Is Disney’s Dinosaur Ride Scary? Assessing the Scare Factor

Disney’s Animal Kingdom” by Theme Park Tourist licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you’re planning a trip to Disney World soon, and you have your eyes set on Animal Kingdom, then you might be asking yourself the following question: is Disney’s Dinosaur ride scary?  Well, in this article, we’re going to answer that inquiry by examining this ride’s theming, speed, storyline, drops, and overall intensity for various age groups.

How Scary Is Disney’s Dinosaur Ride?

Everyone has different opinions and criteria for what makes a ride truly scary. On a scale from one to ten, with ten being a terrifying level of scariness, Dinosaur rates somewhere around a solid seven, in my opinion. Here’s a quick summary of the “scary factor” for this ride’s various aspects:

Theming – Scary Level 5: The theming for this ride is absolutely stellar. Every little detail from the outside of the ride, throughout the queue section, and during the ride is fascinating and impressive. But these details themselves aren’t overly scary; it’s how they tie to the story that adds to the scare factor. 

Story – Scary Level 10: The story is what raises the scare factor on this ride. There’s a slow buildup of “danger” as you go through the ride. The tension builds as a result of all the special effects, such as flashing lights, periods of darkness, and a few masterfully executed jump scares.

Ride Speed – Scary Level 6:
The Dinosaur ride isn’t a high-speed ride, but does feel intense. It starts out at a slower pace, but the speed and roughness increase as the danger in the story intensifies. There are a couple of times during the ride when the speed increases unexpectedly.

Drops – Scary Level 7:
There aren’t any large steep drops like you would experience on a big roller coaster. However, there are a few smaller drops, and this ride is a bit rough. The ride simulates a vehicle going over uneven terrain, and it can be very bumpy/jerky. If you are prone to lower back or joint pain, you might feel uncomfortable during and after this ride.

Best Age for the Dinosaur Ride: 
The Dinosaur ride is probably too scary for children under 10 years old. It features darkness, loud noises, a scary story that is narrated throughout the entire ride, and frightening animatronic dinosaurs. Even some kids in the 10 to 12-year-old range might be scared. Everyone’s “scare tolerance” is different though. If your children are, for example, comfortable going through haunted house attractions during the Halloween season, they’ll probably be okay with this ride.

Disney’s Dinosaur Ride Theming and Premise

The theming and storyline on this ride are what make this such a thrilling experience. Here’s a basic summary of the premise behind Dinosaur.

The story begins as soon as you enter the “Dino Institute”, which is what the outside of the ride is built to look like. The Dino Institute is part museum, part dinosaur research facility where scientists are using time travel technology to study the Cretaceous period. Inside the queue area are displays of fossils, a replica dinosaur skeleton, and a fascinating narration (by Bill Nye) about the meteor that is thought to have killed off the dinosaurs.

Soon you’ll be guided to the next room, where you watch a video call from two of the Dino Institutes’ research scientists. This is where the basic premise of the story is explained, with important ride safety information (seat belts, etc.) added in also. Dr. Helen Marsh gives a brief overview of the institute’s work, including reassurances that your trip will be completely safe. 

Then you’ll hear from Dr. Grant Seeker, who reveals that he wants your help with a secret mission to bring an Iguanodon back to our time. Of course, this secret mission is completely unauthorized, but Dr. Seeker assures everyone it will be completely safe. Dr. Marsh comes back on the video screen to voice her disapproval of this “unauthorized field trip”, but Dr. Seeker can be seen in the background changing the destination coordinates.

After the video presentation, you’ll be guided to the ride vehicles. Riders will have to walk down a short flight of stairs to get to the vehicles. Anyone who is using a wheelchair or ECV (electric convenience vehicle) will be led by a Disney cast member to an elevator that will take them to the vehicles. Riders must be able to transfer themselves from the wheelchair or ECV into the ride vehicle.

Known as “Time Rovers,” the vehicles resemble oversized land rovers or jeeps with enough seating for 12 people per vehicle. There are ample seat belts at each seat. Legroom can be a little tight, so be aware of this if you have long legs.

The ride begins at a somewhat slow pace, as the Time Rovers travel back to the Cretaceous period. You arrive just a couple of minutes before a massive meteor is about to hit the Earth. Narration is provided throughout the ride by your vehicle’s “computer”, as well as transmissions from Dr. Seeker.  As your vehicle travels along, you’ll see beautifully detailed scenery and various animatronic dinosaurs of varying size and ferocity. If you watch the “sky”, you’ll notice smaller pieces of meteors falling in the distance.

The ride speeds up and becomes more intense as the search for the Iguanodon continues, and as the time before the meteor strike gets closer and closer. If that wasn’t intense enough, the vehicle is being chased by a ferocious Carnotaurus! Throughout the race against the meteor and from the rampaging Carnotaurus, the ride gets really bumpy. There are sudden hairpin turns, small drops, and really rough “terrain”. Several moments of darkness and a couple of effective jump-scares from the pursuing dinosaur add to the thrill factor. Dr. Seeker’s transmissions grow increasingly frantic at this time, which also ramps up the intensity.

Of course, your time travel adventure ends safely, with the Time Rovers arriving back to the present just seconds before the meteor strike, and according to Dr. Seeker’s narration, the Iguanodon he was after came back with us also. 

Disney’s Dinosaur Ride Speed

Dinosaur really isn’t a high-speed ride, and it’s certainly not a roller coaster, but there are spots where the speed is increased. It starts out at a moderate pace, then the speed increases as the story becomes more “dangerous.”  

It does slow down in a few spots, to give everyone a nice view of some of the dinosaurs seen along the journey. There are also one or two moments in the ride where the speed increases somewhat unexpectedly. 

Disney’s Dinosaur Ride Drops and Intensity

There aren’t any large steep drops on this ride like you would experience on a big roller coaster. There are, however, a few small but sudden drops, along with swooping hairpin turns and lots of bumps. The bumpiness is meant to simulate uneven terrain, and it does a great job of that. 

In fact, most of the time if you hear someone complain about this ride, the complaint will be about how it jostles people around. If you have issues with pain in your lower back or knees, you might be uncomfortable on this ride.

It should be noted that once you board your Time Rover, this is a very loud ride. There is a constant background noise of numerous dinosaurs roaring, thunder and lightning from the meteor shower, and transmissions for Dr. Seeker.

There are several instances of pitch darkness, and some flashing lights. Perhaps the most intense parts of the ride are when a couple of the dinosaurs seem pretty close to the vehicle, and several times when the pursuing Carnotaurus “jumps” out of the jungle to try to attack the Time Rovers. 

Conclusion

So, ultimately, is Disney’s Dinosaur ride scary? Well, despite this not being a roller coaster, my answer would be yes—but that doesn’t mean it’s not also incredibly thrilling experience.  

The Dinosaur attraction is filled with excitement and amazing special effects that are of the high quality one would expect of Disney. Everyone has different opinions and tolerances as to what they find frightening, but this has been described as one of the scariest rides at Walt Disney World. 

The storytelling is excellent, and it is that narrative that makes this ride such an immersive, exciting experience.  If you like a bit of an adrenaline rush and enjoy scares, you’ll absolutely love this ride. If you don’t like jump-scares or loud noises, you might not find this ride to be enjoyable. 

Other than the scary aspects of the ride, it can’t be said enough that this is one of the most turbulent rides at Walt Disney World. It’s probably not going to make anyone feel motion-sick, but it could cause some minor physical discomfort. Other than the rough motion, the legroom on the ride vehicles is a little tight, and there are no head/neck supports. There are net bags in front of each seat on the ride to hold your belongings, and a handrail to hold onto. 

There is a spot during the ride where a photo is taken of each vehicle. You can find your photo displayed in the Dinosaur gift shop on your way out.

This ride will probably frighten children under 10 years old and maybe even kids a little bit older. If your child is afraid of the dark, doesn’t like flashing lights and loud noises, or is startled easily, this might not be the best choice for them. The Carnotaurus that chases the Time Rover throughout the ride is really big and looks ferocious!

If you’re unsure if this ride will be too scary for your children, there are many vloggers on YouTube that have streamed videos of the entire ride. You could watch one of these videos with your kids, and talk about if the ride might be too scary for them. 

The total time for this ride is approximately 4 minutes. Dinosaur has a minimum height requirement of 40 inches (102 cm) to ride this ride. Service animals are not permitted on the ride. Guests who use a wheelchair or ECV (electronic convenience vehicle) must be able to transfer themselves into the ride vehicle.

Walt Disney World also has a warning that all riders should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back, or neck problems. Motion sickness could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride. 

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  • This article was written by Kimberly and edited by Michael.

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