Single parent with 3 kids - 8 year old taking chicken exits on her own

Traveling to Disney next month with 3 kids by myself. Kids ages 5, 8 and 9. My 8-year old girl hates thrill rides, but the 5 year old loves them and over 44" (tall enough to ride Space Mountain and TOT). Any suggestions on having the 8 year old go through the chicken exit while still being able to ride with the 9 and 5 year olds? Anyone know where the Space Mountain chicken exit meets back with the regular exit? Any alternative ideas of how to handle would be great! Thanks so much!

I would have her wait in the space mountain gift shop. That is where you will dump out. Not sure where the chicken exit dumps out…

I’d do child swap with an 8-year-old, definitely.

Sorry. I just realized you said SINGLE parent. My brain was reading at as single RIDER at first. :slight_smile:

Anyhow, regardless, I don’t think I’d trust sending an 8-year-old off by his-/herself, even at Disney. I just wouldn’t take that chance. On a recent trip to Cedar Point amusement park, we lost our 14-year-old son for about 30 minutes due to one little tiny slip up in directions. (I wasn’t worried about him…I was just worried about FINDING him, since he didn’t have a cell phone with him!)

With an 8-year-old, I’d rather skip the ride entirely than risk anything.

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Many years ago I took the chicken exit on ToT around age 7. They sent me through to wait near where the riders exit at the gift shop. I don’t have any recent experience to provide however. I survived though :wink:

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One more piece of advice I have: We are masters of training our children to like (or in the very least, tolerate) thrill rides, since to be a member of our family MEANS riding the rides! :slight_smile:

But, it is a gradual process, stair-stepping them up to the next ride that is JUST BARELY outside their comfort zone. They ride it and see it isn’t so bad. Then, rather than go to the NEXT level, you back away for a tamer ride, then re-ride the new ride. At this point, they become comfortable with it. At this point, you can move to the next level, etc. But never move up a level of thrill until they are comfortable with the previous level.

Also, make sure you prepare them for whatever the ride experience will be, regardless. Honest communication of any parts that might be scary for them is key. For example, on Space Mountain, you might say, “There aren’t any big drops, just a couple small drops…but since it is dark, you barely notice them.” That kind of thing.

Give your DD several positive experiences on tamer thrill rides (Goofy’s Barnstormer, for example, or 7DMT) and she will eventually want to try the bigger rides.

For our son, when he was 6, we did a 5 park trip. It took us two days for us to get him comfortable enough to ride the coaters he was allowed to…and by the end of the trip, he was BEGGING to ride many of the very ones at the start he was scared to try.


Is there any family menber you could take with you, maybe a niece/cousin?

I have a 12yo that has never liked anything resembling a thrill ride, heck he hated Dumbo at 2yo.

When he was 6yo he received his autism diagnosis and we learned about his severe vestibular issues. Turns out his brain can’t tell where his body is in space so any time his feet aren’t solidly on the floor, he is in fight or flight mode (mostly flight!).

I’m really glad that we never pushed him to ride anything he was uncomfortable with during those early trips (three before his diagnosis) and since then, we encourage him to try…but nothing is forced.

Turns out, that he can handle a lot more with time. Dumbo was horrific at 2yo, but okay at 4.5yo. I have no illusions of him ever getting on Space Mountain, but he has done Splash and BTMRR one time each.

We are returning to WDW this summer after many years and I’m actually not comfortable with my 12yo waiting in the gift shop by himself while I ride, I don’t think I would have even considered it at 8yo.

I’m hoping he will ride 7DMT, FOP, and the new Slinky Dog coaster. Good luck!

This is tough. I am wracking my brain for a good solution for you. All I can think right now is that I think I would feel uncomfortable sending my 12 year old daughter out without me. If there was a way that she could stand right there near the loading/unloading zone while I rode, I’d be ok with it, but I’d be really nervous sending her out a different path and then trying to find her after.

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It would make me nervous as well, but if I had to, I would make sure that they had a way of getting in touch with you (cellphone) and I would find them a spot to sit while you were on the ride and not have them take the chicken exit by themselves. This way, you know exactly where they will be with instructions that they can’t get up and leave. I would choose in the gift shops at the end of the ride for each.

I’m sorry but I can’t stop thinking that BAD PEOPLE go to the parks just waiting for someone to do this. There is no way in h*ll I would let my kid leave on their own. With that said ask a CM if they have a place where someone will watch the kid. When I was 14 I was scared of roller coasters even the little kiddie ones. My sister wanted to go on SM and my parents mad me go with her, I survived.

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I don’t have any better ideas, but maybe if you ask a cast member at the ride they will have a suggestion. I don’t agree with the suggestion of making the 8 year old ride, having been in that situation myself. Yes I survived, but I never learned to like it or be ok on such rides. In any case, you’ll have a wonderful trip no matter how this works out.


To answer your question about Space Mountain, the chicken exit is right next to the load area. Right next to the load areas (on both sides) there is a square area that kind of looks like a holding pen. This leads down a ramp to the unload area. There really isn’t a way to get lost unless they just don’t walk all the way down. I would have your 8 year old stay in line with you and then just tell the CM there. They can wait in the little area until you board and then she walks down the hallway to meet you where you guys get off the ride. They could wait by where the photos come up. I hope that makes sense, but it is really easy.

I think you know your daughter best and can determine if she is mature enough to leave in the gift shop. I don’t agree with forcing them to ride and have seen it back fire. Our daughter waited in the gift shop for Tower of Terror last year (she was 10) and will do the same thing this time when we go in 4 day’s, Yay!

By age 8, I was savvy enough to wait alone in a gift shop by myself for 10 min. Hell, I was allowed to ride my bike 12 blocks to my nearest playground without a parent and be gone for HOURS and no one had a care in the world. My own 7 year old is NOT savvy enough to wait alone in a strange place. She JUST started going to the bathroom in public places by herself. You know your child better than anyone. Use your judgment :slight_smile:


I was not concerned about the ability of the 8 year old. I’m concerned about the nature of predators. We had one bad experience at Disney in that regard, so I don’t trust anyone. Leaving an 8-year-old girl to herself isn’t about trusting her, but NOT trusting the multitude of strangers.


I would trust my DD8 to stay put and be fine, and Disney has to be safer than most places. Some horrible scenarios went through my mind as I wrote that. It’s hard, I would like to give my girls the independance I had that age, but we live in different times. There’s risks at whatever age you start letting your kids be alone. If I had to do it, I’d find a nice safe spot beforehand, maybe next to the till in the gift shop and arrange for her to go there. Or stand at the entrance of the ride and ask everyone if they are queing but not riding.

Maybe go through the line and you and 8 take the chicken exit while 5 and 9 ride the ride. This way you know where it ends up and 8 is familiar with the surroundings. After 5 and 9 are done, go through line again and possibly have 9 take chicken exit with 8 and wait where you ended up when you went with 8. I know this sounds like a lot but could work if you have FP. I would say atleast have safety in numbers so 8 can wait with 9 which would be less of her on her own and you get a chance to ride. Leave them with a cell phone if possible, and have a plan if they need help (who to ask for help - someone wearing a Disney name tag or a visible police/security officer or a mom who is pushing a stroller or holding a child). We always make a meet up spot if one or more of us gets split up and cannot contact via phone, no matter what. My kids are now 16 and 18 and I still do this. My daughter took chicken exit at RR one time and it ended up in the gift shop, so I am guessing most end up there. Staying close to the checkout counter was always an option too instead of being in a corner or behind things so if something fishy was going on, staff could see it too.

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Technically anyone under 7 (including 7?) has to ride with someone 14 or older. They even asked my 5’10" almost 13 year old how old he was on Buzz (of all dangerous rides) when he tried to ride with my 6 year old. And that is when I learned this rule.

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Okay. I do have a suggestion that is kind of weird.

Two years ago, while at Disney, my DS17 hooked up with this girl (okay, not hooked up hooked up, but hooked up as in started to hang out with) during our visit. She was there by herself, bumped into he and my other son in line and then just started doing the rest of the rides throughout the day together. (She lives in the area and has an annual pass, at the time, she was in college.)

Anyhow, they literally spent the rest of the day together, and we kind of adopted her into our family during the remainder of that day, plus a second day when we went to Disney Springs. She just liked having someone to talk to.

My son still texts her on occasion.

So what I’m wondering is if you might want to pay someone like that to accompany you for the day to be a ride buddy? In her case, it wouldn’t be paying her way into the park, since she has an annual pass. Just paying her for her time spent with you kind of like a babysitter who stays with you.

Just food for thought.