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Things that might scare little ones at Disney World

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Things that might scare little ones at Disney World

There are several attractions at Disney World that may seem harmless, but can actually be quite frightening.

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

Let’s take a look…

Height requirements can be deceiving

Although the majority of attractions at Disney World are family-friendly, there are attractions in every park that are either thrill rides OR ones that have a deceptively low height requirement.

The traditional thrill rides and roller coasters are generally easy to weed out if you know your little one scares easily.

But, there are several potentially scary attractions in each park with either no height requirement or ones with height requirements close to the average height of a 3-year-old that definitely would not be a good idea for every 3-year-old to ride.

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: The stretching room is often one of the scariest parts for kids, but you can ask the Cast Members at the entrance to skip it.

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. Consider bringing glow sticks (or something else that provides a soft light that won’t interfere with other guests) to give your little one to hold.

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

  • Height requirement: none
  • Scare level: 3/10

Why it could be scary: one scene involves a darkened room and the reenactment of a loud thunderstorm

Tips: let your child(ren) know ahead of time about the thunder and then redirect them during the show by pointing out the silly animatronics.

Space Mountain

  • Height requirement: 44″ (113 cm) or taller
  • 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 who 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″ (97 cm) or taller
  • 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

In addition to the attractions above, the following attractions also have height requirements and may be too intense for some little ones:

Epcot

Journey Into Imagination with Figment

  • Height requirement: none
  • Scare level: 3/10

Why it could be scary: while most of the attraction (aside from the part with the bad smells) is harmless, there is a second or two at the ending where the room goes totally dark and air is blown at your face that can catch kids (and adults!) off guard

Tips: you might want to give a heads-up to any little ones and let them know that a few seconds of darkness and a blast of air will be coming

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 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: Orange (more intense side) – 44″ (113 cm) or taller; Green, (less intense side) – 40″ (102 cm) or taller
  • Scare level: 5/10

Why it could be scary: guests are harnessed into a small space, and the simulation includes feeling g-forces and a semi-rough ride through space (though the more family-friendly “Green” mission is milder than the Orange side)

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

Test Track

  • Height requirement: 40″ (102 cm) or taller
  • Scare level: 3/10

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

Tips: We’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

Frozen Ever After

  • Height requirement: none
  • Scare level: 1/10

Why it could be scary: there are two small drops, including one that is backward, that could frighten small children

Tips: The ride’s premise is very kid-friendly, so if you think there could be issues with the drop, give kids a warning when they are coming up.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

  • Height requirement: 42″ (107 cm) or taller
  • Scare level: 5/10

Why it could be scary: this roller coaster has a backward launch and takes place in the dark (although it is less in the dark than Space Mountain)

Tips: if your child rode Space Mountain, they will likely find this one less scary (and a lot more smooth!)

In addition to the attractions above, the following attractions also have height requirements and may be too intense for some little ones:

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: we don’t think we’ve watched this show without at least one child bursting into tears. If your child has any fears of bugs or the dark, you should probably avoid this. Otherwise, you might want to remind them that all of the bugs they see are pretend.

Expedition Everest

  • Height requirement: 44″ (113 cm) or taller
  • 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.

Avatar Flight of Passage

  • Height requirement: 44″ (113 cm) or taller
  • Scare level: 7/10

Why it could be scary: Riders are strapped in onto individual seats making it hard to offer much comfort (if needed), the ride simulates falling, and the feeling is very realistic and may be too intense for some

Tips: there is a ride vehicle you can test outside of the attraction, so try that first

Dinosaur

  • Height requirement: 40″ (102 cm) or taller
  • Scare level: 8/10

Why it could be scary: rough, dark ride where dinosaurs suddenly appear and make deafening 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

In addition to the attractions above, the following attraction also has a height requirement and may be too intense for some little ones:

  • Kali River Rapids – 38″ (97 cm) or taller

Hollywood Studios

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, etc.

Slinky Dog Dash

  • Height requirement: 38″ (97 cm) or taller
  • Scare level: 4/10

Why it could be scary: Slinky Dog Dash is entirely outside, so you’ll be able to see the entire ride before you commit to it, but the adorable theming of this attraction may distract your riders from the fact that although relatively “mild”, it is still a roller coaster.

Tips: have your child test the roller coaster waters with Barnstormer or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first; if they like those, they will have a higher likelihood of enjoying Slinky Dog Dash

Tower of Terror

  • Height requirement: 40″ (102 cm) or taller
  • 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 (temporarily unavailable)

  • 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 that Ursula is not real but sit near an exit door if you think you will want the option to leave

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

  • Height requirement: 48″ (122 cm) or taller
  • Scare level: 5/10

Why it could be scary: fast and intense roller coaster in the dark with loud music,. The ride also goes upside down.

Tips: be sure to try out other easier coasters first to see about your child’s comfort level. This may be too intense for a first roller coaster experience.

Darth Vader at Star Wars Launch Bay (temporarily unavailable)

  • Height requirement: none
  • Scare level: 4/10

Why it could be scary: most character meets at Disney World involve friendly characters, but Darth Vader 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

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

  • Height requirement: 38″ (97 cm) or taller
  • Scare level: 1/10

Why it could be scary: the attraction simulates a smuggling mission which involves being chased and other danger throughout the ride

Tips: ensure little ones that even though it may seem like they are in danger during the mission, you all will make it back to safety unharmed

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

  • Height requirement: 40″ (102 cm) or taller
  • Scare level: 6/10

Why it could be scary: the attraction involves multiple experiences that include being captured by the First Order, attempting to escape, and scary interactions with Kylo Ren, Stormtroopers, and others

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

In addition to the attractions above, the following attractions also have a height requirement and may be too intense for some little ones:

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 is less scary for them using some of the tips and info mentioned above.
  • Give them a keyring flashlight or glow sticks 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 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 roller coasters. Barnstormer is a good test to see how your little one handles the thrill rides.
Disney World Roller Coaster Intensity chart

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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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Heather Thomas

Erin

Thursday 5th of April 2018

I’m wondering where the Slinky Dog will fit in all of this... more intense than barnstormer or Seven Dwarfs??? Mine don’t love coasters but we thought we might try Seven Dwarfs and Slinky Dog next year???

George Lee

Monday 12th of November 2018

I read it's more intense than everyone expected, more so than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and more like Thunder Mountain in speed. Plus, since there's open heights and 2 launches, which all take kids and adults by surprise, I'd say the scare level would be 6/10.

George

Tuesday 17th of April 2018

I read it will be more like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but if it's on here, it might be for that reason and the main drop. So 4/10.

Lizzy

Tuesday 26th of December 2017

Heck, it's tough to be a bug made my then-59 year old mom (:3 she's 60 now!) jump when the spiders descended and the bugs rattled out the door under your seats. I cackle. I love that show. I hope it stays forever. They can get rid of the stinkbug nastiness. That and that skunk garbage in Imagination. Stop making us smell disgusting stuff, guys.

Rita

Saturday 29th of April 2017

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

Jessica

Saturday 18th of June 2016

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

Saturday 30th of April 2016

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!