At what age?


We’re going to be at Disney this summer, and my 8th grader who just graduated continues to remind me he’s now in high school, and should be allowed to go off on his own at the parks. Looking for opinions/experiences. I’m on the strict side, trusting no one, so my answer is no, but many family and friends tell me to let the reigns loose a little.

At what age has fellow DCer’s let their kids on their own for an hour or two at the parks?


My mom starting letting me go at around 14, but never alone. I have 3 brothers and together the 4 of us were allowed to go off without mom and dad. We had to stay in the same park though, and check in every couple of hours.


Disney parks have a much stronger security force in place than they show (of course).

I’d say let your ‘rising freshman’ go for 2 hours with a meeting time and place. If s/he shows up as expected, repeat. I’d limit the geography to the same park.

You can also stress it’s a family vacation and even though s/he is getting older you still want to spend time with her/him. That’ll get a moan but that’s why you’re the mom.

A child who doesn’t learn responsibility a little at a time will go crazy if they get too much freedom at once.

Does your child have a cell - or cans/he borrow one the parents cell? This would make contact easy.

It seems middle school graduates now.


Does he have a cellphone? I don’t let my kids go by themselves, I do let them go with each other.


I don’t prefer going off alone in parks, as it isn’t as much fun by yourself.

Even if I did, I wouldn’t, because vacation is family time without each of us yelling at eachother. :dry:


:pirate: Sorry! The administrator has made my life stressful by specifying that users can only post one message every 60 seconds. :pirate:


Last year I took my dsister(16 at the time) and dbrother(13 at the time) with us and my childhood friends who also brang their 2 dsisters(15 and 13 at the time) and because they all had cell phones and we met up every few hours, we allowed them to roam the parks together. I let my ds (9 at the time) tag along for short whiles, because I didn’t want them to feel like they couldn’t enjoy themselves, it was a ‘family’ vacation we did spend LOTS of time together, but I wanted them to enjoy themselves too. sometimes you just can’t let go a be a ‘silly kid’ with all the adults around for fear it may be used against you at a later date! My advise is to let him go slowly with maybe a sibling or friend or family member around his age for a short time, and once you feel more comfortable then you’ll be able to know that he’ll be okay for a few hours at a time. Start small, like allowing them to ride a ‘different’ ride then you guys and then meeting up right after that, or allowing them to get a snack while you guys wait in line for SM or something… Don’t do it all at once, you’ll drive yourself and you DH CRAZY!

Hope I helped, not made it worst!..


As others have said, start small. Hopefully your son will discovers it’s not as fun to be away from the family.


As others said, start small. You sit at some counter service place and let him go to on a ride and then come right back. See if he’s happy waiting in line by himself. Myself, I’d be happier with two kids running around. But saying all that, when my son was about 11, we (DS, DD , and I) were staying for the fireworks at MK. Afterward DS asked to get a soda. Since we were on main street I let him walk back toward Casey’s and we would wait. Well, we waited and waited and started looking. Turns out he had gotten turned around and started walking deeper into the park, realized it was closing, came back, couldn’t find me and then found the right bus back to our hotel. My DH was already there. And this was before cell phones, so I did get a few extra gray hairs, but on the other hand I did the see park pretty empty and had a bus all to myself.


I would say let him go off for a couple hours at a time if he is with a friend (or silbling) and if he has a cell phone to stay in touch.


Yup I agree, for an hour or so but only if he has a friend or sibling and a phone! It’s so scary when our kids are growing up!!


I got to go around (with my DBF then) when I was 15. But not the whole time. We’d split from my parents to ride a few rides, then meet back up later.


High School is High School.

He’s not in kindergarten anymore.

And DISNEY is probably the SAFEST time to allow your son to explore his “freedom”.

The key, however, is to make sure that going around in the park by himself is a lot different than when he wants to start going around by himself in non-Disney environments.

That will be the toughest part, I think.

But EVERYONE will have to start learning independance sometime. High School is a good start.


I wouldn’t think it would be much fun alone in the parks but that’s just me. I might let a 14 year old go on a couple of rides alone but I don’t think I would send him off for the day. I wouldn’t worry if there were other kids along but I just worry about kids being alone.


The only problem with letting them loose in Disney is finding them again. Safety isn’t the biggest concern at that age.

We started letting our boys go off together when they were young teens. As long as you have a plan on where and when to meet back up and a way to get in touch, they should be fine. (we used walkie-talkies then, as we didn’t have cellphones for the whole family)

So a watch and a cellphone are the tools most of us depend on when setting our teens loose. Just remember, if you can’t reach them, it may be that they are in a ride where they cannot hear or get a connection, so keep trying.


what my parents did was let me invite a friend to come along. they let us go off by ourselves for a few hours at a time. their only stipulation was that we stayed in the same park, as they saw i was able to handle the responsibility, they gave me more freedom. it all depends on your kid, you know them better than anybody. if you feel he can handle it, let him go a little.

if he can handle it, then you know that you did a good job raising a responsible young adult.


I have let my 14 year old ride a few rides by herself. Last December she was supposed to meet me at a certain place in Tomorrowland. She was about a half hour late and I was in a panic. It turns out that Space Mountain broke down while she was riding and it took them forever to get everyone off. It wasn’t her fault, but this time around I will keep her close. Not knowing where she was was too scary.


My DD(12) and her DGF (13) will be allowed to roam the parks a bit this year. I would never let DD roam herself, but with anohter person, I think it’s fine. She has to be in the park that I am in and will have specific check-in times etc. I have told them both that the first time they are late or fail to check in when told, they will not be allowed to roam at all. My DD has been there 9 times and knows the parks as well as I do. She has a cell phone and knows the rules of the world with talking to and leaving with people she has met or does not know etc. I trust her and her judgement, so I am giving her a shot to porve her responsibility. She has been allowed to roam at the resorts solo for a year or so, and this is the next step to freedom for her. I think an 8th grader who is responsible is fine walking around alone. Only you know your kid best and can make the final call. I say give him a shot to prove his responsibility and that he can be trusted.


Being a single working mom, holding down 2 jobs for most of my 2 DS teen years, I had to learn to trust them to be able to handle themselves alone. And although they did some stuff together most of it was with their own set of friends. They used public transportation to go to the mall, movies, store, and friends houses. This was before cell phones were in every pocket, so most of the time they checked in with me before going out.

Anyway, the first time they went out on their own at WDW I really didn’t worry, they had been there many times and knew their way around, and we had check in times. I was the lonely one. WDW is no fun alone! I actually saw them many times that day (but they didn’t see me), they hooked up with some girls (which would not have been cool with mom around) and met me at the specified time (and asked for money).

After that, there was no turning back. Once we hit the resort, they were off, sometimes together, often alone. But they always seemed to show up at meal time. :glare:

So my advice is do what you are comfortable with. You don’t want to spend your day worrying.


I would have to say this advice is great!!! Give children (even freshman in high school) freedom a little at a time. You have to be confident in the fact that you have given them the tools to be responsible and let them try. I would also make sure all kids have watches and that they are in synch with yours and cell phones. I too would say no park hopping!!! If your children don’t have cell phones or you don’t think they should have access to that type of freedom, some wireless companies have the cell phones that only allow 4 #'s to be dialed. I think that is great!!! Just sit down with your kids and let them know your full expectations, and the reprecussions of their actions if those are not met. With this clearly stated, I am sure all will be fine!