Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned at Disney World, Part 4

Remember when you were a kid, and one of your parents presented you with some strange new dish for dinner? When you scrunched up your face and pushed it away, your mother inevitably said, “Try it, you might like it.” And so, with your nose pinched closed and your eyes shut in denial, you guided one tiny spoonful to your mouth.

Sometimes you liked it, and sometimes you didn’t. You tried, though, so at least you knew for sure.

One of the lessons I learned from Disney World is just that: try new things, at least once. If you don’t like it, then at least you made the effort.

Of course, this outlook hasn’t always had positive results. Despite knowing it would be dark and scary, I tried the short-lived Alien Encounter in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom. I was terrified every second. Turns out that not only do I have a fear of the dark, but I also seem to have an irrational fear of audio-animatronic aliens. I never visited that attraction again, but at least when I walked past it on my way to Space Mountain, I never had to wonder what I was missing.

Countdown to Extinction is another example of instant loathing. The Animal Kingdom ride terrified me. Like Alien Encounter, there were long periods of darkness, though the aliens have been swapped out for dinosaurs. I actually rode it a second time when I first visited the parks with my husband Ed, but I hated it just as much. In the souvenir photo they snap of you during the ride, he’s laughing and smiling. I, on the other hand, have a death grip on the ride car and my eyes are shut.

Trying new things hasn’t always garnered disastrous results, though. When Ed and I visited MGM Studios on our honeymoon (sorry, I may never get used to calling the park Disney’s Hollyood Studios), I coerced him into riding Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Ed, for the record, had never been on a roller coaster until I took him to Disney World and introduced him to the Mountains. Going on an upside-down roller coaster wasn’t even an option then. I may have misled him slightly regarding the number of times you go upside down on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. When we got off the ride, he looked at me and said, “You lied!” I responded, “Yeah, but did you like it?” He grinned back, “It was great!” Now, when we visit, Ed’s as fond of riding the roller coaster as I.

On my most recent visit to Epcot, my mom bravely decided to try Mission: Space. She opted for the toned-down version of the ride, but I was still immensely proud of her. Mom is not a fan of thrill rides, and anyone who’s been on Mission: Space can vouch for how daunting all the warning signs can be. “Are you sure about this?” I asked. I worried that Mom would hate it with as much passion as I hate Extinction, but when the ride ended she had an ear-to-ear grin and a spring in her step that even the hot day couldn’t stop. The next time we visit, I bet it will be one of the first attractions she wants to visit.

Trying new things isn’t always great, but when you like something new, it makes all those failed attempts worth it. Whether it’s a new restaurant, a new place to vacation, a new recipe, even if it’s a new way of approaching an old activity, the results can be well worth the risk.

Beth Dolgner

Beth Dolgner is a freelance writer and editor whose work encompasses everything from motorcycles to ghost stories. She is a devoted Boba Fett fan and a member of the 501st Legion.

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