Young Adults Go Free Range at Disney

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Kristen K.'s picture
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Young Adults Go Free Range at Disney

I really don't have much of a choice about "letting" my older two kids have whatever freedoms they want on our next Disney Trip. After all by the time we get there they will be 18 & 20. I know, I know, they're actually adults and I'm in denial about it. They just need to make it on time to specific events.

Here's the kicker though, they have a younger sister that will be almost 14 who is going to flip out if the "big kids" get to go do whatever they want to and she can't stretch her wings a bit. Now, I must admit my folks let me have the run of WDW at about age 10. Times have changed though and I just don't know what I think.

When would or did you let your young adults go free range at WDW? Right now I'm thinking that as long as my (almost) 14 year old is in the same park as we are it's ok if she's off on her own.

When do teens on their own turn into a problem for you as a "child free" traveler?

Karen's picture
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Ooh tough one eh
I think I'd do a test run
Maybe let them have a couple of hours when you get to the park and meet them for lunch or even a ride you have fast passed
I only have one son and he's staying with us until he's thirty (12 now) Don't think he agrees but I live in hope laugh
I suppose it depends too on how many times they've been before - my son and niece know Magic Kingdom better than our local park at home!!
mickey

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It was honestly harder for me to let my DS go out alone at Disney than it was for me to let him take public transit in Chicago to/from school. How's that for inconsistent? Knowing the youngling in question - as long as she feels ok and is checking in let it be her choice to venture off. Like Karen said, we did a test run of about 1.5 hours and it was us who ran late for the meet-up. sarcastic Way to go, losers! We gave DS a pre-loaded Disney gift card for food/soda/omg, I need that stuff and he managed it more thoughtfully than I expected him to.

crazycatperson's picture
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I think WDW is still one of the safest places to let teens off on their own. But the 13-year-old has to understand that the older two could be off patrolling minefields in Afghanistan at their age, so obviously they have adult freedoms that she doesn't have yet.

They also have adult RESPONSIBILITIES. So maybe enlist them to take the 13-year-old along with them from time to time. The kids all get some time off from old farts, and the 13-year-old still has someone more mature to keep an eye on her. (Time for sibling bonding in the most magical place on Earth is an added advantage.) Combine that with periods of time off all by herself (providing she proves she's responsible enough to be on her own by following your rules the first time) and some time with Mom and I bet she'll feel as if you're respecting the fact that she's not a little kid anymore.

Kristen K.'s picture
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Kaite (DD13) did get to spend some time off with her brother when we were in both in WDW 2011 and Disneyland 2012. It went pretty well, no major issues or complaints. Well, other than that I called them and made them get out of the Toy Story Mania Line to meet up. She's also gotten to go explore the hotel all on her own on both of those trips without issue. I think we'll be able to find a good middle ground. She's getting pretty excited!

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I see no issue. At that age, we went on group trips to Disney/Bush Gardens with my middle school. We had chaperones, but we were able to walk around with just our friends. Thing is, you know your kids better than anyone. If you know they are good on their own or with each other, I wouldn't worry! Smile

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Our teens (13, 16 and 18) have free reign at Disney. They know every nook and cranny of Disney and have been good tour guides for friends and relatives visiting. The only rule is that they have a phone and not be alone. Some of their friends have annual passes also, so they usually take a friend and ditch us at the gate - if they even go to the same park! I really don't worry, they have been lost on a few occasions when they were little, and have always found a cm and been returned quickly. They're pretty trained as far as strangers, and now that they are older they have earned our trust and never been in any trouble. I'm sure bad things happen at Disney and we don't hear about it (Disney's good with keeping things positive w the media) but anything could happen at the mall or anywhere else they go. With all the people around, I feel like they are pretty safe now that they are a little older. My 18 yr old's friends got passes for Christmas so he's been there with them w/o us!
Depends on how independent the kids are and how familiar they are with Disney in my opinion.

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Kristen K.'s picture
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Oh.... my youngest daughter is NOT happy about this one. She's going to miss being 14 by about 3 weeks. mad

"Starting March 23 2013, guests under age 14 will need to be accompanied by a guest age 14 or older. Currently, the policy is that guests under 7 years of age must be accompanied by a guest age 14 or older."

Source

crazycatperson's picture
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The way I'm reading this, it's the minimum age for park ENTRY. She can't enter the park unless she's accompanied by someone over 14. It doesn't say she can't wander around the park alone after she enters the park with you, or with the older siblings.

Kristen K.'s picture
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So, you think it's just to get into the park? That would be ok, we had planned on being in the same park as her but really hoped to let her do her own thing.

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The headline reads, "Changes coming to minimum age requirement for park ENTRY" (emphasis mine).

If it were me, I would assume the headline can be interpreted literally. So let her have a little time on her own, and if somebody stops her for walking around unaccompanied, explain that you thought the rule meant she had to be with someone older to get into the park, but that she was okay to walk around alone as long as you were in the same park. Chances are even if the rule DOES mean she has to be accompanied at all times, she can get away with it because she's all but 14 and probably looks old enough to be on her own.

Kristen K.'s picture
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See, you are totally what I need today, a voice of reason. muchlove

crazycatperson's picture
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Glad to be of assistance. IMO letting a not-quite-14-year-old wander alone is safer than putting platform shoes on a kid who's too short to ride a roller coaster, and I know that happens.

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I agree, I wouldn't worry about it. What are the chances of anyone saying anything to her anyway? I don't really have an opinion about the change, but I did think the old policy of 7 years old was crazy. I would not let my 7yr old be there w/o us. There are always lots of groups of teen tour groups all over the place. Last weekend there was a huge cheerleading competition with over 1200 teens and families. There were groups of kids everywhere, some I'm sure were not 14.

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When we'd take our student groups, we'd let them go in a park and do a few check-ins throughout the day. As the trip went on, the check-ins became fewer. On our last trip, my 15 year old and my 12 year old nephew were on their own quite a bit.

I think 14 is plenty old enough.

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I know I am late on this thread, but it was interesting to read people's views! My son turns 11 in just a couple of hours! And although I wouldn't let him "free" from us at this point good to keep in mind for the future!

Jackie mickey

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Hm. We're hoping to take our 14 year old nephew next year & let him bring a friend. Our plan was that we all went to the same park on the same day but once inside, the boys could do their thing and we'd do ours. Plans to meet up at lunch & dinner and if they didn't follow that rule, we'd have to make them stay with us.
Once inside the park, I don't see that they'd get in that much trouble. I think the biggest issue with this is making sure they stay in that park and not go traipsing along to other parks - that's why we're putting the lunch/dinner meetups into place.

My opinion is that 14 is old enough to go exploring on their own within a park, but if they're not "regular" disney kids who've been there a lot, they might not be mature enough to handle park hopping on their own.

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Although we used an App on our phone that you can put in friends and family in (their cell phones) and you can look on the map of what park your in and shows you where everyone is.....the this was it REALLY drained the battery! We were doing it with our friends so it was helpful in meeting up with them etc.

Jackie mickey

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That sounds cool Jackie - I go through battery like crazy as it is though. I'm always looking for my next recharging spot!

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When I was 12 my family went to Disney with some out of state friends. We traveled between lands together (Adventure land to Frontier land kind of thing), then the 5 kids would get to go off and do what we wanted in that land while the mothers did what they wanted until the agreed meet up time. The two 9 year olds were even allowed to wander by themselves as long as they stayed together. That gave us the freedom we wanted, but kept us close to our mothers. That worked well for our families, but of course, that was a time before cell phones.

- edited to say "Wow, I didn't realize that this thread went all the way back to January"

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VelcroPooh

I bought these portable chargers that will recharge my phone completely once, then about half. They were two for $18 bucks and we love them. It will charge anything with a USB cable, Iphone, Ipad and my camera battery. They are also very compact and easy to carry.

Kristen K.'s picture
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VelcroPooh wrote:
I bought these portable chargers that will recharge my phone completely once, then about half. They were two for $18 bucks and we love them. It will charge anything with a USB cable, Iphone, Ipad and my camera battery. They are also very compact and easy to carry.

What kind of chargers did you buy? I've killed two of those (Duracell brand) already.

VelcroPooh

I bought these and I've used them several times already (conferences) and they've held up well so far. I went with these because you get two for the price of what one normally costs and they're compact. So one each for me and DH.

http://www.nomorerack.com/daily_deals/view/497311-2_pack__2600mah_flash_chargers_for_mobile_devices___assorted_colors

Kristen K.'s picture
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That seems like a fantastic price. Maybe I'll get one and give it a try. Thanks!

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Kristen K. wrote:
That sounds cool Jackie - I go through battery like crazy as it is though. I'm always looking for my next recharging spot!

I was just reading today, that each park has a place where you can charge your phone, I didn't know that. But you have to have your cord, plus that takes time. I actually got a small, the size of a lipstick tube, charger that will charge my phone 1 1/2 times maybe-depends on how low the phone is, before the charger will have to be charged. My husband has one that is a little bigger and more powerful but still small enough to put in a purse. Sounds similar to what VelroPooh has. I got mine from QVC and was a little more than $18 but not too expensive...

Jackie mickey