Our DS will be six when we visit and plenty tall to ride everything. We’re trying to show him how much fun some of the rides are by showing him YouTube videos of other kids enjoying them, but he keeps sticking to his guns saying there’s no way he’s riding. I’m talking rides like Splash, 7DMT, SDD, and BTMRR, which are relatively mild. Would you leave it alone? I’m convinced that if he tried them, he’d enjoy them.
How soon is the trip? Has he done any kind of ride before?
Our first trip with a 5 year old was a bit of a revelation to me in that I’d never imagined a kid could be scared of something like BTMRR, but my son was terrified of everything! He hated our whole time there. I didn’t push it often as DH doesn’t like riding either, but I regretted it when I did. He’s 24 now and would happily never go on any type of ride again, not just coasters however mild. I mean he literally wouldn’t go on anything given the choice. Not because I scarred him for life he just isn’t a ride person.
There is a lot to do that isn’t even the mildest form of thrill ride, and I think I’d be inclined to use rider swap where you have to.
When DS was 3 years old (and 40"), we weren’t sure what he would be willing to ride. So, we worked our way up from the fantasy land rides, to Pirates, then took him on Barnstormer, which is pretty tame. He enjoyed it so much, by night time we went over to BTMRR and Splash while HEA was going on and rode them 2x each. I was really surprised. To him, it was like a big accomplishment. We bought him a pin for every one of the “big rides” that he did as a badge of accomplishment and that helped too!
I would leave it until you get to the parks (my experigirls nice is that if they have decided they don’t like a ride the video shows them all the bad stuff without the fun of actually riding the attraction) and then start with rides like barnstormer and sdd where he can see the whole ride. If he wants to do them great, if not then just save them for the next time. The other option is to try a local park if you have one so he can try out some rides before and see that he (hopefully enjoys them).
We are experts at the art of turning a hesitant rider into a ride lover. But it takes patience across multiple days sometimes.
Start with very tame rides. No coasters, etc. But every once in a while throw in something like Astro Orbiter or something that feels more thrillish but can be ridden with a parent.
Even POTC can be a decent introduction because there is the unexpected drop. When they survive that, you can praise them and build confidence.
Eventually you should be able to convince them to try a coaster and see how it goes. Usually they will be scared before, but love it afterwards.
I agree start slow! Although we did do Kali River Rapids the first day! Her expression when she caught site of the ride for the first time is my favorite picture of all time!!! She was 5 when we went the first time and she also unexpectedly loved Barnstormer! It’s surprisingly thrilling for such a short coaster but we also did it after all the tame rides and now she is a definite thrill seeker! I never showed her any of the rides ahead of time. The whole trip was just one big adventure. My nephew was 4 the first time and refused to go on most things so I stayed with him and my daughter got to ride everything twice!
Do you have a local park you can take him to before your trip? My youngest was 4 when we took him on his first DW trip. He was more willing to try things because he was an experienced amusement park attender. There were a few he refused, such as TOT and EE, but he did get on Splash, 7dmt and Space Mountain. I would try a local amusement park and ease him in, if that’s possible.
We just took my 2.5 year old nice on 7D. My family has always taken the “just put her on it, she’ll be fine” approach. I actually think 7D is a great first coaster because, though a bit quick, it is very themed and you have the dark ride bits that are sort of a break from the action. I actually think how loud the ride is was more of a concern to her than the ride itself.
Maybe schedule it in your plan for just before a break? That way if there is a bit backlash, you have some time before the next ride.
I’m a grown* adult and if you would “throw in” Astro orbiter on me when I was a kid or even TODAY, I’d cut you. I want absolutely no part of that ride.
As a card carrying member of the “fear of speed and heights” club, I would suggest just leaving it and/or play it by ear once at the parks. There’s plenty of other rides and things to do around Disney. If you want to test the waters though, like mentioned already, check out a local theme park or barnstormer and see how they take it.
I am with you on the heights. I hate heights. I get dizzy thinking about it. So if a child is too afraid of heights, then I agree AO might be pushing things!
Visit a local amusement park to see how he really does. Don’t force it.
And Splash is the worst out of these 4 as it is a long ride and the anticipation of that drop can majorly build the anxiety.
I agree with all the advice here about starting slow, with two other caveats-
I’d stop showing him anything on video. A lot of those people scream for no reason, but just to scream. The screaming alone can scare him. Also he may start to feel pressured about it. Or try it with the sound off. My kids were sensitive to sound so maybe others wouldn’t mind it as much.
If he doesn’t want to go even on a mild ride, don’t make him. I don’t mean you should forgo a little coaxing or bribery, but if he really doesn’t want to, let it be. It could backfire badly.
Have one person stay with him and then everyone else goes and has an awesome time! And when I say stay with him, I mean stand right there- no ice cream or other fun things while they ride. Sometimes the best way to handle fears is to be very matter-of-fact about it and ignore it to a certain extent. Eventually they get over it on their own.
I hate heights, too. AO is really thrilling for me for that reason. It’s controlled heights, and I’m strapped in. My absolute worst is the the brink of the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone- it’s an uncontrolled environment with all that water rushing over. And people around. No way. I won’t get anywhere near the edge of THAT thing.
And then there are the Cliffs of Moher. And Dun Aengus- I tell you, the Irish are insane. My kids crept over there and laid down and looked over. The park ranger WASN’T EVEN WATCHING THEM. I just hid my face in my hands until it was over.
I have a very cautious 7 year old son. I planned our October '18 trip because I wanted him to experience Disney. We had brought our older kids when they were 9 and 7 and they rode EVERYTHING…well, there was an incident on BTMRR that involved my 9 year old grasping the bar as I threw him onto the ride screaming (while DH and DD pretended not to know us). Anyhow, it wasn’t until the trip was planned and paid that I got to thinking about how youngest son was probably not going to approach each ride with reckless abandon.
To prep him for the trip (which we told him about like a month before we left) he and I watched youtube videos of the actual rides that I thought he might be afraid of–7DMT, SDD, BTMRR, Splash Mountain, etc. I then came up with a pinky-promise solemn vow where I made him promise to try everything once…that I would never make him go on it again if he hated it, but he couldn’t know he hated it unless he tried it. It actually worked! I, obviously, didn’t push him too far outside of his comfort zone (I had never ridden ToT or EE so I didn’t even have him try those), but he did everything else at least once. His one and done’s were BTMRR, SDD, and POC. We rode Splash Mountain probably 5 times over our trip and that and FOP were his favorites. He also got pretty nervous on Soarin’, but didn’t freak out. His POC fear is the small drop and he hated it, but loved SplashM–he said he’d rather see a 50 foot drop than not be able to see the little one.
I think what helped was having him approach it like an experiment…just see if he likes it…and then we would talk about it after. We’re planning a May trip that will be a surprise for the kids and I’m trying to think of a way to get him to be open-minded again–particularly for HS rides because we’re just doing that and AK this trip. I’m hoping I can get him back on SDD and maybe even a ToT since I rode it last time and realized it was fun and not absolutely terrifying!
Thank you all. Funny thing is that we live close to Sesame Place in PA. Last summer he rode their two coasters, not kiddie coasters. But for some reason, he has it in his head that Disney coasters are going to be more intense. Struggling to convince him otherwise.
I am not a fan of having the kids watch ride videos ahead of time. My six year old was apprehensive too. We just put him and his brother on all the rides except for Everest and RnR. They did pretty well.
My DS was 6 when we first did Space Mountain. He loved it for about 30 seconds. Halfway through the ride, he started crying that he wanted to get off. I was scared he was going to try to climb out and I wouldn’t have been able to hold him, even though I was behind him. He now loves the ride, but he didn’t like it then. Even his 8 year old brother came off and started crying. I’m lucky they both agreed to try again the next year.
If he doesn’t want to go, don’t push him. Use those FPs for something else.
Kids (and adults) all have weird fears and can be unpredictable. My DD4 was so anxious/nervous for any of the indoor attractions. Freaked out in line for Pooh, under the sea, Peter pan, ect. She loved Barnstormer, SDD, and 7dwarfs (too short for anything else). You can never know so just plan to be flexible!
My DD 24 still won’t see ITTBAB.
When I was a kid, I was terrified of POTC. I refused, no matter what my parents tried to bribe me with. I would ride every other ride in the park, and loved the coasters, etc., but Pirates scared me to death. I liked the actual ride, but the pirates shooting at each other scared me. It’s funny looking back on it now, but I remember my parents being frustrated with me for not going.