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Easing Nervous Visitors onto Theme Park Rides
I realise this may sound like a strange topic, but I expect many of you are travelling with someone who is nervous of the attractions. Some don’t like the fast motion, others don’t like being jolted and others will suffer from vertigo.
Understanding the needs of your friends and family is key to enjoying your holiday in the theme park capital of the world. To try and help the process a little, and ensure everyone has a good time, I thought I would share a few tips I have used when travelling with nervous family members.
It all begins at the trip planning stage. Before you even set foot off the plane (or even on to it! ), take some time to talk to your fellow travellers. It’s crucial to find out what makes them steer away from certain attractions, and what types of attractions they don’t enjoy. Ask them which type of experiences they enjoy and then look for similar experiences in the theme parks and add them to your ‘not to miss’ list. If you’re unfamiliar with the parks yourself, or haven’t visited in a while, the Orlando Villas forums are an absolute treasure trove of useful information, and really helpful people willing to give you all the information you’ll ever need. You’ll find me on there most evenings!
Once you know which attractions you’d like to visit, if there is still a degree of nervousness, search for the attraction name on YouTube. This will give you a really good idea of what the attraction has in store for you (although it might spoil any surprises in it! ). It also helps prepare the nervous traveller for what to expect in the parks, so they will be able to decide whether it’s an attraction for them or not. Let them decide and never try to force people onto a ride because you think they will enjoy it.
Whenever I travel with nervous family members, I always begin my park touring in the same way. I begin the morning after we arrive, while we’re all still on UK time, so we naturally wake up early. I take the family to Disney’s Epcot on day one, with the intention of only spending a couple of hours at the park and then returning to the villa to stave off the last of the jet lag in the pool. This plan relies on you having multi-day park tickets, as you get to a point where each additional day in the parks only costs a little extra (at least it does, when buying from park-tickets. com).
I take advantage of the early start to get to Epcot as close as we can to opening time. If we can make it for rope drop (when the cast members ‘drop the ropes’ and let in the public), it’s ideal. As soon as the park opens, we (along with a throng of other guests! ) head directly to Soarin’. This is a very popular attraction, so the earlier you arrive, the less you will wait in line. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Soarin’ is a wonderful motion simulation of being in a hang-glider and flying over California. The motion is gentle, the soundtrack is heavenly and the experience is completely captivating. Everyone I have ever taken on this ride, whether they’re 7 or 70 has come out beaming from ear to ear. As it is so gentle, it is the perfect introduction to Disney’s theme park attractions.
After Soarin’, if it is still early and crowd levels are still low, I take the family to Test Track. This is a little more intense as it is faster than Soarin’, but should still pose no problem to anyone unless they get carsick really easily. The new version of Test Track introduces a new level of interactivity to the attraction, and you can now design your own car to test, so it’s a great way of getting everyone engaged.
Once we’ve done those two attractions, we usually stop for a drink and I ask what everyone would like to do next. Invariably, most will want to stay in the park and enjoy other attractions, even if they don’t, they will be keen to begin touring again the next day. With a little Disney magic, you now have enthusiastic and almost fearless theme park visitors!
As you continue to visit the parks on your trip, make sure to ask everyone to rate each attraction on a scale of 1 to 10 as soon as they come off it (you’ll invariably be in the gift shop when this happens! ). Start with the nervous travellers, so they’re not influenced by the rest of the group. This will allow you to gauge whether the intensity of each ride is right for them.
So, my recipe for a happy trip? Ease your group in gently, let each member decide whether an attraction is right for them and conduct ‘exit polls’ to make sure everyone is enjoying their trip as much as you!
Author: Tony Ghirra
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