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Complete Guide to Everything Scary for Kids at Disneyland

Disneyland is called the “Happiest Place on Earth”. However that doesn’t mean it’s all happy, all the time. In fact, there are some rides, shows and attractions that might be downright scary for little (and not so little!) kids. If you have some concerns with your kids and the possibly scary things at Disneyland, keep reading. I’ve outlined the rides, shows and attractions that might be too scary for kids at Disneyland. I’ve made additional suggestions on what rides to try instead. I also have ideas on easing fears with your kids inside the Parks.

Things that Are Scary for Kids at Disneyland

There is so much to see, do and experience at the Disneyland Resort. For newbies at the Parks, you might not be aware of what things may scare kids. Some are easy to detect from the outside of the attraction (Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain). Other things may seem innocent enough and still have frightening elements. But, what are the scariest rides at Disneyland? That’s going to vary for each kid! Of course, only you know your children and how far to push things when it comes to trying new experiences. For more advice about encouraging kids, keep reading for my tested tips.

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Headed to Disneyland but concerned that certain rides, shows or attractions might be too scary for your kids? If you have a kid who doesn't like fast rides, drops, spinning and frightening elements this is a must read guide with tons of helpful tips. #Disneyland

Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is faster than it looks.

Disneyland Dark Rides

Dark rides are exactly what they sound like. These are indoor rides with the lights off. They are generally slow moving and the vehicle you ride in moves through different rooms and scenes. While some “dark rides” are bright and have a lighthearted theme, others might be frightening (or have certain scary scenes).

These are dark rides with scarier elements:

  • Haunted Mansion
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey

Dark Rides – Start with These:

  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – It’s a dark ride that’s brightly lit and has a sweet theme. It’s the perfect first dark ride for Disneyland with toddlers.
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters – wield a laser to aim at targets throughout the ride. Kids who don’t like the dark will be so enthralled with shooting the targets they probably won’t even notice how dark it is.
  • Alice in Wonderland – dark inside, but still lots of bright and whimsical moments. There is also a break mid-ride that takes your caterpillar vehicle outside for a ride on the leaves.
Headed to Disneyland but concerned that certain rides, shows or attractions might be too scary for your kids? If you have a kid who doesn't like fast rides, drops, spinning and frightening elements this is a must read guide with tons of helpful tips. #Disneyland

Interestingly, the Haunted Mansion Holiday during Halloween is LESS scary than the usual Haunted Mansion!

Attractions That Have Potentially Scary Moments

Disneyland Railroad – For the most part the Disneyland Railroad is all outdoors, with an overview of the Park. There is one section that you may want to avoid if you have a skittish kid. The section of the train that leaves from Tomorrowland Station takes you through a dark diorama. This is the Grand Canyon and Primeval World – Land of the Dinosaurs. It’s a very realistic scene that lasts about 5 minutes but includes large dinosaurs, dramatic music and an erupting volcano.

The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – most of the ride is bright and fun, with cheerful music. There is a section where you’ll go “under water” and your clam shell vehicle gently tips backwards. This slight movement made my toddler daughter very nervous. There is also a dark section with Ursula the sea witch.

Soarin’ Around the World –  My son was very nervous to ride this after hearing that he’d be “flying”! Kids might be worried about the initial lift off which takes you off your feet. You will be safely buckled in and once lifted, there is minimal movement. Your ride vehicle will rock back and forth gently, coordinated with the film you’re watching. You may not even notice that you’re moving once the film begins. Have your kids pay attention to the pre-boarding video which shows exactly what happens during the lift off.

Scary Moments – Start With This:

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – While the majority of this attraction is sweet, with fun songs there is a small dramatic section at the end. See how your child reacts to the surprise change in mood (loud drumming and a thunder storm).


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Headed to Disneyland but concerned that certain rides, shows or attractions might be too scary for your kids? If you have a kid who doesn't like fast rides, drops, spinning and frightening elements this is a must read guide with tons of helpful tips. #Disneyland

Grizzly River Rapids – steep drops and you will get drenched!

Disneyland Rides with Drops

Exactly how big is that drop on Splash Mountain? It’s a steep 52.5′ from top to splash down! The drop inside Pirates of the Caribbean on the other hand is a shorter 14′ but it’s in solid darkness. The drops on Guardians of the Galaxy can’t be predicted. Each ride varies and there are multiple drops both big and not-as-big.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean 
  • Splash Mountain
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout!
  • Grizzly River Rapids

Rides with Drops – Start With These:

Dumbo the Flying Elephant – Yeah, this might look like a “baby ride” but for kids who don’t like the feeling of drops, this mild ride is a perfect place to start. Plus they can control the dips themselves.

Jumpin’ Jellyfish – This one is all up and down, but it’s outside where you can get a good vantage point of the Park. Most kids like this tummy-tickler!

Headed to Disneyland but concerned that certain rides, shows or attractions might be too scary for your kids? If you have a kid who doesn't like fast rides, drops, spinning and frightening elements this is a must read guide with tons of helpful tips. #Disneyland

The unpredictable drops are sure to be a fright for most kids.

Disneyland Thrill Rides

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Space Mountain
  • Indiana Jones Adventure :Temple of the Forbidden Eye
  • Goofy’s Sky School

Thrill Rides – Start with These:

Gadget’s Go Coaster – If you think your little one is ready for their first coaster, I recommend starting with Gadget’s Go Coaster in Toontown. It’s super-short (one minute long), has just a few tummy tickling dips and max speed of 22 mph.

Radiator Springs Racers – This hybrid dark ride and roller coaster has a cool indoor/outdoor effect. Maybe because you’re sitting inside of a low sports car vehicle, my young ones weren’t scared of the roller coaster section. Plus you’re racing against the car that’s on the other track, so the competition element might encourage your kids to want to go faster!

Headed to Disneyland but concerned that certain rides, shows or attractions might be too scary for your kids? If you have a kid who doesn't like fast rides, drops, spinning and frightening elements this is a must read guide with tons of helpful tips. #Disneyland

Radiator Springs Racers is a high speed race that most kids will love.

Potentially Scary Rides That Spin

If your kid doesn’t like the feeling of being out of control, these spinning rides may be frightening. Note that the Mad Tea Party and Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin can be controlled slightly, so spinning can be minimized. Kids can also control the up and down movement on the Astro Orbitor.

  • Mad Tea Party
  • Astro Orbitor
  • Golden Zephyr
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin

Rides That Spin – Start With These!

  • King Arthur Carrousel
  • Flik’s Flyers
  • Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
Headed to Disneyland but concerned that certain rides, shows or attractions might be too scary for your kids? If you have a kid who doesn't like fast rides, drops, spinning and frightening elements this is a must read guide with tons of helpful tips. #Disneyland

Flik’s Flyers in “bug’s land” is a great first spinning ride.

A Ride With Height

Mickey’s Fun Wheel – I’m not a fan of heights and the Ferris wheel is top of my list of scary rides! However these gondolas are fully enclosed and you can choose the swinging or non-swinging version.

Ride With Height – Start With This!

Silly Symphony Swings – This ride smoothly combines height, spinning, drops and lift. Consider the tandem chair that seats you right next to your child so you can hold hands or comfort them if they’re nervous.

Headed to Disneyland but concerned that certain rides, shows or attractions might be too scary for your kids? If you have a kid who doesn't like fast rides, drops, spinning and frightening elements this is a must read guide with tons of helpful tips. #Disneyland

Nervous of heights? Try Mickey’s Fun Wheel at night when you can’t judge the height as well! (Photo Credit: Jeff Holz)

3-D Disneyland Ride

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue – This indoor 3-D ride simulator puts you right into the action of a Star Wars feature. This can be incredibly intense with loud noises and the feeling of flying (and crashing!)

3-D Ride – Start With This:

Toy Story Midway Mania – While you’ll be experiencing 3-D this interactive ride is also a competitive game where you shoot at the screen simulator to score points. There is plenty of spinning and 3-D elements but it’s all done in a fun and playful atmosphere.

Headed to Disneyland but concerned that certain rides, shows or attractions might be too scary for your kids? If you have a kid who doesn't like fast rides, drops, spinning and frightening elements this is a must read guide with tons of helpful tips. #Disneyland

The 3-D effects and simulator movements can be frightening for some kids (and adults!) – Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Shows That Are Scary for Kids at Disneyland

It’s Tough to a Be a Bug! – I’ll admit it, I’ve never made it through this entire show with my eyes open. It take a tough kid to make it through this 4D live show that’s all about creepy crawlies! First off, it’s really loud. Second, it’s about bugs. And third, it features elements that are designed to scare you, like squirts of water in your face, clouds of fog, and the feeling that bugs are running underneath you.

Fantasmic! – It’s a nighttime show of good versus evil, which means lots of villain appearances and a huge fire-breathing dragon. It’s an impressive show with dramatic music and effects, which means it might be too intense from some kids.

Jedi Training – Trials of the Temple- Even kids who are familiar with the Star Wars franchise might still have a fingernail-biting moment when Darth Vader and Kylo Ren appear in person.

Shows Without Scary Elements:

  • Disney Junior Dance Party!
  • Mickey and the Magical Map
  • World of Color
  • Paint the Night
  • Frozen Live at the Hyperion
Headed to Disneyland but concerned that certain rides, shows or attractions might be too scary for your kids? If you have a kid who doesn't like fast rides, drops, spinning and frightening elements this is a must read guide with tons of helpful tips. #Disneyland

Mickey and the Magical Map live show…nothing scary here!

Too Scary for Kids at Disneyland – Helpful Tips to Ease Fears

Headed to Disneyland but concerned that certain rides, shows or attractions might be too scary for your kids? If you have a kid who doesn't like fast rides, drops, spinning and frightening elements this is a must read guide with tons of helpful tips. #Disneyland

King Arthur Carrousel is a nice ride to start with that gets kids used to spinning, up and down movement and loud music.


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Headed to Disneyland but concerned that certain rides, shows or attractions might be too scary for your kids? If you have a kid who doesn't like fast rides, drops, spinning and frightening elements this is a must read guide with tons of helpful tips. #Disneyland


Disneyland’s Disability Access Service (DAS) – Tips on Making It Work for You

Nobody wants to spend time at what is supposed to be the “Happiest Place on Earth” managing meltdowns but it’s the life of parents who have children with special needs. Prolonged exposure to bright lights, long lines, loud noises and the over-exuberance that is Disney can be trying for any child. For a child with sensitivities, Disneyland is often too overwhelming. Proper use of Disneyland’s Disability Access Service (also known as DAS) can be wonderful, if you know these tips on how to make it work for you and your family.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland

Riding King Triton’s Carousel

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!


Save Money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 


Disneyland’s Disability Access Service (DAS)

Disneyland offers a Disability Access Service (DAS) for guest with special needs. This was previously called a Guest Assistance Card (GAC). My family had been able to use the GAC on several trips and it worked out nicely for us. In the past with the GAC we would show it to the Cast Member at the front of each ride and they would then instruct us where to go, which was either through the Fast Pass line or through the exit.

Sometimes the Cast Member would give us an alternate waiting area where she had a bit more room instead of being held in a tight line. We were allowed a separate waiting space in the shade to wait for Tinker Bell.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland

We used Fastpass when we could but when the line was quite long, in the bright sun or was a tight space we used the access system. I allowed time in our schedule to go back to the hotel and take a break in the pool.  Our family used the GAC on three trips and each time our daughter was tantrum and melt-down free!

With the newly introduced Disability Access Service (DAS) we were nervous to try this new system. The old system had worked out well for us and I’d heard not-so-good things about the DAS. I completely understand the need for change. The GAC system was being abused. Some visitors felt it offered “front of the line” privileges that were unfair. It’s definitely a hot-button subject.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland

Waiting in line at Disneyland for “it’s a small world”

How the DAS Works at Disneyland

The Disability Access Service (DAS) system has morphed a bit with several notable changes. If you have used the GAC in the past or are new to trying the DAS, keep reading for my tips on how the system can work for your family. Keep reading for an overview on the system and some tips on how it can best work for your family.

Talking to a Cast Member

Begin your day at either City Hall in Disneyland, the Chamber of Commerce at Disney California Adventure park or any of the guest relations kiosks located through the Parks. In the morning, the lines will be much shorter at the kiosks, so I recommend going there.

You will be asked to explain to the Cast Member what the possible issues might be. In our case, it’s anything from a full-blown tantrum with hitting and screaming to laying down on the sidewalk and refusing to move.

The Cast Member will take a picture of the person assigned to the DAS. They will print out a card that shows the dates you are visiting, the number in your party and instructions of use. My daughter wasn’t cooperating one morning and refused to pose for the photo inside City Hall. The Cast Member who helped us was kind enough to take a photo of a photo from my husband’s camera phone so there would be an image for the scanner. The Cast Member even told us where we could get free ear plugs (at First Aid) in case any of the attractions were too loud.

You may hear stories online of Cast Members being rude or interrogating families when they request a DAS. Please know that the DAS is often abused. You will never be asked to provide “proof” of a disability.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland

Disneyland City Hall

Getting a Return Time with DAS

From this point, you can visit the guest relations kiosks scattered through out the Park (they are marked on the Park maps). Here you’ll receive a designated return time for a particular attraction. You will be pulling the DAS card and tickets in and out all day long. In order to minimize wear and tear (or risk losing them!) I suggest keeping it all inside of a Disney Lanyard.Once there a Cast Member will look at your DAS and ask you which ride you’d like it for. You can choose any ride or attraction in the park, not just one in the “Land” you’re currently in. Then the Cast Member will refer to the wait times on their laptop computer and tell you a check-in time to get on that specific ride.  You are expected to keep note of this time yourself. Also, you can show up anytime after this point and there is no “window” of time (like with Fastpass). Cast Members can only assign one ride at a time on your DAS.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland

Handheld DAS scanner at Fastpass entrance

Checking in with Disability Access Service (DAS)

When your check-in time rolls around you’ll show the DAS and Park tickets to a Cast Member at the entrance/Fastpass line of that ride.  Cast Members have scanners which scan each ticket and the photo of the Guest pops up on their screen with the number of people in the party and the designated return time for verification. You will pass through either the Fastpass line or through the exit to access the attraction.

The DAS does not allow you to “skip the line”. There will still be a wait until it’s time to board. See these ideas on Things to Do Waiting in Line at Disney Parks.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland

What Worked for Us with DAS

  • I will greatly admit that having a special needs child is a challenge in itself because you never know what you might get one day (or moment) to the next. Having the DAS that eased on the line waits or allowed us to stand in a less-stressful waiting area make a huge difference in the enjoyment level for her (and actually for all of us).
  • There were no less than six times that she got to the front of the line and then decide she did NOT want to ride after all. A few times she got back in line again after bailing out and would go on the ride. I think being able to have that ability (for her to think it over and then try again) was very helpful. I know that if we’d been standing in a 30-minute…60-minute…or goodness, a 90-minute line only to have her say she didn’t want to ride would have been very frustrating for everyone. And Cast Members were very patient about letting us get in and out of line!
  • The assigned wait time that the Cast Members gave us was never terribly long. It allowed us time to either walk to the ride and have a snack in the shade first or we rode on something else in the area with a short line wait.
  • The DAS can be used in conjunction with Fastpass.
If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland

First time on Autopia cars. She will not ride anymore…doesn’t like the noise or the smell of gasoline!

Challenges When Using Disability Access Service

  • Some of the kiosks are really spread far away from each other. In Fantasyland the rides are close together so there isn’t as much walking back and forth. For example after getting a DAS for Peter Pan, my husband took back the DAS to get an entry time for Matterhorn while I took the kids on another ride. In other areas of the park the kiosks are a bit more spread out and there is a considerable amount of walking back and forth (sometimes through very congested areas) if you want to use the DAS.
  • DAS would be very challenging to accomplish with only one adult in your group. We tried the system on a busy Saturday in early summer. Lines were long and the park was packed. It was helpful that my husband and I were able to trek back and forth between the rides and the DAS while one of us stayed in a ride line. Having to take the kids back to the kiosk each time would be hard if you were the only adult and also dealing with a special needs child.
If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland

Sunglasses are helpful to ease the annoyance of sun in her eyes. Earplugs were good for loud attractions.

Getting DAS to Work For Your Family

The DAS does work for us but it’s definitely work. Having to go back and forth to the kiosk each time can drag down the day. It took a bit more planning than usual. Trying to do the DAS for a child with more severe disabilities would be a challenge because there is much more back and forth and lots more waiting. Having a second adult is a must.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #DisneylandFinding things to do in between DAS times isn’t too hard. There are so many non-ride things to experience at Disneyland.

  • There are certain accommodations for some attractions like the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through. If you can’t take the stairs or don’t like confined spaces, there is an alternate area to experience the attraction in another way.
  • Plan your day by alternating rides with other experiences that don’t require DAS. There are parades, shows or attractions like the Enchanted Tiki Room.
  • Have a snack or a meal in between DAS times.
  • Young kids can burn off energy at one of the play areas inside the Park.
  • Seek out another attraction with a short wait time.
  • Visit one of the quiet resting areas I talk about in this post, How to Avoid the Disneyland Meltdown with These Happy-Kid Tips.

Make sure you have appropriately planned for your day by prepping your family ahead of time. I highly recommend watching this FREE Disney Parks planning video before your trip. CLICK THE IMAGE TO RECEIVE A FREE DISNEY VACATION PLANNING VIDEO


For more information, see Disney’s FAQ about the Disability Access Service.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland