Conquering my fear of rides at Disneyland Paris

Hey guys!

Since I first visited Disneyland Paris in 2010 one thing that has always stumped people most is that though I love visiting theme parks, I've always had a genuine fear of rides. Sure the smaller attractions like Small world, Casey Jr and Dumbo have never caused me any issues, but it was a long time before rides like Big Thunder Mountain were ever an option for me.

So where did it start? Well there's two things I think contributed to my irrational fear of coasters, something I'm still working on now to be completely honest with you. The first was that as children, theme parks weren't every really on the agenda, I don't think I've ever been to Alton Towers or Drayton Manor, I didn't visit Legoland until I was 8 or 9 and for Thorpe park and Chessington I was an adult by the time of my first visit to each. I don't think as kids me and my sister ever really had a huge interest in rides, at least not that I can remember, I think I've seen maybe one old family photo of my sister on one of those kids Caterpillar coasters, and I couldn't even have told you when or where that was taken! Now please don't get me wrong, this isn't a woe is me or a sob story kind of post! My sister and I both had amazing childhoods, we did plenty of other things, and had a lot more than a lot of the other kids we knew, it's just for us, theme parks and roller coasters were never a big thing.

The second thing that probably explains my fear of coasters was my first real coaster experience. The first theme park I have any real memory of going to is Legoland Windsor, it was probably 1997/1998 and I was on a trip with my local Brownie group (I know, you didn't see that coming did you). I don't remember a huge amount about the trip, except for one ride, the Dragon roller coaster. Truth be told I don't remember all too much about the ride, other than hating it and feeling terrified from start to finish. And from then for about 13 years, big rides were off the cards. I did revisit Legoland in either 2000 or 2001 but I knew my limits in terms of rides and I stuck to them! I think the most frustrating thing about all of it, is that I just didn't really have any friends or family that were interested in going on rides enough to help me nip the fear in the bud. The longer it went on the worse the fear got, and as a teenager, I pretty much avoided theme parks altogether so that I didn't have to admit I was too scared to ride anything.

Flash forward to 2010 and the time had come for me to finally visit Disneyland Paris, it was something I could only have dreamed of as a kid, I booked a trip with 2 of my closest friends and off we went on our french adventure. I was so excited for everything the park had to offer, and I never could have imagined how quickly I would fall in love with the place, but even then there was a niggling thought in the back of my mind that I wasn't sure how I'd cope with some of the rides.

Now the nice thing about Disney parks, is they're family friendly, this means even if you're not into big rides chances are you're still going to find things you can do and enjoy at your own pace. Perhaps this is why I fell in love with the place almost immediately! for once I felt like I could enjoy a theme park, without my fears holding me back, but of course, there were still lots of things I couldn't do. Out of our group of 3, 2 of us weren't really ride people and at times this did make things a little difficult. Though rides like Space Mountain do have a single rider queue, others like Big Thunder Mountain don't, and it can be a long wait by yourself! We managed as best as we could during the trip, and I made sure my friend Ant did get to go on the bigger rides without feeling guilty about leaving us behind, it was his holiday too and I wasn't going to hold him back, but I could tell these were things he really wanted to share with people, and that did make me feel a little bit bad.

It wasn't actually until my 3rd trip in 2014 when my friends finally encouraged me to start trying some more adventurous attractions, this ended up being the first trip where I tried both Big Thunder Mountain and Crush's Coaster. We had gone the first week of December that year, and due to the bitterly colder temperatures the park was really quiet, we used this to our advantage and I quickly realised the longer I had to queue, the more likely I was to talk myself out of riding. I can't say I remember particularly hating either ride, which was a huge surprise at the time, but I certainly wasn't compelled to ride them again.

2016 was the next time I would ride BTM again, this time it was on a 2 day flying visit in between Christmas and new year with my good friends Steven and his wife Tarryn. They were so supportive, the queue was a bit longer than I would have wanted, and I was very very nervous, but they did their best to distract me and keep me calm, and it really really helped. It had been 2 years since I'd ridden it last, and I was definitely as scared this time, I really wasn't sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised how well it went.

The real turn around though for my love/hate relationship with BTM came in 2017, flanked by an army of Disney pals this would be the year I really got to grips with riding Big Thunder, where possible I would always try to get a fast pass or hit it at rope drop or at quiet times as I found the longer I queued the worse I felt. I quickly learnt trying to hold Duffy on the ride wasn't going to work either as I was probably just as scared of losing him as I was of the ride in general. The final thing I found really helped me was ear plugs, I don't have any real sensory issues that I know about but loud noises are always something I haven't got on with too well. The track on Big Thunder is really loud, I think 90% of it is by design, but personally I found it really off putting, and if something as simple as foam ear plugs was going to make the experience better for me then that's how I'm going to approach it!

With Big Thunder under my belt and getting easier with every trip it wasn't long before I was being encouraged to take the next step, it was time to face possibly my biggest coaster fear - loops! My first trip in 2018 was in April with my niece, for weeks before hand the guys had all been trying to talk me into riding Hyper Space Mountain with them, and though I wasn't convinced, I wasn't 100% totally against it either. Well I hate to disappoint you, but I bottled it. I don't know why, I guess it was just easier than facing my fear, but for once, something was different about me not doing it. After I came home I just felt really cross with myself for not trying, as much as I was scared beyond words, and hated the idea of doing it, I was mad at myself for not giving it a go and I think that's when I knew I was ready.

By a stroke of luck Sophie and I ended up back in Disneyland Paris just a few weeks later for the Insidears event, and I knew it was make or break time as far as riding Hyperspace Mountain was concerned. On our way into the parks that morning a family were leaving to go home and stopped us and gave us their hotel fast passes, these are paper vouchers which allow you to use the fast pass line on a ride of your choosing during that day, any time other than between 1 and 4 pm, they are giving to guests staying in any of the club level rooms. This was a huge help, as I've already said, queuing for a ride I'm already nervous about, tends to give me way too much time to over think things and panic when I don't need to, riding single rider wasn't an option either, so we were banking on being able to get a fast pass, or hoping the queues weren't too bad later on in the day.

It took me most of the day to decide I wanted to use our fast passes to try HSM and it certainly wasn't plain sailing. We got into the fast pass queue, and as we were making our way through the queue we came to the point where the coaster breaks just before the end. I don't know if its the metal walls, or the fact that the building is mostly a big hollow shell, or if it was a combination of the two but the noise seemed really loud. I was pretty shook up by this and really didn't want to try it any more, but with a lot of encouragement (and a little emotional blackmail) Sophie encouraged me to at least stick out the queue. Well As you can see below, I not only stuck out the queue but I made it onto the ride too! The sensation of the loop was something I find really difficult to explain, I was definitely aware I was upside down, but it didn't feel the way I had expected either. I can't say I enjoyed the experience, but I'd done it and I was so happy and proud, of course the next thing we did was got a celebratory Waffle and the attraction pin!

So its now July and I am happy to say I've ridden HSM another 2 times since then, most recently last weekend where I managed to keep my eyes open the whole way round! This was another big step for me and it was a real game changer, the effects inside the ride are so cool, they really added to the experience and somehow the movements seemed less extreme with my eyes open! Not only that but I've ridden Crush's coaster twice this year now as well and I'm starting to really enjoy it!

So where next? Well I hope to be able to ride Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril before the end of 2018, the ride is much shorter than Hyperspace, but being outside in the light and being able to see the track poses a new challenge for me. If I can do it though, I'll finally be able to say I've ridden every current attraction in Disneyland Park, and that seems like a goal worth having. Looking further ahead, I'm planning to visit WDW in Florida for the first time in 2019, and it would be so incredible to be able to leave saying I rode everything I wanted and had no regrets, so Expedition Everest is up there as a future goal!

So that's my coaster story to date, I hope it was interesting and perhaps if you're like me and the bigger rides scare you, I hope I've maybe encouraged you to step outside your comfort zone a little. For all you thrill seekers out there, what should I be looking to try next, and what are you WDW must do rides?

Hoodsie xx


  1. This post has really helped me as I'm super scared of coasters that go upside down and I'm scared of heights too which put Hollywood Tower off the cards for me as well! We're going on a trip in December this year and I really want to try and ride Hyperspace Mountain or Hollywood Tower (I don't think I'll be brave enough to do both) thanks for sharing your experience I'm glad you're starting to enjoy Crush that's my favourite ride in the parks so far!

    Jess //

  2. Good luck Jess! Honestly the loop wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and it was deffo better with my eyes open! Let me know how you get on !

  3. Thankyou I really hope I can get the courage to go on it I'm sure I'll keep you all updated on Twitter!