Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Kid Scale - Fantasyland

When planning a trip to Disney with a young one (or even a not-so-young one), it becomes apparent rather quickly that you will not be able to experience every attraction in one trip. So in choosing, it helps to know in advance which rides your child will be most interested in and conversely , which ones he or she will reject due to fears, smells, or other sensations. Many a child has been traumatized by riding something his parents expected to be innocuous or just “not that bad.”

To help you with the task of choosing which attractions to put on the “must-do” list and which ones to skip altogether, we will be providing posts called The Kid Scale. These posts are not meant to describe the ride, but rather will assume you already know what the ride entails and will provide instead some details about age-appropriateness. I offered age suggestions based on developmental milestones, so you will want to adjust those to your own children’s development and special needs. We’ll also point out difficulties you might encounter or highlights that may be especially important to your individual tyke. Every six weeks or so, we’ll post another land or area in the Walt Disney World resort until we’ve covered them all. We’re starting with Fantasyland, as it is arguably the most popular land for parents with small children.

And remember, I’m just a parent with my own experiences and those of other parents like me, so your comments and feedback are more than welcome as they will help others whose children are more like yours than mine or those of my interviewees.

  • Cinderella's Golden Carrousel – Ages 18 months and up – There are figures on the carousel that don’t move up and down, which might help a child who is a bit more motion-sensitive enjoy this ride. Between ages 18 months and four years or so, you will want to ride alongside your tot, ensuring there is no tumble from the horse (which is MUCH taller than you thought it was). Be careful when holding your child, though. You might tend to look out for your significant other who is holding the camera and photographing the event, but this can cause a pretty mighty bout of nausea if you’re not careful. That carousel spins faster than you think and few things are more humiliating for an adult as getting off the carousel only to lose your lunch in the closest trash bin.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – All ages – This is the quintessential ride for a young child to experience. The smallest ones can sit on your lap to see out. The young preschoolers love knowing they are controlling an aspect of Dumbo’s flight. Be aware that he may fly higher than your child likes. Even if you keep the elephant hovering inches off the platform to mollify your child, the end of the ride sends all pachyderms up to their highest flight path for a few seconds before coming back down to Earth. Be ready to help your child through that moment; it may make her a bit braver for the next go round. If you intend to ride Dumbo, it should be your very first ride of the day. It’s a great intro to what Disney is all about and the lines get long quickly.

  • "it’s a small world" – All ages – Sure, the song sticks in your head and can be mildly annoying, but the ride itself is a living piece of history and deeper than that, a living piece of art. There are so many things to look at and your senses are blasted with color, light, and sound. Infants will see this ride as one huge mobile. It’s also a great final ride as the park is about to close… relaxing and peaceful after a noisy day in the park.

  • Mad Tea Party – Age three and up – you can take children under three on this ride, but don’t spin your teacup. The forces this ride can put on you, especially when you add in the extra spinning of your individual cup, can really send a little one slipping around on the seat. One of you should hold on to the kiddo while the other one spins if you go that route. Otherwise, someone may get a sharp head bonk on the ride, and that generally isn’t considered the fun part of the trip.

  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the PoohAll ages – This is another ride where an infant can ride on your lap. But hold tight! That bouncy area Tigger takes you through is a bit more intense than your glider at home. This ride has it all: whimsy, catchy music, and those fabulous characters from the Hundred Acre Wood.

  • Mickey’s Philharmagic – Age two and up – You can take the zero-to-two set into this theater, but they can’t deal well with the 3-D glasses. One word of caution to parents of a noise-sensitive child… this is a loud attraction with no volume control. Between the noise and the 4-D effects like puffs of air and light mists of water, a sensitive child can be over-stimulated rather quickly.

  • Peter Pan’s Flight – All Ages – Your infant can ride on your lap, and small children may want to crawl into your lap as well. Between the time your child can speak to about age three or four, you may find your child especially frightened on this ride. The neon paint and black lights are a little odd to children and there are pirates and other scary moments. At 18 months, my daughter was frightened when the ship we were in suddenly seemed to be flying and was inconsolable for the rest of the flight. She requested to ride again when she was three and it was a totally different experience. She loved it, although she admitted later that the pirates still scared her a little.

  • Snow White's Scary AdventuresAges eight and up – I know it seems odd to recommend a ride in Fantasyland be avoided until your children are around 8 or so, but this ride has some terribly scary moments, as the name of the ride indicates. It uses neon paint and black light to help add to the fear factor. The Wicked Witch pops out from behind trees and you seem to crash through walls. To an adult, or even an older child who has been immersed in today’s movies and video games, the effects seem primitive and almost laughable. But to a preschooler or young school-age child who still believes in magic and fairy tales, this ride is all too real. Save it for when he’s older.

3 comments:

sandyezzell said...

I totally agree about Snow White! You can just stand in the queue and watch the terrified children come out. I don't think Snow White even makes an appearance until the end. It's all about the witch!

You're also spot on about the 4D being too much for sensitive kids. I don't know why Disney loves to terrify the little ones, but it seems to be a constant theme with them.

Alice said...

We took our two year old on the teacups and spun. Not too hard though. It was fun, and no trouble at all for him to refrain from bonking his head.

anne said...

I find this so boring where there are still a lot of Disney Activities we can do.

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