Monday, June 10, 2013

You Must Be This Tall To Ride

You must be 46 inches tall to ride the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland. Lilly is still 10 inches too short. Anyone who doesn't meet the height requirement on this attraction may not even wait through the queue with their party. 

I've been reading a lot of complaints online about height requirements at Disneyland, and although I have already written (briefly) about this before, as a mother and former Disneyland cast member at a Disney attraction with one of the tallest minimum height requirements in the park, I am very passionate about this topic.

Now, as a parent you need to understand that a trip to Disneyland is no longer about you. It is about your kids. It sucks you spent $600 to take your family to Disneyland for the day and you won't even be able to ride Space Mountain, but sometimes that is what being a parent is all about. If not riding a big ride is going to be a big deal for you or for your small children, perhaps your once in a lifetime vacation should be put off until everyone is tall enough to ride. Or bring a friend or family member to watch the kids. OR just get a sitter and leave the kids at home. There are several solutions to this problem, if you just come prepared...

If you do want to take that trip to Disney with your little ones anyway, perhaps you should plan ahead. All height requirements for just about every theme park and amusement park in the world are listed on their websites. And it you're reading this you clearly have internet access. To get the most out of your once in a lifetime vacation, do the research before you go! Check height requirements and attraction descriptions, heck, even check out what there will be to eat at the park.

Lilly is just 3.5 inches too short for Splash Mountain. She'll be tall enough before we know it! Before we took this picture I made sure to tell her "Now you aren't tall enough yet, but we just want to see how much longer till you are, ok?" and she didn't get upset.

Checking requirements is only half of it. Measure your kids before you go! Keep in mind that your measuring tape and the parks multiple measuring sticks could always be off by just a little. If your kid is so close it's hard to tell if they will make it, check their shoes and make sure they have on the ones that make them tallest. Some sneakers can add as much as an inch to your child's height and they will always be measured with their shoes on. Tall hair, high ponytails, and hats don't count. Your child will be asked to remove his or her hat or flatten their hair when they are measured.

Now this is going to sound crazy, but one thing I have recently discovered (via google) is that you are actually shorter in the evening than you are in the morning. Sometimes as much as an inch. It has something to do with your spine contracting throughout the day and the longer you are on your feet throughout the day, the more of a difference it can make by the end of the day. You are on your feet a lot over the course of one day at Disney. By the end of the day I often want to tear my feet clean off from the pain of standing on them for so long.  If you have a child that is just tall enough to ride an attraction, it is best to go to that ride first thing in the morning. Don't be surprised if you go back to ride again at the end of the day and your child is turned away. It won't matter to the Cast Member checking their height again if you swear to them your child already went on that ride earlier in the day. But hey, being taller in the morning then at night? Even when it might mean a disappointed child, science is cool.

How to stand when being measured: Have your child put his or her feet together and place them all the way back against the measuring stick. Have their shoulders back and put their chin up and look straight ahead (unlike Lilly here who is looking down). Just be careful they don't smack their head on the post. If kids bumped their heads I used to say to them "Congratulations! You bumped your head and that means you're tall enough to ride!" Some of them still cried though.
Feet together and all the way back against the post. These shoes add almost a whole inch to Lilly's height and they are just regular sneakers.

Disney does have a rider switch program in place to help out parents who both want to ride something their kids might not be able to go on. Just ask them at the entrance to the attraction. One parent waits through the regular queue and then when they're done the other parent can take the rider switch pass through the fast pass entrance or through the exit.
Rider Switch Pass for Sar Tours. Notice at the bottom if even recommends two attractions in the vicinity of Star Tours that have no minimum height requirements? 

You know your kids best. If you think your child might be crushed if they can't ride something or if they might throw a demon like fit, try to avoid that ride altogether. Or set them up for disappointment. Yes, you read that correctly. Tell them you're not planning to ride, you're just going over to see how tall they are or to see how much longer until they can ride. Then if they are tall enough you can ask them if they want to ride it. It will be a happy surprise then, instead of a heart wrenching disappointment.

If you have more than one child and one can ride and the other cannot, consider splitting up for a little while. Don't tell the kids why, because the smaller one might be disappointed.  Just tell them it is their chance to get one parent (or friend, or relative) all to themselves for an hour. This way the taller one can still ride the big rides and the little one won't be disappointed.

YAY! With a 35 inch height requirement, Lilly is tall enough for Gadget's Go Coaster in Toon Town! Unfortunately it was experiencing "operational difficulties" at the time. It happens... Tip: if you end up on the other side of the park and want to find out if an attraction has re-opened after having "operational difficulties" ask any cast member at a different attraction, store, information booth,etc... if they can call and find out for you. That way you don't have to walk all the way back over just to find out it has not yet re-opened.

The worst was when I had to measure twins and one was tall enough and the other was not. Parents would always say "But they're TWINS!" Sorry! Just because they were born two minutes apart does not mean I need to let them both ride if one doesn't meet the height requirement. I have had hundreds of parents get angry with me, scream at me and call me names I'd rather not repeat here. One parent yelled in my face "So I guess you'll be paying for us to come back when she is tall enough?" Uh, sure lady. Just give me your address and I'll send you the oodles of money I get for operating a Disneyland attraction. And then she added "Would you tell a 40 year old midget they couldn't ride!?" The answer is, Absolutely.  It doesn't matter how old you are. If you aren't tall enough to ride, you can't ride. The difference is a little person knows exactly how tall they are and they know the rules. I've never had a little person cause a scene the way many parents have. I have also never actually had to measure a little person because they have either been obviously tall enough, or opted to wait while their party rode without them.

The worst situation I encountered while working was when we had a man tell us he had a gun and if we didn't let his son ride, he would use it. Security escorted him and his son from the park within minutes and I doubt they will be back anytime soon, if ever.

I just don't understand parents. What are they teaching their children? No wonder kids today are instilled with such a sense of entitlement! I know the parents have spent a lot of money to be at Disney, possibly more money than they have ever spent on something for their kids before, and they are hot and tired and don't want to be disappointed or worse, disappoint their insane hellfire screaming demon brat spawn. But, if they just came prepared by measuring their demon spawn and being aware of the rides with minimum height requirements before they got there, maybe they can avoid all of the unpleasantness.

Also, be prepared that kids may have their height checked up to four times while waiting in line. And it is possible they may be turned away just as they reach the front of the line. This doesn't happen often, but if it is particularly busy, a cast member could miss something. Or sometimes parents sneak their kids into the queue. Parents would always tell me "But he already was checked twice!" Does that not give them an idea of how serious we are?

Disneyland takes height requirements very seriously, as they should. Safety always comes first. Height requirements are typically set by ride manufactures and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The parks are given the recommended height requirements and have the option to make them higher. In addition, rides are inspected daily by maintenance workers and periodically by government and state officials and due to changes in laws, safety regulations, or changes to the rides themselves, height requirements can change. When I was three I rode space mountain with my father in Walt Disney World. Currently the height requirement for Space Mountain in Orlando is 44 inches. There is absolutely no way I was 44 inches at the age of two and half. As an adult, I am only 60 inches tall. That would mean I only grew 16 more inches from the time I was just three years old. Case in point, height requirements do change over the years. Even if it isn't your first visit, check the requirements before you go.

It is clearly posted at any attraction with  minimum height requirement that anyone who does not meet that requirement may not ride. There is really no sense in arguing. The sooner you quit being Debbie Downer and accept this fact, the sooner you can get on with your vacation and start enjoying yourself.

There are many reasons height requirements are in place. Guests need to fit securely in their seats. More often than not, it has nothing to do with someone being violently thrown from a ride vehicle, though sometimes that is a possibility if regulations are not followed. A big reason a ride has lap bars, seat belts and harnesses is so that a guest cannot voluntarily slip out of a vehicle and go wondering around on a track. The attraction I worked has a track that emits over 400 volts of electricity. You'd be safer taking a walk on a New York subway rail*. A theme park such as Disneyland is not permitted to operate without a multi-million dollar insurance policy in place. What insurance company would give a park insurance if guests could freely wonder in dangerous areas?

You'd be surprised how many guests think they can just walk onto a track. I once witnessed someone drop their FREE park guide map onto the track in the station (Ya know the one they give out all over the park? The same map you can take, like, 50 of for free and no one will care?) When the vehicle pulled in, he tried to jump back into the track to retrieve it. Luckily we saw him right away and were able to shut things down before he was seriously injured, or even killed (injured or killed over a FREE freaking park map!) Guests think they are in control of their own safety, but around large dangerous and complicated machinery they know nothing about, they should listen to the Cast Members who know what they are talking about and are there to keep them safe not only from the attractions, but clearly from themselves as well. And, FYI, even as a cast member or maintenance worker you can't simply walk out into the track whenever you feel like it. There are procedures put into place to keep us safe in the ride and from ourselves as well.

I guess if you take anything away from this it should be KNOW BEFORE YOU GO. Know how tall your kids are and what the height requirements of the park are. While you're at it, the more research you do on your trip before you leave, the more you will get to experience and the more you will get for your money. Don't be afraid to call before you go as well. There is a lot of information on the internet, but sometimes things just need a little clarification.

For more information or to plan your next Disney vacation check these out:
Disneyland Height Requirements or call (714) 781-0000
Walt Disney World Height Requirements or call (407) 939-5277

*Ummmm....NO. Don't walk on a Subway rail. I said this to make a point, but in fact the NYC Subway system emits higher levels of electricity than the attraction in question.

**While I did research everything in this article, the internet isn't always super reliable, especially when some of my information was gathered from Yahoo Answers and backed up by Wikipedia... 

Everyone is tall enough to meet a Princess! 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Knott's Berry Farm Log Ride Rededication with Charles Phoenix

This week Andy, our friend Joel, Lilly and I got to do something awesome! We got to accompany our friend Charles Phoenix when he hosted the rededication of the Timber Mt. Log Ride at Knott's Berry Farm! We were VIP's and even had some fancy schmancy VIP badges.

Charles is A-MA-ZING! He knows everything about Knott's history and was hilarious and just a delight to watch while hosting the rededication. He even had a special suit made with boysenberries all over for this special day. Boysenberries are the signature berry of Knott's when it was still an actual berry farm and are what put them on the map! I learned so much about this historic theme park, its founders, and the log ride this week.

The log ride had been closed for several months while they gave it some much needed updating. Previously the ride had not had any type of major overhal since it first opened in 1969. They added lots of new animatronics made by the same company that constructs rides and audio animatronics for some famous Disney attractions.

While at the rededication I also got to connect with a fellow former Disneyland Cast Member who now works at Knott's! It was great to see her and interesting to learn some of the ins and outs of a theme park that isn't Disneyland. I liked getting to see what a tight knit community the employees of Knotts have. That "everyone knows everyone" dynamic really creates a charming small town atmosphere within the park.

The next best part about the event was that VIP's were treated to a glorious free lunch of hamburgers, fries, and delicious milkshakes. I live for free lunch. I think I ended up with not one, but two milkshakes. Well my first milkshake was stolen and then finished by Lilly, so just one and half milkshakes, I guess. Still more milkshakes than anyone should be consuming.

The only real disappointment of the day was that the log ride unfortunately was not ready in time. I cannot wait to go back to Knott's. Lilly is actually tall enough to ride the log ride and I think she will love it!

First Charles hosts the grand opening of new rides at the Knott's Boardwalk. Check out his AMAZING boysenberry suit!
Lilly and I enjoying the rededication ceremony
Charles making the crowd go WILD at the Timber Mountain Log Ride rededication ceremony!
Charles with Ethan Wayne (son of John Wayne). Ethan was there with his dad when the ride first opened in 1969! 
Andy and Charles IN the log ride track! Hopefully it will be ready for us to test out on our next visit.
Lilly and Joel are totally in sync. 
I am now the proud owner of 100 fake shares of the Calico Logging Co.
I am in LOVE with the fact that my shoes match Charles' suit!