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20 Best Rides at Disney World

Feb 15, 2017
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When I’m asked to give ideas for a Disney trip, the rides are some of the best conversation topics and turn into the best memories in the de-brief after.

All of my trips to Walt Disney World are so unique and exciting that it makes me really struggle with the question “where do I start?”. Is it a simple list with photos, or should I really delve into the individual attractions that can make or break your entire vacation? The answer is “yes”;)

Best of the Parks


Haunted Mansion (Best in the Magic Kingdom)

Disney story-telling at its very best, the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom brings you into the depths of a mansion which happens to be home to 999 happy haunts.

Tip – Riding at nighttime vs daytime is a completely different experience. Watch a ride through video here.

Spooky bluish glow of the exterior of the Haunted Mansion at night

Spooky bluish glow of the exterior of the Haunted Mansion at night – Copyright Disney


Soarin Over the World (Best in EPCOT)

With the newest edition of this import from the Disney Decade, Soarin Over the World is not to be missed. First off, the attractions in EPCOT are few and far between, but when you look at the quality of the footage and the story combined – Just do it!

Tip – Don’t wait in the standby line for this attraction. Always Always Always get a FastPass+!

An outdoor Soarin' sign with the phrase, "Now taking flight from The Land…"

An outdoor Soarin’ sign with the phrase, “Now taking flight from The Land…” – Copyright Disney


Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

“What goes up MUST come down”! The attention to detail in the Hollywood Tower Hotel is by far and away more than just a simple theme park ride…it’s an attraction that stands the test of time. Guests continue to find new details and fall more and more in love (get it, because it’s an elevator) every time that they experience the Twilight Zone!

Tip – Do something funny for the on ride photo, because it’s one that will be plastered all over your facebook for years to come!

A sign for the service elevator at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

A sign for the service elevator at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – Copyright Disney


Expedition Everest (Best in Disney’s Animal Kingdom)

I was skeptical when this was announced for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but wow has the Yeti been welcomed into the family of Disney villains! We all know the mechanical wonders that went into the attraction (ride vehicle that goes backward, three separate structures built together, etc)  however the fact that an attraction has been this popular for this long is so incredible.

Tip – Don’t worry about going in the front row because the LAST ROW is actually the best, if you like a more thrilling ride!

Mt. Everest looms over a Tibetan-style stone structure and entrance to attraction

Mt. Everest looms over a Tibetan-style stone structure and entrance to attraction – Copyright Disney


Best of the Dark Rides

Peter Pan’s Flight

“You can Fly You can Fly” and although it’s a simple concept of a flying boat taking you on a scene by scene retelling of the original Disney masterpiece, Peter Pan’s Flight still has lines that range in the 1-2 hours constantly.

Tip – If you do it first thing in the morning, you’re good to go as a walk-on because everyone’s in line for Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train!

Night view of Peter Pan's Flight with statues of Peter Pan, Wendy and her brothers above its sign

Night view of Peter Pan’s Flight with statues of Peter Pan, Wendy and her brothers above its sign – Copyright Disney


Pirates of the Caribbean

An attraction based off of a story, which in tune set the PotC franchise into the stratosphere and is still going! We love going back time and time again, especially at night when you may (just may) get your own boat;)

Tip – The Imagineers love “plus-ing” this attraction! Keep an eye out for the latest additions all over the place!

Skeletons play chess at Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom park

Skeletons play chess at Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom park – Copyright Disney


Spaceship Earth

When trying to describe Spaceship Earth to guests, it’s important to point out that this is the signature attraction for the original EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). Does it mean that it’s boring? Absolutely not! You’ve got to go into it knowing that it’s an educational experience and to look for the hidden details:

The Paper Boy, The Steve Jobs cameo, and the Best Smell in EPCOT (Burning Rome) is something that you should definitely thank the Phoenicians for!

Tip – If you don’t want to use a FP+ reservation, ride during Extra Magic Hours!

A walkway flanked by 2 wall signs leading up to Spaceship Earth at Epcot

A walkway flanked by 2 wall signs leading up to Spaceship Earth at Epcot – Copyright Disney


Rest of the Best

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

Trust is important within the Star Wars universe, and there’s no one better to put your life in the hands of than C-3P0! The ride simulator has gotten smoother, the destinations are memorable and the characters of the Star Wars universe are EVERYWHERE!

Tip – If you get disorientated, just close your eyes. It’ll help:) To avoid motion sickness I also recommend sitting in the center asile in the middle. It has the least motion whereas, the front and back row has the most.

C-3PO against a city backdrop on Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

C-3PO against a city backdrop on Star Tours: The Adventures Continue – Copyright Disney


Toy Story Mania

I was at the opening for Toy Story Mania when it was still called Toy Story MIDWAY Mania, and it’s still one of my favourite games in Disney World. The replay-ability of this attraction, mixed with the overall joy that kids get when they beat their parents is absolutely hilarious!

Tip – Don’t worry about accuracy, as it doesn’t count towards your score!

Attraction cars at the start of Toy Story Mania! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Attraction cars at the start of Toy Story Mania! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Copyright Disney


Kali River Rapids

Remember all those posts about bringing a poncho to Walt Disney World that we have on our site…yea, bring a poncho on Kali River Rapids! It’s a great water ride when you’re looking to get soaked in the summer and an even better attraction when you want to get off your feet for a while after treking around the Animal Kingdom!

Tip – The waterproof pouch in the middle of the vehicle isn’t big enough for everyone’s bag, so bring a ziplock bag for your valuables (wallet, phone, etc)

Guests of various ages hold on tight while riding Kali River Rapids at Disney's Animal Kingdom park

Kali River Rapids – Copyright Disney


Kilimanjaro Safari

I love this attraction for so many reasons, but the main point is that it sits on 100 acres…which is actually bigger than Disneyland! Grab your camera with a nice LONG lens and get ready to photograph a bunch of sleeping lions, roaming giraffes and flamingos that just stand around all day;)

Tip – If you’re a photographer, don’t sit in the middle. In fact, the best seat is actually on the far inside when you first board the vehicle.

An open-air safari bus drives in a shallow river in the African outback

An open-air safari bus drives in a shallow river in the African outback – Copyright Disney


Space Mountain

If you’re tall, be prepared to be a little worse-for-wear when you get off of Space Mountain. It’s not designed for the tall or the larger amongst us…but it’s still a classic Disney rollercoaster that you should ride over and over! Both sides are the same ride, so grab a FastPass+ reservation and enjoy!

Tip – The on-ride photo is right at the beginning of the track, so be prepared!

A rocket-shaped train at the loading dock at Space Mountain

A rocket-shaped train at the loading dock at Space Mountain – Copyright Disney


The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Life is definitely better in the Big Blue World, and although the attraction was a Pixar overlay of the original Living Seas ride, it’s better than the alternative of an EPCOT without the Seas pavilion! Pay attention to all the details, including a special appearance by a Kuka Arm (same technology as the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Studios Orlando), which helps bring the Angler Fish to life!

Tip – When you get off the attraction, don’t be in a rush to leave the building. Stop and see the dolphins, turtles, sharks and manatees!

An underwater scene from Disney•Pixar’s 'Finding Nemo' with rusting human items and Bruce the shark

An underwater scene from Disney•Pixar’s ‘Finding Nemo’ with rusting human items and Bruce the shark – Copyright Disney*Pixar


Frozen Ever After

Is it better than Maelstrom? Does it belong in the World Showcase? Does Frozen take place in Norway? All of these questions are forgotten when you ride this charming water ride and see the technological advances that the Imagineers have been playing with in the years since the World Showcase was completed.

Tip – Be prepared for heavy crowds, as outside of the Frozen Sing-a-long at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this is the only place on the property to see the characters of the film! If this a must do for your family read, Useful Tips on how to Ride Frozen Ever After.

Frozen Ever After – Copyright How To MCO


Splash Mountain

60 foot drop down the side of a mountain into the Briar patch…getting soaked and then wanting to do it over and over again. Not only is Splash Mountain a great thrill ride, but it’s also one of Disney’s best dark ride concepts! We love going on Splash during Extra Magic Hours or first thing in the morning because the crowds are a lot more manageable.

Tip – Bring a towel in your bag if you know that you’re going to be riding Splash because you’ll need it!

Animals aboard the Zip-A-Dee Lady paddle wheel boats at Splash Mountain

Animals aboard the Zip-A-Dee Lady paddle wheel boats at Splash Mountain – Copyright Disney


Jungle Cruise

We love the Jungle Cruise, so much so that we have an article detailing our favourite jokes and puns that the skippers tell as part of the two-week adventure through the most adventurous rivers in the world. Do you want to see the Backside of Water? Do you want to take photos of elephants that have their trunks on? Yup, we do too!

Tip – every ride is different depending on the skipper involved.

Jungle Cruise Marquee – Copyright How To MCO


Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster

0-60mph in 2.8 seconds…and then they snap a photo of you! That sounds like fun right? I love this attraction, but when you’re not a fan of coasters…it may not be as enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to ask to use the ‘Chicken Exit’ if you still want to go through the queue line and see all the awesome details!

Tip – Do the rock-on hand symbol because it’s awesome! Don’t do the shocker pose on the on-ride photo because they will either blur the image or flat out delete it.

The back of a stretch limo coaster car at the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

The back of a stretch limo coaster car at the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith – Copyright Disney


Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

This here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness! When you ride a run-a-way train through treacherous badlands, anything can happen. Just hang on and you’ll be fun!

Tip – This ride breaks down a lot, so don’t be upset if you walk up with your FastPass+ reservation and they have closed the line. Just take it in stride and remember that you’re still at Disney World!

A mining train speeds past a dinosaur's skull embedded in a mountainside

A mining train speeds past a dinosaur’s skull embedded in a mountainside on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Copyright Disney


Great Movie Ride

Let’s go to the movies! Yea it needs a little enhancing and a little love from the Imagineers, but overall the signature attraction of Disney’s Hollywood Studios is still a must-see on anyone’s list.

Tip – Try to sit in the front car, as you’ll get the best view of the amazing acting skills that the cast members bring to each and every pass!

Loading platform for The Great Movie Ride attraction with a marquee and neon lights

 


Dinosaur

The history of Dinosaurs is well documented but this attraction still brings in huge crowds daily. From the name change to the numerous audio animatronics and one of the best pre-shows in all of the Disney Parks worldwide, the details are endless. This attraction that brings us in a Time Rover to collect a hitchhiker from the past, and will make you forget that you’re in a building that was once sponsored by McDonald’s 😉

Tip – Watch the pre-show on youtube before going on this ride and you’ll be so much happier in life:)

Profile of a Triceratops as a time rover filled with Guests drives by at the Dinosaur attraction

Profile of a Triceratops as a time rover filled with Guests drives by at the Dinosaur attraction – Copyright Disney

 


Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train

Oh if you didn’t think that the thought didn’t pass through my mind to put this as the best in the Magic Kingdom, you’re nuts! Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train is by far and away one of the top attractions that you must experience over and over (and over and over). It brings together great storytelling, fun thrills for families and is still exciting for adults!

Tip – Making a FastPass+ Reservation for each day that you’re in the Magic Kingdom isn’t a bad idea at all!

Guests riding a roller coaster over a hill, with Cinderella Castle in the background.

Guests riding a roller coaster over a hill, with Cinderella Castle in the background. – Copyright Disney


So what do you think of our list? It’s obvious that we missed a ton of amazing attractions, but we had to keep it to 20! If we wanted to do the Top 50, then we’d have things like Test Track, Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid and Turtle Talk with Crush! So many options:)

Need ideas for your upcomingDisney trip?! These rides are ones that you WONT want to miss!!

Need ideas for your upcomingDisney trip?! These rides are ones that you WONT want to miss!!

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