Disney World with kids – What rides are too scary?

So it’s your first time to Disney with kids, a whole different ballgame than traveling as a teen or in adulthood. One of the biggest questions during the planning process: what rides are too intense or too scary for my kids? My response is usually the same: it depends on your kids! Age is but a number in my eyes. Thinking back to my childhood, I was a scared-y cat. My cousin, on the other hand, was a dare devil. Five years younger than me, we both rode our first roller coaster in the same year. This is one of the basic differences I try and point out when parents ask questions about the intensity of a ride. Other rides are “scary” because of noise and not necessarily because of speed or intensity.

Here are my favorite resources to help you decide what is best for your child:

Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this amazing book. I use this determine all the rides that have a “scare factor” the age groups that might consider it too intense. Some of their commentary was an eye opener for me! Something I never thought to be scary, like Mickey’s Philharmagic could be scary for young kids based on noise alone!

YouTube. Once you have you questionable rides, I suggest heading over to YouTube to check out the ride for yourself. I actually reviewed this as an adult going back to Disney for the first time. My thrill seeking husband wanted to try everything and I was a bit hesitant. It gave me a great perspective on each ride and what I thought I was able to handle. For the record, I did well on everything except Tower of Terror which was suitably named in my opinion. If you can find the Touring Plans YouTube page. They have many “Point of View” videos showing that it’s actually like to be on the ride. If you’re unsure if your little ones can handle it, have them watch it and see what they think!

For the big adults that still want their thrills at Disney, make sure you are aware of the Rider Switch option. This is available for parents with children that don’t want to ride or are too small to ride. As you get up to the front of the line, let the cast member assigning your placement in the car/vehicle/seat/etc. that you would like to take advantage of the Rider Switch option. This allows one parent to ride while the other stays with the non-riding child. After the ride, the parents swap places and the other is allowed to ride. This option is available for:

Magic Kingdom:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Barnstormer
  • Space Mountain
  • Stitch’s Great Escape
  • Tomorrowland Indy Speedway


  • Mission: SPACE
  • Soarin’
  • Test Track

Hollywood Studios:

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Star Tours ®
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Animal Kingdom:

  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Primeval Whirl

Use this list as a starting point to see what is too much for your kids to handle. If you don’t remember the ride, don’t know the ride or need a refresher, head over to YouTube!  As a note, some of these have the rider switch because of height minimums and not for scare factor!

What other attractions do you think should be added to this list? Any you think should be removed?

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