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Should you let your kids go to Disneyland alone? It’s a loaded question with many different answers. I don’t claim to have the perfect answer for your family, but I do offer my experience and some guidelines to help you prepare.
I took my brother when I was 13 and he was 3. This was before the signs popped up reading, “children under age 7 years must be accompanied by a person age 14 years or older.” We had a ball together! I let him ride whatever he wanted and said yes to every treat he asked for.
If you’re thinking of letting your kids go solo to Disneyland, or simply allowing them to break off from your group for an extended period of time, this can help you plan.
Single Rider Lines
If you’re planning to let your kids go to Disneyland alone or separate from the group, you should try single rider lines as a group first. Yes, single rider lines mean you won’t ride with your group but it can help prepare kids and teens to board and ride alone, listen to safety instructions and meet you after unloading.
Disneyland rules allow anyone age 7 and up to use the single rider line. Try multiple single rider options since they have many different configurations.
My 7 year-old prefers the single rider line at Goofy’s Sky School, but was lost for a few minutes after single riding Indiana Jones Adventure. Luckily, she didn’t know she was lost. We did not establish a clear meet-up spot for Indiana Jones and she waited right by the jeep after getting off, like we do at Radiator Springs Racers, but I exited the ride completely and had to make the long, frantic walk back to find her.
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After you’ve mastered single riding as a group, let your kids try single rider on their own. A great option to try first is Goofy’s Sky School because you can see them almost the entire time. Grab a snack or a drink nearby and let them ride it multiple times on their own.
Kids as FASTPASS Runners
Now that Disney MaxPass has changed how we do FASTPASSES at Disneyland, this requires a bit more creativity. At press time, World of Color and Fantasmic still require guests to pick up FASTPASSES at the kiosk for these two night shows. Send your child with everyone’s park ticket in hand to pick those up and meet you at a designated place.
Allow them to do this task and others as a way to test their familiarity with Disneyland Resort, their ability to do things on their own and report back to you in a timely manner.
Proper Park Etiquette
Before kids can go to Disneyland alone (and many would argue, before anyone goes to Disneyland period…), they should know and respect certain park etiquette and rules. Of course being familiar with the official rules is only the beginning.
I put out a call to my fellow Disney Park goers and was overwhelmed by the amount of advice I was offered on this topic. Let’s hit the highlights—and remember, this is good stuff to teach kids at any age!
- Don’t cut in line. This may very well be the golden rule of Disneyland Resort. And it’s good for parade seating, show seating, anything where someone has arrived before you or your entire group. If you arrive at an attraction but your buddies are lagging behind, just wait to the side before you get in line. Just don’t cut. It’s not okay.
- Be Courteous to Families and Adults. Don’t get in the way of families and strollers and things like that, just be nice.
- Just keep swimming. If you must stop somewhere to re-group, step to the side, not in the middle of Main Street (or any walkway).
- It’s a rope, not a ride. Cast Members will kindly let you know that ropes, chains and other barriers are there to direct the flow of traffic. Don’t sit on them, swing on them, hang from them or anything else that seems fun to do with ropes.
- Feet on the ground, Princess. I’ve heard this one a time or two as well. If you’re sitting on a bar or another decorative item while in line, you’ll likely hear from a Cast Member. Don’t climb or sit on props or decor.
- Keep it Clean. This includes your words and your messes. This is a family place. No parent wants to shield little ones from nearby conversations. And when you’re done eating, clean up after yourself, there are trash cans everywhere.
- Let the magic live on. Yes, you know every joke on Jungle Cruise and you know the songs on “it’s a small world” but don’t ruin the magic or ambiance for everyone else. Being loud and obnoxious doesn’t belong.
There’s many, many things we could add here but it all comes down to respecting yourself and others. Just remember to be kind and have a magical day!
Safety and Lost Kids
Wether you’re apart all day or just some of the day, having a plan in place is a must for kids going to Disneyland alone.
Being safe is more that listening to Cast Members, it’s about being aware of your surroundings and knowing where to go if you need help. A lot of that comes with teaching and maturity. A quick review of our lost kids at Disneyland article is a good jumping off point.
Kids Alone at Disneyland Bonus Tips
I’ve gathered a few more tips for sending your older kids to Disneyland alone, and please feel free to add your tips in the comment section.
- Make sure they have enough money to pay for food and other items.
- Consider giving them a Disney gift card instead of cash.
- If you have Annual Passes, start with a half day at Disneyland alone before moving to a full day.
- Have a consistent meeting spot and time (both inside and outside the parks).
- Send your kids with a fully charged cell phone and portable battery charger.
Listen to the audio version of this article here
What other tips would you add to this list? Do you think there’s an appropriate age for kids to go alone to Disneyland?