Are you thinking of taking your children to Walt Disney World, but afraid that they might sit on the sidelines, unable to ride most rides? This is a common concern of families with shorter children, especially if there are taller siblings involved. You will be relieved to know that, yet again, Walt Disney World is not your average theme park!
For the purposes of this article, the focus will be on attractions within the four main theme parks only: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. The water parks have separate requirements for very different reasons.
At Walt Disney World, the tallest height requirement to ride an attraction is 48”, and there are only 2 attractions with this extreme requirement: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at the Hollywood Studios and Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom. Compare that to other theme parks, where many roller coasters require heights of 52” or higher! My oldest daughter was able to ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at the age of 8, and rode it at least 3 times.
There are also 3 rides with a height requirement of 44”: Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom, Mission: SPACE at Epcot, and Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom. If you have a child in first or second grade, he or she is probably tall enough to ride these! My daughter was tall enough at the age of almost 5, and Space Mountain is now her favorite ride.
The most common height requirement at Walt Disney World is 40”. Our daughters were all at least 40” tall when we took them on their solo trips at the age of 4/5. Remember, 40” is only 3’ 4”! The following rides have this requirement:
At the Magic Kingdom: Stitch’s Great Escape, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
At Epcot: Soarin’ and Test Track
At Hollywood Studios: Tower of Terror and Star Tours
At Animal Kingdom: Dinosaur
A very few rides have height requirements shorter than 40”. Goofy’s Barnstormer at the Magic Kingdom has a requirement of 35”. To ride Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom, the minimum height is 38”. The Tomorrowland Speedway at Magic Kingdom has 2 different height minimums: 32” to ride in a car but 54” to drive it.
When you consider all of the factors involved with minimum height requirements, it is interesting to note several things about Walt Disney World. First, out of all of the attractions in the four main theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort, only 16 of them have any sort of height requirement. In addition, these rides are spread out among the parks, so there are relatively few rides in each park where height is a factor.
Probably most importantly, there are still several “thrill” rides that have low height requirements. My most adventurous daughter rode Tower of Terror at the age of 4…and hated it…but she was able to ride it. My girls have all experienced their first real roller coasters at Walt Disney World. They love Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Test Track, Star Tours, and Soarin’. Because the height requirement is lower than most theme parks, age is not a factor when it comes to the thrill rides.
As those of us who know and love Disney experience time and time again, Disney caters to families like no one else. In a family-friendly atmosphere, much care is taken to be sure that the entire family can enjoy the experience. In the event that a group member does not meet the height requirement for a ride, Disney has put a Rider Switch system in place. This system allows for an adult to stay with the shorter guest while the group rides; then the adults can switch without waiting in line again.
When people ask why we love Disney so much, the low height requirements is one of my main reasons. My daughters can ride most of the rides, and we very rarely have to leave one out due to height restrictions. Just more Disney magic to add to your day!
Katherine Resch works through Enchanted Ears Travel as a vacation planner specializing in all Disney destinations. You can find her on Facebook, visit her Website and follow her on Twitter @DisneyKatherine.