If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World with a sensory-sensitive child, you may be nervous or feel that the trip is not the best idea. However, you needn’t worry. By taking some precautionary steps, you and your little one are sure to have a blast on your Disney vacation.
One of the most important steps for planning a successful vacation with a child with sensory sensitivities is choosing rides carefully. Choosing the wrong ride could lead to a meltdown or panic attack, something you certainly don’t want to deal with in the park. Additionally, putting a child on a ride that frightens them could easily lead to their refusal to ride anything else.
For this reason, we have compiled a list of what we believe to be the best and worst rides in Magic Kingdom for children with sensory sensitivities.
Note: All kids are different, and if your child is a motion sensory seeker, it’s quite likely they will want some thrill rides thrown into the mix. So while this list may not fit perfectly with your family’s need, we do believe it is a good, safe starting point.
9. Under the Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid
This adorable ride takes guests through the story of The Little Mermaid using animatronics and projections. The light levels remain fairly consistent throughout, with no bright sections or overly dark parts. Song and voice volume on this ride is very reasonable, and there are no smells blasted at spectators (as there are in some rides). Additionally, the ride does not have seatbelts, and the lap bars don’t touch the people in the vehicles.
The queue for this ride is rarely more than 20 minutes long, and offers quite a bit of scenery to entertain an antsy child who has a hard time standing in large groups.
A Walt Disney World classic, the Dumbo-themed flying elephant ride takes guests up in the air to fly in several circles before landing once again. There are no loud sounds during this experience, making it perfect for those who cannot tolerate too much noise. Because the ride is outside, no sudden darkness will be experienced, but the sun can be a bit bright during the day, so be sure to bring sunglasses or a hat.
When you line up for “Dumbo” you are given a buzzer and allowed to go play on an amazing circus-themed playground rather than wait for extended periods of time in a queue. This is great for kids who have trouble waiting in lines, but the playground could potentially be overwhelming if it is crowded, as it can become quite noisy.
7. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
Another Disney classic, the carrousel in Fantasyland is something everyone must see. Because it is slow-moving with no loud noises, sudden scents, tight-fitting seatbelts, or changes in light level, it is the perfect ride for a nervous child with sensory sensitivities. As an added bonus, the line for this ride is rarely more than ten minutes long.
6. It’s a Small World
No Disney trip is complete without a ride on “It’s a Small World”. Luckily, this ride doesn’t have anything to disturb those who are sensitive to sensory input.
This gentle boat ride takes guests through a variety of scenes with singing and dancing dolls. The music is never overwhelmingly loud, and the light levels remain the same throughout the ride. No artificial scents are used, and there are no seatbelts or lap bars to make a person feel trapped.
The queue for “It’s a Small World” usually sits at around 15–20 minutes. However, during peak periods, it has been known to reach wait times of up to an hour. If this is the case during your visit, try to get a FastPass or wait until later in the day when crowds die down.
5. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
What kid doesn’t like Winnie the Pooh? On this fun ride, guests will be transported to the Hundred Acre Wood to join Pooh and his pals on some exciting adventures.
“The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” is a gentle ride that bounces and “floats” through various scenes. The cars have a simple lap belt that does not restrict the ride in any way. There are a couple of rooms where the light levels do drop a bit, but riders are never left in complete darkness. While there are no scents on this ride, there is a loud clap of thunder just after your ride through the “heffalump” room.
The line for this ride can get very long. While there are a few fun toys to entertain children while they wait in the queue, we recommend getting a FastPass for this one if your little one is opposed to waiting in large crowds.
4. Peter Pan’s Flight
“Peter Pan’s Flight” is a slow-moving ride that sends guests off to Neverland in small ships. The ride has one slightly dark room where riders can look down on “London”; thankfully however, you’ll find that loud noises, tight-fitting safety belts, and artificial scents are not a part of this attraction.
This ride is another one with long waits. In fact, “Peter Pan’s Flight” has waits of an hour or more on an average day. Therefore, you will definitely want a FastPass if you plan to visit this attraction.
3. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
A fun and colorful ride, “Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin” is perfect for those outer space-loving kiddos in your group. This ride has no seatbelts and only a loose-fitting safety bar. It does not blast any extremely loud sounds, nor does it put out scents. The light levels in this attraction are a bit lower, but not unbearably dark.
Waiting in line for “Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin” can take 45 minutes to an hour. Additionally, aside from a Buzz animatronic, the queue is not very interesting. We recommend getting a FastPass to this one if you can.
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2. The People Mover
Hop aboard the “People Mover” and see Tomorrowland from up above! This simple and fun ride is ideal for sensory-sensitive kids and their families. It doesn’t constrict riders with seatbelts, and smells are not an issue. There are a couple of places where the various noises from surrounding attractions could become overwhelming, so some noise-muffling headphones might be in order. Additionally, there is one section of the ride that does become quite dark.
There is hardly ever a line for this ride, making it a great one to hop on between reservations. This also means no waiting in a crowd of people, something that is always a plus for those with sensory sensitivities.
1. The Jungle Cruise
A fun boat ride adventure, “The Jungle Cruise” is a “punny” way to spend a piece of your day in Magic Kingdom. This attraction takes guests down the various major rivers of the world to explore some wildlife. Meanwhile, a friendly skipper entertains passengers with ridiculous jokes you’re sure to love.
There are no loud noises, seatbelts, or smells on this ride. There is a change in light level when the boat goes through a tunnel, but there is definitely enough light to see.
The line for “The Jungle Cruise” is long and boring. If this one is on your to-do list, be sure to grab a FastPass.
As you can see, there is plenty for the sensory-sensitive individual to see and enjoy in the Magic Kingdom. Start planning now by watching YouTube videos of the various rides and shows and helping your child decide which attractions are right for them. Combining that info with this list will help you plan the most magical day you could ever imagine!
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