I have updated this post and have it featured on my new blog SAVING UP FOR DISNEY.
I think it's equally important to encourage our children to try new things while still remembering that new things might make them scared or nervous. And you certainly don't want to ruin an entire day at the Park because you pushed too hard getting them to ride Indiana Jones and they got scared. Because well, then they aren't going to want to try anything new after that!
I can remember clearly the first time my parents tried to get me and my brother on Big Thunder Mountain. I was crying and my brother had a death grip on the chain at the entrance!! But after the first ride, well, we jumped off and got right back in line to go on it again! But my parents knew us and they knew that we could handle a bit of encouragement. Only you know your kids and how far you can push them so use your best judgment.
Both The Boy and The Girl are 7 years old and tall enough to ride every single thing at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.
In front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle
Being very sweet 7 year olds, they are at that perfect "in-between" stage of still loving the DisneyJr preschool shows like "Jake & the Neverland Pirates" and "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse". They have no problem still riding the so-called "baby rides" like Dumbo or Pinocchio but are eager to try out the zippy roller coasters like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain.
The first day I decided that the very first ride they should try out is the fastest coaster in the parks, California Screamin', which also happens to go upside-down! Ooops...Not sure that was my best strategy, thinking back!
The Girl & Danny going through the loop!
Since I was pregnant, my husband rode with each child individually, starting off with The Girl. She looked very confident at the start and judging from the smiles when she got off the ride, I'd have guessed she had a great time!
Just taking off...
Same thing with The Boy, though his expression at the beginning of the ride (before it had even begun to MOVE) was slightly more terrified. However, when he got off the ride he was all smiles and excitement.
They haven't even taken off yet and already The Boy looks terrified!
My husband, on the other hand, seemed to be the one who was most tormented. He said that both kids had frightening reactions during the ride that I'd never had guessed at. He said that he thinks that perhaps the height requirement for this ride should maybe be raised a bit because he didn't think the kids were able to handle it.
He said The Girl filled her cheeks with air, like she was holding her breath, then said to him that she was going to throw up!
Danny said he swears that The Boy passed out! He said his head dropped down and that he was patting The Boys chest and that my little guy rolled his eyes around to straighten up but that he looked pretty out of it through the entire ride.
YIKES! Yeah, judging from their happy expressions a few minutes later I really never would have guessed that this ride wasn't really as the kids were portraying. They were in good spirits even thought neither of them really enjoyed it but later when we encountered new rides, The Girl was extremely hesitant to try them for fear they would be too much like this one.
Wearing 3-D glasses for Toy Story Mania
We moved on and other rides along the pier like Toy Story Mania in 3-D, Silly Symphony Swings, Jumpin' Jellyfish, Golden Zepher were more appropriate. The Girl didn't like Mickey's Fun Wheel, likely because they chose a cage that slid back and forth each time the wheel turned a notch. I don't blame her...I don't like it for the same reason!
Bumper "Bugs" in Bug's Land
Bug's Land had some slower paced rides that they loved but once they moved over to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, The Girl was having nothing to do with that, so Danny and The Boy rode alone. That was The Boy's first time on that ride and he actually loved it. I think The Girl was put off by the "spooky" aspect because she didn't want to ride The Haunted Mansion or Indiana Jones either.
The Hollywood Back Lot
Soarin' Over California was a success, both kids really loved it. The Girl was nervous though when the preview video watched before the ride mentioned that we would be flying!
The next day at Disneyland, we started off less vigorously, sticking to the slower rides in Fantasyland (like Peter Pan, Casey Jr. Circus Train, It's a Small World and the Carousel). Small World was a favorite of course, I think The Girl would have rode that all day! We built up speed a bit with the Teacups , Matterhorn, Roger Rabbit's Car-toon Spin and Gadget's Go-Coaster. This last one is a perfect first coaster to try kids on who have maybe never been on a coaster before. It's a short, speedy little ride so it's over very quickly.
Getting a surprise splash on the Go-Coaster
We kept things very casual and if they didn't want to ride a particular ride, there was no pressure. We know our kids and they don't respond well to pressure. By the end of the day, The Girl in particular was picking up steam and ready for action. All of her earlier nervousness about fast rides was disappearing and she happily jumped on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain. In fact, they ran off the latter ride and went right back in line to ride again!
Having a fantastic ride on Big Thunder Mountain!
In the past, The Boy has been hesitant to ride fast rides. Despite the fact that his older brother was riding them, he wasn't ready to take that leap yet. I'd tried cajoling but it seemed the more I pushed, the more he dug in his heels. It wasn't until he was really ready to ride them did he try and of course, enjoy them.
Me & The Girl on the Carousel
Not pressuring your kids or forcing them to ride anything they aren't quite ready for is key to having a great trip. We were fortunate that ours were game for trying so many new things...very brave of them!
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