A few weeks ago, the
"readers revolted" against a few other writers, one of
whom suggested children be banned from Disneyland until they were about
7 or old enough to behave appropriately.
Fall out from the fray continues...
I just wanted to write and thank you for adding so many
letters from parents defending young children and strollers in
the Disney parks! I've personally been shaking my head and
saying to myself, "What was that guy thinking?" ever
since I read the argument that kids should wait until they are
about 7 before going. You posted a good collection of rebuffs
that has now restored my opinion of my fellow Disney visitors.
Thank you much!
|Laura Akers notes:
At the risk of facing massive Reader Wrath, I just wanted
to step in to the defense of Scott McKenna. It's possible that I
was the only one not completely appalled at his comments. It's
obvious that nobody truly believes that the park should only be
enjoyed by adults; everybody understands that Walt intended
Disneyland to be a place for visitors of all ages.
Perhaps parents should be conscious of non-child-occupied
visitors as well, rather than assuming that the children in
Disneyland have top priority. It's true that a stroller in the
ankle is all too common, and while it's usually understandable
in a crowded park, some parents seem to have trouble realizing
that Disneyland is not just a child free-for-all.
I believe that the majority of those readers who responded
to Mr. McKenna's comments are probably the parents we adult
Disneylanders have no problems with. It seems that Mr. McKenna
is simply pointing out that Disneyland is for those who can
appreciate it -- and more often than not, an infant who is not
of walking or talking age is simply not ready to enjoy what the
parks have to offer.
It's important to remember that Disneyland was intended
for ALL ages, and adults have the same right as children to
expect entertainment and enjoyment without having to deal with
those who refuse to take responsibility for their children.
|Tomi Johnston protests:
I find it a little disturbing that any criticism of the
child situation at Disneyland is immediately drowned by a chorus
of accusations of child-hating. Anyone who doesn't like
screaming toddlers is branded as an evil villain of Cruella
Should small children go to Disneyland? Of course! Should
they be well behaved at all times? Of course! Growing up my
siblings and I attended Disneyland from the age of 3 on. I am
the oldest sibling and remember (with the confirmation of my
parents) that never once did any of we children have a
"meltdown" or tantrum of any kind. If our family can
do it, so can yours. No excuses. A public tantrum because one is
tired, cranky, or otherwise overexerted means that you have
never been taught to behave in private, either.
I am speaking here of a full-on, ear-splitting,
limb-waving spectacle. I am not talking about pouting, fussing,
whining or other normal childhood behaviors. Tantrums do NOT
qualify as normal behavior. Grow up people, and teach your
children some responsibility and self-control. They do tend to
live up to any reasonable expectation of them.
Thanks, I really needed to say that.
As a 5-1/2-year-old girl growing up in the San Fernando
Valley, I absolutely hated my parents for saying that I was not
old enough to properly enjoy Disneyland until my sixth birthday.
All of my friends had gone so many times -- one was already
planning a family vacation to Disney World. It was especially
humiliating because all of us were devout worshippers at the
altar of Disney; how could I be authentic if I'd never even been
to the holy land?
My anticipation grew in the months before my birthday. I
felt I would burst if I didn't get to "the D-place"
soon. Finally, the big day arrived. I was 6. I remember so much
about that day -- the car ride that seemed to last for days
before the Matterhorn appeared over the horizon, the pre-opening
breakfast at Denny's, the characters, the churros, the castle,
the ice-cream sundae I had at the Carnation Cafe in lieu of
dinner, the pirates -- boy, was I scared of pirates. I thought
"it's a small world" was the most amazing thing I'd
ever seen. The whole park sparkled and glowed. Flavored by the
anticipation I'd attached to it, the day was one of the most
magical I've ever had.
It's been 11 years since I first went to Disneyland. I'd
say I've been at least 30-odd times since then, and I often save
for months to accumulate the necessary funds. I read MousePlanet
loyally once a week and still feel a thrill when I first see the
Matterhorn. I definitely think that my parents' enforced waiting
period had a lot to do with why I still love the park so much.
I'm not saying that kids shouldn't go to the park -- I'm saying
that the wait improved the experience for me, and that I'm a
lasting fan because of it.
My diary entry from the first day that I went to
Disneyland ecstatically states, "Went to Disneyland
today!!!!!" The ticket is tucked into the book. A trip to
Disneyland isn't going to be a significant milestone if the
kid's been going since birth. I remember my first time. I think
Two days ago, we took our 8-year-old daughter to
Disneyland for the first time. Our family did have a wonderful
time, but I could not help being a little shocked at the large
number of strollers, especially in the Fantasyland area. Some of
the congestion may have been due to the shut down of the
Carrousel. It was the largest buggy convention I've ever seen.
The crowd itself was larger than I care for. We knew June would
be somewhat more crowded, but we went to take advantage of the
Anaheim resident discount.
The way I see it, the daily attendance is a factor in this
stroller issue. I hadn't seen it so crowded since my family
visited in the mid '70s, on the Fourth of July (apparently a
record was set that day.). I am not against parents pushing
strollers. Perhaps the park needs to evaluate the situation, and
take into consideration the number of strollers entering the
park and being rented, when setting limits on park attendance.
Also, the park needs to innovate big-time, and come up
with a way of parking empty buggies near attractions, so they
don't constrict through-traffic. And how about some designated
stroller rest areas? Smokers get designated areas.
It is ultimately the responsibility of Disneyland to make
everyone's visit enjoyable. I am a former stroller pusher
myself, but I did get my foot rolled over the other day.
Disney parks often have cast members
that will "regroup" strollers when people start parking
them randomly outside an attraction. Unfortunately when the park
gets really busy, those cast members are pressed into more urgent
duties; ironically, that's when we most need them clearing
|Stephen Grubb notes:
Walt Disney World is a place for children of all ages.
That being said, it is up to the parents to decide if they think
their child is physically and emotionally ready to handle a day
in the parks. That will of course vary from child to child.
It is also the responsibility of the parent to not expect
too much of their child. Many young children are just not built
to last an entire day in a huge amusement park during hot
weather. Take lots of breaks (like an afternoon nap) and don't
expect to "do it all." From talking to many parents,
it seems that the hotel pool and visiting with characters at the
parks is the favorite of many a small child.
The MISUSE of strollers is a pet peeve of mine. Strollers
are overused by some people. I have seen lots of children who
appear WAY to old to be sitting in a stroller. The stroller has
become a mini storage vehicle to some families and not just a
means of assisting young children who can't walk on their own.
Unfortunately, I have also witnessed many parents who utilize
their strollers as battering rams to force their way through the
crowds. There is definitely a contingency of folks who use their
strollers as weaponry. These stroller abusers are in the
minority, but they make themselves quite noticeable.
It all comes down to consideration. Be considerate to your
children and be considerate to other adults.
One of the things that a loving parent provides for their
children is magic. The world has too much going on right now,
with terrorism, drugs, sex, etc., that kids need that magic.
Disney provides that in huge amounts. My daughter is 14, and I
am a "few" years older.
Sure, I've been hit with a stroller in my ankles, and I
know that it is never done on purpose. Crying kids don't bother
me, every single parent on this earth has gone through that.
Children's Fairly Land in Oakland (where Walt drew a hidden
Mickey at the Alice in Wonderland hole) doesn't admit adults
without children. Maybe Disneyland should do the same!
Me, I'll always be the exception, because like Peter Pan,
I'll never grow up!
|Dena York writes:
I think people are being a little hard on Scott. He does
have a point, the problem is everyone is taking it so
personally. His letter didn't seem to be aimed at all the
wonderful parents who have sent such enjoyable letters in about
their young ones at Disney. It's aimed at the same type of
people who step in front of their strollers and trip their kids.
The truly clueless. (Although I must say, 7 years old? NOT! My
18-month-old will make her first trip in September...YAY!)
Every time I am at Disneyland, I am victim to, or see
parents using their strollers as battering rams to clear the
way. Now to expect crowds to part like the Red Sea for a
stroller is laughably unrealistic. BUT, even a sincere sorry
wears a little thin after being rammed from behind for the
hundredth time in a day.
Sometimes it is just not realistic to expect folks to get
out of your way, they can't see you, or are limited in their
movement by the constraints of the crowd, or are just plain old
unaware of their surroundings. Remember people walk into garbage
cans and off curbs all the time.
If you decide to take your children that need a stroller
to the park (and don't get me wrong, I have NO problem with
that) it just isn't fair to expect people to be aware of and
able to accommodate your need for space in a crowd all day (and
I bet more people than you realize DO try and you never even
realize it). In a perfect world, I can wholeheartedly agree it
would be nice. The bottom line is everyone is calling for
considerations, respect, and for us all to be aware of those
around us and act with courtesy. A great idea. But let's be
real, it's not gonna happen. So I suggest everyone suck it up,
remember why you are there. Next time you get rammed, or cut
off, just blow it off, and ask yourself in the grand scheme of
things, is it really worth worrying about?
P.S. I see more "meltdowns" at the mall. I would
consider this a universal problem.
|Carl Starrett writes:
I just wanted to throw in my two cents regarding this
tantrum and stroller controversy. There are merits to both sides
of the issue, but it still boils down to courtesy and exercising
common sense. Our family has annual passes and we drive up to
Disneyland from San Diego about once a month. Our daughter is
almost 5 and we've been taking her for these monthly visits
since she was about 2-1/2 years old, so we have stroller
It's all about being aware of your surroundings. Be
courteous and respectful. If you're pushing a stroller, be alert
and try to avoid a collision for the safety of your child. And
if you are in a group of stroller, please don't sit three
abreast in the middle of a pathway in Fantasyland at noon while
you try to read your map.
And if you don't have a stroller, be careful and
accommodating of others who do. Disneyland was meant for kids
and where you have kids, strollers will be also.
The age thing is a little trickier. Each kid is different,
but parents should know their children. I thought 2-1/2 would be
too young for a kid to appreciate Disneyland. I was wrong. It
just gets more fun every time because we've graduated from Dumbo
to Big Thunder Mountain.
I know my daughter's limits. When she's tired, we rest,
but I do not tolerate meltdowns. Part of it is how we discipline
our child and we don't let her get away with much. But again,
each child is different.
|Jessica Hickman Schneider
I will be making my 11th trip to Disney World in two weeks
and this will be the first time with children -- my two nieces,
aged 6 and 8. The first time my parents took me to Disney World,
I was 6 and I must say, I don't remember ONE THING about the
park. The most clear memory is the plane ride, as that was my
first time. I remember the blue carpeting in the Grovesnor
Resort but that's about it.
I am glad I went, and I think my parents were purposely
trying to wait until I was a little older (my brother was 17 and
that was his first trip). I look at photos from that trip, but
nothing rings a bell. And I have an excellent memory and can
recall a few brief scenes from my life in my crib! I have
excellent memories from our next trip when I was about 12. From
then on, we went every few years. Then, my husband and I went on
our honeymoon and last fall we became Disney Vacation Club
owners. I knew it would be hard for my brother and his wife to
take two young children to Disney World, so I offered to use the
DVC for a two-bedroom at Old Key West and take the whole family,
my parents included. I wonder how much my younger niece will
recall in 20 years.
I also know the last three times we went, we stayed for 10
days, and it actually got to be a bit much at the end with the
stroller accidents. Maybe it was us cutting them off -- I never
thought of that. Also, I wholeheartedly agree that it is the
parents' responsibility to take action when their children are
unhappy or having a "meltdown." I recall Austin (it's
a bad sign that I actually remember his name clearly, since I
heard it so many times) at the Sci-Fi Drive In screaming his
head off for most of my dinner and his parents actually said to
him, "We are just going to ignore you," and THEY DID!
|A cast member speaks up:
I noticed that all the letters printed against what Mr.
McKenna's letter were all parents with young children. Funny how
they come across. What really is needed is the view of people
without children, for those with children have a bias. They all
somewhat sounded a little arrogant.
|Roger Colton checks in:
Most of us who come and go through MousePlanet and other
online venues probably go to a Disney park at least once a year,
and many of us go as often as we can (it seems). However, there
are people (many of them children) for whom a visit to any
Disney park may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I've seen these folks, as I am sure you have. They tend to
be the "have to do everything in one day" type. A
quick guess at what a family of five will spend in a day sets
the tone. Two adult admissions, two (maybe three) child
admissions, parking, breakfast, lunch and dinner along with
assorted snacks and sodas, toss in a few souvenirs, and you're
talking a hefty dent in the family credit card. Add in the cost
of gas to get there and maybe a motel room, and it manages to
become serious quickly.
So is it any wonder that either kids or adults can get
cranky as one of these days of a lifetime goes along? It is a
challenge to try to see and do everything in a day, and
sometimes, you can't help but pass the breaking point.
I was lucky enough to get to visit Disneyland every other
year when growing up, starting with a first visit in the summer
of 1965. Out on my own, I visited more often as I could, at
first driving and then flying in from the San Francisco Bay
Area, eventually breaking down and getting an annual pass for
five years straight. During the 35th Anniversary year, I think I
visited the park over 30 times, and one of those days was for
all of a minute (just to see if I had won a prize from the Gift
Giver Extraordinaire!). For about seven years, I went to the
park only now and then, maybe once a year, and it made me
appreciate the time I had to be there all the more.
So the next time someone gets run over by a stroller or
banged into by that errant 4-year-old, step back, take a breath,
and think on this: You are in the Happiest Place on Earth. You
could be hundreds or thousands of miles away only dreaming you
were at Disneyland.
Just my two cents on the subject of strollers in
Disneyland: No one needs them! Especially those double-wide
Buicks. Try navigating Adventureland with 15 of them trying to
If you're tired, sit down. No one in my family ever needed
a stroller for the children. If they can't keep up or need a
nap, then sit yourself down. Let the larger kids go off and meet
you back there. Besides, you'd be surprised how beautiful
Disneyland is when you slow down and relax.
My 11-month-old can't walk yet.
Do I leave her home or drag her?
the other original writer, Wyatt, only drew more critics...
Bob Starcher writes:
I don't want to beat a dead horse, but as everyone
chastised Wyatt for allowing his 2-year-old on Honey, I Shrunk
the Audience, I noticed something. First, I agree with everyone
that he should not have treated the cast member that way and
that he should have never taken that child to that show. I have
been on it enough to know that small children don't take the
intensity of the show well. Every time there are kids screaming
in horror. My point is that the glasses are not the only danger
in this attraction. I can only imagine the possible emotional
damage that viewing such a film can do. And seeing it without
the glasses may be the only way someone that young should
attend, if at all.
So parents should realize that cast members are running
these attractions and whether we understand it or not, rules are
there to keep us safe.
|Ken Hughes expounds:
Something no one touched on in the Reader Revolt piece:
The mutterings of people dissatisfied with cast members'
instructions or justifications for refusal of this or that.
Their minds are revealed when they say something like,
"Pimply-faced teenager! Whadda you know anyway? I've been
coming here since before you were born!" Or, "Well,
what do you expect from someone earning only minimum wage,"
or worse, racial epithets if the cast member is of any non-white
ethnicity (common across Disney parks, even moreso at Epcot).
Sad to say I've heard 'em all at one time or another.
What needs to be said is that none of these cast members
is acting arbitrarily based on their own flawed /stupid
/inexperienced /racially-biased /insert your pet adjective here
judgment. They are acting according to the instructions given to
them by Disney. Many of these rules are a result of previous
guests' failure to heed common sense and getting themselves or
others hurt or even just nearly causing accidents. Let's avoid
questioning the wisdom or necessity of some of TDA's
liability-minded attorneys for now, and just focus on the
guest/cast member interaction. The cast members are duty-bound
to protect our safety, even if it means protecting us from
ourselves. The consequences for the company are huge if cast
members are negligent. A negligent cast member just loses his or
her job. Disney has to settle claims, be they frivolous or
merited, often to the tune of millions. Millions that might have
been spent on the parks themselves.
So what's the deal, Wyatt? Would you have tried to sue
Disney had your little one ended up hurting herself with those
glasses after all?
Bottom line? When you ask a cast member for something and
they have to say no, you have to know that they get a knot in
their stomach wondering what it's going to cost them. They
didn't say no just to ruin your visit. They said no to keep you
from ruining your own or someone else's. Pay them due respect,
even if they are a "pimply-faced teenager." And if
they disrespect you, be an adult and take your complaint calmly
to City Hall. If you're acting like a moron when you complain,
it's less likely the rude cast member will be dealt with
properly -- they'll just chalk you up as yet another hot-headed
It used to be that "the ugly American" was
something only seen abroad. Now they bother the rest of us at
home too. Great.
|In response to another reader, a ride
In regards to what reader Pete wrote about his child who
was measured at the entrance of a DCA attraction, and deemed
okay to ride, and then measured again at the load portion of the
ride where another cast member thought the child was too small.
As a cast member, I cannot tell you how many times that
has happened, and not only is it bad feeling for the guests, but
also the cast member. Not only do we see the disappointment in
the guests face, we also have are accountable for someone who
either made a mistake, or didn't check close enough. I am glad
to hear that Pete didn't go ballistic at the cast member.
At Indy, and there are three checkpoints for height: the
outside marquee, at the ramp into the station, and finally when
guests are grouped. At least once a day a child is deemed too
small by one person, and fine by another. The final say goes to
the cast members inside who have a yard stick to point out the
lack of height. Even then, parents claim that children have gone
on. It is probably true, but that doesn't make it right. We work
hard to make sure that those who the ride are not safe for do
not go on.
|MousePlanet's own Adrienne Krock adds:
I read the reader e-mail today about the little girl being
told she wasn't tall enough for Jumpin' Jellyfish even after
another cast member measured her and she was.
This is, unfortunately, not the first time I've heard this
happen at that attraction. In fact, I
wrote about it in a column last December. In an e-mail I
received after that article ran, a cast member became very
defensive saying that he personally checks the Jumpin' Jellyfish
measuring device and it's accurate, but I've heard this story
too many times to believe it. As I mentioned in my article, Mary
had a tape measure in her purse and found the measuring stick to
I strongly believe that parents should respect the
restrictions that Disney puts on attractions. I do not lie or
try to sneak my son on any attraction because these are not
values I want to teach him. That said, it is pretty frustrating
as a parent when there is an error on the park's part.
|Finally, Karl B. reports:
A postscript to your Spiderman story:
I arrived late afternoon, around 6:30, to have dinner with
family at Plaza Inn. Upon arriving, I noticed the very same
Spiderman character attempting to entertain children just to the
left of the entrance.
Several red flags struck me as I waited for the rest of my
party and watched this "Walk Around Character"
perform. First, the character was spending unusual amounts of
time entertaining a small party of children. Second, there was
no handler in site, and third the quality of costume was good
but not at a professional level.
When my party arrived, I briefly mentioned the incident
and questioned why Spiderman would be at a Disney park. We
quickly brushed it off as something related to ABC Family
About 10 minutes later, we saw the Spiderman character led
offstage (behind Plaza Inn) escorted by security, with the hood
off. This was around 7 p.m.
Reaction to last week's "Pesky Passholders" article.
Send your comments to David here.
David Koenig is the senior editor of the 80-year-old business journal, The Merchant Magazine.
After receiving his degree in journalism from California State University, Fullerton (aka Cal State Disneyland), he began years of research for his first book, Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland (1994), which he followed with Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation & Theme Parks (1997, revised 2001) and More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland (1999); all titles published by Bonaventure Press.
He lives in Aliso Viejo, California, with his lovely wife, Laura, their wonderful son, Zachary, and their adorable daughter, Rebecca.
You can contact David here.
Click here to go to David's main page for a list of archived articles.
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