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More Than ‘No Children Allowed to Eat Here'


Tiffany Alfonso

“Guests ages 10 and above are invited to dine at this establishment.”
-- Statement from Victoria and Albert’s Restaurant page on the Walt Disney World Resort website

IN THE JANUARY OF THIS YEAR, a handful of staff at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, did something very bold in one of its 98 restaurants. The complex, reputed for its child-connotative image, inaugurated its first child-free zone since Pleasure Island opened on May, 1989. Needless to say, it took place at the 20-year old Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, a hotel adjacent to the mother park of the resort’s theme park quartet: the Magic Kingdom.

Victoria and Albert’s, the most snobbish dining facility in the World, is situated at that particular hotel. It obtained five diamonds from AAA, as well as rave reviews from patrons. The age restriction, which is updated to ten and up, was proposed to enhance the fine dining experience enough. That reason is not only why the staff of the World’s Ritz-Carlton equal raised the bar on who is allowed to dine age-wise.

To Emily Post disciples, the nation might as well sing Tamia’s “Me” 24 hours a day. People are advised to eat out less often not just because of obesity concerns, but as a mark of etiquette. It’s not just cell phone symphonies that dampen the atmosphere of the restaurant but the children (not just teens or tweens) cause war in the adults’ desire for peace.

Young children’s lack of decorum in cafes, restaurants, and other eateries makes parents download an mp3 of Barney’s ode to etiquette or pray for a DVD of the episode on manners and respect from THE SIMPLY GRAND QUIGLEY BAND, if Christian. It can impel them to rent MADELINE AT FINISHING SCHOOL, purchase child-friendly decorum manuals, have their children pass as boarders at a high-brow charm institution. How many parents train their children to keep their elbows off their family tables? How many of them remind them about their seated postures? How many of them notion them to eat small bites?

Let’s face it; it’s an all-too common scene in numerous restaurants. Kids chew on their foods with oral apertures to the world as if they are orally making paper-Mache. Temper tantrums the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina storm tea rooms. Fred Astaire’s junior progeny showcase their tap-dancing skills on antique and authentic wood floors. No matter how patrons try to ignore their heelings on stool supports, children pester them beyond recognition.

We know there’s a time and place for children, even at the World. I conjecture that Splash Mountain, a log flume in the Magic Kingdom, had always imposed a 44-inch height restriction so that kids won’t be risking themselves falling to their deaths down Chick-A-Pin Hill by standing in their logs. Booze-laden Pleasure Island bar children under 21 in most places. Until recently, all the restaurants in the World welcome patrons of all ages. Now the resort has the notion to say, “to everything there is a season,” for kids, at least.

The World is not the only place to install age restrictions on eateries. A few years ago, Dan McCauley, owner of Chicago’s A Taste of Heaven, only barred misbehaving children. He posted a sign bedecked with green and violet handprints that read, “Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven.” Many parents of the neighborhood of Andersonville retorted. One son seemed to join in the protest by yelling “yeah, yeah, yeah,” despite the caveat stated on the sign. In Kraiburg, Germany, Hacienda owner Dieter Hein banned under-12’s because pen stains on linen, breastfeeding, and nappy-changing badger him. As a result of dining age restrictions, babysitters often care for them when Mother’s out to eat.

Children do not yet understand the First Amendment, but they have limits, too. Although there is some discrimination involved, I believe child-free zones in some places are strong to placate the nerves of many adults. In the case of a three-year-old’s meltdown on an AirTran flight last year, I applaud the attendants for intervening with her family by escorting them out. Should adults desire for tranquility in a place to spend their cash they’ve obtained by deliberate labor, they should intercede for more child-free places.

I proudly pat Mickey Mouse on the move for maintain decorum out of consideration of other patrons in a fancy restaurant. Even the well behaved children under 12 are not decorous enough to experience fine dining’s formalities.

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