When I was little, thrill rides terrified me. It didn’t matter if it was a drop, a sudden turn, or anything that made me feel like I was out of control; it scared the tar out of me and made me steer clear of them for several years. When I was in middle school, however, something changed (and no, we’re not just talking about puberty here!). All of a sudden, I was a big kid, and I wanted to prove my maturity by taking on the “big kid rides” when I went to Silverwood with my family. My time had come, and I had the time of my life!
Now with my own kids, I have a few of them that are brave, while others are still hesitant and fearful of trying the big kid rides. My wife and I are certified thrill-seekers, but after forcing my oldest son a few years ago to go on a ride that he wasn’t ready for, we decided that we needed to try a different approach. After all, a trip to Silverwood should be a positive, happy experience, not one that scars your child and makes them struggle to trust you!
So, what do we do differently? Well, with him and our other children, we determined that they ultimately will decide when they are ready. We gently coax our children to try the ride, but we don’t force it. Sure, we highlight why we like the ride and why we think they will like it, but we just don’t want to force anything upon them. Forcing them or tricking them into trying it ends up being a rotten experience for them and for us. It’s just not worth it.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few tricks we use to push them to give it a try. In the childhood theme park experience, bribery is a real and viable tool to get your kids onto rides that they normally wouldn’t try on their own! I’m not ashamed to admit that we’ve offered ice cream, toys, popcorn, cotton candy, and other enticing offerings to get them to take the plunge (don’t judge me or send me too much hate mail for that one). When it comes down to the line, they have to decide if that ice cream cone is worth it or not. Okay, to be honest (since I’m a father that spoils his kids while on vacation), they’ll likely end up with the ice cream cone anyway, but they seem to appreciate it more when they have earned it.
Another approach I’ve tried is to show them ride videos on Youtube. We like to pull up the ride on our big tv so they can get a good feel for it. Sometimes, just by watching others on the ride from a safe space, they can see that those drops aren’t that big and that those turns aren’t that sharp. This is a great way to help kids get prepared for what is coming their way so they can make the decision on their own.
A great way to get them in riding form for the bigger rides and slides is to start small. Before sending them away on Stunt Pilot, Silverwood’s newest “big kid” coaster, try spending some time on the smaller rides so they can get a feel for the sensation of twists, turns, and small drops. To further the experience, let them try a few of the water slides over at Boulder Beach so they can build up their confidence and prepare for the bigger offerings. Easing your kids into the big kid rides is a fun way for them to knock out lots of exciting attractions and work up to something that they otherwise might not be brave enough to try.
A common thing that I tell my children is this: “Can you be scared or uncomfortable for 1 minute?” I usually follow this up by reminding them that they’ve had scary moments when they’ve seen a scary movie, waited in a doctor’s office, or heard a noise outside their window at night. They usually reply that, yes, they can be scared or uncomfortable for one minute. I then tell them that if they can be scared or uncomfortable for one minute that they can try this scary “big kid ride.” I also remind them that if they don’t like it, they will then have the information needed to decide whether or not they ever want to try it again. This puts them in control, and as you probably know, kids like to be in control (or at least think they are).
Of course, there might be a child that absolutely doesn’t want to go on a big kid ride… ever… and that’s okay too. Don’t shame them, make fun of them, call them names, or get offended. They’re kids, and Silverwood is a wonderland for them. My daughter is perfectly content going on the same few kiddie rides over and over and over again. This is her happy place. This makes her smile. We’ve tried to urge her to try the log ride and others, but she has zero interest in it. If that girl wants to go on the kiddie rides, then gosh darn it, we’re going to let her go on her little kiddie rides until the sunsets.
Silverwood is a playground for all ages and for all types of riders. This is why we love it here! There are slow rides. There are fast rides. There are tall rides. There are small rides. There’s something for everyone, so make sure you try these tips to get your children ready to enjoy them all!
What are some tips you’ve tried to get your small children ready for the big rides? Let us know!
Meet The Conductor
My name is Shaun Fisher and I absolutely love going to theme parks with my family. I’m an online Language Arts teacher and a father of 3 beautiful children. I started the website Park Padres so I could share my love of theme parks with others and give tips and advice when traveling with children. For me, a theme park is one of the best ways to have fun as a family!