How to Overcome a Fear of Scary Rides. Rides at amusement parks and carnivals are meant to thrill and excite their riders. Understandably, this thrill isn’t for everyone, at least at first. They can, though, be a tremendous amount of fun, and a great way to spend time with friends and family. By learning more about these rides, and what makes you afraid of going on them, you can get yourself in line for one, and survive the first trip to help you go again and again with others.

Thinking About Your Fear

Identify what scares you about the ride

Consider what about the ride actually scares you, and makes you want to not go on. There can be many reasons why you don’t enjoy or want to go on scary rides. It could be the speed, the turns, or the feeling of falling you’ll get while on it, or even a traumatic experience you had on a ride before. By identifying what it is that makes you scared, you can take more concrete steps to overcome that specific fear.

  • Look at pictures of the ride, watch where it goes. See if there are particular things about the ride that scare you, like going upside down on a roller coaster. Imagine yourself going through the ride, and how you would feel when you go through it.
  • Study the rides. Look at what they are trying to do to scare you, as well as the safety features. Understanding how the rides work, and how they can keep you safe, will help you feel more comfortable getting on them.
  • Remember that you are in a safe environment. These rides work because people remember that they are in a safe area, and that nothing bad will actually happen to them. Scary rides are able to create a reaction by overstimulating your senses, like using sudden sounds and weird sensations in a haunted house, but will not put you in real danger.

Set a goal for going on the ride

Maybe you just want to say you did it, or are trying to impress someone. It doesn’t need to be an earth-shattering goal, but something manageable like going on the ride once. Having a goal or reason for getting on the ride can help motivate you to actually give it a shot, and smaller goal will make it easier to follow through and have success.

Talk to other people

Talk to your friends about going on these rides. Make sure they know that you are scared, but that you want to overcome this fear. Good friends will understand, and try to help where they can.

  • When you talk to your friends, ask them why they enjoy going on these rides. It’s not unusual to be a little afraid of scary rides, as the point is to give you a thrill. Ask about how they overcame their fears to enjoy the ride.

Getting Yourself on the Ride

Slowly expose yourself to the rides

Before jumping on line, spend some time exposing yourself to a scary ride. Look at pictures and video of it online so you can see it in action, and what you would do while on it. If you go to a theme park or carnival, walk by the ride and watch it in action. The more you see of it, the more comfortable you will be around it. This is exposure therapy, a common method for overcoming fears.

Get in line for the ride

One way to help push yourself on to the ride is to put yourself in a position where you have to go on one. Maybe tell your friends you’ll definitely ride it, or buy an expensive ticket to the park. Make it very difficult for yourself to back out of going on the ride.

  • Do your best to forget past times where you avoided the ride, or got in line only to back out. Don’t dwell on the past, but instead stay focused on the future, that this time you will go on the ride.

Avoid catastrophizing

This is a common type of negative thinking, where you can only think of a worst-case scenario when you think about going on a scary ride. This could be something like worrying about falling out of a roller coaster each time it goes upside down.

Use relaxation techniques to stay calm

Before you get on line, or get on the ride, use some mindfulness techniques to help relax yourself. These simple exercises are great for reducing your stress and tension, which will make you feel better as you approach the ride.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation. This exercise involves you slowly clenching and relaxing the muscles in your body. Tense for about 5 seconds, then relax for 30, thinking not just about moving your muscles, but how it feels when they are relaxed. It can help to start in one part of your body, maybe down at your feet, and work your way up your body, tensing and relaxing all your muscles in succession.
  • Controlled breathing. Take a normal breath, then a deep breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose, and let the air fill your lungs and abdomen. Exhale slowly–it’s best to do so through your mouth, but it can be through your nose, if that is more comfortable.

Enjoying Your Ride

Try out the seats

Some rides will have seats available for you to sit in before getting on the ride. These are mostly to make sure you will fit properly, but trying them out can be a good way to get more comfortable with what you are doing.

Get on the ride

The best way to face your fear is to push past it and get on board. You’ve come this far. You’ve learned about the ride, relaxed yourself, stood in line, and now you are here. Get in the seat, let the attendant strap you in, and get ready to roll.

Hold on to the bar

Most rides will have some type of “grab bar” or other restraint that’s meant to help hold you into the ride. It might make you feel more secure to grab hold of the restraint. It won’t actually make you any safer, but can be a pleasant reminder that something is there to hold you in.

Keep your eyes open

When the ride takes off, you will be tempted to squeeze your eyes shut until it’s over. Don’t do that. Instead, let your eyes guide you along the track, watching what comes next. Being able to see what follows will help make you feel more in control of what’s coming.

Go a second time

Once you’ve gone on the ride, great. Now get back in line and go again. Going on rides more often helps habituate you to it, and will make you even more comfortable as you go along.


  • Remember, you don’t have to enjoy going on scary rides. Some people’s brain chemistry just doesn’t allow them to enjoy the experience. At the very least, you want to be able to get on the ride with your friends without seizing up in fear.
  • Wanting to go on a ride is an opportunity to get in better shape. Getting in better physical shape can help you reduce stress, and also make it more likely you can fit comfortably in those ride seats.
  • Rides are meant to thrill you and evoke a response. Go ahead and scream as it goes along. You won’t be the only one.
  • If you are still scared when you reach the end of the line get on the ride and think ” Well, there’s no turning back now.”


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