Introducing kids to thrill rides

How have you all introduced your kids to “thrill rides?” I’m talking BTMRR, SDD, 7DMT, Splash, etc for a newly 40" 4 year old who is fairly easily scared? I don’t want to traumatize her, but she also won’t know unless she tries. Anything in particular worked well for you?

Let them watch the rides on youtube first. It worked for our 4 yearold granddaughter and Splash mountain. She knew what to expect.:thinking:
I know that a lot of people will say it ruins the magic by watching it first, but I don’t think so. Especially if it is the difference between riding and not riding.
Just think of Disney itself. You have seen a thousand advertisements on TV. Did that ruin the magic the first time you visited? :thinking:

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My son just started riding thrill rides. He was very scared the previous times and didn’t want to even try - it has taken multiple visits over two years or so to get him on anything remotely scary. Some things that worked:

  1. Waited till he said he was ready and expressed interest in a particular ride.
  2. Watched YouTube videos to get him familiar with the rides.
  3. Started out on less intense but similar thrill rides - Barnstormer/Gadget’s Go Coaster > 7DMT > BTMRR, Grizzly River Run > Splash, Soarin’ > Star Tours , etc.
  4. Had him ride with someone his same age who is excited to go. Ultimately this was the key - his daredevil cousin was excited to go, so he went along with him and they psyched each other up. His little sister got jealous and rode most of the rides as well even though she is two years younger.

The key for me is don’t force your kid to ride something they don’t want to (I’ve seen this happen and it is very uncomfortable for everyone involved), but try to encourage them to go out of their comfort zone. Be patient. At the end of the day, you know best what your child will be ok on and what will traumatize them.


Don’t do Barnstormer. This is actually quite high and open. We did it first and it scared my kids from everything else.


My niece is a little thrill seeker. So getting her on stuff was not an issue. One thing that surprised me was her aversion to how loud 7DMT is. Just a heads up in case that could be an issue. A lot of Disney rides are very loud with the soundtrack being pumped really high above the noise of the ride. She still loved it and rode everything she could at 2.5 yo, but just something to keep in mind.

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We live in the DC area, so we got them started by going to Kings Dominion (near Richmond VA) and doing the kid coasters there, gradually moving up the “thrill” meter at that park. They did great with that.

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One mistake is keeping the things that might be scary on a ride a “secret” from your child, hoping they won’t notice or be bothered once they get on. I have found that can backfire (not always).

Instead, I suggest telling them up front what scary thing they MIGHT encounter, but softening it. LIke, “The ride is going to be loud, but that’s okay. It is supposed to be.” Or, “There is one part where you go backwards, but the rest of it is totally fun.” Or whatever thing your are afraid they MIGHT be scared of.

Sometimes, though, at that age, it is difficult to predict what they might be afraid of. Start small, doing rush them, and to me, it is better to keep them OFF the ride entirely rather than push them onto a ride too soon. Sometimes, after they see mom or dad or a sibling riding safely and having fun that they will gather up enough courage to try something. But if they don’t that’s okay.

I do agree that Barnstormer isn’t an ideal first coaster. To me, 7DMT is probably the mildest of all the coasters at Disney.


I have done this with a few of my kids this age. I agree with starting out with easier rides.

More specifically, I recommend ramping up the trill level over a given trip. I made the mistake on my first trip to put a 4 year old on test track for their first ride of the entire trip (because it was efficient touring), and she was terrified and didn’t want to try anything else again. When the next child passed four, we ramped up by starting on a spinner and boat rides as the first rides of the trip.


This happened to my kids as well so maybe you’re right. :joy: 7DMT has a similar effect but it felt much more secure to me.

We started at a smaller park that is geared towards littles and did that a few years (we started when my boys were 2 and 3). We took our boys to DLR for the first time when they were 6 and 7 and had no problems with them riding everything they were tall enough to ride.

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