Hey there, Mommy Frog here. Sadly, I am here to talk about a topic that affects some theme park lovers — motion sickness — even at Disney World. There is nothing like getting so frogcited to go on the most popular rides and suddenly feel much greener than usual. Or suddenly getting queasy when you're 60 feet up on Disney Skyliner. That’s no way to start a vacation! And we want to you to have fun. So I’m here to warn you about potential Disney World motion sickness triggers and how to prevent motion sickness from hoppening to you! I have a lifetime of car sickness, seasickness and even theme park motion sickness experience to share to hopfully help others avoid it and have a magical visit. To quote another famous frog, "It's not easy being green." That's why I'm here to help!
Why Does Motion Sickness Hoppen?
Motion sickness hoppens when your brain receives conflicting messages regarding motion and your body's position in space. Your inner ear, eyes (what you see), skin receptors (what you feel), and muscle and joint sensors send conflicting messages that are delivered to your brain, resulting in dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea or even vomiting. Knowing this is hopful to understand how even some of the gentlest rides and attractions can confuse our brains and make us a little woozy.
How to Prevent Motion Sickness at Disney World
The first step in preventing motion sickness is determining what your triggers are. Chances are, if you are reading this, you or someone you love has already experienced motion sickness or seasickness at some point. I learned as a young froglet that I cannot read in a vehicle. I need to look out the window, see the horizon and see what's coming. I've also found in theme parks that it's the rides with screens and simulators that tend to get me, especially if 3D is involved. If I go on a ride or attraction with a big screen, such as Avatar Flight of Passage, I close my eyes the minute I start to feel nauseated. I choose my seat carefully based on the ride. Even when I use Disney World park transportation, I make sure to face forward and keep the outside and horizon in my sight.
Everyone is different though. Some people have problems with 3D, simulation, spinning, quick drops or turns, speed, backwards movement or movement in darkness. If you get sick from spinning rides, do not go on them. If up and down gets your tummy feeling funny, then avoid some roller coasters, even if they are not mentioned below. Splash Mountain, Expedition Everest and definitely Twilight Zone Tower of Terror have the biggest drops. Know your limits and either modify or avoid those attractions. There are a few other preventive measures you can take so you don't have to miss out. First, let's take a closer look at the Disney World attractions that might cause motion sickness.
Possible Disney World Motion Sickness Triggers
Here are a few Disney World rides and attractions that may cause motion sickness. I actually do pretty well on most Disney World attractions, compared to other theme parks. But we cover a few rides and attractions that could bring back those "blecchy" feelings. Sometimes choosing the right seat or mission makes all the difference, as with Mission: Space.
People who suffer motion sickness at Disney World should research the following rides before committing:
- Avatar Flight of Passage — This ride has 3D imagery, a large screen, some drops and simulated action. I need to close my eyes on this one to survive it. But I also love it. It’s a love-hate situation, so I suffer through because the upside outweighs the bad, at least for me.
- Dinosaur — This roller coaster, wild jeep type of ride with some quick turns, darkness and sudden high-speed moves could cause motion sickness. Go for a middle seat for the least extreme movement.
- Expedition Everest — If backwards roller coasters make you sick, you may want to back out of this expedition.
- Mad Tea Party — If spinning rides make you toss your tea, politely decline and continue to celebrate a very merry unbirthday on other attractions.
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run — This ride has a screen out the front of the cockpit. If you are worried, go for engineer, where you will be so busy pushing buttons and levers that you will not be watching the screen.
- Mission: Space — Choose your mission wisely. The Orange mission uses a centrifuge that spins and titles to simulate G-force. The Green mission is the family-friendly version that will, ironically, make you less green.
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — This ride has unpredictable movement with backwards, forwards, spinning and even a quick drop. It's not very fast, and there is plenty to look at so just be aware to expect the unexpected. Even some of the standing pre-show experiences have some subtle movements that your body may pick up on even if you don't.
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith — This indoor roller coaster in the dark has three loops. You can't see them coming so that may throw you for a loop.
- Soarin’ — I do OK on this one, but I request a front row, center section seat. My brain and eyes do not agree with the bottom outside edge seats on this one because when the buildings look melty and wonky as the screen curves, my stomach can be persuaded to conform with them.
- Star Tours — This motion simulator is a no-go for some. The adventure is slightly different each time. I generally do OK, but there is one potential scene with water and waves that I need to close my eyes for to prevent seasickness. You do not have control over where you sit, but if you can maneuver within your group for a middle seat, it may have less movement than the edges.
- Space Mountain — This high-speed roller coaster in the dark has sharp turns and drops.
- Splash Mountain — There’s one big drop at the end.
- Test Track — Can you handle high-speed car rides with breaking turns?
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror — If losing your stomach on drops makes you literally lose the contents of your stomach, then this is one to skip.
Attractions with 3D include:
- Muppet Vision 3D
- Toy Story Mania (along with some spinning or unpredictable movements)
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- It’s Tough to Be a Bug
- Star Tours
Rides that spin in a circular fashion don't work for some people. If round and round is no good, avoid even these gentle rides that are likely to be fine for most riders. Mad Tea Party spins the most of these:
- Astro Orbiter
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Mad Tea Party
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
- Alien Swirling Saucers (they spin and whip you around from side to side)
If you know you do not tolerate roller coasters, then avoid them. Except for the ones mentioned, most Disney World coasters are pretty tame compared to the big thrill coasters at Universal Orlando and SeaWorld. I find that sitting near the front is more gentle than sitting in the back. Plus it allows you to see what's coming in some cases.
Before you even get to the park, you should make good decisions when using park transportation.
- Monorail — Avoid riding backwards. Look out at the horizon. Do not read or look at a map or your phone.
- Buses — Do not read, look at your phone or a map. Try to sit up front and look out a window. Keep your eyes on the horizon.
- Disney Skyliner — Face forward, look out at the horizon and (you guessed it) not at your phone or a map. An emergency kit has a container bag in case you are going to be sick. We've heard reports of people who experienced severe motion sickness and vertigo from the Skyliner, so if you think it could be a problem, opt for other forms of transportation. You don't want to ruin a day at Disney before you even hit the park.
Motion Sickness Treatments or Remedies
Everyone is different. What makes one person tick makes another sick. And let's face it, we don't want to miss out on the fun, but we don't want to push it. Here are some tips for managing motion sickness and safe ways to try an attraction you are not sure about.
Tips for Riding When You Suffer from Motion Sickness
- Save questionable rides for later in the day (so you don’t blow the whole day).
- Close your eyes when you get that oh-so-familiar feeling bubbling up.
- Use motion-sickness prevention medications or natural methods.
- Choose an alternative ride while your family rides one that will definitely not work for you.
- Do not ride on a full or empty stomach.
- Avoid greasy or acidic foods.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Look for ride signage that warns of motion sickness.
Plan the right stomach contents for the ride. I do not like to ride with a very full or very empty stomach. Starchy snacks like pretzels and crackers sit better than greasy or acidic meals. Even healthy snacks such as fruits don’t stay down well. Rides and alcohol don’t pair well either. Don’t drink and ride. If it helps you, take medication.
Have you tried any remedies that have worked in the past on boats, flights or car trips? Bring them along. I’d try some of them before you travel. Some motion sickness medicines work great for me; however, they do make me very sleepy and a bit removed from the fun. I do not want to feel sluggish at Disney World. In fact, I need all the energy I can get! I’m more of a give-it-a-try-and-close-my-eyes kind of frog. But you need to find what works best for you!
In terms of medication, if I am going on a boat, meclizine is my medication of choice. It works best if taken it the night before. It needs time to get into your system. Taking it the same day as a park visit does not provide the same effect. It does cause drowsiness, so look for non-drowsy medications. The Dramamine Non-Drowsy formula contains clinically tested ginger doses with natural ginger. If you have Benadryl with you for allergies, did you know it can help with motion sickness, as well? The non-drowsy antihistamines do not work for motion sickness though.
If the over-the-counter options don't do the trick for you, talk to your doctor about prescription medications. Scopolamine patches (Transderm Scop) are a prescription medication in the form a patch that you place behind your ear. You should apply it at least four hours before you need it. You can leave it in place for up to three days. Some people experience side effects such as dry mouth, blurred vision or other effects. Give it a try for a boat trip or other motion sickness event before you do it at Disney to make sure you are comfortable with the side effects.
You may find that non-medication options work for you too. Try acupressure bands, which put pressure on your wrists to stop nausea. We've seen ads for some pretty high-tech ones that adjust the intensity based on your need.
If I feel a little queasy, I find that Coca-Cola settles my stomach. Ginger candy or ginger pills work for some, or sucking on mints. Try taking ginger about 30 minutes before riding.
Overall, it’s best to stay well-hydrated and avoid getting overheated, which is admittedly easier said than done in Florida! The tough part about when it happens on rides is that you cannot escape until the ride ends. Stopping the input can make it go away. If a screen or 3D elements are involved, remove the glasses and close your eyes to make it go away. Once you exit the ride and have a drink of water or soda, you may recover quickly. Others may need to take a trip to First Aid. The nurses can work their magic with some over-the-counter medications or a cool compress to the head.
If you know you are prone to motion sickness, but are never sure when it might strike, carry a plastic bag in a backpack just in case. It’s embarrassing enough to toss your cookies, but nobody wants to make a mess of things.
Do you suffer from motion sickness at Disney World? If you have any hopful tips, please share them in the comments below.