Walt Disney World for Wimps

by Kelly Coyne
ALL EARS® Guest Columnist

Feature Article

This article appeared in the May 18, 2004, Issue #243 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

There's no place more magical than Walt Disney World, is there? Four theme parks are spread out over many miles, with countless experiences and rides. But what if you're like me, and you don't enjoy the "wild" rides? You know, the ones that spin around at dizzying speeds, that make you feel ill, or hang you upside down? Is it possible for those of us who are ride "wimps" to still have a good time at Walt Disney World?

Now, don't be offended by my use of the word "wimp." By "wimp," I mean you are like me -- the type of person who loves amusement parks, but a carousel is about as wild and crazy as you are willing to get. For people like us, adult and children alike, the idea of being dropped 13 stories faster than you can say "Mickey Mouse" holds no appeal.

The more I thought about this recently, the more I began to wonder whether I was the only Disney Wimp out there. Maybe there are many others like me, or maybe there are parents who would love to bring their children to Disney World, but are unsure of what rides and attractions are suitable. Well, fear not! I am going to give you park by park recommendations of the rides and attractions I find easygoing for everyone. I may even clear up some confusion about attractions whose names sound scary but really aren't. (For years I shivered at the very idea of going on the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom. One day, my mother said, "But it's not scary, it's actually funny." So I swallowed my fears, only to learn that once again mother did know best.) Yes, you can be a wimp when it comes to rides and attractions, and have the time of your life in WDW.

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MAGIC KINGDOM
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You will be pleased to know that you have to travel no further than right inside the Magic Kingdom to find the first ride that is wonderful for us wimps: The Walt Disney World Railroad. This is a great ride for everyone as it travels slowly around the perimeter of the park. Riders can ride the train for the whole trip or get off at different stations (Main Street USA, Frontierland, and Mickey's Toontown Fair).

In Tomorrowland you will find one of the best rides for older children and adults: Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. OK, before you run to hide under Andy's bed at the thought of going on a ride with the word "spin" in it, read on. This is a ride/ game where you get to control how much your vehicle spins. What could be better? This ride is great for most children, though some little kids may not be able to see well and some may be frightened of the aliens. All in all, no matter if you are a little or big kid, this is a lot of fun.

While walking through Tomorrowland, you may notice blue vehicles traveling above the park. Do not be afraid of this ride, which is known as the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (or the TTA to seasoned travelers). I know many of you are thinking, "What do you mean travel above the park?" Relax! Once you realize how beautiful the park is from that height, and how nice it is to be seated for 15 minutes, you will love the TTA. Plus, you can say you went into Space Mountain without ever having to ride it. (The TTA travels through the Space Mountain building for about one minute).

If you are lucky enough that the Carousel of Progress is operational during your stay, you must not miss it. A good number of adults may recognize this from the 1964 World's Fair. It is a wonderful look at the progress in our world from the turn of the 20th century to the start of the 21st century.

After visiting Tomorrowland, go to Fantasyland, where there are a number of good attractions just for us wimps. Head for It's a Small World, which is a great choice. How can you resist a boat ride featuring singing and dancing dolls and animals? (Editor's Note: You'll have to wait until spring 2005, though -- It's a Small World is closed until then for a rehab!)

Then go right across the way to Peter Pan's Flight. The only scary thing about this one is how long you will have to wait without a FASTPASS. This ride takes you on a magical journey over London just like Peter, Wendy, and the children did in the story.

One of my favorite rides in the Magic Kingdom also happens to be another great choice for wimps: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Riders are loaded into Honey Pots for their journey into the Hundred Acre Wood to visit with Pooh and friends.

A new and awesome attraction debuted in Fantasyland in the fall of 2003: Mickey's PhilharMagic. This attraction is a 3-D show unlike any you have seen before. Using the largest projection screen in the world and brand new 3-D technology, Disney brings it to life like only they can. Enjoy a funny, musical performance with Mickey, Donald, and all the gang. Little children seem to have a mixed reaction to this show, possibly because of the loudness, so use your own judgment.

Two of the tamest rides, which are really good choices for younger kids, are Cinderella's Golden Carrousel and Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Most little children love carrousels and choosing their own horse to ride on. And even though Dumbo goes up in the air, riders can control how high they go.

Don't neglect Liberty Square while on your tour. Here you will find the aforementioned Haunted Mansion. I promise it isn't really that scary, except perhaps for those who have a fear of the dark. Visit the Hall of Presidents for a calm show which features every president of the United States.

Last but not least, wimps should be sure to stay for the Share A Dream Come True parade, Spectromagic parade, and the Wishes fireworks. (If someone in your party does not like loud noises, I would advise skipping Wishes.) Share a Dream Come True is one of the most beautiful parades I have seen.

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EPCOT
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In Epcot, you come across one of my favorite rides, Spaceship Earth. This attraction is inside the huge gleaming globe that is the symbol of Epcot. You will travel, at a slow pace, through the history of communication.

After Spaceship Earth, venture toward The Land pavilion, as this offers some good options for wimps. In this pavilion you will find the gentle boat ride Living with the Land, which offers you a behind the scenes look at agriculture and how Disney and NASA are working together on better ways to grow food. (It may sound boring but it really isn't.) You will also find the entertaining and educational Circle of Life movie starring Timon and Pumbaa from the Lion King.

Thirsty and/or hot? Stop by Ice Station Cool for a chance to get out of the hot Florida sun, and to try soft drinks from the world over for free. It is a great way to cool off and get some refreshments. (This is the "ice cave" located near Innoventions West.)

If you or your children like animals, visit The Living Seas pavilion. It is the largest saltwater aquarium in the world. You can see dolphins, seals, tons of fish, sharks, and many other sea creatures. Nothing wild here, except the wildlife!

As for World Showcase, my best recommendation would be to explore every country. There is so much to take in here. For rides and/or attractions, do not miss the following: El Rio del Tiempo in Mexico, The American Adventure, and any show in the America Gardens Theater. If you have little mouseketeers, there are KIDCOT FUNSTOPS set up in every country. Here, kids can do all kinds of fun things with Cast Members. At night be sure to see Illuminations: Reflections of Earth laser light and fireworks display. World Showcase is the perfect place to enjoy a theme park without having to face a lot of thrill rides.

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DISNEY-MGM STUDIOS
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When you are in the Disney-MGM Studios your best choices are ones without the explosions, scary aliens, or names like "Catastrophe Canyon." One of the top attractions offered is Muppet Vision 3-D. It is a hilarious look at Kermit and the gang's attempt at a 3-D movie -- nothing really scary or wild here, although it does tend to get a bit loud.

You will find a lot of good, tame attractions in the Studios, many of which appeal in particular to fearful little ones (although grown-ups can enjoy them too). They include Playhouse Disney Live on Stage, featuring Bear in the Big Blue House, Rolie Polie Olie, Stanley and Pooh, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid, a multimedia version of the Disney tale. Next visit Beauty and the Beast, Live on Stage. There is even an arcade and pizza place, Toy Story Pizza Planet Arcade.

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ANIMAL KINGDOM
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I visited Animal Kingdom for the first time about six months ago. It has risen to a tie with Epcot as my favorite park, and I have yet to see everything. My descriptions of attractions within this park are going to be very generic, as I do not want to give away the surprises that await you.

The first thing you must do upon entering the most amazing creation (in my opinion) that Disney has ever undertaken is visit The Tree of Life. All I will say is make sure your camera is ready to go! After Tree of Life, venture over to Camp Minnie-Mickey Character Greeting Trails. Here you will find Mickey, Minnie, and friends waiting to say hello and take some pictures with guests.

Two good shows for everyone to visit are Festival of the Lion King and Pocahontas and her Forest Friends. These are among the most magical shows in the park. Festival of the Lion King is a wonderful spectacle featuring the music of the movie, while Pocahontas is a live animal show about conservation.

Even though DinoLand, USA has the rollicking Dinosaur ride and the wild Primeval Whirl, it also hosts several tamer attractions. For kids, there's The Boneyard playground, and even adults can have a good time at Chester and Hester's DinoRama. They can even go for a spin on the Dumbo-like TriceraTop Spin and play several carnival style games. (I visited DinoRama during my most recent trip and have to admit, at the age of 30, I had fun.)

Four absolute musts in Animal Kingdom are: Kilimanjaro Safaris, Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki's Planet Watch, Rafiki's Planet Watch and Maharajah Jungle Trek. Again, so that I do not give too much away, make certain the camera is ready to go. Stop by the petting zoo to see the animals. In the afternoon jam with Mickey and friends in Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade.

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TOP 10 LISTS
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Here's my list of the top 10 best rides/attractions for wimps:

1) Tree of Life - Animal Kingdom
2) Kilimanjaro Safaris - Animal Kingdom
3) Spaceship Earth - Epcot
4) Tomorrowland Transit Authority - Magic Kingdom
5) Mickey's PhilharMagic - Magic Kingdom
6) Rafiki's Planet Watch - Animal Kingdom
7) Maharajah Jungle Trek - Animal Kingdom
8) It's a Small World - Magic Kingdom
9) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - Magic Kingdom
10) World Showcase - Epcot

My suggestions for the best rides/attractions for not-so-bold youngsters:

1) Playhouse Disney Live on Stage - Disney-MGM Studios
2) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - Magic Kingdom
3) It's a Small World - Magic Kingdom
4) Mickey's Toontown Fair - Magic Kingdom
5) The Boneyard - Animal Kingdom
6) The petting zoo in Rafiki's Planet Watch - Animal Kingdom
7) Dumbo the Flying Elephant - Magic Kingdom
8) Cinderella's Golden Carrousel - Magic Kingdom
9) Camp Minnie-Mickey - Animal Kingdom
10) KIDCOT Funstops throughout World Showcase in Epcot

I hope that any of you who have been concerned about being a ride "wimp," or about not being able to have fun without riding all the rides, are now feeling a bit more at ease. If an attraction is not mentioned, it does not necessarily mean I consider it a bad choice. This article was based on my opinions of what people like myself (who don't like wild and crazy rides) would feel comfortable about trying while on vacation in Disney World. So, yes, you can be a "wimp" and still have the time of your life in the happiest place on earth. Enjoy!

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Kelly, a 30-year-old Winnie the Pooh fan from New Jersey, made her first trip to WDW in 1979 -- when she was just 5! Although she currently works in retail loss prevention, she dreams of working at Walt Disney World someday. A self-admitted "ride wimp," Kelly says one of her favorite things to do at WDW is dine and interact with the characters.

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Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.