If you suffer from motion sickness, you might be scared about going on roller coasters or amusement park rides. And with good reason. These action-packed rides can start a bout of motion sickness that can ruin the rest of your day.
I have gotten motion sickness since I was very young. Car rides, boat rides, cruise ships and amusement park rides have all caused some serious hours of motion sickness misery for me and my family. I even get motion sickness watching movies that have too much movement on the screen.
So I have learned many tricks over the decades of how to avoid feeling sick on roller coasters and simulator rides.
I’m sharing my ideas with you so that you can enjoy your day, too!
Is Motion Sickness the Same as Sea Sickness?
Yes, motion sickness is often called by other names, including sea sickness, air sickness and car sickness.
The common symptoms are the feelings of:
- Cold sweats
- Increased saliva
- Gulping for air
- Rapid breathing
- Pale skin
Know What Triggers Your Motion Sickness
While motion sickness is often caused by the same types of movements or sensations, not everyone will respond to each possible trigger in the same way. Which means that some people need to avoid certain types of rides while others do not.
Some common motion sickness triggers at amusement parks are:
- Simulator Rides
- Large screens showing fast movement
- 3D glasses
- Quick drops
- Twists and turns
- Jerky movements
- High speed
- Backwards movement
- Movement in the dark
Research Potential Problems
Getting motion sick on roller coasters and amusement park rides is not uncommon. There are plenty of people who suffer the same response as you do.
Learn from the hard-won wisdom of others that have rode the rides and soon regretted doing it.
We have a list of the Worst Universal Studios Rides for Motion Sickness as well as the Disney World Rides to Avoid for Motion Sickness based on personal experiences. Trust us, you want to avoid these at all costs!
Search in travel forums for comments about motion sickness at specific theme parks.
On Facebook, join fan groups devoted to a specific theme park. There are plenty of Facebook groups out there. Search for previous comments and posts about motion sickness or post a new comment asking what to avoid.
Watch YouTube videos for point-of-view videos of what each attraction looks like. If you get even a little bit sick watching the video from home, then you know you want to avoid that ride!
Look for warnings on an amusement park’s website. Often, in the description of each ride, there will be a warning about the potential for motion sickness.
Look at Warning Signs Outside of Ride Entrance
If you haven’t had time to do any research beforehand, then be sure to look at the signs posted at the entrance of each ride before going on.
Usually if motion sickness could be a problem, there is a warning. But not always.
You can ask the employee at the entrance of the attraction what the ride is like, if motion sickness would be a problem, etc.
When I worked as a Disney cast member in the theme parks, I would constantly be asked what the rides were really like. Guests wanted to know about specifics such as strobing lights, drops, spinning, etc. Since I worked the attraction every day, and I saw thousands of people get off the ride each day and could hear their reactions, I knew the potential problems quite well. The people that work at these rides know the attraction and can give you solid advice.
Don’t Ride on an Empty Stomach
While you might think that an empty stomach could prevent you from getting sick to your stomach, the opposite is actually true. You need some food in your stomach to prevent getting nauseous or queasy.
For example, I rode Mission Space for the first time early one morning at Epcot. I had skipped breakfast, as I usually do. I got so violently ill on Mission Space that I was sick for hours afterwards with a horrible headache, too. Once I started feeling a bit better, I was able to eat something and that really jumpstarted my recovery and I felt better pretty soon afterwards.
Do Not Ride on Full Stomach
Ironically, you do not want a really full stomach, either. If your belly is completely full, you are going to have a hard time not getting queasy as you drop and spin.
You want to achieve that sweet spot of having just enough in your stomach to quelch stomach acids but not so much that food starts coming back up.
If you have spent the day drinking around the world at Epcot, don’t get on Test Track and expect to feel fine afterwards.
Too much alcohol can make you feel horrible anyways. So don’t expect it to help with motion sickness.
Dehydration can make so many things feel worse, from headaches to hunger. And that includes motion sickness, too.
It is easy to get dehydrated quickly when in the hot sun and sweating all day. Plus, if your routine is not normal you may be forgetting to drink enough water.
Be sure to bring an excellent reusable water bottle with you and drink all day long.
Avoid Greasy Foods
Pizza, grilled sausages and onions or loaded fries are probably not the best idea for what to eat before getting on a 3D simulator ride.
Unless, of course, you want to see that food later again in an unappetizing way….
Eat Some Starch
One of the best ways to avoid motion sickness for me, personally, is to eat starchy foods before any potential triggers. For some reason, the starch helps settle my stomach so that it doesn’t get queasy.
Things like saltines, crackers, pretzels and bread are what help me. It’s enough food without being too greasy.
Do the Worst Rides at the End of the Day
If you really want to ride a ride and yet are scared about getting sick, then do it at the end of your day. Don’t start your day with a ride that might give you motion sickness!
Suck on Mints
Some people claim that sucking on mints can help prevent or ease motion sickness. This doesn’t work for me at all, and in fact makes me feel worse. But it could be an option for you.
Sip on Soda
Without a doubt, one of my absolute best ways to ease my own motion sickness is to drink ginger ale. This is my go-to solution when on a plane with unexpected turbulence or when I feel sick to my stomach at home.
If you feel sick after a ride, get a glass of gingerale or another type of soda. For some people, Cocoa Cola or Sprite also works.
Eat Ginger Candy
Ginger Ale soothes my stomach because it has ginger in it. Yet ginger can be consumed in a variety of ways.
Ginger candies are very popular with people trying to prevent motion sickness. They can be eaten either before the ride or after, but please don’t have anything in your mouth on a ride with sudden movements that could make you accidentally choke.
Keep in mind that ginger has a somewhat hot and spicy taste. This won’t be a sweet candy like chocolate.
Ginger tea is another option, too. You can bring the tea with you to sip on all day or add a tea bag to your backpack in case you feel sick after a ride.
Close Your Eyes When You Start Feeling Bad
A lot of the reason why motion sickness starts is because your eyes, ears and surroundings are sending signals to your brain which don’t make sense. Such as
By closing your eyes, you can stop the conflicting messages in your brain about the movement.
Focus on a Fixed Point
With the correlation between visual inputs and your brain trying to make sense of it all, it is important to not let your eyes wander when you are starting to feel sick. It is simply too much stimulation to process at once.
Focus on a fixed point. Perhaps it is a character on the big screen. It could be the person’s head in front of you if they are sitting still, or an exit sign on the ceiling.
Whatever you can focus on during the duration of the ride, keep your eyes fixed on the static point and don’t start looking around.
Choose the Right Seat
Ask for a seat on the front row of a roller coaster or simulator ride. My friend Jen Dixon, an Orlando-based travel blogger who is often in the theme parks, swears by this trick.
“Being able to see the horizon and what’s in front of me makes all of the difference,” Dixon said. “That way I can see when the drops are coming and prepare for them.”
Choosing a seat in the middle of the ride vehicle, rather than the sides, can help as well.
Take Off the 3D Glasses
Again, many of the problems with motion sickness arise because of what you are looking at and how your brain is processing it. Using 3D glasses is an artificial way of looking at the world and it could cause you some discomfort with motion sickness symptoms.
For simulator rides, take off the 3D glasses if you start feeling sick.
Personally, I often do the videos and rides without ever putting the glasses on. I grab a pair just to have them on hand, but sometimes you don’t even really need to wear the glasses to enjoy the ride.
Acupressure Wrist Bands
Gentle pressure on the P6, or Nei-Kuan, acupressure point on your wrist is said to prevent and relieve motion sickness. There are a variety of wristbands available that provide this gentle stimulation on that point.
Sea-Band is among the most popular acupressure wristband. Even though the name suggests relief from sea sickness, it will work with roller coaster motion sickness, too.
I try to use all of the natural and preventative methods that I can. However, without a doubt, using Dramamine has been one of the best ways to prevent motion sickness on roller coasters and theme park rides.
When using Dramamine, the non-drowsy version is best because you don’t want to feel groggy and tired all day long.
This motion sickness prevention medicine is best taken at least 30 minutes prior to a situation where you might be getting sick.
However, I have found that taking it a few hours beforehand works better for me. So, for instance, you might want to take it with breakfast if you will have a few hours between eating and getting on the first ride.
Some people suggest taking it the night before so that it is in your system the next day.
Bonine and Meclizine are also Dramamine alternatives.
Motion Sickness Patches
There are two different types of motion sickness patches: over-the-counter and prescribed.
Scopolamine is a prescribed motion sickness patch that only your doctor can give you. Talk with your medical provider if you suffer from motion sickness.
Without a prescription, you can buy these popular over-the-counter patches which are applied behind your ear or under your navel.
While these can’t get wet (you would want to remove them before getting on water rides or jumping into the pool), they do offer natural prevention using herbs and can last for 1-2 days.
Bring Your Over the Counter Medications
Many theme park gift shops and drugstores near amusement parks are well stocked with over the counter motion sickness medicine.
Chances are you will be able to buy it if needed. However, you will likely pay a much higher price.
The problem is that these stores are often out of stock on the motion sickness meds because so many people buy them. In 2023, as over the counter medications are becoming more scarce to find, you might find that the stores have hardly any supply for their guests.
If you know that you will definitely need medications and you can easily travel with them, go ahead and bring your own.
Once you are sick, you need to focus on getting well again. For me, motion sickness brings on waves of hot flashes and sweating. There is no way I can get over the feeling if I am outside in a hot and humid environment.
Find a place indoors with cool air conditioning to rest. This could be a gift shop or a indoor movie where you can sit in the show and close your eyes. Just make sure it has no motion effects to it!
Even if you are not eating, you can go to some quick service food locations and grab a seat indoors until you feel better. Consider getting a soda (as mentioned above) and rest until you feel better.
This DIY cooling spray is excellent for dealing with heat, too.
Take a Nap
For me, the only way that I really get over that sick feeling is taking a nap.
If you are within walking distance of your hotel, consider going back for a quick power nap to refresh and relax.
That’s why the official Universal hotels are so great, because you can walk from the Universal Studios theme parks to your hotel in under 30 minutes.
Visit First Aid
If you really don’t feel good, visit the First Aid or medical services location at the theme park. They can assist you in trying to figure out what might be wrong and may be able to provide you with other alternatives.