Upon request: I was chatting with Bess on FB, and realized that I didn't tell a story from last Sunday, about a 3 year old facing her fears.
Backstory: the Magic Kingdom has a "little kid" roller coaster called The Barnstormer. It's not big, and there are no upside down loops, no drama, but it's definitely a real roller coaster - the kind where you sit with a lightly padded bar that doesn't feel all that secure pulled down over your lap, no seat belts, let alone real padding. Delaney rode it the first time with her parents and said she liked it. The second time they took her on it, she didn't like it at all, was scared, and cried.
So, on Sunday she said she wanted to ride it again. Mommy and Daddy rode in front of us, and Delaney rode with Grandma. When we got in and pulled the bar down, Grandma wasn't feeling all that secure either - the bar didn't really lock down tightly - and I locked a firm arm around her to compensate. But hey, it's a little kid roller coaster, in the same area as the Dumbo ride, how fast could it go?
Surprisingly fast, actually, and because there were no seat belts, our butts were sliding around the very basic flat old fashioned roller coaster seat. I could see why this would be scary for a very small person, and did my best to make her feel secure. Miss D did not cry. Miss D didn't make a sound, she just held on tight. Grandma compensated (perhaps over-compensated) with a lot of "Whee!" and "OOH!" happy noises, to let her know I wasn't scared at all, while actually wanting to scream, "Why doesn't this fucking thing have seat belts?!!" But I did not scream any profanity, because I really am a responsible grandma. (Her parents turned around to watch Miss D a few times, and reported that she rode the ride with her mouth open in a soundless scream.)
When the ride ended she said, quietly, "I don't want to do that again." Then she hopped off and joined her parents and announced, "I was brave!" Yes, yes, you were, baby.
She has happily told the story of being brave and riding the roller coaster ever since. She's very proud of herself for conquering her fears, and rightly so, and in retrospect, she's decided she enjoyed it.
I suspect Miss D is like me. She's not afraid of rides that go up high in the air or go fast, but just wooshing around fast for no particular reason isn't really that much fun. I am not afraid of roller coasters, but I don't care for the ones that don't have anything interesting to SEE as part of the experience - I want a show, not just a ride. I've done Space Mountain dozens of times, and I liked it, but the famous Incredible Hulk was a "one and done" for me. I've done it, I can say I did it, it was whee-fast-g-force-flipping-over-whee and I feel no need to ever wait in that line again.
My favorite theme park coaster remains (sorry Disney) Revenge of the Mummy at Universal, because it has so much fun stuff going on throughout - things to see and cool special effects, not just turns-drops-whoa-fast-it's-over. I love Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for that reason - it's a slightly corny story ride, not just a roller coaster. For whatever reason, Miss D is deemed tall enough to ride The Barnstormer but not Big Thunder Mountain, when I think the latter is actually less scary than the former, because there's a theme that makes the ride less about the thrills and more a total experience. And though it's been over 20 years since I rode BTM, I don't recall feeling slippy and insecure in the seats.
So my daughter has booked our Fast Passes for our next Disney visit already, and we will ALL be riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Of course, if Miss D decides it's too scary, we'll do the "baby swap" and take turns riding without her, but I'm guessing this is one she'll enjoy, because there's stuff to see. And we already know she's brave, and determined to try things at least once. She's quite a kid.