Dealing with ornithoscelidaphobia (aka, the most irrational fear ever)

My sister and I in Florida, circa 2005. This dinosaur didn’t move, so I was alright.

I have this completely illegitimate fear of dinosaurs.

Yes, you read that right. Dinosaurs. Those things that have been dead for, oh, I don’t know, 65 million years.

I blame my parents.

It all started after my parents took my brothers and sister and I to a dinosaur museum/theme park that featured moving animatronic dinosaurs, scary, dark lighting, and rooms filled with growls and rumbles. I think they thought it would be enjoyable. After all, we loved “The Land Before Time”.

They were wrong.

My five-year-old self was terrified. I was young, but I’d like to think that I understood the dinosaurs wouldn’t  actually hurt me, but the set-up was so realistic that I barely made it out of the lobby. And once I was out of the lobby, I immediately returned (it was the only well-lit room). And I’m pretty sure the first room was only the herbivores. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened had I been confronted by T-Rex.

“Jurassic Park” also could have contributed to this fear. Before watching that movie, dinosaurs were the lovable creatures who were just trying to stay alive and find their moms.

Anyway, fast-forward thirteen years. My mom, sister and I are boarding the dinosaur ride at Disney World. Being 18, a fresh high school graduate months away from leaving the nest and embarking on the new adventure called ‘college’, I thought my dinosaur fears were behind me.

They were not.

I spent the majority of the ride with my head buried in my mom’s shoulder. I’m pretty sure I only saw about 50 percent of it, but I’m 100 percent sure that what I did see cemented my fear of dinosaurs (even if they were neon-colored, flashy ones). It was actually rather embarrassing to exit the ride and check out the photo wall (I didn’t realize a photo was even taken, what with all the flashing lights and roars. And the fact that my main view was of my mom’s back) just to see a picture of you (and your sister, btw) cowering with mom sitting in the middle, laughing.

It was not flattering.

During the same vacation, I had another terrifying, death-flashing-before-my-eyes encounter with dinosaurs, though the terror wasn’t entirely dinosaur-related. It all went down in Universal Studios on the Jurassic Park ride — one of those boat rides where you float around for a bit before being pulled to a top of a huge hill, making a big splash when you reach the bottom. I was getting on as a single rider (in a family of six, waiting in line so you all get on the same train takes three times as long) and was paired with a family of four: mother, father, and two young children (probably around 8 and 11 years old). I was sitting on the outside of the boat with one little kid next to me. His mom sat next to him, then the other kid, and then the father.

Now, the family was probably really nice. The mom attempted to strike up a conversation, but as soon as the ride started I began to panic.

You see, the family was rather large. As in the big-boned kind of large. When the ride attendant put the safety bar down (and it was just a bar) it barely moved. I kept yanking on it, trying to get it to go a bit further down, before looking over and realizing it was already digging in to the father’s stomach.

This would not be good.

There was nothing holding me in to the stupid little boat. The bar left enough space on the end that I could have easily gotten out without any problems. In fact, my sister probably could have sat on my lap and we would have still been comfortable. I kept thinking the attendant would notice and let me catch the next ride, but once we were seated and the bar was “down” he gave the signal and we were off.

The entire time the boat took its little tour through the jungle, rode its way into the science lab that was being attacked by raptors, and was almost was eaten by T-Rex, dinosaurs were the least of my worries. Instead, a movie played over and over again in my head of the next day’s news broadcast with a video of the boat going down and me sliding out the side and falling to my death.

I had quite the imagination.

Anyway, in an effort to protect myself, I slowly slide my way to the center of the boat. By the time we reached the highest point and started to go down, I had pushed the poor little boy so close against his mother that he could barely raise his arms as he fell. Also, an entire person could have fit on the bench next to me, even though the ride was only built to seat five. And I had wrapped my arms completely around the bar, just in case I did slide out.

In the end, nothing dramatic happened. I barely came out of seat, and certainly didn’t come close to flying off the boat. Actually, the complete lack of movement made my actions that much more embarrassing.

When I exited the ride I did find my mom and sister doubled-over in laughter at the photo of me, with my death-grip on the bar and eyes wide with terror, squashing this poor little kid into his mom. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a souvenir picture they considered buying.

We left quickly.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about all this recently because there have been these dinosaur posters popping up all over Ghent advertising the theater show “Walking With Dinosaurs” that will be coming to the Brussels Expo in December. It looks pretty impressive, but I’m not sure if it’s worth spending 35 euros to spend the entire program with my head buried in Joery’s shoulder.


21 thoughts on “Dealing with ornithoscelidaphobia (aka, the most irrational fear ever)

  1. I wish you had put more about dealing with it! I have the same phobia (so it’s not TOO strange) but I was excited someone had figured out how to cope with it! I’m made fun of mercilessly since I can’t even watch some dragon movies because they look too much like dinos :( But I appreciate the story and it’s nice to know there are others out there.

    • This might sound weird but I find giving the dino’s voice overs makes them more fictional and easier to watch even though I’m terrified of them. Like watching Jurassic Park films and just talking for the dino’s helps me deal with the fear of the extinct creatures. As far as the nightmares go I have no answer for that…I can’t believe I have nightmares of these things…smh

    • I think I have it too! I don’t even know why though, I just can’t look at a picture of a ‘dinosaur’ because I get scared

  2. I just felt like I had to tell you that this post is the #1 google result for “Land Before Time animatronic dinosaur”… I found a small one in a thrift shop the other day and my kids loved it, so I was just checking how much such a toy should cost. Funny post, btw :)

  3. Wow I have this same fear. When we were on the ride I was 16. We went to the sign that said do not enter. I was crying and said” But we aren’t supposed to go in there!!” I also have nightmares about it a lot. Where the ride is a slide and I am holding onto the slide trying not to get to the t-rex. And I am 23 now and a mother.

  4. And I also went to a museum like that when I was younger. I can’t even look at photos of or play games of dinosaurs. Toys are ok if they do not roar.

  5. I have this same phobia. Ever since this nightmare I had… They terrify me. I had no idea there was a name for it and I thought I was the only one.

  6. OMG i have the same fear! I recently went to Universal Studios and completely avoided the Jurrasic Park ride but little did i know the bus tour ride thing had that 4D Skull Island tunnel from the scene in King Kong :/ I was basically sitting on my best friends lap screaming and crying! It was crazy embarrassing haha but its nice to know im not alone :) The strange thing is that i was never afraid of dinosaurs as a kid, its just been over the last year or so that i have developed this fear.

  7. I also have the same phobia and it all started when I was little with the land before time movie. And since there is a technical name for it – it can’t be that rare, I wouldn’t think.

  8. It really is incredibly nice to know there are others out there who have the same issues as I do!
    I do agree with Jordan in that I wish there was more information on dealing with the fear, but it is reassuring to know I’m not alone.
    As Karin had said, I once thought I was over my dinosaur related problems, but upon entering a Ripley’s Odditorium that featured a few fossils and hearing a motion activated T-Rex roaring, I found myself running out of the area.

    I’ve always had issues with anxiety and panic attacks, and seeing Jurassic Park at a young age really didn’t cause anything but trouble.

  9. Same here! For a long time I thought I was the only one! My phobia is long gone now, but I was actually terrified by Jurassic Park 2 as a kid, the one where the T-Rex gets transported to San Francisco? Yeah…

  10. This is insane. Literally every bit of this relates to me word for word. It started with Jurassic Park, then the Disney ride, then the log flume ride. I can’t even look at my sisters geco because it looks and feels like a dinosaur, it freaks me out too much. Now with this new movie Jurassic World that just came out, all my friends and family think it’s hilarious and tease me. My coworkers even thought about paying someone to wear a life-like dino raptor costume to scare me. What no one understands is that this is a real fear for me, I get panic attacks and heart palpitations. Of course I understand dinos aren’t real, but the fact that science is doing crazy shit and cloning things with DNA really freaks me out. The fact that Jurassic park is even a possibility gives me palpitations.

  11. I have the exact same phobia and literally had a panic attack when I was confronted with the trailer for Jurassic World. I can deal with herbivores, but raptors are satan’s lapdogs. I’m always afraid they’ll be just around the corner in my basement.

  12. I have a fear of dinosaurs as well! Everyone asks me why they’ve been dead millions of years?! I have no idea why I’m scared of them I can’t even look at pics of them cartoon dinos in not to bad with t-Rex’s are the worst. I don’t understand where it’s come from as when I was little I wasn’t scared of them watched Jurassic park with my dad and went to London with my aunt and had a pic of me and the t-Rex in history museum and I can’t look at that pic anymore terrifies me! I’m glad I’m not the only one with this fear.

  13. My fear of dinosaur is beyond real and everyone laughs and thinks it’s funny to send me pictures, when in reality I get so scared! I had the same experience when I was 18 and went on the Jurassic park ride in Disney. Nothing is more embarrassing than getting off the ride with 8 year olds hyperventilating and hysterically crying from your irrational fear of an animal from 65 million years ago!! But it’s a relief I’m not the only one out here with this chronic fear

  14. I can’t even deal with the ones that don’t move. As long as they’re big, they scare me to death. I can’t even deal with dinosaur bones in museums. Once I happened accidentally upon a wooly mammoth skeleton on display. I stopped in my tracks and started crying uncontrollably. I was 46!

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