Emotional Roller Coaster Ride
Rides and attractions aren't real, they can't hurt you. Rides and attractions aren't real, they can't hurt you.
I was picking out Fastpass+ last weekend (Which you can do from My Disney Experience 30 days before your trip, or 60 days if you are staying at a Walt Disney Resort) and it really blew me away how many rides I love now.
When I go to Disney Parks, it amazes me how many rides and attractions I enjoy compared to my childhood trips. My mother had quickly learned that the Teacups would be in her future... a lot.
Anxiety is one hell of a ride on its own, so even before I get past the queue, my stomach has been tossed every which way and viciously shaken for safe measure. It was a very long journey for me to learn how to manage my feelings, and broaden my Disney Park horizons.
I think Youtube and the internet has created an explosion of information on all things theme parks. You can find details, history, little known facts, and media from inside the attractions. This is an abundant resource for people like me, who likes to know every aspect of what I'm getting myself into.
Information is power, and power helps fight back anxiety.
I remember riding the people mover at Walt Disney World (another relaxing fav) and seeing the lights on for the first time in Space Mountain! (If you're unaware, the people mover goes past a chunk of the Space Mountain track, but because Space Mountain is usually lights out, you are unable to see the track) Even just seeing something that small helped demystify what could possibly be inside that big, imposing building located in Tomorrowland.
Of course, being Autistic means I didn't make the connection then, but later it was brought to my attention that there was a new fad on Youtube; attraction ride through videos. (I am so sorry whoever brought it to me, I just can't remember!) Well now I could see the inside of these amazingly crafted exteriors, no longer playing out impossible scenario after impossible scenario in my head standing in line. No, I could see what I was getting myself into, from the safety of my own couch!
From then on, I would slowly try new rides with each trip, checking more and more attractions off my "I rode _____ and survived!!" checklist. It was very important to balance these feelings of high stress (Yes I'm going to say riding a ride is high stress, its called anxiety for a reason) with feelings and experiences that were calming and fun to me.
Besides the formerly mentioned ride at the beginning of my blog, I also greatly enjoyed walking through World Showcase, checking out different exhibits at Innoventions (Toontown Tag anyone?) and going to see the animals at Kilimanjaro Safari!
A bored mind is an anxious mind. It is very important to find ways to keep busy in the Queue. It should be obvious now, but if you're going to any Disney Park, expect long lines for the more popular attractions. It doesn't matter how many times I've seen the ride play out the exact same way in ride through videos, or even my own experience, just standing in line doing nothing can ramp up anxiety levels. Unfortunately the majority of anxious thoughts just aren't rational, so if they start running wilder than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, it can be hard to corral!
Simply having good conversation, maybe a portable console kept in a parents bag for these times, even some music favourites pumped through headphones are all things that can help with this Pre-Ride Anxiety.
One more thing I wanted to mention is more of a recent development. Something that helps my anxiety is deconstructing something and finding out how it works. How does that relate to attractions? Well there's been a trend on Youtube in the last several years of attraction and ride history videos. These have come out after my time of discovering new rides and conquering attraction anxiety, but for the newer generation this could be a valuable tool.
This has picked up so much steam, that there is even a Behind the Attraction show coming to Disney+.
Remember, compassion is so important, because anxiety can be all-encompassing and completely irrational. Hopefully these tips can at least help you, or someone you know fight their own attraction anxiety!
Anyway, have a fantastic day!