it was rarely publicized because of the stigma to the victims. Now you hear about everything that happens everywhere. Yet, crime statistics are actually down from 20 years ago….

  18. gwen says:

    M.Steels I agree with you about it not being safe back then as well i am sure the girls in Cleveland that were just found would not think it was so safe yrs ago as well…it can happen to anyone at any time..I don’t leave any of mine alone to take the chance…they are to pressious for that!!!…How would you ever forgive yourself if something were to happen to them or even one of their friends…now of days i even make them go to the bathroom in sets of 2 or 3.. just to know they are safe…call me paranoied i dont care i know they are safe!!!

  19. Susan Woodward says:

    When visiting Disneyland in the 60′s at 11 years old, my 7 year old sister and I would walk over to the park in the morning from our motel. I was a very responsible kid and we would ride rides and have breakfast. We would then walk back to the motel around noon to meet up with my parents.
    The key word is responsible and in the 60′s. The world is simply not safe now and many more children are bratty entitled know it alls who live to annoy. Always the minority who ruins it for the majority.

  20. Rosie says:

    This rule is not about your brats SAFETY it is about the kids who ANNOY everyone else!! To use any business as a babysitter is not fair to ANYONE!! The rule should state, if you live with in 100 miles of the park you can only come in if accompanied by your own parent! For every parent that is worried about little Susie getting abducted/abused there are 10 who let their kids run free/ wild in parks/malls/pools. The rest of us get to suffer t through their poor behavior!! A venue may not be able to “transport” miner but I am pretty sure an ambulance can haul anyone–the question is who will pay for the ride!! Possibly the rule should be if anyone is observed by an attendant or guest being rude they will be immediately removed from the park. Someone needs to save the rest of us from poor parenting!!

  21. Tessa says:

    Even as mature as my 10 year old daughter is, I would not allow her to go the parks alone under the age of 14. That said, I think Disney should align its ticket and dining plan pricing to this new policy. Perhaps a “Junior” price – somewhere in between child and adult? Not sure, but didn’t they have such a thing in the past?

  22. carol miller says:

    What kind of discount does a military family get??Does anyone have an answer for that?

  23. D Puppies says:

    I totally agree with the rule, and even 14 is a little young, I think. If I’m paying $2500 plus meals for a family vacation, I don’t want to deal with someone else’s misbehaving and entitled children. Most kids will be very well behaved on their own, but it only takes a handful to abuse the freedom and ruin the privilege for everyone.

    Aside from that, heatstroke and sprained ankles can land a kid in the medical services area pretty quickly. It would take over an hour for a parent to arrive who isn’t already in the park. In the meantime, there is very little that the emergency workers can do for your child until you arrive. Why would any decent parent risk that??

  24. Jamie says:

    The first time I went to Disneyland without a parent… Wait… I only went once with a parent!! The rest of the time I went with friends!! I think my first time was around age 10 or 11. My friend and I went every year for our birthdays til I was 14. Our parents would drop us off at the front in the morning and pick us up after the fireworks, around 9:45-10:00 pm. We were not nuisances to the cast members, and we knew how to behave. Call it what you will, but I put the blame on parents for children who are unruly and completely disrespectful. Yes, it’s true there are parents out there who just let their kids do whatever…. I was lucky to have pants who instilled manners, morals and values into me. I at 14, my 8th grade class went with a few teachers as chaperones. Again, we knew how to act, and also that misbehavior had consequences. As an adult, I was lucky enough to land a job as a cast member in the merchandising dept. the best time I ever had at Disneyland was working on Grad Nights for senior classes!!! Those kids (ok they were 17-18 yrs old young adults) helped to show me that Disneyland truly is the happiest place on earth !!

    I agree that if the Disney “suits” are imposing this new rule about what age a child can be unaccompanied, then Disney should go back to when the child rate included children under age 10, but raise it to include children under age 14. Why make children pay adult prices when they’re just children? Disneyland is so expensive now… $100 to walk in the door, $15 to park, and average of $12-$15 per person per meal inside the park?? Easily a $2500-$3000 trip for a family of 4.

    I’m not looking to anger anyone and I’m not looking for rude comments about how you view what I said. This forum is full of people and their opinions and thoughts. We, as adults, should be able to read something a person ( a stranger at that) writes and if we disagree, simply move on or simply state “I disagree with your views”. If we can’t do this, as adults, then we are no better than those we are judging against. We should not “bash” others who say something that differs from our own opinions. After all, where do you think children learn it from?

  25. AJ Lynch says:

    I’ve been going to WDW in Orlando since we first took our daughter there around 1982. It was, and still is, a wonderful place. (We have a few relatives in Central Florida, too.) Granted, over the years, there’ve been many changes. WDW greatly expanded with additions, seasonal crowds, and, yes, unfortunately, some people who go there with the attitude that “social skills” can be left at home. I’ve never really been disappointed there after a dozen visits. If nothing else, it’s never boring. Although the prices are high and should be a factor in planning a visit, I still believe the benefits (entertainment, recreation, exercise (walking???), informal but nonetheless effective educational opportunities) make it worth the trip. Now that I’m older and no longer go on many “rides”, I still enjoy the experience. When it’s part of a larger “vacation” scheme, there’s always ample opportunity for “downtime” R&R. WDW doesn’t necessarily have to be “the whole enchilada”. The area (Orlando) is chock full of “destinations” and other things to see and do. I still look forward to our next visit, in a year or so.

    I’m not sure where I stand on the “accompanied child” rules, yet. I do feel, very strongly, that anyone who is legally entitled to vote, and certainly, old enough to serve in the military (whether he/she does or not), is in no way a “child”. As far as I know, at the age of 18, a person is legally an adult. If Disney insists that an adult must accompany a child at the admissions gate, there should be an adjustment in the price for that adult. (But, then, Disney has never asked for my advice or opinion on that matter and, since they’re a business, they can make whatever policies they want. As a consumer, I have my own spending “policies” that guide my decisions and plans. “Nuff said.”

  26. sundayschild48 says:

    I remember a time when Disney stopped admitting people to the park when a certain number of people were in the park rather than just flooding the park with an unlimited number of people and having waiting lines well over an hour for some attractions. I remember when it did not cost a week’s worth of wages for an average person to bring his family to the parks for a days enjoyment! I remember when adults and children were respectful to each other. Finally, I remember that at the age of 17 walking into Disney Land for a good time prior to being deployed to an overseas base to wait until I turned 18 and could be deployed to Vietnam.

  27. TB says:

    The link to “reasons for the change” mention that back in the day some parents who lived in the area would buy year round passes and then use the park as a vast day care center, with their kiddies running around unsupervised all day. I remember that, and I couldent help thinking to myself how many young children there were in the park that seemed to be by themselves. I guess Disneyland got tired of being a babysitter, and i dont blame them.

  28. VegasLive says:

    Props to Disney. I would never let my children wonder any Park let alone one the size of Disney without me there, and I always wonder when I do see this what is the though process of the Parents. So its obvious the thought process is non existent and Disney has made the decision to think for the Parents. Bravo.

  29. susan says:

    Everyone who is complaining about being old enough to go to war but not get into Disney without parents, read the article again. It says under 14 will need a parent. Are we now sending children under 14 to war? Read carefully before sayings ignorant comments. Unfortunately there are a lot of unruly children that should be supervised wherever they go. I also hope that all parents are concerned for their children’s safety. Something you should want all companies to take seriously regardless of price.

  30. Bruce says:

    Before moving to Florida we went annually to Disney. When my son turned 15, I gave him freedom to enjoy the parks without having to spend it under our total supervision. He always had a friend with him the same age. The only requirement was for him to text me every hr to let me know where they were and that they were ok. It worked great for all of us and we never had a problem.

  31. nance says:

    My “kids” are 37 and 41 and we have never split up in any amusement park. We went there for family time and we enjoyed it together. Now these “kids” have our grandchildren and we all go around and ride the rides together. I admit, as grandma, I now sit out the upside down, twisty turny rides but I still love to see their faces as they zoom by. I can’t imagine going together and then running off in all directions.

  32. Barbara Boyer says:

    I was nine the year Disneyland opened. Our parents gave us money and dropped us off at the front. It was great. But, sadly all the days like that are gone…. no trick or treating, theme parks, playing in the front yard, riding bikes, etc., without adults. Too many social dangers.

    • Trish says:

      Has there ever been an abduction or even an attempt at any of the Disney parks? For the record, kids are far more likely to be abducted and/or murdered by their non-custodial parent or someone they know than a stranger, so no need for the paranoia.

  33. Debbie says:

    I think its only appropriate that Disneyland would follow the law. No child under the age of fourteen should be left unattended. Anywhere! So I am all for it…there are too many predators around to allow otherwise. Yay for Disney!

  34. 70sAdult says:

    The dangers keep getting reiterated here. And yes there are dangers in the form of predators. Many seem to keep wanting to overlook the bad behavior of the children in question (not all). Of course, the people who don’t want to admit that some children (not all) aren’t responsible enough to handle such a privilege (not a right) are probably the adults who were never taught themselves to be responsible. Many (not all) of the so-called adults had their children when these adults (not all) were just children themselves. And, so the sense of entitlement was inherited and has been passed on for another generation. I do not think 14 is an unreasonable age. And as for ticket prices and meal tickets reflecting the change that presents yet another problem. Disney provides meal ticket specials. The children’s meal program allows children’s choices, but these children get to a certain age and they want to order off the adult menu. Their parents think they should be allowed to have an adult meal. Adult entrees are more expensive than chicken nuggets, macaroni & cheese, pizza and hot dogs. Again the problem comes in with the parents (not all) who weren’t raised to follow guidelines. And the adults who weren’t raised to be responsible (not all) will not like the things I have said. Disney’s rules and regulations have kept these theme parks in excellent condition for years. Other theme parks have closed because they didn’t want to create rules that would “offend” irresponsible people. Well, if irresponsible people are offended let them stay away. Preserve the good clean atmosphere that Walt Disney created for generations to enjoy.

  35. Chicks says:

    Having just returned from WDW, I’m adding my two cents. Disney should have a junior rate for kids 11-13 or have the kids’ rate up to 13. You shouldn’t charge a person an adult rate but say they aren’t adult enough to tour a theme park without an adult.

    I think the helicopter parents need to allow their children some freedom to make decisions on their own and that includes how to behave and manage a theme park without a parent. How are they going to behave in the world when they really are adults without mama standing by? To say a child that can drive and have a job can’t go to a theme park alone is ridiculous. (Many commenters here, not Disney are saying that.)

  36. Greg says:

    It’s fine. If you don’t like the rules go elsewhere. Disney has a right to do this for whatever reason.

  37. ROXANNE says:

    As a mother of a very well behaved 13 yr old who would be fine on his own in any situation. However, he is still too young to be left alone unaccompanied. First of all are there more child abductions or do we just know about more, does it matter if your child is taken e taken. I could not live with that if I could have done something to stop it, like be with my child to make him less likely a target. Second as a parent I do not want to have to deal with kids that are out of control because they are away from their parents. Of course hey could be with their parents who seem not to care. My parents would not let me go to an amusement park by myself until I got out of High school. I was able to go with friends when I was 16. I am a 50 yr old so I was raised when it was fine to let a 4 yr old go down the street to play. You let the yr old walk to the birthday party 2 blocks away. My parents went to the party with me then left and came back to get me. I was allowed to go play at a friends house when I was 4 but my mom watched me till I got there. We give kids too much freedom. I am not a helicopter mom but I am not a leave alone one either. My son is none the worse for it. He would on his own want us to be together at parks and other places. He goes to school functions on his own but from time to time he wants us to go too. Disney should have done this years ago. Thanks Disney.

    }\

  38. Cindi says:

    We are going to Disney in May with extended family. We have three boys 17, 16 and 13. Cousins include 4 more boys 21, 18, 16 and 15. Does this mean Disney is telling me my 13yo cannot enter the park with his brothers and many cousins? So Disney is essentially telling me that my older sons are not responsible enough to watch their younger brother?

  39. Clarifier says:

    Just a few points of clarification:

    The rule on admission age without someone 14 or older is based on maturity level and age of consent for medical treatment without parental approval.

    Ticket prices — child and adult — are based on the rides available to the guest.

    Oh, and minimum age for military service is 18 without parental consent and 17 with parental consent. So, that does not even belong in this discussion.

  40. Charlie says:

    The question is, Is the park safe with these young unsupervised ones ? I practically grew up in Disneyland during the 60s. We knew how to behave and respect the property of others and those around us. Far too many young people today are totally void of respect and are product of the entitlement era. I agree with Disney on this one and I am sure they have a reason for doing it based on experiences with these unsupervised ones.

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