Is Walt Disney World ever too scary for younger children? I’m a mother of five and we’ve been hauling them to WDW for years. While the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ truly is magical, most of the time, there are a few attractions to be weary of for your youngest family members.
I remember our first family visit with our oldest daughter (just the one kid at the time) and the grandparents. She was four. We started our day in the Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom. She saw the Snow White sign and just had to go. We somehow missed the small sign stating it might be scary for young children and boy was that a mistake. The ride was loud with dark frightening scenes, so we exited with her in tears and ready to leave the park entirely. Fortunately, that attraction is gone now, replaced with Mickey’s Philharmagic which is delightful and not the least bit scary.
Let me share some tips for avoiding, or at least minimising, the dramatic bawling scenes that can ruin a pleasant and exciting day.
Before boarding any attraction explain that it will be loud. Believe me; you can count on any attraction being very loud. If your child is sensitive to this sort of thing, prepare him with the truth but don’t make a big fuss about it. Just say its “loud at first.” That way he relaxes and knows it won’t stay loud the whole time. He adapts to the volume and it stops being a bother. By the time you’ve been on two or three, volume won’t be an issue.
Dark & Scary Scenes
Besides volume, some attractions are simply too scary for young children. After all, every Disney animation movie that comes to mind has at least one evil witch or bad guy and a few scary scenes. Think Malificent in Sleeping Beauty or the evil Emperor Zurg in Toy Story. Disney does scary as an art form. Again, truthfully state the ride may be dark for a minute but won’t STAY dark. Again, little eyes adjust and if parents are having a blast, so will the child. Following our Snow White’s Scary Adventure debacle, we told our daughter she would love Small World and it would only be loud for a minute or two and not dark at all. We had to ride it five times but that’s another story.
List of frightening rides for little ones by park:
- The Haunted Mansion – Dark and loud with ghoulish scenes
- Flight of Peter Pan– Dark for most of the ride with an incredibly long queue.
- Stitch’s Great Escape – Dark, loud, smokey with the added bonus of feeling trapped inside a very tight shoulder harness. I’ve seen 10 year olds flip out on this one.
- Dinosaur – It does have a height requirement, so likely a moot warning for parents of the very young. It is extremely loud even by Disney standard and bone jarring to boot. We rode it once, years ago, and once was enough. Nothing redeeming about it really. It is dark, loud, scary dinosaurs that often jump out and the ride is very jerky.
- Tough to be a Bug Show- Harmless enough in the beginning, this one builds to a crescendo of fright with giant spiders coming out of the ceiling, a scene of chaos and confusion for many little ones. Skip it unless your child has become sensitised to volume, dark AND fright all at once.
- Fantasmic- This is a favorite of many teens. However, a few scenes can be frightening for very young ones. If you can get through the scary dream sequences which include yelling, fire and smoke, the end is jolly and light with paddle boats full of favorite characters happily waving. Not to mention that the music, throughout the show, is incredible.
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid- Again, dark & loud with scary scenes but not all the way through. If your young one has seen the movie, it’s more likely she’ll love this stage production even if a little scared at first.
- The Spirit of the Viking in Norway’s pavillion- Dark, loud, backward tipping and not enjoyable. Let your little one play on the Viking boat run around by the pavilion instead. Or Try the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico’s pavilion when traveling with the very young.
To be honest, any attraction has the potential to be scary for young ones. Some with good reason, and others simply because the child has a preconceived anticipation to be scared. Your child may be just fine with the ghoulish scenes of the Haunted Mansion but be scared senseless on Dumbo. Most kids follow the example of the others around them so relax and enjoy yourself and so will the little ones.
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