Attractions at Disneyland That Might Scare Little Ones

Disneyland can be a dark place. And, while many guests enjoy that bizarre side of Disney (like me), not all children will embrace it.

Let’s take a look at DLR’s unexpected scary rides. I’ve listed details on each so you can decide if your child might be frightened. It’s important to know these things because one bad experience can alter the mood for your entire day.

In this post, I’m specifically providing warnings for which attractions have unexpected and scary, sensory-related experiences. These attractions might look sweeter on the outside than they actually are during the ride.

For a complete list of Disneyland attractions, check out my previous post. California Adventure attractions are listed, too.


Snow White’s Scary Adventures



Height Requirement: Any Height

What’s scary: The apple offering black cloaked witch makes several appearances. Screaming birds and loud noises add to the dark tone.

Tips on how to prepare kids: Talk about how the witch will seem scary, but that she’s not real. Also, like most things in life, the ride ends with a perfect “And, they lived happily ever after!” without explanation. That might sooth over some concerned toddlers. Totally works for me.


Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride



Height Requirement: Any Height

What’s scary: You nearly get run over by a train and then you drive into hell with faux fires blazing and the temperature is actually warmer. This is one of Disneyland’s most bizarre creations.

Tips on how to prepare kids: Timid little ones should avoid this ride.


Pinocchio’s Daring Journey



Height Requirement: Any Height

What’s Scary: There’s an evil laugh at the beginning, a scary cage that the attraction vehicle actually drives into and then the carnival journey is dark, too. The word “ass” is said loudly, also, but is referring to a donkey.

Tips on how to prepare kids: Let kids know that it’s all make believe and that Pinocchio is OK in the end.


Peter Pan’s Flight



Height Requirements: Any Height

What’s Scary: This ride is literally dark, instead of figuratively dark, like the three previous rides in this post. There’s a mild sword fight and some other sensory issues, but for the most part, this ride is good for young children.

Tips on how to prepare kids: Warn them about the dark aspect of this attraction. If you think it would bother them, mention that the boats hang from the ceiling and that you actually fly through the ride. This might feel strange since most attractions are in cars.


Alice in Wonderland



Height Requriements: Any Height

What’s Scary: Alice being “lost” might cause concern in some children. The Evil Queen screaming “Off with their heads!” could be scary, too.

Tips on how to prepare kids: Tell children this ride goes indoors, out and then back indoors again so they’re not confused. Let them know what to expect with the queen.


 Pirates of the Caribbean




Height Requirements: Any Height

What’s Scary: There are two drops on this ride, the first of which is much larger than the second. You likely won’t get wet on either. Loud canons, skeletons, “wenches for brides”, and lots of gun fights might be too much for young children.

Tips on how to prepare kids: Warn them about loud noises and let them know all of the skeletons are fake. (Except for the one in the headboard. That’s straight up real. You don’t have to tell them that.)


Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin



Height Requirement: Any Height

What’s Scary: Loud voices, scary “machines”, flashing lights and “explosions” might be scary for little ones.

Tips on how to prepare kids: Warn them about the sensory overload on this ride. It’s happy for the most part, but the volume is overwhelming.


Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough




Height Requirement: Any Height

What’s Scary: The Sleeping Beauty story is a bit scary with Maleficent making a strong showing in this attraction.

Tips on how to prepare kids: You’re walking up and through the actual castle for this attraction, so you can go at your own speed and avoid looking at the ‘scary’ parts of the story, as it’s told during your walkthrough.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 



Height Requirement: Any Height

What’s Scary: This ride can be a bit much for those with sensory issues. There’s a nightmare sequence, too, that could scare children. For the most part, it’s bright and colorful, but the overwhelming nature might be a bit much.

Tips on how to prepare kids: Prior to enjoying this attraction, tell kids about the bright colors and loud noises and especially about the nightmare portion. It ends happily, of course. Remind them of that, too.

Fantasmic! Show 



Height Requirement: Any Height

What’s Scary: Mickey battles good and evil. Fire breathing dragons, loud noises, fight scenes and more make this excellent show a bit scary for little children.

Tips on how to prepare kids: Remind them that this is just a show. It ends with a super happy tone, of course. All the characters align the Mark Twain Riverboat for a singing farewell and it’s enough to bring tears to your eyes. But, the show itself can be overwhelming.


California Adventure

It’s Tough to be a Bug




Height Requirement: Any Height

What’s Scary: Over-stimulation of nearly every sense can be found in this show. A light water spray happens, stinky smells when the “stink bug” appears, 3D graphics, loud noises and then a final creepy, crawling sensation of bugs scattering out the theater on your seat will surprise you. This show is super impressive and fun, but can be frightening.

Tips on how to prepare kids: I recommend watching the video with kids before you take them in. I don’t like spoiling the fun, but it’s truly scary for those not knowing what to expect and I’ve seen more than a few children leave crying.


Monster’s Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue!




Height Requirement: Any Height

What’s Scary: The monsters are mostly happy, but there are some dark parts to this ride and there’s plenty of high volume excitement.

Tips on how to prepare kids: Remind them the monsters are not real and prepare them for the loud noises.

So, in summary, all of these attractions are excellent in their own way. But, children will respond better if they know what to expect. My three kids (who are not entirely normal, as we are an adventure-packed family) experienced all of these attractions at very young ages and were fine.


But, ‘normal’ kids might not be. Educate yourself on what to expect and prepare your kids, too. Fingers crossed our efforts pay off!

Tickets I recommend (read why)
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  1. I think one of the more upsetting things is the Pinocchio ride, where the “bad boys” are turned into donkeys, put in cages, and will be sold. They cry out and say “I want my momma!” The happy ending for Pinocchio may make them forget about them, but sensitive children may wonder about their fates.

  2. Thank you so much for this list and ALL your helpful info!! You mentioned in the bit about It’s Tough to Be a Bug that you don’t like spoiling the fun with pre-trip videos. While I agree in general, we watched all POV ride videos on YouTube before going to Disneyland with my 19 month old, as I had no idea which rides she would(n’t) like. I am SO glad we did this. I was able to see which ones excited her and which ones scared her, thus preventing wasted time waiting in lines and crying on rides. We spent three days there without any fits.

  3. I’m taking my almost 10 month old to Mickey’s Halloween Party and wondered your thoughts on taking him on pirates of the Caribbean at that age? Should I baby wear or have him sit on my lap? Thanks in advance! Kind of nervous (FTM)

  4. Thanks! This is a good idea to tell kids what is going to happen ahead of time. 🙂 Thanks for mentioning the bugs one. That was probably the freakiest ride experience I had as a kid. 🙁

  5. I have to say the first time we went to DL and took my then-2 year old on Mr Toad, he was riding with DH in the car behind me. I past the “oncoming train” and as they went thru it, I heard SCREAMING…”No, no no!”….it was awful. He truly thought a train was coming.

  6. We took my daughter on pirates of the Caribbean when she was just barely two. We made the mistake of sitting in the front.. The dark drop and splash scared the tar out of her. We did get very wet. We were also in the very front. She did all the other rides and the haunted mansion without a problem.