The Scary Side to Otherwise Tame Disney World Rides

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I love it when my students come back from a trip to Disney World.  Their memories are so fresh, so vibrant, so real!  I feel like a (teeny) bit of me has made the trek to the most magical place on Earth!

Five and Six year-old kids tend to speak about Disney trips in three major themed chunks; 1. the hotel (aka pool), 2. the most daring ride they braved, and 3. the characters they met.  Everything is magnified, as hand gestures bring life to memories.  I’m never surprised to hear that even the “bravest of the brave ones” were scared of rides that I would consider to be pretty tame.

I’m talking about  a 5 year old, who barely squeaked by the height requirement, yet hunkered down under that safety restraint, and stared the thrills and hills of rides like Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, and Tower of Terror, but was completely terrorized by the antics of 626 on Stitch’s Great Escape.  Bizarre as it may seem, I get it.

Today I am sharing 5 rides that are surprisingly terrifying for little ones.  Of course, this is by no means a “one size fits all” list.  Some kids know no terror.  Some kids would laugh in the face of these rides.  But, today I am sharing rides I’ve heard mentioned again and again by little ones!

Let’s look at it their way, how kids see it:  the scary side to otherwise tame rides!

1.  Stitches Great Escape

Do you remember ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter? I do!  That think freak me right out!  I remember shivering as the “alien” crept around the seats.  The feel of the breathing on my neck sent me into overload.  It’s funny that Stitches Great Escape is housed in the same place and is now sending waves of fear over little ones worldwide!  Knowing how scary it use to be has made me see the lighthearted side to the ever lovable 626.  But for kids, this ride is as terrifying as it gets.  As Stitch makes his escape into the audience, pouncing on seats, burping out chili dog breath, and spitting on innocent spectators!  When you say it like that, it makes sense…right?

What makes it scary:  This ride contains a period of little to no lighting.  Stitch gets up close and personal, creating a tense feeling for little ones who probably won’t understand that the seats are automated, but instead believe that 626 is running around the theater.  Also, there is a sequence of laser blasts with loud noises that might be considered frightening.  

2. The Great Movie Ride

I love the movies!  Don’t you.  The romance, the dancing, the action, the aliens.  Okay, so it might seem like I’m writing a themed post on aliens here, but I’m not.  I have always loved the Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios.  I love seeing the mock sets and hearing the spiels and  I love the gangster/cowboy story line!   But if you think about it, that ride may seems like glitz and glam of Hollywood, but their are a few hidden terrors!    As you journey through the sets of the horror films , shoot outs,  aliens, and  snakes after snakes after snakes  in the Indiana Jones scene, and  finally capping it off with a visit from the Wicked Witch herself, it is no wonder that kids get scared!  What the heck, I’m an adult and I still avoid sitting in the middle of the vehicles for fear of that awful alien.  I hate that thing!

What makes it scary:  This ride contains several scary scenes including chills and thrills as well as the unsuspected  interaction with the gangster/cowboy.  There are some loud noises, special effects, and scary sights.

3. Dinosaur

I know the funniest story about this ride.  Back when Animal Kingdom first opened, some friends of mine went on a high school chorus trip to Disney World.  Apparently one of the guys screamed like mad when the Carnotaurus makes his big reveal.  Of course, this is when the photo is snapped.  Poor guy, his moment of shear terror forever ink jetted onto a keepsake photo.  That said, this ride is full of thrills and chills.  As you travel back in time on your Time Rover, you come face to face with a slew of prehistoric creatures.  The entire process is a bumpy ride in a race to grab a dinosaur for the rule breaking  Dr. Seeker.  The only problem is that guests are traveling dangerously close to the meteor that wiped out dinosaurs.  The bumpy ride, dinosaurs, and lack of lights sends you on a heartstopping adventure through the Cretaceous period.  It is a trip you won’t soon forget!

What makes it scary:  This ride is mostly dark with flashes of bright lights here and there.  There are loud noises, shocking twists and turns in your Time Rover, and of course, we can’t forget the Dinosaurs.  

4. The Maelstrom

What’s the best ride in all of World Showcase?  The Norway ride (as it is affectionately known).  The Maelstrom is pretty much the only attraction you’ll find a long wait for in EPCOT’s World Showcase (in fact the only ride with Fastpasses+ in the entire World Showcase).  This ride combines facts about Norway with Nordish legends like that of the trolls.  Your factual float takes a turn for the worst (or the “funnest”) as you come head to head with a troll who swears to send you over the falls.  Your ride ends with a short fall/drop  (like a baby, baby, baby, baby Splash Mountain fall).  Little ones might like the spill better that the trolls who cause it.  I know my nephew was a little thrown off by the 3 headed troll.

What makes it scary:  This ride contains some darkness and frightful sights (the trolls are the biggest).  Also, the drop might be frightening to some small children.

5.It’s Tough to be a Bug!

I’ve been writing for Chip and Company for just about a year.  If you’ve read any of my posts, you probably already know that I LOVE to people watch!  I love it!  And as an expert people watcher, I can say with certainty that I have seen my fair share of early “exit-ers” while sitting just outside of the Tree of Life’s It’s Tough to be a Bug.  This 3D attraction takes you beyond the picture and surrounds your senses with the smells, sights, and essence of being a bug!  The show is full of fun and laughs until the grasshopper army seeks out revenge on bug hating humans.  Spiders drop from the ceiling, wasps “sting” you, and you are bug sprayed.  This is unnerving even for adults (at least for those of us who don’t “do” bugs)!

What makes it scary:  This show contains periods of darkness, loud sounds, bugs,  and scary interactive elements (like sensors in your seat that make you feel like a wasp is stinging you, spiders that drop from the ceiling, as well as water and fog/smoke effects).  

I know it is hard to see the scary sides to these rides, but considering how a kid might see it might save you from tears and nightmares!  Check out the rider swap option if you have a child who might find these rides frightening.

Do you have any “tame” rides that frightened your little ones?  Share them in the comment section below!

The Scary Side to Otherwise Tame Disney World Rides


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9 thoughts on “The Scary Side to Otherwise Tame Disney World Rides

  1. I don’t know if I’d call it DANGEROUS but I could see how the shoulder restraints could leave someone a little sore if they were tight. The best thing to do is sit up very straight when it ‘sizes’ you and then allow yourself to slump down in the seat a little.

    I can get a *wee bit* claustrophobic at times, so I made a point to put my hands on my shoulders as well when the restraints came down and then when I removed them it gave me another inch or so of room. When Stitch ‘jumps on them’ it barely bumped the top of my shoulders.

    Honestly though, I think the whole thing is skip-able anyway. We only did it because we were there during the off season (VERY low crowd levels) and had two full days set for MK. We’d done just about everything and walked by it and saw there was no wait, so we did it. In all my trips to the park, I think that was the only time I’ve ever done it, although I remember doing the previous attraction that was in that space once or twice. I love Stitch and I hoped it’d be fun, but I wouldn’t bother with it again.

  2. I remember going on ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter on my first trip to Disney when I was 7 years old. It’s one of the few rides I remember and it was so scary! While I haven’t been on Stitch’s Great Escape, I imagine I’d probably find it funny.

  3. Stitches Great Escape is DANGEROUS and hurt my grand-children, they had sore shoulders for a day or so. None of the other rides in WDW caused any problems, including all the big rides. That rides needs a redesign or recalibration.

  4. My 4 year old son was afraid of Jungle Cruise (we went when it was dark) and also the the under and lightening on Winnie the Pooh!

  5. It may be a little “off topic” but one of the things I like about Stitch (and ExtraTERRORestrial before it) is/was that it’s “theater of the mind.” You don’t move around, bounce around, etc. In a sense, it’s much like what radio was before we had TV (remember “War of the Worlds – which was before my time).

    Granted, I’m “of a certain age” and I enjoy such things. However, I can understand that a small child might become freaked out about it, considering the dark, loud noises, flashing lights and such.

  6. We’re arriving next weekend and I have already decided no Stitch (terrible!) or It’s Tough To Be A Bug for my four year-old. He doesn’t like the dark and is terrified of spiders, so these are so not going to make for a happy experience for him. My dilemma is Dinosaur! because he ADORES dinosaurs…

  7. Haunted Mansion. The first time we went my daughter was turning 5 and we just skipped it… However, she LOVES “spooky” things! The next time we went she was 6 and we let her decide if she wanted to go on the “spooky” ride… At first she was so excited! We forgot about the room in the beginning! SHE FREAKED OUT! But, when the room opened we gave her the option to continue on the ride or leave (the cast member was magically standing next to the exit) and she said no she would finish the ride.

  8. We saw the Tough To Be A Bug show at DL last year. My then barley 6 year old was screaming and sobbing. We were right in the middle and couldn’t get out. It was awful. When we visited DL a few weeks ago he got really upset as we walked through Bugs Land to get over to Cars Land. I had to assure him we were not going to that show again.

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