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How I was traumatized at Disney World

The year was 2000.

My family had just moved to Florida, and we decided to take a trip to Disney World together. It seemed innocent enough…right?

We wandered into Tomorrowland. We shot at some targets in the Buzz Lightyear ride. Then, we made a serious mistake.

Across from the Buzz Lightyear exit was the entrance to another ride: Alien Encounter. “Hah!” I thought…”this is for little kids, there is no way I’ll be scared.”

Our group was led into a room where an animatronic robot made his “presentation,” which ultimately segued into panic, necessitating everyone in the group to proceed into a second room filled with a scary looking cylinder in the center…a cylinder connected to robotic arms, pipes, cords, and the like (eventually, a scary winged alien would emerge from the cylinder, but that is beside the point). We were instructed to take a seat.

The automated voice instructed us to sit up straight as the protective arms on our seats lowered down onto our shoulders. I thought I was sitting up straight, but as the arms touched my shoulders, I found myself wanting to sit up a bit straighter. I pushed against them gently.

The arms pushed me back. Not gently.

I slumped down a little bit in my seat in fear. The arms followed me. I continued to slouch even more. The arms kept lowering.

I was now in a state of panic…not from the ride itself, but because I was certain that the arms of terror were going to squish me to death. I want to crawl out from under the chair. I managed to frantically yell out:


My parents were laughing. And they were probably really embarrassed that their 15 year old daughter was making a scene…but not *quite* as big of one as the little boy sitting behind us who was screaming “Oh MOMMA! Oh MOMMA!” during the entire experience. Just saying…

I couldn’t even tell you what happened during the actual ride/experience…because I clearly wasn’t paying attention to the Alien Encounter. I was more concerned with my chair’s evil intentions. That experience now haunts my dreams, but is great fodder for my parents to retell at family gatherings. Fantastic.

Have you ever had an embarrassing experience at a theme park? Please tell me I’m not alone here…


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  • And yet you had no problem going on the Stitch ride. Nightmares of Alien followed me there and I now refuse that ride. I usually take a jaunt on the people mover while my party risks their life at Stitch.

  • Ok…I just scheduled a post to go up over at my site for tomorrow (12/7) at 9:50am to answer your question…can’t wait for you to read it.

    PS – I remember when they opened that ‘ride’ and I totally didn’t get why it was scary…apparently I didn’t have the same seat as you 🙂

  • This isn’t embarrassing, but it was traumatizing. It’s crazy that I even remember this, but when I was 2 or something, my parents and I got stuck on the Small World ride — you know, the one where you get in the boats and ride through a dark tunnel past dolls from all over the world while that infernal song plays on repeat? So we were stuck there. In the dark. For two freaking hours. And they never turned off the music …

  • Hah! Glad you didn’t get crushed!! My only trauma was with the space mountain ride. When I was 15 and visited D.W. in 1997, I was the tallest kid on the ride and I also had long hair. In space mountain I could see the framework of the ride when the lights flashed around it, and I was quite sure said framework was coming VERY CLOSE to my head. I was afraid I’d be decapitated, or at least my long hair would get caught on it and wrap around it. So while other kids shrieked with delight and threw their arms in the air, I sat solemnly in fear, waiting for my scalp to be ripped off. (As if no one taller or with long hair had ever been on one of the most famous rides Disney has, hah!)

  • Oh my word!!! I never tried Alien Encounter because I knew I’d probably die, but I tried Stitch’s Great Escape this past summer and the same thing happened! I seriously thought my shoulders were going to snap. Maybe they still have the same chairs. . . .

  • I haven’t been on Alien Encounter or the Stitch ride, since they don’t have those as Disneyland, but I have been in the Haunted Mansion. Now one of my favorite attractions, the first time I went on it, that damn room with no windows or doors scared the cwrap out of me! I screamed bloody murder and cried. I’m easily frightened 😉

  • Oh my gosh, I just read this post and realized I did the same thing on the same ride!!! I hated that thing and I’m so glad they changed it! I think I was about 11 at the time and I freaked out, I think I might have cried during/after.

  • Hahahaahaha!! Oh this had me laughing. Just picturing all of it…and picturing myself reacting the same way. I can’t even go on a damn roller coaster so this Alien Encounter thing? Hell no.

  • I LOVED Alien Encounter. Yes I was only like 5 and yes I screamed and cried the whole time and afterwards but OH MY GOD! It was AMAZING! That ride and the 20,000 leagues ride I wish they would bring back.

    I didn’t get crushed by the chair during Alien but I did when I decided to try Stitch for the first time. It didn’t stop coming down so I used my arms to help keep it from squishing me further. Then at the part where stitch “jumps” on you it pressed so hard in to my shoulders I thought my bones would break. I will never ride it again. I actually bought a chair at auction from the Alien ride. It’s a nice conversation piece haha.

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