Minimum Height Restrictions
Why must my child be this tall to ride?
- The amusement ride industry uses minimum height limits as a way of restricting the size of riders allowed on board.
- In some cases, the restriction is tied to the physical size of the rider (i.e., the ride’s restraint system is designed for larger bodies). In some cases, the restriction is tied to the rider’s age as a proxy for maturity.
Is the ride safe for all children who meet the height limit?
- Not necessarily. Height is used to screen riders because it’s easily measured by the ride operator, but it’s only a rough approximation for age, body size, or maturity.
- If you have a child who just barely over the minimum height limit for a ride or is large for her age, take a sober look at the ride experience before deciding whether it’s really a safe choice. Make sure the restraints fit securely on smaller bodies before putting the small body of your beloved child on the ride.
My kid is almost tall enough to ride. What’s the harm in stuffing a few napkins in his shoes?
- Minimum height limits for some amusement rides are already dangerously low. Accident reports from state safety agencies show that children who barely meet the height limit are at significantly higher risk for falls and ejections from moving rides.
- Parents who fudge the minimum height limits even further, by sneaking their kids past the measure, putting their child in platform shoes, or bullying the operator into letting their shorter child board a ride, may be exposing their child to serious danger. You don’t want to live with the consequences of a bad accident — especially when it’s your own fault and your own child who suffers.
My 2-yo is tall enough for kiddie rides, but I’m not allowed to ride with her. Should I let her ride alone?
- Every child is different and every ride is different. Millions of children use kiddie rides without incident each year, but there aren’t many layers of protection if your child decides to disembark mid-ride. Kiddie rides are generally slow-moving, but falls can still be dangerous to children because of exposure to heights and machinery hazards.
- Most 5-year-olds are mature enough to handle kiddie rides, but market pressure has brought height limits down so low on some of these machines that children who can’t yet talk and have barely learned to walk are allowed to ride alone.
- It helps to look for fitted restraints with child-resistant closures. If your preschooler is overly adventurous, easily frightened or going through a clingy phase, don’t let her ride alone, even on a “kiddie” ride. It’s not worth the risk.
- Toddlers and preschoolers are creatures of impulse. They’re genetically wired to run to mom or dad when they get bored or tired or suddenly realize the friendly bumble bee they climbed into is taking them high off the ground and far away from their parents.