Don’t Get Dizzy At Disney: Gentler Family Rides

Sometimes it seems as if everyone assumes we like the “fast” rides. Roller coasters and thrill rides aren’t for everyone, but somehow we can’t convince anyone of that. Now that you’ve decided to go to Disney World, you’re probably getting suggestions like “You *have* to ride Splash Mountain” and you just can’t see anyone in your family enjoying a ride where you scream your guts out. What to do?

The Internet is a beautiful way to pull up Disney sites and see just what rides are available. Believe it or not, there are quite a few attractions that will get your heart pumping without making you a puddle on the sidewalk. Personally I am not a friend of roller coasters or heart-stopping thrill rides, and wonder why it’s always assumed that all visitors to Disney like that kind of thing! It depends on what level of “quiet” ride you’re looking for. The ferry that transports you to Disney World actually isn’t an attraction but it *feels* like a nice, relaxing ride. Once you’ve esconced yourself aboard ship, you can press your nose to the railing until you see the famous castle come into view.

For a sweet approach to Disney World that won’t make you woozy, you might want to consider the well-known It’s A Small World. If your first thought is of cute dolls and cheap costumes, you couldn’t be more wrong! This is a beautiful presentation where figures represent little boys and girls from all over the world, and their ethnic dress is just striking in its detail and authenticity. This is a slow, enjoyable boat ride that lasts long enough to entice you, but not long enough to make you bored. The only bad aftereffect is that after you exit the ride, you *will* be hearing “it’s a small world, after all” in your head for a few days at least.

Haunted Mansion is somewhere in between wild and tame. It’s not a gentle ride, but it’s not high energy or worthy of stomach-turning, either. You start out by getting into a covered carriage, which then carries you through a dark “haunted house” full of cool animatronics, neat special effects, and things popping up out of the gloom. It can be scary for kids, but the older the kids, the more they will probably appreciate the excitement. Mostly the ride is smooth sailing, with few bumps and surprises except an occasional ghost or ghoulie. In my opinion, the best part of the ride was looking down into a dimly-lit room and seeing “ghosts” dancing transparently on a ballroom floor. The effect was stunning.

Liberty Square’s Liberty Bell Riverboat is another gentle ride that won’t disappoint. Especially if you’re visiting on a hot day, this is a wonderful alternative to walking! As you stand at the covered ramp you can see the ominous Haunted Mansion in the distance. The Liberty Bell Riverboat is a lovely paddlewheeler from which you see the quaint buildings of Tom Sawyer’s Island as you sail along. The trip usually takes somewhere around 20 minutes. Be careful to time when you arrive, because there’s nothing worse than looking forward to a soothing boat cruise only to discover it’s just left port.

Adventureland’s Jungle Cruise is another wonderful boat ride that will give you a totally different experience than the Liberty Bell Riverboat. A small canopied vessel transports you over tropical rivers and “animals” graze alongside the water (don’t tell anyone they’re not real; unless you get very close to them, you probably won’t be able to tell!). Some of the rivers represented are the mysterious Congo and the intriguing Nile. Be warned that on a hot day, this ride will probably be in high demand, so try to get there early!

One last simple ride that will bring enjoyment to kids and adults alike is Cinderella’s Golden Carousel. “Adults don’t ride carousels” you say? Not so. I know of a certain person (I will withhold names) who went on the carousel a few years ago with her grownup self and a pair of new Mickey Ears, and it was so wonderful to feel like a kid again that the feeling never left. Disney World does that to people; it reminds you that it’s not always so great when you bury your childhood.

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