In thinking about the Best Rides at Disney World, I thought we should make it official and take a stand. It’s been a while since we talked about our favorite rides and I thought we needed an update. This is especially true since we have been to Toy Story Land, but have yet to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, both in Hollywood Studios and Disneyland. I’m anticipating a little movement on the results here once that happens. But, we will see. Also, if you’re a little more adventurous, check out our podcast over Disney World Thrill Rides! So without further ado, here are our favorite rides in each park (with some runners up, of course).
Favorite Ride – Avatar Flight of Passage
This is without a doubt the best ride that we have tried at Walt Disney World. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has always had a few decent options (see below), but they really outdid themselves here. This is technically classified as a thrill ride, so you need to be 44in or taller to ride. That said, it is a screen-based motion simulator attraction. You sit on a ride vehicle that is supposed to simulate sitting on a banshee, but is probably more akin to sitting on a motorcycle. Using 3D glasses, you embark on a flight through Mo’ara while “riding on the back of a banshee” like the Na’vi do in the movie, Avatar. As the lines for this one still remain relatively long, definitely try and get a fastpass for it. As Jennings loves it (he is fairly risk adverse when it comes to trying thrill rides), I’m pretty confident in recommending it as the go-to attraction in Animal Kingdom for most Disney fans!
Runner Up #1 – Expedition Everest
Located in the Asia land of Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain is another thrill ride that more classically fits my definition of “thrill ride.” Once again requiring guests to be 44in or taller to ride, this is a true roller coaster that takes you through Mount Everest. Here you will get to see the legendary Yeti as you make your way through the ride. Spoiler alert – you do go backward at one point. The ride features some decent drops (on one your picture is taken for an in-ride photo) and a really neat stand-by queue, if you can’t get a fastpass or just have the time.
Runner Up #2 – Kilimanjaro Safaris
Located in the Africa Land, we love Kilimanjaro Safaris for many reasons. First, you can be any age and any height to ride. So, it is perfect for families with small children. Second, your travel in a safari vehicle through actual animal habitat, home to “34 species living in 110 acres” of wetlands, forest, and plains. This means that no two rides will ever be the same as you watch the animals do whatever animals do. Finally, the drivers (your tour guides) are usually really entertaining and fun to interact with. Just don’t stand up once the vehicle starts moving! One thing for parents of small children – you will need to leave your stroller at a parking area about halfway through the queue and pick it up after the ride is over.
Favorite Ride – Slinky Dog Dash
Located in one of the newer sections of Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Land, this ride has it all. Slinky Dog is a roller coaster that is more of a milder thrill ride. Guests have to be 38in or taller to ride, so smaller kids can get on. It does not have huge drops or go crazy fast, but it still remains more exciting than all of the other kiddie coasters (think Barnstormer in Magic Kingdom). We rode this for the first time this past July and all four of us loved it. When Jennings can put his mark of approval on a roller coaster that also entertains the rest of us, it is a winner! The ride vehicle is really cool too as you are riding in a giant Slinky Dog!
Runner Up #1 – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Located at the end of Sunset Boulevard, The Tower of Terror is a little controversial for our family. Aidan, Leslie, and I absolutely love it, while Jennings could do without. Guests have to be 40in or taller to ride. This is a thrill ride also due to the big drops. The big drops is really all this ride is (think several straight vertical free falls that make your stomach flip). That said, there is some really cool ambiance going on with creepy scene settings and theming. If you can handle the drops, this one is a must-see.
Favorite Ride – Soarin’ Around the World
This one is a little more tame and isn’t considered a thrill ride. Guests do need to be 40″ or taller, but it is relatively slow and there are only small drops. This is a screen ride in which you sit in a row of chairs that is lifted off the ground and suspended in front of a giant screen. The screen and ride then takes you through different scenes of landscapes from around the world as you feel like you’re hang gliding through them. Scenes include places like the Great Wall of China, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, and the Taj Mahal in India. As you soar, you will feel the breeze and smell the scents associated with the places from around the world. This is a great ride and one that our family thoroughly enjoys.
Runner Up #1 – Test Track
While technically a thrill ride, there are no giant drops (just high speeds). This is Jennings’ favorite ride by far. Guests must be 40″ or taller to ride this one. As this ride is currently sponsored by Chevrolet, you start out by designing a car on a screen and then test out the car on a track (get it? “test track”) in a six person vehicle. You then receive a score at the end based on how your design performed. We like to compete against each other to see whose car performs the best. At the end, you’re dumped into a Chevrolet vehicle show room, displaying their newest models. Sigh – it’s fun to dream the Corvette will be mine someday.
Runner Up #2 – Frozen Ever After
Located in the Norway pavilion, Frozen Ever After does not have an age or height requirement. This is one reason we like it so much. Frozen is a boat ride, in the dark, that takes you through all the scenes of the movie (complete with music). You can see your favorite characters and relive the best songs while getting a break from the heat. This is always a great option anytime there isn’t a huge wait!
Magic Kingdom Park
Favorite Ride – Haunted Mansion
Okay, in all fairness we are split on this one. We’ve got lots of loves in the Magic Kingdom, but this is one that all four of us can agree on time and time again. The Haunted Mansion is a slow, dark ride for any age guest, at any height. It travels through a mansion, that appear to be haunted throughout several creepy scenes. That said, it has never been too scary for either one of our kids. The scariest part for most guests tends to be the pre-show, which you can ask to skip if you like. Here is a quick tip – stand underneath the portrait of the young lady holding a parasol during the pre-show (inside the “stretching room”). This is where the door will open to let you into the queue.
Honorable Mentions – Too Many to List
I know, but seriously! We love so many rides in the Magic Kingdom. Here are some of our many favorites:
- Pirates of the Caribbean for the scenes and slow-moving boat
- Splash Mountain for the length of ride and ultimate drop
- Carousel of Progress for the nostalgia
- TTA People Mover for the break from the heat
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for the easy roller coaster
- Peter Pan’s Flight for the suspended ride vehicles
- And many more….
So there you have it! These are the best rides at Disney World, in our humble opinions of course. What do you think, do you agree? What are your favorites?