Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Judge Me By My Size, Do You?

One of the most terrible mistakes you can make when planning a Disney vacation is talking up a ride to your young one... telling her how totally super-awesome it will be to ride Soarin', only to find when you get there that Suzie isn't tall enough to ride. Tragic. No, I mean it... I speak from experience. Biggest. Meltdown. Ever.

So how do we avoid this? Check height requirements ahead of time, and then if your child is close (within two inches), don't set any expectations for riding the attraction in question. The only measurement accepted is the one taken at the ride itself. And although we were sure our daughter was tall enough when we measured at home, she did not measure up when we got to Soarin'. Did I mention the meltdown? I did? It's worth mentioning again. Big. Huge. Meltdown.

I'm sure it's not necessary for me to point out that these height restrictions are based on safety. I've heard stories of parents putting lifts in their kids' shoes or teaching them to sneak a tippy-toe in. Remember, this is their personal safety your dealing with. The measurements are based on where safety belts reach among other things. I don't believe it's worth the risk to sneak a kid who is not tall enough onto a ride.

Rumor Alert! I have heard that if a child is not tall enough to ride (but is very close), you can ask for a certificate from the cast member there that will entitle them to "instant Fast Pass rights" when they return on their next trip and ARE tall enough. I've not been able to confirm this though. Anyone know if this is truth or mere urban legend? - UPDATE! Ryan over at Main Street Gazette has not only been able to confirm this as truth, but now has pictures to prove it! Check it out!

Here is a handy guide to check the height requirement of attractions before you go, just to get an idea of what will and won't work for your child. I should add that the guide was assembled by Beth from North Carolina (TeachLuvsDisney on Scrapping the Magic) and touched up by yours truly. And by "touched up," I mean "snarking added." Future posts will detail these rides more completely in regards to appeal and fright factors, but this gives you a fine starting point.

Animal Kingdom
  • Dinosaur: Height minimum is 40 inches (102 cm). (This ride is too intense for some 30-somethings I know. The effects are realistic and alarming. Grown men have been known to need an underwear change. I'm just sayin'....)
  • Expedition Everest: Must be at least 44 inches (112 cm) tall to ride. (You might want to pre-warn your children that they will meet a yeti and travel backwards for part of the journey. Unless you want your child to detest you for the next 24 hours, of course. In which case, feel free to remain silent.)
  • Kali River Rapids: Must be at least 38 inches (97 cm) tall to ride. (You will get wet. Icy cold water will pour down all over you. My preschoolers did not understand that until it happened.)
  • Primeval Whirl: Must Be at least 48 inches (122cm) tall.
  • Maelstrom: (Norway) Minimum age 3 to ride. (Isn't that weird?)
  • Mission: SPACE: Must be at least 44 inches (112 cm) tall to ride. (Folks, this one is intense. Save it for the older kids. It's easy enough to walk right past it. Oh, the stories I can tell of the after-effects of this ride...)
  • Soarin': Must be at least 40 inches (102 cm) tall to ride.
  • Test Track: Must be at least 40 inches (102 cm) tall to ride. (This ride may surprise you and your preschooler. My daughter freaked out under the heat lamps. Be prepared for anything.)
Magic Kingdom
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Must be at least 40 inches (102 cm) tall to ride. (Great first "real" roller coaster)
  • Goofy's Barnstormer: 35 inch (89 cm) height requirement (Great test to see how well your child will like thrill rides.)
  • Space Mountain: Must be at least 44 inches (112 cm) tall to ride.
  • Splash Mountain: Must be at least 40 inches (102 cm) tall to ride. (This drop is really scary for younger kids. They can see it before they ride, so chat with them about it before hand. I don't recommend tricking them into it.)
  • Stitch's Great Escape: Must be at least 40 inches (102 cm) tall to ride. (This is completely inappropriate for young children. Their imaginations will totally buy this concept and the nightmares will be terrible. Adults and even older kids find it a joke, but small kids will not be laughing.)
  • Tomorrowland Speedway: Minimum 32 inches (81cm) to ride. Must be at least 54 inches (137 cm) to drive solo, but if an adult is in the car, that requirement is lower.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Rock N Roller Coaster: High Speed (3 inverts) Coaster; Must be 48" tall (122 cm).
  • Star Tours: Must be at least 40 inches (102 cm) tall to ride. (Talk your youngster through this one before boarding. It's immersive, and they will be tricked completely by the motion simulator.)
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: Must be at least 40 inches (102 cm) tall to ride. (Another one to talk them through first. It's not just the drop... there are "ghosts" on this ride. Don't let that be a surprise!)
Blizzard Beach
It goes without saying, since Blizzard Beach is a water park, be sure you are comfortable with your child's swimming skills before going.
  • Chair Lift: Must be at least 32 (81 cm) inches tall to ride.
  • Downhill Double Dipper (mat slide): Must be at least 48" (122 cm) tall to ride.
  • Slush Gusher - speed slide: Must be at least 48" (122 cm) tall to ride.
  • Summit Plummet - speed slide: Must be at least 48" (122 cm) tall to ride.
  • Tike's Peak (children's area): Must be UNDER 48" (122 cm) tall to visit.
Typhoon Lagoon
Another water park. Again, be sure your child is comfortable in water.
  • Crush 'n' Gusher: Must be at least 48" tall (122 cm) to ride
  • Bay Slide: Must be UNDER 60" (152 cm)
  • Humunga Kowabunga (speed slide): Must be at least 48" (122 cm) tall to ride
  • Ketchakiddee Creek (children's area): Must be UNDER 48" tall (122 cm) to experience; especially for children ages 2-5 and their parents.
  • Shark Reef (saltwater reef environment): Guests under age 10 must be accompanied by an adult.


Ryan P. Wilson said...

I've seen certificates for some, but not all, of the rides that have height requirements (such as Everest and Dinosaur). My guess would be it depends on the Cast Member doing the measuring and if they have certificates in stock.

cpalmisanodillard said...

Hmmmm...I must be an awesome sneak then. I took my 1 y/o on the Maelstrom with me and nary a word was said about it.

TheMunchkinMom said...

I don't know about for future use. But at MK, my daughter was so thrilled and captivating with her excitement about finally being able to ride the Thunder Mountain Railroad (mommy's favorite) that the cast member gave her a Fast Pass on the spot...saving us an immediate 1 hour wait! So if it's their first time, make a huge deal that they are FINALLY big enough and see if Magic happens. said...

Me and my children love the magic kingdom!

Jason Mccullume said...

Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon are most interesting travel place.
Every person can dream to journey all site. All place is very interesting.

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