Ah the million dollar question…. or at least the $750 question in our case….
Our son does NOT have a park pass on this trip. I am not one for flagrant rule breaking by any means. I’m absolutely a major proponent of getting any and all discounts that you can find, but by no means do I support blatant rule breaking. Therefore, this summer I called to order our kiddo an annual pass for use starting this December, since he turned 3 in the summer of 2020 (kids under 3 are free in Disney). I first tried to order him a Gold Annual Pass online, just like I did for myself and my non significant other. For whatever reason it wasn’t working though. I later learned, as so many people did, that annual pass sales were halted this year when the parks reopened. I called customer service in a panic, trying to get his pass, worried that I wouldn’t be able to book his park reservations with the rest of us. The customer service representative explicitly told me that I should not worry about getting him a park pass for our December trip at all, given that 1. He would be newly 3 years old, 2. I made an attempt and they weren’t selling annual passes, and 3. Park employees “don’t check for proof of age upon entry.” This surprised me a lot, coming from an actual Disney employee. I basically was told to pretend that he was 2. I guess this was her solution temporarily given the lack of park pass sales at the time, not her overall recommendation permanently. Regardless, that’s what we are going with for this trip. He is a giant 2 year old apparently.
When I posted about this on Facebook, just to confirm that no one has been stopped with a large toddler and asked for proof of their age, a lot of moms chimed in saying their kids were “2” for as long as possible. Apparently this is pretty common and Disney tends to look the other way, unless you are trying to bring a 5 year old in as a 2 year old. No parents reported ever being asked for proof of their 2 or 3 year olds age when bringing them into the park without a park pass. I can’t say it never happens, but it never happened to us this week (entered each of the 4 parks, probably a total of 20 times), and the cast member at customer service told me it would not happen.
So again, I don’t support breaking the rules. Unfortunately we were put in a situation where we weren’t given much choice and the recommendation from the Disney cast member I spoke with was to just say he is 2 through this trip and then get his pass next year when we renew ours, so that we are all on the same annual renewal cycle. She didn’t seem remotely concerned about this. She actually acted like it would be highly unusual to get his annual pass at a different time than our own, since we’d be all out of whack for renewals forever.
We are asked his age every time we enter the park. Since I hate lying, I took the advice of another mom and I say “he will be 3 next week” so that I’m not technically lying (cringe). We will all feel better when he’s an honest paying customer next time and gets to wear his own Magic Band to enter the parks.
For everyone’s reference, he’s a big boy…. about 41” with shoes on at least. No way does he look 2. It’s awkward. It is what it is though. The poor kid is probably expecting a birthday party next week at this point.
For consistency’s sake, this does also mean that he is “2” at meals as well, so he eats free at several table service restaurants. Given that he eats about 3 bites of food, and we pay $50+ per adult, I don’t feel incredibly guilty about this. I would be nervous saying he is 3 at restaurants when customer service clearly changed him to be a 2 year old in My Disney Experience for purposes of the park pass/park reservation situation. I wouldn’t want to raise any red flags, so he’s just 2 across the board this week.
Hopefully no one will judge us as crazy dishonest rule breakers. We did our best to get him a pretty darn expensive annual pass this summer, both online and on the phone, to no avail.
To those wondering if their kid can pass as 2…. this kid raised a few eyebrows but had no issues all week at every park as a 2 year old: