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WDW Trip With Kids Planning Guide
Visiting the resort with your children
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Brian Bennett

Traveling With Kids - Attraction "Fear Factors"

In addition to the safety restrictions that exist for many of WDW's most exciting attractions, there are also a few "Fear Factors" that you might want to consider when determining if your children (or you) would enjoy them.  I'll first describe the issues, then use the terms in the tables below.

  • Height - The attraction is a tall one (or appears to be).

  • Motion - Movement might be of concern either due to speed, rotation, or rapid up and down movements.

  • Loudness - The sounds in this attraction tend to be loud (especially for younger, more sensitive ears).

  • Darkness - The attraction is dark.

  • "Evil" - There is an inherently wickedness to some of the characters or situations in the attraction.  Young children understand that witches, ghosts, and such things are something to be afraid of.

  • "Fear" - Even if there is nothing "evil" about this attraction, there may be something to be afraid of (ferocious animals, dinosaurs, etc.)

I don't mean to scare you off of any of these attractions.  Most children will probably enjoy most attractions as much as you do, but if you have a child that is particularly sensitive to some particular issue, at least you'll be able to warn him or her.  Knowing what's coming, and being aware that "that's supposed to happen" can turn a fearful experience into a fun one.

Magic Kingdom

Attraction

Potential "Fear Factors"

Comments

Alien Encounter Loudness, Darkness, "Fear" The built-up foreboding can scare anyone...especially a child.  Also, the sound system is excellent, but VERY loud.
Astro Orbiter Height, Motion Repetitive rotation and up and down motion are worth being aware of.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Motion This is a quickly moving ride.
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin Motion The cars rotate very quickly which may or may not be a problem.
Carousel of Progress n/a  Nothing to be concerned with.
Cinderella's Carousel Height, Motion It's a typical carousel, but the horses are very large (especially the outside ones) and the up and down motion, although slow, is considerable.
Country Bear Jamboree Loudness, Darkness Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark.  However, the presentation is a happy, upbeat one.
Dumbo Height, Motion Repetitive rotation and up and down motion are worth being aware of.
Goofy's Barnstormer Height, Motion Quite the coaster for a little one.
Hall of Presidents Loudness, Darkness Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark.
Haunted Mansion Darkness, "Evil" The entire attraction is kept fairly dark (not surprisingly), and spooks, ghosts, and other frightening sights abound.
It's A Small World n/a Nothing to be concerned with.
Jungle Cruise "Fear" Snakes and wild animals (especially the hippos that are quite close to the boat) may be of concern.
Liberty Bell Riverboat n/a Nothing to be concerned with.
Mad Tea Party Motion I'll never do this one after lunch.  You decide for yourself what you'll do.
Magic Carpets of Aladdin Height, Motion Repetitive rotation and up and down motion are worth being aware of.
Main Street Vehicles "Fear" The only thing I flag here is the massive size of the lovely horses that draw the trolley's down Main Street.  Allan was happy to stay a good ten feet away from them when he was two years old.
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Darkness, "Fear" The attraction is only dimly lit during portions of the ride.  Also, the special effects (i.e. the blustery day) and the heffalumps and woozles might startle.
Peter Pan's Flight Height, Motion, Loudness, Darkness, "Evil" You're in a high flying galleon, sweeping and soaring over London and Neverland.  The cannon is loud and startling and Hook may be "evil" enough for your youngster.  The attraction is only dimly lit.
Pirates of the Caribbean Motion, Darkness, "Evil" The boats drop down a rather short, but unexpected, drop early in the ride.  The pirates themselves are not too scary to an adult, but they are, after all, pirates to the kids.  The attraction is only dimly lit.
Snow White's Adventures Darkness, "Evil" The witch.  Enough said.  Also, the attraction is only dimly lit.
Space Mountain Height, Motion, Darkness This is a quickly moving ride with some fairly high areas of track (even though there are no major "drops").  The attraction is only dimly lit.
Splash Mountain Height, Darkness, "Evil" This one has some wicked-sounding music and some not-so-friendly buzzards that builds up fear before the big drop.  The attraction is only dimly lit.
Swiss Family Treehouse Height As you're walking up the stairs, you might not realize how high you go.
Timekeeper Motion, Darkness This is a typical "Circle-Vision" attraction, that tends to make the viewer feel like they're moving...even if they're not.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark. 
Tom Sawyer Island Darkness Some of the caves are dark, but if your kids don't want to go in, there's no reason why they must.
Tomorrowland Speedway Motion The cars aren't too fast, but they can be strongly bumped by the other cars behind them (especially at the end of the ride).
Tomorrowland Transit Authority Height, Darkness, Motion The vehicles move high over Tomorrowland and accelerate suddenly.  There are brief moments of darkness as the vehicles whisk you through Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and so on.
Tropical Serenade - Under New Management! Loudness, Darkness Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark.  However, the presentation is a happy, upbeat one.
Walt Disney World Railroad n/a Nothing to be concerned with.

Epcot

Attraction

Potential "Fear Factors"

Comments

Body Wars Motion You're being sloshed through the blood vessels by the pumping of the heart.  Imagine the too-and-fro motion, sudden dips and doodles (as you move through the heart itself) and you get the idea.
Caribbean Coral Reef Ride / Sea Base Alpha "Fear" Sharks...  Might be a problem, might not.
Circle of Life Loudness, Darkness Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark.  However, the presentation is a happy, upbeat one.
Cranium Command Loudness, Darkness, "Fear" Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark. Allan was very startled by the steam effects as the cranium commando lost control.  Beware.
El Rio Del Tiempo: The River of Time n/a Nothing to be concerned with.
Ellen's Energy Adventure (Universe of Energy) Loudness, Darkness, "Fear" The attraction is only dimly lit and some of the special effects ("live" moving dinosaurs) might be a bit intense for the younger set. 
Food Rocks Loudness, Darkness Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark.  However, the presentation is a happy, upbeat one.
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience Motion, Loudness, Darkness, "Fear" The whole theatre shakes, there is loud noise, and a giant snake, giant lion, and giant dog are encountered.  Beyond that, there is the usual issues...like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark. 
Horizons Darkness The attraction is only dimly lit.
Impressions de France Loudness, Darkness Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark.  However, the presentation is a happy, upbeat one.
Journey into Imagination Darkness, "Fear" The attraction is only dimly lit and some of the special effects might be a bit intense for the younger set.
Living With the Land n/a Nothing to be concerned with.
Maelstrom Motion, Loudness, "Evil", Darkness, "Fear" Maelstrom moves rapidly at times, you encounter a three-headed troll that might be frightening, and you voyage through an intense North Sea storm complete with lightning and thunder.  The attraction is only dimly lit.
O Canada Motion, Darkness This is a typical "Circle-Vision" attraction, that tends to make the viewer feel like they're moving...even if they're not.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark. 
Spaceship Earth Motion, Loudness, Darkness, "Evil" This attraction is slow moving, but tilts you backwards for the last part of the ride.  It's quite disorienting.  Also, the music is loud and dirge-like, it can make a little one fearful, when we're supposed to feel upbeat about the future, don't figure.  The attraction is only dimly lit.
Test Track Motion, Darkness Speed and high acceleration are experienced.  The attraction is only dimly lit.
The American Adventure Loudness, Darkness Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark.  However, the presentation is a happy, upbeat one.
Wonders of China: Land of Beauty, Land of Time Motion, Darkness This is a typical "Circle-Vision" attraction, that tends to make the viewer feel like they're moving...even if they're not.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark. 

Disney / MGM Studios

Attraction

Potential "Fear Factors"

Comments

Backstage Pass n/a Nothing to be concerned with.
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage n/a Nothing to be concerned with.
Fantasmic! Loudness, "Evil" The fireworks and music are very loud and many of Mickey's arch enemies are encountered along the way.
Great Movie Ride Loudness, "Evil", Darkness, "Fear" Gunfire, loud music, the Wicked Witch of the West, and ride-through horror chambers, the scenes from "Alien" and such like are to be expected.  The attraction is only dimly lit.
Hunchback of Notre Dame -- A Musical Adventure Loudness Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Loudness Explosions can startle.
Jim Henson's MuppetVision 3-D Loudness, Darkness, "Fear" Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  The end of the show gets a bit wild and the effects might be a bit too intense for some children.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark.  
Magic of Disney Animation n/a Nothing to be concerned with.
Rock ' N' Roller Coaster Motion, Loudness, Darkness Loud music punctuates Disney's wildest coaster to date (with three inversions).  The attraction is only dimly lit.
Sounds Dangerous Motion, Loudness, Darkness OK, so you don't really move, but the sounds may cause disorientation, especially to those folks that have inner ear trouble.   Also, as a theatre, it will be dark.  
Star Tours Motion Very quick, very rough, excellent ride (but very quick and very rough, remember?)
Studios Backlot Tour "Fear" Catastrophe Canyon has some intense  effects.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Height, Motion, Darkness, "Evil", "Fear" Height, Motion, Darkness, "Evil" and "Fear".  What didn't you get?
Voyage of the Little Mermaid Loudness, Darkness, "Evil" Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark.  In general, the presentation is a happy, upbeat one, but Ursula is encountered and the portion of the show just before the ending includes some very intense animation from the film.

Animal Kingdom

Attraction

Potential "Fear Factors"

Comments

"Pocahontas and her Forest Friends" at Grandmother Willow's Grove Loudness Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.
"Festival of The Lion King" at Lion King Theater Loudness Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.
"Flights of Wonder" at Caravan Stage "Fear" Birds, real live ones, and lots of 'em.
"Tarzan Rocks" at Theater in the Wild Loudness Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.
Countdown to Extinction Motion, Loudness, Darkness, "Fear" You'll be jostled big time on this one as you encounter several prehistoric beasts that most kids would rather not run into.  The attraction is only dimly lit.
It's Tough to be a Bug Loudness, Darkness, "Fear" Like most theatre presentations at WDW, the sound tends to be too loud, especially for little ones.  Also, as a theatre, it will be dark.  Finally, the special effects in this attraction are quite startling, and rather unexpected.
Kali River Rapids Motion This is a fast-paced white water rapids ride.
Kilamanjaro Safari "Fear" Real wild animals may or may not be frightening to your kids.  Also, there's some "made up" things that are brief, but disquieting.
Maharajah Jungle Trek "Fear" Real wild animals may or may not be frightening to your kids. 
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail "Fear" Real wild animals may or may not be frightening to your kids. 
Primeval Whirl Height, Motion, "Fear" The ride is quite a bit above the ground, sudden appearances of dinosaurs (even though they're only 2-D cut outs, you should be aware of them), and quite a bit of speed for such a small coaster.  Also, since the cars spin, rotational motion can be an issue.
Triceratop Spin Height, Motion Repetitive rotation and up and down motion are worth being aware of.
Wildlife Express to Conservation Station n/a Nothing to be concerned with.

There's a page in the planning guide that describes how to do a "baby swap" so adults and children that meet the attraction restrictions can ride in shifts (without having to wait in line more than once!) even if part of your group is too young or of insufficient stature to ride.

 

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