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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 April 4, 2001

First of all, I have received a few emails about the "new" stroller policy at the Disneyland resort. On February 22, I reported that the stroller system had changed and that guests were allowed to take rental strollers out of the parks.

Once again, the policy has changed! The Disneyland Resort has returned to the previous policy and guests who rent strollers may not take them out of the Parks. Although this is one of the primary reasons why I recommend that guests bring their own strollers from home, as I explained in my February 22 column, I thought that the new policy was a mistake.

Since my original stroller articles, the rental strollers are a bit different. The fabric is different and seems sturdier (the previous fabric frayed.) The baskets are also different. The three wheel strollers have all be adapted and now have 4 wheels.

At the bottom of the stroller is a basket that resembles a "shelf." While this makes it easier to access when the child is in the stroller, it also makes it harder to keep articles "inside." There is a second basket, more like a "bag" that hangs from the back of the stroller.

Adrienne's eMailbox for 4/4/01:
Mark wrote:

May I suggest you add Splash Mountain to your list of potentially terrifying rides?

I visited Disneyland by myself for several days two autumns ago. I discovered that an advantage of traveling alone was that it was easy and fun to meet lots of other interesting guests. In line for Splash, for example, I talked with two nice moms and their two really polite, friendly, cute 4-5-year-old-daughters for the entire wait. This was their first visit to the park, and they were all having a wonderful time. In a sort of mushy, communal, corny way that didn't seem silly at the time, I remember feeling truly elated for them that their visit was so great. They were such nice, likeable, friendly people.

None of us had ridden Splash previously. We loaded into the log, them in front of me. Started floating, and all had an extended Kodak moment of "Wow, this is even cooler than I thought it would be!" Then, pretty early on in the ride, darkness. Then a drop in the dark. That was it for one of the girls. She transformed from being a nice, outgoing, normal girl to an absolutely hysterical screaming kid. The adults did everything they could, I think. They handled it as well as possible. But the girl was totally inconsolable. It was one of the most unpleasant experiences I've had -- watching this girl trapped on the ride, with lots more of it to go, including the big fall that she was now petrified of, and watching her mother having to witness it all, helpless to make things better.

Needless to say, the "screaming kid" ruined the experience for me. But, as you said, Adrienne, it wasn't anyone's fault, and part of the sadness of the whole thing is that the mom felt bad for her child's impinging on others' experiences.

(It didn't end as badly as it might've. I hung around the ride exit to see how she was. After about 10 minutes, she was still shaken but no longer crying, and the group had decided on something tame that they were going off to.)

I don't know what could've prevented that, except possibly the parents checking the ride out ahead of time. (But how realistic is that on a first visit, given the wait time?) We all knew about the big drop at the end, and were looking forward to it. None of us were prepared for the total darkness, though -- or for the sudden "thrill" that occured in the midst of a more pastoral experience. But I'm glad DL didn't ruin that surprise for me with spoilers at the ride entrance. And even if the kids knew it was coming... well, knowing something and experiencing it are two different things, eh? You just can't always predict these reactions.

Sorry this got so long. Just wanted to let you know that:

(a) The "laughing place" isn't always.

(b) I totally agree that adult guests need to understand that the park is for kids, too, and that sometimes meltdowns happen.

(c) Even though I don't have kids, I enjoy reading your column. Part of it is because much of the info you present applies to adult visitors without kids, too. And part of it is because you and Kevin (and Matthew!) seem like really nice people. It's fun to read about your family. Best wishes to you all!
-

Ah, thanks, Mark! And thank you for this story! It's been such a long time since I've been on Splash myself (I don't like getting wet and it's on the list of "attractions pregnant woman should not ride,") that I had forgotten about that dark drop! I would not have even thought of saying anything about it to a family with young children!

Brian Bennett sent me this image to help remind us what it's like for young children at a theme park. How often do we adults forget their perspectives!
Brian Bennett sent me this image to help remind us what it's like for young children at a theme park. How often do we adults forget their perspectives!
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M wrote:

Just finished reading your mailbag about parenting in the parks, and wanted to add a couple of attractions that may be scary for little ones:

Universe of Energy at Epcot (or, Ellen's Energy Adventure). Dark in several spots, and Dinosaurs! Some kids'll probably dig 'em, others may be scary. Especially the one that squirts water on you :)

Spaceship Earth at Epcot. Not at all scary in content (unless you can't hear Jeremy Irons' voice without thinking about Claus from Reversal of Fortune), but still very dark.

Journey into YOUR Imagination at Epcot. VERY dark in some points, with a loud explosion at the end.

The Great Movie Ride at Disney-MGM Studios. Has a live shootout at one point, also a scene from "Alien".
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Thank you for those comments! Brian Bennett has an extensive table of the attractions at WDW with "Potential Fear Factors" as well as his personal comments about the attractions. Parents planning trips to WDW may want to consult Brian's list for further information!

Matthew enjoyed riding with his grandparents in an open car pulled by a diesel locomotive on the Orange Empire Railway Museum's main line.
Matthew enjoyed riding with his grandparents in an open car pulled by a diesel locomotive on the Orange Empire Railway Museum's main line.
--

After reading last week's article about the Orange Empire Railway Museum, Autumn wrote:

Great story as usual! I am not really a train nut, but I have been to the museum before and really enjoyed myself. It was very long ago so I don't remember much detail, especially the Ward Kimball stuff, time to make another trip!

Thanks for contributing this, Autumn. Obviously, my family had a heavy emotional investment in trains, so I'm very glad to hear from someone who isn't a train nut but still enjoyed the Orange Empire Railway Museum.


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

Adrienne's eMailbox April 4, 2001

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.

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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