Disneyland theme parks

Visitors at the Magic Kingdom at Disneyland. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times / February 29, 2012)

The days when parents could drop kids off at Disneyland for the day, leaving it up to Mickey and Goofy to watch over the youngsters, are over.

Walt Disney Co. has unveiled a new admission policy requiring that children entering any of its U.S.-based theme parks be accompanied by a visitor at least 14 years old.

In years past, parents living near theme parks would often use them as day-care facilities during summer vacation and spring break. Children would be dropped off for the day, clutching passes and some spending money.

The change puts an official end to that ritual.

The new policy, according to Disney officials, puts Disneyland's age policy in line with the company's other amusement parks. Industry experts say the new rule reflects a change in attitude about what age is safe for children to be left unaccompanied in a theme park.

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-- Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times