Guests arriving early at the Magic Kingdom usually have an important decision to make: the dash to Splash or the race to Space? And in recent years, the added question of what route is quicker to get to the queue for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Straight through the Castle or a quick detour on the path to the right of the castle? Not to be lost or forgotten is classic favorite Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or the outlier over in Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest? In this article, we break down the pros and cons of each of these marquee attractions and reveal our listing of the ranks of the Disney World Mountain Range!
1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Thunder Mountain is often relegated to junior status by many visiting the Magic Kingdom given its position in the extreme back of the park — there is no way to just stumble across this attraction: you have to seek it out. Hopping aboard this wildest ride in the wilderness is always a great decision. The queue is intricately themed and has a lot for both kids and curious adults to check out while waiting for their train to board. Once on the ride, the train tracks are designed to give you an amazing ride with plenty of twists, turns, and drops. We love the on-ride elements that contribute to the feeling that you are flying through a mine that is falling apart around you. Thunder Mountain is different than most coasters where the recommendation for guests is to seek out a seat in the back of the car as opposed to the front.
2. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
The newest addition to the collection of rides, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train occupies the center space in Fantasyland. Designed as a friendly family coaster, the thrills are tempered down a little bit, but that doesn’t mean that the ride doesn’t have some amazing elements! Similar to Thunder Mountain, the queue is phenomenal with small details and additions that make the time pass much easier (these elements are currently not in use because of the COVID pandemic). What truly makes this attraction a welcome addition to this list is the combination of ride system and views. Guests climb aboard a mine car for this attraction and the car is designed to swing back and forth which provides a completely new sensation for riders. Because of the positioning of the attraction in the center of Fantasyland, guests have views all around the land as they are making turns towards the end of the attraction!
3. Space Mountain
What can only be described as the OG thrill ride, Space Mountain has a corner of Tomorrowland to itself. Guests climb aboard their rocket-shaped ride vehicle before blasting off into a darkened space and hurdle around twists, turns, and drops. While some many find the inability to prepare yourself for the ride in the dark, we love the element of surprise every time we climb aboard. At times, the queue may seem interminable and we do wish that the line moved faster, but on a hot summer day, a darkened, air-conditioned space can be a welcome respite. Gone is the moving walkway at the end of the ride, so the walk back to the Magic Kingdom does take a little bit of time. Regardless of the number of times we have tried, we have not been able to master the perfect on-board photo on this attraction.
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4. Expedition Everest
A short detour over to Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest has some unique offerings not seen elsewhere. To begin, the queue is well-themed like other selection on this list, but it also (in non-COVID times) has a single rider line, so you may be able to get on for a quick ride at a much smaller wait. Once aboard, guests climb up a huge hill and begin traveling through Everest and stumble upon a track that is destroyed — before falling backwards for an exhilarating trip back through the mountain — guests can see across Disney property. The view alone is worth asking to wait a couple extra rides to get one of the front seats. As you careen back through the mountain, guests are plunged into moments of complete darkness before the train starts moving forward again and guests narrowly escape an encounter with the Yeti before making it back to the load station. We love the shocking looks on riders faces as they plummet down the large hill for the on-board picture.
5. Splash Mountain
Time is running out to enjoy the original version of Splash Mountain as Disney has announced the ride will be re-imagined around “Princess and the Frog.” Similar to every other attraction, the queue is very intricate and offers a lot for guests to see and enjoy while waiting. Depending on the time of year, wait times can be over two hours long or a very short five minutes. We love floating around for over eleven minutes and enjoying the views of Frontierland and Cinderella Castle in the background. The attraction offers some great thrills with some darkened spots and some smaller drops before thee final drop into the Briar Patch — there is not a perfect formula since we don’t quite understand fluid dynamics, but you’re guaranteed to at least get a little bit wet — it could be a light spray or a proper deluge. Be prepared!
Considering all that these rides have to offer, here is our definitive ranking of the mountain range!
5 – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
4 – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
3 – Space Mountain
2 – Expedition Everest
1 – Splash Mountain
What do you think of the final rankings? Do you agree with Splash’s supremacy? Do you think Thunder Mountain got robbed of a higher ranking? Let us know what you think!