LEGOLAND® Florida have set out some helpful hints for parents to prepare children for their first roller coaster ride.
Adrian Jones, LEGOLAND® Florida General Manager says, "Our junior roller coasters offer just the right blend of speed and thrill that make LEGOLAND Florida the perfect spot for kids to ride their very first roller coaster. But because we know the 'pink knuckle' nature of these attractions doesn't mitigate a first timer's fears, we wanted to provide resources to parents as well as our employee 'model citizens' to ensure that first plunge is a positive experience for the entire family."
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LEGOLAND® Florida have called on psychologist and award-winning author Dr. Susan Bartell, who has put together some top tips for parents for before, during and at the end of the visit to make sure that that first encounter with a roller coaster is a positive one.
The full guide is available from the LEGOLAND® Florida website (http://florida.legoland.com/PageFiles/1107/LLFBrochureWeb.pdf) but a summary is set out below:
- Before the visitor Bartell suggests that parents prepare the child by looking at the rides on the website and discussing their own experiences of their first ride, making the experience sound fun and exciting. Anxious children do not like surprises and the more information they have about the attractions the more confident they will feel. It is important not to dismiss the child’s fears, bribe them or compare them to “braver” friends and siblings.
- On arriving at the park, parents should look at the map with their child and point out all the fun attractions, not just the roller coasters, and plan the day ahead. Parents should give their child a choice of what to do and it’s best to go slowly and not insist on going straight for the thrill rides.
- During the day parents should visit the roller coasters even if their child is still reluctant to take the plunge. If some members of the party are riding the coasters then taking the whole group along and pointing out how much fun everyone is having and how happy the other children look as they come off the ride can help to allay fears. Also Bartell says that parents should let their child know that it is normal to feel nervous about going on the coaster and to scream and hold on tight, but that that doesn’t mean that the experience will be too frightening.
- At the end of the visit if the roller coasters have still proved too daunting then it is important for parents to focus on how much fun the day was, and that there will be future opportunities to ride a coaster at the next theme park visit.
In addition to setting out a plan for parents, LEGOLAND® Florida have also retained Bartell to train staff. In particular employees have been trained to distinguish between those children who just need some encouragement and those that are really too scared. Bartell calls the plan the 'Four R's of Roller Coaster Readiness' - Recognizing, Responding, Resolving and Reassuring, and the aim is for staff to be able to support parents in deciding whether their child is ready to ride, and to help them ensure that the experience fun.
Image: © 2010 Chip Litherland Photography