One of the reasons that I love Walt Disney World so much is the magical shift that is made from reality to fantasy. While WDW is known as the “Happiest Place on Earth,” it can also be a scary place. The Scare Factor is often not considered when planning a trip to Walt Disney World. Disney has the ability to scare the young and old.
I spent some time discussing this with a foremost Disney expert, Matt Hochberg. Matt hosts the podcast WDW Today and runs a number of Walt Disney World web sites based upon Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Matt, like most of us, is a big kid at heart. He’s a super nice guy with great insight on all things Disney. He is willing to take the journey that the Walt Disney World imagineers created to the land of fantasy.
Things are scary at Walt Disney World and most people don’t take that into consideration. It has always puzzled me why there is such a scare element. Matt gives credit to the imagineers for selling the audience on the mood. The scare factor is part of the transition from reality to fantasy.
“Disney World is not so scary that you wouldn’t go,” Matt said. It is something to be so considered when following a touring plan. Matt also makes a great point, “while an adult may be able to shake off being scared and then move to the next thing, it can set the tone for a child and it can also limit what the child is willing to ride or see in the future.”
Many an unknowing parent cues up for “Snow White’s Scary Adventure” — what looks to be a “rainbow and butterfly” experience, only to discover it’s dark and death themed. When my son, Tyler, was 4 he rode “Snow White.” He left so scared he wouldn’t go on any other attraction that looked or loaded the same way. He missed out on “Peter Pan” one of the sweetest attractions in all of WDW. The tone was set. In his eyes “Peter Pan” looked suspiciously like “Snow White.” Just because an attraction is in Fantasyland doesn’t guarantee it’s all sweetness and light.
Matt and I talked about what we thought were unexpectedly scary and just downright scary. What is scary to one person may not be so scary to another. The imagineers do such a great job of setting the mood that there are lots of attractions that scare teenagers and adults as well: It’s Tough To Be A Bug, Stitch’s Great Escape, Tower of Terror, The Great Movie Ride, Expedition Everest and the number one scary attraction to both Matt and me: Dinosaur. We both ride with our eyes closed.
Because the imagineers do such a fabulous job separating you from reality, know that part of that may include some dark elements. While Walt Disney World is “The Happiest Place on Earth” there is a scare factor that’s part of the world. Consult the Unofficial Guide and review the “Special Comments” section listed under each attraction. This may help you decide what attractions will appeal to your family. Enjoy the ride from reality to fantasy.