We went to Disnyland last year as our big vacation. Boo was 13 and Pumpkin Girl was 11, so we did something a little different. We let them go off on their own. We had rules they needed to follow, including not leaving the park and checking in either physically or by phone. We gave them gift cards to use as spending money, but if they wanted us to pay for food, they needed to link up with us for meals.
For several months beforehand, they studied a Disneyland guidebook and made their plans. They had some sort of scheme for riding all their favorite rides and when the day came, off they went!
Now, you have to know that the two of them get along very well. They also behave well in public and have thus far proven to be trustworthy and reliable. They also understood that no matter what, they were to stay together. Even if they got angry, they both needed to come find us together. As it turned out, they had a grand ol’ time.
And they came back with funny stories.
They rode the Jungle Cruise with a mom who was very concerned about them. When the ride was over, she held back her husband so Boo and Pumpkin could get off the boat first. Her husband asked her, “So,why are we waiting for them?” And she replied, “well, I just don’t know where their parents are!” Boo and Pumpkin Girl, to their credit, were polite to her.
For the record, Disney’s own policy is that you must be 7 years old to ride alone and to escort someone younger, you must be 14.
Another time they were walking along wearing these hats:
Who should come walking up behind them, but the Mad Hatter and Alice. The Mad Hatter said to them, “Congratulations”. And turning to Alice he says, “They got married, you know!” Which of course, set Boo off, sputtering indignantly, just like Donald Duck.
Meanwhile, Phil and I enjoyed spending time with just Bip and Pipqueak, riding the slower rides and taking a more leisurely pace. We don’t often spend time with just our younger boys and we enjoyed it very much.
This was Pipsqueak’s first visit to Disneyland. He wasn’t quite sure what to think of the whole thing.
We were happy to give the older two kids a chance to spread their wings, make their own decisions and act like young adults. They appreciated the opportunity, too. It’s a whole new era in Disneyland adventures!