Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Toddler's Fear of Rides at Disney

Recently I was asked about taking a 2 year old on certain rides at Disney, and seeing how my little guy, Colten, was 2 on his first trip, I definitely had some insight here. I thought it might be something worth sharing via the blog as well to possibly help others as they plan their future trips with little ones.

Here's a recap of some of the rides I thought to be okay for a 2 year old at the time... and how he reacted.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Our first ride of the kids' first trip to Disney was Pirates of the Caribbean. We entered the queue and followed the scent of the water to our waiting boat. We were all able to sit together, in the first row. Colten wasn't quite sure what to think. We entered the dark tunnel and, he got a little nervous. This was a new face for us, so I had to snap the picture.

I had completely forgotten about the "little dip" at the beginning which seemed to take us all by surprise. More surprising though was that Bubby didn't seem to mind it. Once we made it through that and the ride opened up a bit, he was fine. He loves anything to do with pirates so he really got into it. There are some loud scenes, but all in all, it was a good experience. 

Haunted Mansion

Well, for whatever reason I remembered Haunted Mansion being rather amusing, like funny Ha-Ha amusing, so I thought it wouldn't be any big deal to take Colten on it. He did fine on Pirates of the Caribbean, after that darkened tunnel and little dip so why wouldn't he do okay with Haunted Mansion?

I'll tell you why... because it is nothing like what I had somehow remembered in my head. I must have come up with some alternative universe or something where the ghosts were telling jokes or something. Don't ask me how or why...

Bubby did okay as we entered. The stretching room didn't scare him like I thought it might, so I thought we were home free. It wasn't until we had gotten into our DoomBuggies and were headed through that first "hallway" with the lightning in the windows, the spooky voice, the doors and pictures that I started to question what in world I was thinking. The ghosts and skeletons were much creepier than I had remembered. (What was I picturing, cute chubby baby-like ghosts or something? I don't know.)

Not only was it dark and creepy, but it was very, very loud. Talk about over-stimulating! It was all just way too much. So, we're not a minute in and already I'm feeling like the world's worst mother. Oh, and the ride is super long, which didn't help a bit.

Yes, yes, he made it out alive, but he was skeptical of every ride after that for the rest of our trip! 

Muppet*Vision 3D

Muppet*Vision 3D is a 3D enhanced theater show at Disney's Hollywood Studios which I thought would really be a big hit with Colten. I mean, it is the Muppets, after all. He loved the waiting area, checking out the little show on the TVs and all the props. He loved getting his glasses and playing with them. He didn't even mind going into the theater. However, once the show started and the 3D antics really began, specifically when "the world's first computer-generated Muppet", Waldo C. Graphic tells you how it's funny that everyone think he's talking to them, but really he's just talking to you and his nose elongates and almost bumps right into your own nose... Bubby was ready to hit the door. So beware, the show may be just fine, but the 3D effects may be a bit too much for little one. Most may be okay to stay and watch the show without the glass, but my little guy had to leave.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Another ride that seemed a bit sketchy to him at first (thanks to Mama here) was The Seas with Nemo and Friends.  Those "clamobiles" were a bit too similar to the DoomBuggies and he was a bit leery of getting in. He immediately went into defense mode, seen here:

For whatever reason, he was never ll that into Nemo, so he didn't really get excited at the sight of Dory or Nemo. While those hands never came down, his features softened, and you could tell he was okay. He did say he "liked the fish" when he got off, but I'm sure he'd have enjoyed it much more without my Haunted Mansion fiasco.

Jungle Cruise

Colten loves boats and loves animals (see where I'm going with this?), so what better attraction than Jungle Cruise to appeal to him? He started to get a bit anxious waiting in line, especially overhearing the kids behind us talk about a big snake. We were the last to board a crowded boat, and Bub wasn't too sure about this...

Once we got going though and he realized there wasn't really anything to be scared of, he started to enjoy the nice, relaxing boat ride. He really liked pointing out the animals. His favorites were the elephants playing in the water. This may have even ended up being one of his favorites.

What can we learn from this post?
  • Haunted Mansion is too spooky, loud, scary and over-stimulating for a two year old (or at least mine anyway)
  • 3D effects, like those in Muppet*Vision 3D, may be too much for little ones
  • Some children may be nervous getting on certain rides (even without previous bad experience), but it's okay to take them anyway because it may turn out that they really like it (although I wouldn't recommend pushing through for Haunted Mansion...)

For the record, my daughter Tessa thinks Haunted Mansion rocks, and she and I had to ride it several more times over the course of our trip. She was 5 at the time. To this day it's still her favorite non-thrill ride.

Were your kids frightened by any rides at Disney? Any they were scared to go on but ended up liking? Do you have a tot who liked Haunted Mansion? I'd love to hear from you.

This post carries a disclosure Level of 0. Please see my disclosure page for more details.


  1. Great post as always! Those pictures of Bubby's new face are priceless. We haven't taken Nicholas on The Haunted Mansion ride or even Pirates yet - somehow we missed a lot of rides at Magic Kingdom! So far, everything we've ridden he liked so we've been lucky :)

    Bitten by the Disney Bug

  2. Awww . . . poor kid. I hate to say it but his "fear face" is adorable! LOL

    We've taken Ian on the haunted mansion, but I keep my hand over his eyes the entire time.

    My kids have never been huge fans of 3-D. It is kinda scary.

    Great post this week, Bird! :) I love your take on the letters.

  3. Poor guy. But now that it is over, what special memories. Even if they are not the best - you will never forget that trip! And I did have to chuckle at the same scared photo that you took over and over again. And don't worry - you are a great mom.

  4. Awww, what a sweetheart! I love seeing Disney through a child's eyes.. the looks on their faces are so precious! You're an awesome mother!!!

  5. The cute face is too sweet! Our first few trips to Disney with our oldest (now 21) we didn't go on any rides at all lol. He just loved walking around and taking in the sites but balked at everything else. Now my youngest, 6yo, won't go near a 3D movie but he will go on everything else just fine. Great post!

  6. We had a similar experience at Mickey's Philharmagic. It was definitely not my proudest mom moment, and Joey has yet to go anywhere near Philharmagic since! :-) Great post though, I could relate!

  7. Aww he's adorable even when he's scared. I always forget the dip in POTC too! Cute post of "f"s

  8. Awww, poor guy. I don't think you're a terrible mother. :) I think it can be hard to tell what kids will be afraid of at times. My favorite ride as a kid was the Haunted Mansion (I was a weird kid). The one I was surprised about was a friend's whose little boy hates its's a small world, all of the dolls scare him.

  9. We took our girls the first time when youngest was 3 years old. She did fine on HM although a little nervous,until the cars stopped right when we were in front of the mirrors where the hitchhiking ghosts are in the car with you. She started getting scared and I told her it was fine. I said just tell those ghosts to get out of here. And then in a really loud voice that's what she did. She yelled "Ghosts get outta here!" Of course, we still tease her about that to this day (she's 16 now). See I'm the bad mother, I tease my child about being scared!

    She also did not like 3-D movies for the longest time, but she was willing to go in, she'd just take the glasses off when she got scared or she'd sit in my lap with her back to the movie.

    But she likes them okay now, although I'm still not sure there her favorite thing to do.

    And your little ones scared face is so cute!

  10. Thanks everyone for stopping by and yes, as bad as I felt, I thought his "fear face" was pretty darn cute myself!

    Glad to know you guys don't judge me too harshly, lol, and that's I'm not the only one who's taken them on something they didn't enjoy.

    Who knew 3D movies were so universally scary?

  11. Great post, the pictures of him on Safari he looks very content and happy. My son was terrified of HM, it was to dark and the loud noises and things popping out scared him. I covered his eyes most of the ride and held him close to me. That was the only ride he had a problem with. I guess you have make the best judgement and you know your child best.

  12. I had a horrid experience on the Haunted Mansion in DL in 2009. My daughter was 4 and my son was just 2. We qued and went into the stretching room... Have to admit it freaks me little. I kept my hand over my daughters eyes and my son clung to his nanna for dear life. When we got to the doom buggies my daughter refused to get on cause she was already was I!!!! My son opted to continue on with nanna. We on the other hand were directed to the exit.... This was the darkest longest exit I've been through... I think we'd have been better off on the ride!!! Surely Disney could have lit the way better. I'm sure we weren't the 1st to exit with scared kids (and adult)

  13. Poor fella! I can certainly relate because mine is on the Spectrum. Even though he is 8, we still have many of those moments. Speaking from the Disneyland side, Snow White is out. Pinocchio is out. Mr. Toad is ok (go figure!) as long as he doesn't have to wait long. We never made it on Indiana Jones because the queue was too intense. For the record, mine wouldn't even go through the front door of Haunted Mansion, even if I told him there was ice cream inside.

    While there is so much for all ages, there certainly is quite a bit of scary stuff that most people wouldn't think of.

  14. Jo, good point! You'd think they'd make it at least well lit so as to ease the fear of those needing to leave.

    Naomi, hopefully you have many wonderful memories to outweigh those he doesn't enjoy :-) Thanks for stopping by!