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Parenting in the Park
Tips and ideas for the traveling family
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Adrienne Krock, editor
Adrienne's eMailbox January 31, 2001

Apparently several readers made it their New Year's resolutions to send me more e-mails! Here's what some of you are saying:

Adrienne's eMailbox for 1/31/01:
"S" read our Legoland Information Guide and wrote to me:

Being as I was one of the original Model Citizens (MCs) that opened the park in March of '99, I have to take issue with the statement noted below. I had been trained and had been working at Legoland since February of '99. One month prior to the opening. I had worked at the park for over a year and a half.

Your statement:

In addition, I share the story of my close friend, Princess Erin. When Erin was 2 1/2 years old, she visited Legoland with her family. As her older brother and sister rode the train through DUPLO® town, Erin stood by the fence crying. Although this train ride appears to be quite gentle, she was too short to ride it.

(Since Princess Erin's last trip, I'm happy to report that the height restriction on the DUPLO® Train has been removed. However, several others remain in place.)

Now, the issue I have is with the statement that there was a height restriction at the Duplo Train. In the entire time that I worked at Legoland, there was never a height restriction. As a matter of a fact, as an MC we were told to use the Duplo Train along with Fairytale Brook and Coast Cruise as alternative rides for those children that did not meet the height requirements.

I am truly sorry about the hurt feelings of the youngster that did not get a chance to ride. I understand, because I have children of my own and I had to deal with some of these height restrictions myself. I must point out however that the ride requirements are posted at all rides and if there was an issue I am confident that the MC operating the ride would have been happy to help out the guest with any issues they might have had about the requirements.

In closing I must address one more statement that you had made:

Of course I am concerned for the safety of my child, but Legoland seems to have taken some of these restrictions to an extreme level.

At the time I had left Legoland I was an Area Lead. I was responsible for everything that happened in any area that I was assigned to. I dealt with this particular situation many times over. (the safety issues concerning height, etc.) It may seem extreme to you and many others, but I personally feel that there is nothing more important to me than the safety of my children while we are at any theme park.

What is that phrase? ...... Better safe than sorry.... The safety regulations are there for the safety of the guests. If they seem extreme, wait until something happens to a child, then the statement would be that there were not enough precautions taken. Let's think about that. I would rather deal with the irritating restrictions rather than see my child or children hurt.
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If the DUPLO® Train never had a height restriction, then the Model Citizens were not doing their job properly. When Erin's family went to LEGOLAND, the MCs at the DUPLO® Train told her parents that she was too short to ride it and would not allow her to do so.

Perhaps the over-zealousness of LEGOLAND in assigning height restrictions to rides had caught up with those MCs that day.

My problem with LEGOLAND's height restrictions is not just that it leaves children and parents unhappy. The issue you do not address is LEGOLAND's marketing strategy, which targets families with children aged three to 12. According to the Centers for Disease Control growth charts, the average preschooler is under 40 inches tall. This means the very children the park is marketing itself to are barely able to ride the LEGOLAND rides on their own and will, more often than that, require a companion in order to do so.

Families with multiple children have a worse challenge with the current height restrictions, because LEGOLAND ignores the fact that children have younger siblings who are too small to enjoy those rides they see their older siblings riding. Furthermore, not all families have two parents, and even the parents of two-parent families cannot always visit together.

This May, Matthew will have a new sibling. If I want to take Matthew and his baby brother or sister to LEGOLAND, we will be able to ride very few of the rides. As your email pointed out, when I take my two children to LEGOLAND after my baby is born, the three of us will only be able to enjoy three rides together! Because of Matthew's height, there are only two additional rides that he will be able to ride alone.

As far as I'm concerned, this is deceptive advertising. LEGOLAND is marketing itself to families with young children, yet when many families arrive there, they find that there are many restrictions that prevent them from being able to enjoy the park. This makes a visit to LEGOLAND frustrating.

Legoland's Safari ride
Legoland's Animal Safari ride

I have visited LEGOLAND and have experienced many calm or slow rides there with Matthew. One that most readily comes to mind is the Animal Safari ride, one of the slowest, calmest rides in existence. I could very easily plop my baby in my Baby Bjorn carrier, put Matthew in the driver seat of the safari ride vehicle, and sit on the open side of the car (as I'm sure an MC would direct me to do for my child's safety.) According to LEGOLAND height restrictions however, the baby would be too short to ride at all, while Matthew would be too short to ride alone.

Because the Animal Safari ride only accommodates two guests per vehicle, this ride is inaccessible to families in my situation, unless they visit LEGOLAND with enough adults to help babysit while everyone takes their turns waiting in line, which for one family I know, could be up to three separate times!

For LEGOLAND to be marketed to families who then face these frustrations, in my opinion, remains unacceptable. Should kids be safe? Sure they should! If LEGOLAND believes that these height restrictions must remain in place in order to ensure guest safety, then the park's management must either re-evaluate their rides and attractions, or they should review their marketing strategy.

Based on my opportunities to experience the LEGOLAND attractions firsthand, I think that LEGOLAND would be fine if they simply re-evaluate the ride restrictions on their very tame rides.
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Back to Disney, John wrote in:

Your "Storytelling at Disneyland" piece was good advice. The last time we went to DL was April '97 during a heat wave. We planned our days to include at least one storytime around mid-day, and found it to be a great way to get out of the heat, and off of our feet. What's more, the CMs that participated were all absolutely top-notch entertainment, and my kids *loved* those storytimes. We have autographs, pictures, and some video of those great times.

I have a great tip for Goofy's Kitchen. Instead of going for breakfast, aim more for brunch instead. Someone suggested this to me, and we tried it. I don't recall when the kitchen closes, but we timed our arrival for about 90 minutes before closing. There were *tons* of people leaving, but very few arriving! Really, by the time we were settled, the restaurant was at least 70% empty! Yet, fresh food was still coming out, and nothing had run out.

The best part was that the characters had so few people to talk to! They all spent lots of time talking to us, posing for pictures, etc. And with all the characters that were working, it was almost non-stop! My kids had a ball, and again, lots of pix and video to enjoy after.

BTW, that buffet is a better value if it covers two meals. We just had a light snack in the morning to tide us over, spent a couple of hours in DL, and caught the Monorail over to the DL Hotel for about 11 am.
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Thanks for taking the time to offer these tips, John! In November, my family was invited to a birthday party at Goofy's Kitchen. The restaurant provided goodie bags and hats for all the children in attendance. In addition to the dessert buffet, we had a birthday cake personalized for the guests of honor, which was provided by Goofy's Kitchen as part of the birthday party package.

For readers who are looking for more information about character meals and birthday parties in the parks, see the links in the side bar.
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Cindy described the Storytellings as one of the highlights of her last trip to Disneyland:

Loved the article on storytelling. It was definitely one of the highlights of our last trip (along with the Fantasmic buffet). My husband complains that we go to DL too much, but thanks to MousePlanet I always get to find something new and unique for my family to enjoy.

Aladdin storytelling
Aladdin storytelling

My daughter was just the right age last time we went for the Princesses' storytelling (almost 3 years old), and she was just spellbound by the whole experience. Even my son (6 at the time) got a kick out of the "helper." I love this part of DL, it takes everything that's big and overwhelming and just makes it a personal, memorable experience that you won't forget.
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Thanks, Cindy. What I really like about your comments is the idea that the little things like Storytellings make the Disneyland experience more personal and intimate. It must be part of the magic.

Darcy contributed:

I loved your section on the ride restrictions at Disneyland while pregnant. Having had a baby last April and having been an annual passholder for my entire pregnancy, one of the things that I loved to do since I couldn't get on the 'good rides', was watch the little kids interact with the Disney characters!

Princess Aurora meets Princess Erin and friend
Princess Aurora meets two more princesses

I loved to see their excitement and joy when they met their favorite Disney character.

I agree! One of my favorite MousePlanet columnists (and a really great person), Sue Kruse, described one of these magical moments beautifully. You might need a tissue, (I always do) but if you read this magical moment, you won't be sorry. (If you have read it, you should probably click and re-read it anyway. It's just that good. That's why I keep sending people to read it.)

Wanted: Your questions and feedback! They will help me plan future columns! Write me at: AdrienneK@mouseplanet.com

Adrienne's eMailbox

Send your Adrienne's eMailbox / Parenting in the Parks questions or comments to:

AdrienneK@mouseplanet.com

Keep in mind all questions submitted to the Adrienne's eMailbox column become property of this site. They may be edited for length or style and in consideration of a family readership. Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site too.

Not all questions may be responded to, but all will be read so I can have an idea of what you all think out there.

MORE INFO:

For more information about Character Meals at the Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World, visit the following links:

The Disneyland Restaurant Resource - Character Meals

Note: A new character meal, Breakfast with Chip and Dale, is now available at the Storytellers Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel. As with the other Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel character meals, priority seating arrangements can be made for this breakfast by calling: (714) 956-6755

Parenting in the Parks: Meeting Princesses

In this column, I gave my own reviews and descriptions of the Character Meals at Disneyland.

Parenting in the Parks: Birthday Parties At Disneyland

This column describes how to arrange a party inside the park itself, at Redd Rocket's Pizza Port.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource - Character Meals

This page provides a list of each WDW Character meal and the characters who typically appear at each meal. There is also a table available at the bottom of the page for a quick reference guide.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Adrienne gathered experience taking kids to amusement parks when she worked as a day camp counselor and director. She was an elementary school teacher before she started her favorite job, being Matthew's Mom.

Adrienne and Matthew visit Disneyland several times a month, usually with Daddy, too.

Besides Matthew, Adrienne and her husband Kevin created and maintain The Happiest Potties on Earth website.

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