The Disney lexicon of rides and attractions are divided into many categories – dark rides, thrill rides, boat rides, water rides. You get the picture. Matters get complicated even further with height requirements, waiting times, and accounting for everyone’s tastes when it comes to rides. At the outset, I will warn readers that this list is highly subjective (I love thrill rides and roller coasters) and may spark a large amount of debate (I was teased by family members for my love of Maelstrom before it was shuttered last month). So, without further adieu, here are the 10 rides that should be on everyone’s Disney bucket list!
10. Kilimanjaro Safaris – I know, I know! I make a big deal of mentioning my love of roller coasters and thrill rides and this is my first selection, but hear me out. Kilimanjaro Safaris offers an amazing opportunity to observe African wildlife. (You can get an even better, more up close and personal view doing Wild Africa Trek – this an extra cost tour that can be booked through Disney). No trip to Animal Kingdom is complete without stopping by Kilimanjaro Safaris. I enjoy the ride because no two trips are the same. Much like Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom, much of the tour is based on your guide. Also, you cannot always guarantee what animals will be active during your tour. The animals tend to be the most active in the morning, so try and make this an early stop in Animal Kingdom!
9. Toy Story Midway Mania – this immersive experience, located in Hollywood Studios, is fun for the entire family. You participate in a variety of classic carnival games trying to beat the other members of your car. Sadly, only bragging rights are on the line in these games, as no score will win you a gigantic teddy bear to lug around the park for the rest of the day. This ride is the most popular in Hollywood Studios, so make sure you head straight there at rope drop or be sure to use one of your FastPasses for it. It is rumored that Disney may be adding another track to Toy Story to ease lines (some say this is a good bet considering the recent closure of Studio Backlot Tour and the recent announcement of Toy Story 4).
8. Soarin’ – finally, I know, a ride that actually takes you more than 5 feet off of the ground. Soarin’ was introduced in 2005 and takes riders on a ride throughout sights in California. You’ll see views above the Golden Gate Bridge, wine country, the Pacific Ocean, and Disneyland at Christmas! I love the smells that Disney incorporates as part of the experience. Gossip suggests that Disney is also considering adding another theatre to accommodate more guests and that they’ve recently shot new video of the sights around Florida to replace the views from California!
7. Space Mountain – this coaster is a rite of passage for thrillseekers. This dark rollercoaster broke the mold when it was introduced in 1975. Space Mountain takes advantage of it being dark and riders being deprived of their sense of sight to make the it feel faster and scarier than it actually is – the top speed on Space Mountain is only 28 MPH and the biggest
6. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith – located in Hollywood Studios, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster features the music of Aerosmith as the coaster takes you on a journey through Los Angeles as you race to make an Aerosmith concert. The coaster does feature inversions and loops, so those suffering from motion sickness may want to take a pass or take some anti-nausea medicine before climbing aboard. It is definitely worth waiting for a front seat. Be sure to check out the photos after the ride – the cameras take their shots as you’re being launched into the ride!
5. Seven Dwarves Mine Train – the crowning attraction to Disney’s New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom is a wonderful addition. While not as intense as other coasters, Seven Dwarves Mine Train is sure to be a family favorite because of the innovative ride technology. The coaster cars rock back and forth while barreling through the mines. Disney Imagineers also introduced new Audio-Animatronic technology for the dwarves. Families should be able enjoy this – the height requirement is only 38 inches. Being new, the ride is fairly popular, so head there first thing or use one of your FastPasses for it.
4. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – this ride takes passengers thirteen stories above Disney’s Hollywood Studios and offers amazing views….before dropping you back towards the ground….only to catch you and send you up…or down…again…and again. The true beauty of the ride is that the computer controls the ride experience and no two experiences are the same. The computer controls how far you drop, how many times you drop, and how long to hold you at the top of the ride. If not using a FastPass, be sure to enjoy the small details in the
3. Test Track – located in Future World East in Epcot, Test Track allows you to put your automotive engineering skills to the test. You construct a car and then get to see how it handles in a variety of simulations. The ride is pretty tame while you’re inside, but the final test is the power and the ride takes you up to 65 MPH before slowing down so you can see your final results. Another popular ride, so be sure to use a FastPass or get there at rope drop!
2. Expedition Everest – this ride offers a lot for thrill seekers in your group. The ride tells the story of the mythical Yeti that protects the mountain from intruders. Shortly after the ride begins, you come to the top of the track with nowhere else to go, except backwards!
Your trip ends with your train narrowly escaping the grips of the elusive Yeti. Some people get motion sickness with the train going backwards, so take that into account, but most in our family love it and always make sure to stop by when we are in Animal Kingdom!
1. Splash Mountain – located in Frontierland in Magic Kingdom, this is classic Disney and has something for everyone to enjoy. The ride starts by boarding a log and being sent into the animated story from Song of the South. You’ll enjoy accompanying Br’er Rabbit on his journey. The ride is quite long – almost 11 minutes!! It offers great views of Cinderella’s Castle. On hot days, it will cool you off as you come down the final 50-foot drop into the Briar Patch! It even features the classic Disney song, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” as you return from your journey.
Bucket lists are different for everyone, but these rides represent to me quintessential Disney (wonderful backstory, theming, thrills, chills, and complete wonderment). Be sure to enjoy some of these on your next trip!