Things that might scare little ones at Disney World

(Article last updated: April 24, 2017)

There are several attractions at Disney World that may seem harmless and if you go purely off of the height requirement you may think it is suitable for your child. However, even though they look fun you may find that they are a bit more than you bargained for.

Of course, every kid is different so yours may like all of these but many of these are things might scare little ones at Disney World. 

Let's take a look...

We left some attractions off that either had taller height requirements or don't really require much explanation (like Splash Mountain). If there's anything not listed here that you'd like to see, please mention that in the comments.

Magic Kingdom

Pirates of the Caribbean
Height requirement: none | Scare level: 3/10

Why it could be scary: in the beginning, there are lots of skeletons that some kids might find scary. Also, the ride is dark and there's a scene in the middle where canons are being fired which could be scary to some kids.

Tips: have a small child sit in the middle of the row during the ride, preferably not in the front row


 

Haunted Mansion
Height requirement: none | Scare level: 4/10

Why it could be scary: the darkness, haunting audio, and images of skulls and ghosts could scare some

Tips: try to redirect a child's attention by telling them to help count how many ghosts they spot


 

Tomorrowland Transit Authority (PeopleMover)
Height requirement: none | Scare level: 1/10

Why it could be scary: this ride is really mild but there are parts that go through complete darkness

Tips: let kids know that this ride is a tour through Tomorrowland and that you have to go through some buildings in the dark


 

Stitch's Great Escape
Height requirement: 40" | Scare level: 7/10

Why it could be scary: guests are strapped to their seat while there's scary imagery, sounds and smells

Tips: don't ride it. Not only is this an attraction that might scare little ones at Disney World it is also an attraction that might gross out an adult.


Space Mountain
Height requirement: 44" | Scare level: 7/10

Why it could be scary: roller coaster completely in the dark (with a 44" height requirement, many little ones won't be tall enough to ride anyway)

Tips: probably should avoid this ride altogether if you have a child that is scared. Even some adults get a little freaked out about sudden roller coaster movements in the dark.


Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Height requirement: 38" | Scare level: 4/10

Why it could be scary: this roller coaster is the most intense attraction in Fantasyland so it might take a little one by surprise

Tips: have your child test the roller coaster waters with Barnstormer first; if they like that one then they will probably love Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

 

Epcot

Spaceship Earth
Height requirement: none | Scare level: 1/10

Why it could be scary: mild ride but it's very dark in parts

Tips: this ride will not scare many kids but you might want to just explain that the slow ride up is looking at the past and then there's a slow ride down that is about the future


 

Mission: Space
Height requirement: 44" | Scare level: 5/10

Why it could be scary: guests are harnessed and the simulation includes feeling g-forces and a semi-rough ride through space (though the 44" height requirement will mean many little ones won't be able to ride anyway)

Tips: have them focus on pushing the buttons in front of them when they light up


 

Test Track
Height requirement: 40" | Scare level: 3/10

Why it could be scary: sudden stopping and turning plus a high-speed lap around the track

Tips: I've only occasionally seen a child be upset by this ride but just let kids know that it's a car ride that ends with a fast drive on a highway

Animal Kingdom

It's Tough to be a Bug
Height requirement: none | Scare level: 8/10

Why it could be scary: dark theater, bugs dropping from the ceiling, seat movements that feel like bugs crawling

Tips: if your child has any fear about bugs or the dark, you should probably avoid this. Otherwise, you might want to just remind them that all of the bugs they see are pretend.


 

Expedition Everest
Height requirement: 44" | Scare level: 8/10

Why it could be scary: big coaster that goes backward during part of the ride (though many 5-6 year olds will meet the 44" height requirement, it's too intense for many of them)

Tips: be sure to try out other easier coasters first to see about your child's comfort level. If this is their first, they may never get on another one again.


 

Dinosaur
Height requirement: 40" | Scare level: 8/10

Why it could be scary: rough, dark ride where dinosaurs suddenly appear and make very loud dinosaur noises

Tips: don't ride if your child scares easily but have them sit in the middle of a middle row if they ride and want to minimize the scariness

Hollywood Studios

The Great Movie Ride
Height requirement: none | Scare level: 3/10

Why it could be scary: there's a shootout partway through the ride and the "bad guy" jumps aboard the ride vehicle for a bit

Tips: let kids know that the bad guy and the guns are pretend


 

Fantasmic!
Height requirement: none | Scare level: 3/10

Why it could be scary: Disney villains play a part in the show which scares some kids

Tips: focus on the other less scary elements of the show - have them look at the water features, lights, Glow with the Show ears


 

Tower of Terror
Height requirement: 40" | Scare level: 8/10

Why it could be scary: Aside from the 13 story drop, the Twilight Zone imagery that riders see before the drop could be scary. This ride only has a 40" height requirement so many little ones will be able to ride.

Tips: probably best to avoid this ride if kids seem hesitant as it's pretty intense


 

Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Height requirement: none | Scare level: 3/10

Why it could be scary: the Ursula character in this show scares some little ones

Tips: remind little ones know that Ursula is not real but sit near an exit door if you think you will want the option to leave


Kylo Ren at Star Wars Launch Bay 

Height requirement: none | Scare level: 4/10

Why it could be scary: most character meets at Disney World involve friendly characters but Kylo Ren stays true to his movie persona which may be a little intense for both little ones and adults

Tips: if they are Star Wars fans remind little ones that The Force will keep them safe

things that might scare little ones at Disney World

Advice for handling things that might scare little ones at Disney World

If your little one scares easily, you can handle it a couple of different ways.

  • Avoid the attractions.
  • Frame scary attractions in a way that's less scary for them using some of the tips and info mentioned above.
  • Give them a key ring flashlight to use on darker rides. If they're scared of the dark, let them have a tiny flashlight that won't bother other people but will give them the chance to turn on a light and let them feel more in control.
  • Show them videos or tell them how the attraction will go so there are no big surprises or try a guide that's designed for kids, by kids like Birnbaum's Walt Disney World for Kids book which has pictures and ride ratings.
  • Start small when it comes to the roller coasters. Barnstormer is a good test to see how your little one handles the thrill rides.Disney World coaster intensity

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Are there any other attractions that you think you should be on this list? Or do you have advice for handling things that might scare little ones at Disney World?

We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Kris

When we went to WDW last year, we made sure to pack a couple of tubes of glowstick bracelets (10pk from Dollar Tree). We don’t have children ourselves, but thought the bracelets would come in handy, and they surely did! A young boy (4-5) was extremely anxious about riding Small World, so I quickly activated a green bracelet and offered it to him. I told him that Tinkerbell gave it to me, and it was filled with bravery, so just shake it at whatever is frightening and it will chase the scary away. He took it, and his young parents were very grateful. Watching him shake it during the ride while laughing made our night! We repeated the same offer & story to several other uneasy children during our stay, all with positive result. $2 of glow-bracelets averted many potential problems; those bracelets were worth every penny & the space in our backpack!

B Camp

Yes, thank you for this idea. I have a “scared” child and i’m hoping that this idea will help him.

Darby

That is a great idea! So sweet of you to bring them for other kids. We will for sure bring some for our kids as well as some extras!

Mel

Great ideas – I think my mum would agree on it’s tough to be a bug, to this day she hasn’t seen the show properly. As the first time we went on as a family I had a meltdown and she had to try and calm me down. Best tips my mum gives everyone before this ride remind the kids that the bugs are pretend and also that they can take off their glasses whilst this doesn’t take away from the special effects it did help me calm slightly. To this day I still won’t go on it’s tough to be a bug and I am 30

Dana

LOVE your tip about stitch’s great escape – that should go for everyone, scared or not! Also great tip for the great movie ride, my 5 year old self laid on the floor of ye car when the bad guy came.

Rita

Everest at Animal Kingdom was a very scary experience for both me and my 5 year old grandson. Avoid.

Jessica

Just one more addition to HM section- I can still vividly remember a six-year old me whimpering into Mom’s stomach as the “Ghost Host” tells you that there’s no way out and then the rafters reveal a hanged (I know, bad grammar, but ‘hung’ doesn’t sound right) corpse… that part was rather terrifying. Truth to be told, I would bump the scare rating up to 5/10.

S. Fellows

We took our daughter a few years ago so I don’t know if it’s changed, but the Enchanted Tiki Room blind-sided us. We had gone years ago on our honeymoon prior to that and remember it as benign (and rather boring) animatronics. So we took her hoping for a cool place to rest and maybe even shut her eyes for a few minutes.
Wrong. Move.
She had asked over and over if it was scary and we assured her it was nothing close to scary.
We were liars it turns out!
It was “under new management” of Iago and Zazu which didn’t seem like a red flag. Well, the show started the same and then the new guys show up, which is fine.
Then, and I about died, it goes dark and some volcano god comes rising out of the set near us and my daughter is screaming bloody murder. I was frozen as I watch my sweet, tired little trusting girl simultaneously develop a lifelong fear of anything tiki-related and decide that her parents were the worst to ever live.
The nightmare seemed to last hours as I searched for the nearest exit shielding her from the firey wrath of the tiki god (my memories may have amplified things over time).
Of course we can laugh about it now, but rest assured when we go back, my now 11 year old will make a wide berth around that attraction!

Prommy

An AED symbol next to an attraction in a good indicator that it may be scary (and raise your blood pressure).

Tracy

I would add both Peter Pan’s Flight and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It’s very dark in Peter Pan, and that scared my kids. Winnie the Pooh is also in the dark, and it has the spooky nightmare scene with the heffalumps and woozles. Buzz Lightyear is also quite dark, so that at least needs a warning. Soarin’ can be scary for kids who are afraid of heights. The initial rise of the whole structure is surprising, and then the feeling of flying can be scary. As you may be able to tell, my kids scare easily. When they were three to five years old, we could only do outdoor kid-friendly rides. They were so freaked out about dark rides, even it’s a small world was scary! We spent a lot of time on the Dumbos.

kimmy

when i went my daughter was 18 & i had her watch her 6yr old brother (big mistake) she took him on tower of terror. he cried so hard & it ruined the whole day. now we are going back he reminds not to go on it. i am going to plan the rides very carefully with no dark & scary. just my son & i this time.

Destini

Maybe its just me but I have a 5 yr daughter and to this day I don’t know her level of scare I think she is sort of a daredevil with rides at nearby carnivals but another day she will have a nightmare about a elf like elf on the shelf seriously an ELF. So I’m totally lost on what rides to try do I do that Dinosaurs ride or no? Any opinions?

Sarah

I can give input on what scared me to death when I visited Disney at 7 (this is in the mid-80s, so things might have changed.) My main memory of my visit is of being terrified during the Snow White ride, and also being scared of the spooky sounds of the haunted house (we were just walking by, we weren’t even inside – yes, I was a sensitive child.) Also, I caught sight of a picture of a skeleton holding a rifle, with a bird’s nest on it’s head in a brochure of some kind (was the ride Pirate’s of the Caribbean, perhaps?), and had trouble going to sleep for weeks afterwards because of it.

Sarah

We went to Animal Kingdom with a family member who works there, and he assured us that the ‘Its Rough To Be A Bug’ video experience wasn’t scary, that it was just bugs in 3D. Well! My poor noise-sensitive 5-year-old was in hysterics by the 2nd bug (it was pretty intense for me, too!) and we had to make a hasty escape out the door. I feel a ton of mommy guilt for putting him through that. I will definitely research rides more before I go anywhere else in Disney.

He also was very nervous on the ride in Asia where you ride in a circular tire thingy in the water, I forget what it is called. He ended up being mostly ok with it, but the steep drop down did scare him. He asked to go again when we got off, so I guess he didn’t think it was so bad in the end.

Oh, and there were a few scary moments for him in the ‘Finding Nemo’ show, for instance in the beginning when the shark comes down and eats most of Marlin’s family. He made it through that one, but I could tell he spent the whole time bracing himself for something else scary and/or loud to happen.

MeridasMommy

I made the mistake of taking my 3yo on Dinosaur (she LOVED Dinosaur Train and loves coasters). I honestly think it was the impending doom storyline that got her- as soon as the ride vehicle started bouncing around and the red warning lights started, she immediately turned to me and yelled “I don’t like this- I want off”. Luckily, there is enough mobility to the way you are seated that I could lean over and cover her face with my neck and essentially hug her while blocking her view completely- so she didn’t freak out. But she was suspicious of every dark ride entrance after that (‘no honey, there is nothing scary in the Small World ride’) . We are planning our third trip and she STILL reminds me that she isn’t going on that Dinosaur ride.

Hannah

My 5 year old daughter wanted to go on the Stitch ride with the idea that it was a fun and happy ride. When we went on it, she cried the whole time. Do not ride it with small children or even on your own because if you ride on your own or with older children, it is really uninteresting.

Dalton Ebert

I think Splash Mountain should have been on here. It’s not the scariest thing ever, but I think the vultures and the part before the drop could scare a lot of kids.

Laurie

I’m curious about Splash Mountain too. How bad is the drop at the end? Is there scary stuff leading up to that?

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