Probably the biggest terrifying incident we've dealt with has been focused around rides. On our first two trips to Walt Disney World with Brody, he loved all rides and experiences. Then he turned three. Rides that used to be fan favorites as a toddler are suddenly terrifying as a preschooler. In case you weren't aware - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh can cause shrieks of terror that rival anything you've ever heard before. So what was the common theme between the rides that scared him - each of them started in the dark. It didn't seem to matter if the characters inside were fearsome pirates or cuddly storybook bears, the slow ride with a dark start was not something he was interested in. Tip - Try showing your children these rides ahead of time on YouTube or on the Disney Parks Vacation Planning DVD. By seeing the inside of the ride from the safety of their own home, your child may be brave enough to face some of these when they get to the park.
Another common experience that terrifies involves meeting their favorite characters. It's not uncommon for small children to be frightened of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny at the mall so it shouldn't be any surprise that a 6 1/2 foot mouse would freak them out. We were fortunate that our children have never been afraid of the characters in Disney. . .at least not yet. Don't be surprised if one trip everything is fine and then on the next trip they won't get close to them. Tip - Don't push your kids. I know how frustrating it is to wait in a 45 minute line and then get to the front and find them unwilling to meet the character. Just smile and say "OK. How about a wave this time and maybe next time we'll get closer for a high five or a hug?"
Some of the shows have also scared our children. Even fun, musical shows like Mickey's Philarmagic are not always as "kid-friendly" as they may seem. The dark room and loud noises can push a child that's already on sensory overload over the proverbial edge. Tip - If you have a pair of headphones, these can act as a great noise buffer for super sensitive little ears.
With everything in Walt Disney World, remember it's best to go at the pace of your young child. Trust me, it's not worth fighting or trying to force a child to do something even though you've spent a small fortunate to create this magical experience. The trip will be much more enjoyable for you and your child if you let them lead the way on deciding what their comfort level. I've been on many Disney trips in my lifetime and the only thing that is consistent in all of them is that they are never the same. So don't let a tough trip with a toddler or preschooler derail future plans and don't worry too much about your trip ahead of time. Relax and enjoy - after all, you're in the most magical place on Earth!