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Disneyland Article
It Is Not Worth The Risk To Cheat Height Restrictions

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Mercury News
Robert Niles
October 10, 2018
October 24, 2018
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Here's a tip for all the parents out there taking their kids to Disneyland or another theme park anytime soon. The only thing you should be putting in your kids' shoes is their feet.

A friend posted a photo to Facebook last week of an adult shoving napkins in a child's shoes in an attempt to make the kid tall enough to meet the height requirement at Disneyland's Indiana Jones ride. Both my friend and I have worked as ride operators in theme parks, so this is something we have seen countless times before.

As a parent and a theme park fan, I understand how badly you want to have that first experience riding with your child on an attraction you love. I cherish the memory of going with my daughter on her first "upside down" roller coaster and watching her experience all the emotions of going on a ride that was bigger, faster and more exhilarating than anything she'd tried before.

Part of what made that moment so special for me was that riding was entirely my daughter's decision. I don't know whether it's the stress of getting your money's worth for the trip or the social pressure to deliver a "perfect" day for your children, but a lot of people put way too much pressure on their kids when they visit the parks. The number of rides you get your children on doesn't determine your worth as a parent. Heck, it's possible to have a lovely day at Disneyland with your children without going on any major rides.

Almost all of the best moments I had with my children when they were little came when I shut up and let them take the lead, instead of trying to direct their lives. That wonderful moment I had on that roller coaster with my daughter didn't happen the summer she hit 48 inches tall. It came years later. Yet it was still just as magical.

But that's not the biggest reason to not shove a bunch of napkins in your kid's shoes, though. Here's where I swap hats from "parent" to "former ride operator." Height restrictions protect riders. Yes, theme park rides are absurdly safe. If you had enough experience, you might even take a cooperative toddler on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad safely, if nothing went wrong on the ride.

That's a huge "if," though. Because if that roller coaster stops unexpectedly for any reason, its lap bar won't be able to restrain a child under 40 inches tall. That's why the ride has that height restriction. Ignoring ride restrictions can kill riders and has on thrill rides around the world.

When you enjoy a ride in its normal operation, you might be tempted to believe that it's just fine for a small child, so it's OK to shove some lift into their shoes if they're close to making the height limit. But if you've been on that ride during an emergency stop or evacuation, you probably would see the wisdom in waiting until a child really was big enough or old enough to ride officially.

Having evacuated people from many rides, I beg parents to respect theme parks' height restrictions. Don't pressure your children to go on rides before they're ready, and don't try to game the system to do it. You might think that you will get away with it. And maybe you will. But, please, it's just not worth the risk.
Attractions Referenced

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Indiana Jones Adventure, Temple Of The Forbidden Eye

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