Motion Sickness

Part of the Plan, Plan, Plan, Plan, Plan Series

Two years ago my daughters and I spent an entire day, from park open to park close on an Extra Magic Hours evening, at Hollywood Studios and in the final hours we went on Star Tours five times in a row. I suffered no ill effects. But last December we spent a day at Universal Orlando and I felt dizzy and nauseous after getting off our first ride of the day, Escape from Gringotts.

Star Tours (Photo: Anika Dane) and Escape from Gringotts (Photo: Aurora deBoer)

Both these rides are motion simulators and warn that they may adversely affect anyone prone to motion sickness. A warning I routinely ignored because I’ve always been a thrill seeker and I’d never shown symptoms. So I was not only thrown off balance by the ride, I was thrown off balance by my adverse reaction to the ride.

Unfortunately for me, a lot of rides at Universal are motion simulated: both Gringotts and Hogwarts, Spider-Man, Transformers, The Simpsons, Jimmy Fallon, and King Kong all use this technology. Despite my reaction to Gringotts, I also rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – we’d come to Universal mainly for the Wizarding World attractions – and the short story is I was sick for hours.

Pixie Travel Tip: Locate First Aid

This tip is universal: the first thing I look for on any park or event map is where to go for medical help.

In between my trips to Gringotts and Hogwarts I visited the main Health Station on Canal Street, between the New York and San Francisco sets. I requested ibuprofen for my pounding head, and water – at the time, I was still hoping my motion sickness was a fluke and all I needed was something for my headache and dehydration. They were quite kind and helpful and only required me to sign for it.

I’ve also visited the First Aid Station in Orlando’s Magic Kingdom, at the end of Main Street beside the Crystal Palace restaurant. My daughter scraped her knee, not badly, but enough to dim the magic. They cleaned it up, placed a band-aid over the wound, and gave her a sticker, and she was all smiles the rest of the day.

No one wants to need first aid, but figuring out where to go before you need to allows you to focus on getting there and getting care when you do. The visit will be smoother, quicker and less stressful.

Additional Health Tips

  • It’s super easy to use the Official Disney App to find the nearest health services – simply select “First Aid” (a searchable term!) and “Show on map” and the icon will pop up on the map.
  • There are nurses on site at the Parks, able to administer basic care like ibuprofen and band-aids. But make sure you carry your own medications (e.g. for anxiety or allergies) as needed.
  • Inform your servers of any food allergies. We’ve had them ask up front, too – don’t be embarrassed, your health is important!
  • I’ve learned first hand that you can become sensitive to motion sickness even in middle age! Our bodies change as we grow and something that was maybe a minor annoyance can become suddenly stronger. I’ve always preferred roller coasters to motion simulators and now I know to avoid the latter completely.
  • That said, I can’t imagine never going on Star Tours again! But next time I’ll take precautions – a dose of Dramamine beforehand and I’ll carry ginger to combat nausea.
  • Drink plenty of water. There are fountains and tap water is available for free at all quick service restaurants. You can also ask for ice which is helpful for minor injuries as well as the heat.

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