Allow me to get one thing out there at the outset: I love my family, and traveling with them is one of my favorite things in the world to do. With that said, however — and I say this lovingly — my daughter is not the bravest kid around, and my wife likes to stick to rides that are tame enough that you could step off of them without harm if need be. I, on the other hand, love thrill rides — the taller, the faster, the better. Much though I love spending time with my crew in the parks, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I sadly shuffled towards the queue to see Voyage of the Little Mermaid whilst Twilight Zone Tower of Terror beckoned and mocked me in the distance…
Sooooooo, you want to spend time with your family, but there are thrill rides waiting to thrill you. Whatever shall you do? This article will hopefully offer some ideas for getting your thrill-fill without stranding your family to sit on a bench while you ride. Tips after the jump!
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Walt Disney World’s more thrilling attractions may not be part of your plans for multiple reasons. Maybe you simply don’t enjoy abrupt dips and drops, are prone to motion sickness, have a bad back, have a child who doesn’t meet height requirements, or are visiting Walt Disney World while pregnant. Whatever your reason for preferring more relaxing attractions and experiences, you can have as much fun taking a chill as the more adventurous people in your party do seeking a thrill.
Part I of this article looks at some Magic Kingdom attractions where either all or some of your companions may break away for some thrills. While they have their fun, you may be surprised by the number of ways a non-thrill rider can see a whole other side of Magic Kingdom. Part II will focus on Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Mountains of Walt Disney World
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Today we are exploring the details of Tomorrowland! I will say in advance that I find this to be the most disappointing land in Magic Kingdom for theming. (Now seems like a good time to remind everyone that my opinions are just that and not endorsed by Touring Plans! :)) It seems like it’s stuck somewhere between Pixar and a future from ten years ago, but despite that there are still some little details to share, so let’s get started with this very cool sign that marks the entrance to the land when entering from the hub!
As you cross this bridge you will also notice some random but fun futuristic facades.
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The first trip on Space Mountain is a real Disney milestone – a sign that a child had graduated to “big kid” rides. But because there is a height requirement for this attraction (44 inches), that graduation day could come as early as age four for a larger boy or as late as seven for a smaller girl. It doesn’t matter how heavy or mature a child is, or (unlike some rides at local carnivals) whether she accompanied by an adult. If she’s not 44 inches, then she’s not going on the ride.
Measuring station at Stitch's Great Escape
Depending on the composition and dynamics of your family, this may cause some tension. For example, I have encountered several families in which a younger sibling was taller than an older sibling, thus allowing the younger one to be able to ride before the older. That’s either a huge “It’s not fair” or “Justice has been served” moment, depending on how you measure up. In other cases, particularly those in which there is a single parent of differently aged children, a youngster meeting a height requirement can mean the difference between the whole family sitting on the sidelines or everyone getting their ride on.
So if you’ve got kids in your family, it makes sense to understand the height requirement situation before you set out on your Walt Disney World vacation. Here are some tips:
Beyond these basics, I must emphasize that the height requirements are there for a reason. The ride restraints are have been engineered and rigorously tested with guest safety in mind, and the restraints only work given certain parameters, such as guest height. There’s no reason to challenge or question a cast member who does not allow a child to participate in a specific attraction because of height issues. He’s only trying to keep your child safe.
We found the measuring stations to be very accurate throughout the Magic Kingdom.
That being said, I will point out that height is measured at Walt Disney World while the child is wearing shoes. I just went through my own children’s closets and took a look at shoes that they have worn in the parks. The heel on these shoes ranged from about a quarter of an inch on some ballet flats to about 3/4 of an inch Crocs, all the way up over an inch and a half on some particularly chunky sneakers. I have never personally seen a cast member ask a child to remove shoes for measuring. If you have a child sooooo close to a particular limit, you may want to factor the heel height of footwear into your packing considerations.
While footwear will generally not be questioned, several times cast members have asked my children to remove hats and even take out poofy ponytails when being measured. You may be able to tweak height from the bottom, but it’s unlikely that you will be able to do so from the top.
One final issue that comes up from time to time is the accuracy of the measuring devices at the theme parks. As a little experiment, I took a tape measure with me on a trip to Walt Disney World last week. My husband and I used the tape measure to gauge the accuracy of the height signage. We measured six signs in the Magic Kingdom and found all of them, without fail, to be within two millimeters of the stated height. This gave me confidence that the park measurement devices are as accurate as practicably possible.
What have your experiences been with height issues in the parks? How have you coped with children of differing sizes? Let us know in the comments below.