Overcoming Anxiety and Fear – A Disney Story


Growing up, I liked Disney a lot. What kid doesn’t? 

It’s full of fun and magic. It’s an escape from your normal humdrum life to something unique and special. 

I loved everything about Disney – except for one terrifying thing: 

The Haunted Mansion. That ride freaked me out. 

Fear – Hate 

I hated the Haunted Mansion and avoided it like the plague. 

We’d be walking around the Magic Kingdom, having a grand ol’ time, stuffing our faces with chocolate covered rice crispy treats and Mickey shaped ice cream bars. 

But as soon as we finished taking a nap in the Hall of Presidents, we’d walk through Liberty Square, and my knees would buckle. I refused to take a step further. Because there, tucked in a dark corner of the park was the worst ride every conceived – The Haunted Mansion. 

I hated Walt for creating that ride. Why did he feel the need to frighten children at his wonderful theme park? It made no sense. 

And every year, my dad insisted we go inside. 

“Come on, it’s fun,” he said. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.” 

Nothing to be afraid of? Have you actually been on that ride? It’s like literally full of things to be afraid of. That’s the point of the entire ride. 

There’s nothing actually fun about any of it – if they wanted to entertain you – it would have been called the “Fun Mansion” or the “House of Silly Things.” 

But no, it’s haunted and full of ghosts. So, I’m good. Thanks. 

Fear – Loser 

I’d feel like a loser though. Me, my mom, and little brother waited outside. 

My dad and sister were the only souls brave enough to enter. 

This happened every year. Year after year. 

There must have been one point when he suckered me onto that horrible attraction, and then each year after, I wasn’t about to be tricked. 

That ride is freaky from the start. Even the queue line out front is spooky with all the ghastly gravestones and creepy music. 

And then the worst part, is once you get inside, is you have to wait in the room which “sinks” into the floor. The lights go dark, and then BAM! – A creepy Disney cast member screams in someone’s face. 

Just horrible. 

Fear – Guts 

Around my teenage years I finally had the guts to ride it. And it still scared me. But I didn’t want to be a baby about it. 

I hate how you can’t see what’s coming, as half the time you’re turned backwards. And then things are always popping up too fast. 

There’s a cemetery scene where goblins shoot up really fast and it’s frightening. I’d have nightmares about that place. 

But to survive with my sanity intact, I’d look away, stare at the ceiling, or close my eyes. As long as I could get through that part, everything else would be ok. 

And then I’d have a feeling of relief at the end. Like a weight lifted off my shoulders.  

In order to enjoy the rest of the vacation, we first had to survive the torture that is the Haunted Mansion. 

Fear – Pleasure 

As an adult, I had the pleasure of working at the Magic Kingdom. 

One of the training sessions was an in-depth behind the scenes tour – pointing out hidden Mickeys, optical illusions, and Walt’s creative genius. 

And hands down, the best feature of the tour, was riding the Haunted Mansion. 

The guide explained the history of the ride, the Imagineering inspiration, and the story driving it all. 

There’s a ton of character development in the ride, and an entire backstory of the bride in the attic – it’s a wild ride as she jumps to her death and enters the underworld. 

I never knew any of that, how is anyone supposed to know? It just seems like a bunch of spooky crap jumping out at you and scaring young children for no reason. 

Fear – Enough 

But after that tour, I couldn’t get enough of the ride. 

I absolutely insist on riding the Haunted Mansion when I’m at Disney, as it’s one of the only rides worth repeating. 

All the other rides are crap – It’s a Small World – come on, really? And the Teacups – give me a break. If I wanted to throw up on my vacation, I’d go down the road to Universal Studios. 

But the Haunted Mansion is amazing. I’ve probably ridden it over 50 times now, and counting. I like all the different segments, the scenes of the story, and I stick my head outside of the cart, anxious for the next turn. 

And there’s hidden Mickey’s galore. It’s just fun to spot those suckers and point them out to your friends. 

I even got the pleasure of working at a special ticket, after hours “Haunted Mansion Party.” It was absolutely amazing. 

I’m like giddy with excitement, just thinking about it. 

And can’t wait to go back.