How many years has it been since parents let their kids roam freely around the neighborhood in Southern California? Two decades? Three?
How bizarre, then, to read Wednesday morning that Disneyland has just stopped allowing parents to ditch -- I mean drop off! -- their children at the amusement park to spend the day roaming around free of adult supervision.
Starting Saturday, according to a story by Times staffer Hugo Martin, children will have to be accompanied by someone at least 14 years of age.
I mean, what? Were they letting in packs of 6-year-olds?
It’s definitely not cheaper to give your child free rein in Toon Town than to hire a baby-sitter. Daily tickets are an eye-popping $81 for those under 10 and $87 for everyone else. (Kids under 3 get in free.)
On the other hand, if you buy an annual pass, as Martin pointed out, that will set you back less than $700, which, over time, could be a real deal baby-sitting-wise.
I recall a story that ran nearly 20 years ago in the Los Angeles Times that featured parents lying on the beach at Raging Waters, the San Dimas amusement park, while their children frolicked around unsupervised.
“I just want to come to the beach,” said one unidentified mother. “I sit or sleep or smoke a cigarette or whatever and the kids play in the water. With all these lifeguards everywhere, it's like a baby-sitter for your kids. I can really relax. Yeah, now that is raging."
Some readers were appalled that a parent would use an amusement park as a sitter substitute.
Well, the parents might have been smoking, or napping, but at least they were present.
What parent in this day and age would let a kid in the single digits roam around an 85-acre park unsupervised? Even 10, 11 or 12 is dicey if you ask me.
I’d love to hear from you if you consider Disneyland, or any other theme park, an appropriate destination for your unaccompanied child. I would really love to know what you are thinking.
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Photo: Visitors pass by the entrance gate to Disney California Adventure on Monday. Beginning Saturday, children under age 14 will have to be accompanied by someone 14 or older to get into the park. Credit: Christina House / Los Angeles Times