Every year my dad and sister take my niece to Disney World. A couple years ago, they started inviting me to come along with them. Last year, my niece was seven.
Let me clarify something: I have never babysat my niece in my life. Seriously. I would get asked to babysit and then I would call up my friends Cassie and Katherine and have them come over and do the actual baby sitting. I’ve never changed a diaper. I’ve never, ever, been the person responsible.
So, last year I convinced my family to take a day break from Walt Disney World to revisit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (again, because I had also made them go the year before). My sister had been feeling sick earlier in the week but figured she was feeling well enough to go with us. My dad warned her that she would have to stay at the park all day because it was thirty minutes from our Disney World hotel. She agreed.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is actually just an “island” at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. If you couldn’t guess, I have zero interest in the other islands. I really enjoy roller coasters so I obviously went on the other roller coasters not in the Harry Potter section of the park, but really, you could have left me there all day. All week even!
My family does not share this passion. Therefore, they tend to get quite bored of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which tends to be very crowded and only has a couple of rides, only one of which my niece (who was seven at the time) could ride.
We had lunch at the Three Broomsticks and afterwards, my sister felt really sick. So much so that she had to go back to the hotel. We had driven to Universal Studios in the rental car and therefore we had to drive her back.
I didn’t want to leave. Obviously.
My dad offered to take my sister back and suggested Gabby just stay in the park with me. He informed me I should take her on rides in other sections of the park.
I agreed, as it sounded way better than an hour long car ride.
Jurassic Park happens to be right next to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter so it was the first “island” we came across. We passed by the Jurassic Park ride, which I had been on before, and saw that there was only a 5 minute wait. Gabby is a huge fan of Splash Mountain and the Jurassic Park ride has a similar water drop at the end.
She excitedly agreed and we walked right onto the ride.
The actual ride is a “boat tour” of Jurassic Park. You go by some tame vegetarian dinosaurs and then accidentally get steered into the raptor section. The electricity is out and the raptors are running loose. You then go into a warehouse and some fake raptors are trying to scare your boat as you go up this hill, which inevitably leads to the drop. As you get near the top, the boat heads straight for a huge tyrannosaurus-rex which tries to bite down on you as the boat plummets down the drop.
The whole time I was holding my niece’s hand and reminding her the dinosaurs were fake and she seemed fine. After the drop, she turns to me excitedly and says, “That was awesome!” I figured it all went well.
It wasn’t until I tried to get her to go on another ride when I realized there was a problem. I would suggest a ride and she would just look at me incredulously and tell me no. I couldn’t figure out why. I basically had to drag her onto another log ride.
By the time my dad showed up, she would only play on the Popeye playground and I couldn’t get her to leave. My dad led us to another section of the park and pointed towards a ride. My niece motioned for him to bend down so that she could whisper in his ear. She asked in a low voice so that I couldn’t hear, “Does it have any dinosaurs on it?”
Okay. I get it now. I scared the shit out her.
She never got over it. We went back to Walt Disney World the next day and anything I would suggest was met with that same incredulous look.
And it got worse.
This year she was afraid of everything. That “yes!” attitude was completely gone. She’s 8 now and can even go on more rides now that she is taller but she was even afraid of going on rides she had already been on, and loved, the previous years. I completely scarred her for life.
I’m just hoping she gets over it and eventually trusts me again. But this is why I should never be left in charge of a child. Ever.