We all know Walt Disney World as a place for wonder, magic, and happiness. But what about thrills? While it may have more of a reputation for whimsy, Disney is actually the place to be when it comes to exhilarating roller coasters, action-packed water rides, and fast-paced fun! Read on for the eight best thrills to be found at the most magical place on Earth, and add them to your to-do list!
10. Splash Mountain
This watery log ride is a favorite among many Disney visitors—and for good reason! The first several minutes of the ride allow you to relax and take in a pleasant display of musical numbers and animatronics, all while you’re floating down a lazy river with your companions. However, the ride takes a dark turn, and you’ll soon find yourself getting goosebumps in anticipation as you ascend up a particularly steep incline—one that leads straight to a fast, splash-heavy drop!
If you’ve ever been in the Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland, you have almost certainly heard periodical screams; it’s a safe bet that they’re from this ride! Splash Mountain is thrilling without being too scary, and while it may be the kind of ride that gets your clothing soaked, it’s always fun. Give this ride a try at night, too, for a sweeping view of the park just before you plummet!
9. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
If the screams you’ve been hearing as you explore the Magic Kingdom aren’t from Splash Mountain, they could also be from the roller coaster right next door. This ride, known as ‘Thunder Mountain’, takes you on a speedy ride through an arid desert landscape, complete with mining tunnels, swift turns, and bats! As usual, Disney has put incredible detail into everything, from the smallest sandstone to the rickety mining track. Whether you choose to enjoy this roller coaster during the day or at night—or both!—you’re in for an exhilarating time!
There are roller coasters that go fast…and then there are ones that go very fast. Whether you’re a fan of the band Aerosmith or not, this ride (in which you’re accompanying the musical group on their ‘limo drive’) goes from 0 to 57 miles in less than three seconds! Experience a whirlwind of speed, sharp turns, and upside down loop-the-loops—all in the dark, with only the occasional fluorescent ‘city lights’ nearby. You may already know that you enjoy high-speed, gravity-defying rides…but you’ll absolutely love one in the dark! And if you’re a Disney-goer who typically balks at the heights involved with roller coasters, then that same darkness might also make the ride less scary for you and a lot more fun!
7. Kali River Rapids
If you like Splash Mountain’s combination of splashes and thrills, then you’ll become particularly fond of this river-ride in the Animal Kingdom! Head into the India section of the park and immerse yourself in an entirely new environment as you board your circular river raft. Since your vessel is circular, you get to see your friends’ excited faces during the fast-paced river ride through the jungle—and the circular vessel’s maneuvers as the waves spin it around gives everyone an opportunity for a good soaking!
6. Expedition Everest
You may have ridden your fair share of roller coasters—but have you ever ridden one backwards? On Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, you and your fellow travelers will go on an exhilarating ascent into the highest mountain of Nepal! Everything on this ride is beautifully done, from the ‘yeti’ you glimpse in the mountain to the intricate details of the mountaineering supplies you observe while waiting in line. And once you’re atop the mountain? You get an exquisite view of the park! This, of course, is right before you begin hurtling right back down Everest. Backwards, forwards, dark, light, high, low—this roller coaster has it all!
5. Flight of Passage
As one of Disney’s newest rides, this virtual experience will already have you grinning in anticipation as you get in line! Inspired by the gorgeously colorful flying creatures from the movie Avatar’s fictional world (called Pandora), “Flight of the Banshee” allows you to not only put yourself into the Pandora landscape with these ‘banshees’, but also to actually ride one! As you mount one of the banshees and prepare for your ride, you can genuinely feel the animatronic banshee moving underneath you, even mimicking muscle movement and breathing. And when your banshee actually takes off into the air with you astride it, you will be plummeted down into an exhilarating and breathtakingly gorgeous flight through a CGI landscape! Fly through everything from forest canopies to surf-worthy waves, and feel your banshee moving seamlessly with you all the while. This ride is already a favorite among Disney visitors—and for good reason!
If you enjoy a good jump-scare, then this prehistoric ride is the one for you! Travel back in time to the dinosaurs’ domain, and do your best to survive as your group’s expedition faces an asteroid, a racing time-clock, and (of course) dinosaurs—some with sharper teeth, and less friendly intentions, than others! Whether this is your first time on DINOSAUR or your sixtieth, you’ll find yourself unable to avoid some screams and surprised jumps!
3. Tower of Terror
This ride’s name speaks for itself, and should be a positive sign if you’re a fan of feeling genuine fright when you’re at Disney! The journey up to the top of the ride (in an eerily-decorated tower) will already have you on edge; when you’re buckled up in a decrepit old-fashioned elevator, nerves will officially set in. Soon enough, your elevator ride will become one of abrupt, unannounced plummets towards the ground. Even though the elevator catches itself and comes back up after each fall, you’ll still find that every sheer, fast-paced free-fall makes you hold your breath in terror!
2. Flying the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
You don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy this ride, but if you’ve seen even one of the famous movies, you”ll be blown away by the theming. From the ride queue to the deck of the Falcon, where you’re assigned a spot on the bridge of the spaceship, you will totally feel like you’re a part of the Star Wars saga! The ride experience itself is thrilling and requires 2 pilots, 2 gunners and 2 engineers to complete your smuggling operation for the Resistance. The interactive experience is totally responsive and you’ll feel every bump, impact and hyperspace jump.
1. Summit Plummet
We’ve saved the best for last. This 12 story slide can be found at Blizzard Beach, one of Disney’s two water parks and its’ 350 foot long, high speed descent will have you calling for your mommy! Blizzard Beach is themed to look like a ski resort that melted and became a waterpark. Summit Plummet is what’s left of the ski jump and the coolest part is you ride a ski lift to get to the top of the slide! Make sure you get tickets for this fantastic waterpark, whether or not you’re brave enough to plummet from the summit!
If you’ve been to Walt Disney World, you already know that it has a lot to offer. Princess meet-and-greets, magical fireworks, wonderful music, delicious food, incredible scenery—it’s all there. But Disney also has adventures and adrenaline-filled experiences in store for you, too, so the next time you’re there, give one of these exciting rides a try and let yourself be thrilled! There is, after all, always something new to discover at Disney.
Sharon is a college student, animal lover, and, of course, a Disney Fanatic. When she's not writing about Disney or studying, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and relaxing at home with her dogs. Sharon lives in Massachusetts and is currently planning her thesis, "From Damsels to Divas: The Evolution of the Disney Female".