Kids who are under the age of 14 will no longer be able to enter Disney parks without a guardian present, a spokesperson for the company says.
While banning some kids from a theme park designed for kids may seem strange, the change is based on Red Cross guidelines for babysitting and on standards recommended by child welfare agencies, Suzi Brown, a spokesperson for Disney parks told NBC News.
It will be up to employees at the front gates to make the judgement call. “If a cast member who is working at the front gates sees a guest who appears to be younger than 14 without someone who appears to be older than that, they will engage in a conversation with the guest,” Brown told NBC.
Though, judging the age of the children could be a bit difficult. Kids under age 14 don’t usually carry identification.
Lenore Skenazy, host of the television program Bubble Wrap Kids, criticized the decision on her blog, which Disney said was not made in response to a particular incident, but just to standardize procedures across the parks. She writes:
“Heck, let’s make sure we infantilize kids as long as possible. This seems the same impulse that prompted Amtrak to suddenly raise its solo travel age from 8 to 13 — yes, a 5-year infantilization increase — a couple years ago.
“Both new rules were not due to any incidents, just so-called concern. I guess the concern is that if you treat young adults like young adults, you just don’t care enough about child safety.”
The change comes into effect March 23.