How it feels: Automatonophobia

I tweeted a bit about his already, but here is the full story.

To be honest, I have read the definition about this phobia, and I don’t have a fear of mannequins in stores, they are not lifelike enough for me (those with the white faces at least), although those with human faces do make me uneasy.

Mine is more for animatronics, ranging from monsters, to human like figures. Here’s the story how I got it.

I was 3. My mom was waiting in line at Efteling, the netherlands, a hell-hole full of those moving animatronics (although disguised in a lovely fairytale theme), to throw something away at Holle Bolle gijs, a speaking garbage can. My sister noticed an opportunity, and like “good” parents of those days, my mom didn’t notice my sister sneaking me off. I think it was my youngest sister. She lured me to a chest of gold, which was at my height at the time, not seeing the danger luring over me. She told me to pick something. I took something and I heard a sound above me (and I even feel weird typing this) but the dragon lowered it’s head and I was eye in eye with the monstrosity that would give me nightmares for years to come. Off course I started crying and ran back to my mom, clinged to her leg and never left it. That didn’t safeguard me though. My family took us on the Fata Morgana ride. That’s a darkride on the efteling FULL of animatronics. No way in hell you would get me on any kind of darkride today (although the plop one in plopsaland, de panne, Belgium is kind of cute). I will posts a video of what the darkride is like, so you get a feeling of what 3 year old me has seen.

Fata Morgana ride in Efteling

Pay close attention to the 7 minute mark. How the genie looks down, and as a small child, I had to look up into that face. That ride alone has given me nightmares for years, and I still feel weird and have to shut off the video as soon as possible, when I try to show it to people.

This is the nightmare I would get, to show you the impact of that one Genie.

We travel in a boat along a wide cave. We are in a big black cave and in far end we see a human like figure. A huge human like figure. We travel closer and closer and notice how humongous it actually is. We travel closer and closer. It looks down upon us. (This is usually where I would wake up).

That efteling day had a lot of impact on my dreams (and especially nightmares) for years, as I would dream of Efteling like figures for years afterwards.

Even in my teens, when I visited Fantasialand in Germany, where they had a movie ride (where a king kong grasps for your boat), I don’t remember much of that ride, as I was hiding under my coat for most of the ride. The classmate I was with, and I respect that guy immensely, never made fun of me that day. Not even after we rode in that ride. If I ever meet him again, I will tell him.

One other darkride I remember is the 1001 arabian nights on in Walibi, Flanders, Belgium (it doesn’t exist any more I think). It featured a scene, where a large sea serpent is next to your boat. That was a big nope from me.

During my teens I didn’t know I had automatonophobia, as I didn’t know it existed back then, but my teachers took me to Madame Tussaud’s and I knew it back then, but my teachers, with all their teaching wisdom, dragged me into a horror themed automaton-fest. Madame Tussauds is not that bad, weirdly enough, but when things start to move… that is really not my cup of tea. In the horror display, all the things did something. I begged them almost not to take me in, as there was a disabled, pregnant mom exit thingy that bypassed the horror display, but I had to go. I still have a bitter taste about this one, as one of the teachers that dragged me in, is now posting autism things on her facebook timeline and called me anti-social that year. (yes, I do hate her, is it apparant?)

I don’t remember much of that horror display. Don’t ask me why. I don’t even remember much of madame tussaud’s. I think I blocked out most of it. I know there was a kylie Minogue one, as I stood next to her and she is really small. There was a Beyonce as well, I do remember that, and there was a Van Gogh one as well, that I really liked (Madame Tussaud’s Amsterdam is where we went). Those are the only 3 wax statues I do remember. I always feared one of them would move. My biggest fear, and believe me when I say that I rushed past it, was a 3 meter big moving animatronic at the exit towards the gift shop. I don’t even remember the gift shop, but do remember the feeling of that statue.

I have many more examples of animatronics and how they drove me nuts over the years. The dinosaur ones in the Belgian natural history museum. I went there 2 times, I think, and I hate them. I love dinosaurs, but they don’t have to move. Don’t ever even think of taking me to places where those things can just jumpscare you. I will hate you for the rest of my entire existence if you ever take me to one of these places.

I think my problem is a combination of Automatonophobia and megalophobia. There are videos on youtube that showcase these things and I am fascinated by them, but they scare me. I don’t know how the kids from Jurassic park don’t have trauma after being eye to eye with the T-rex animatronic.

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