If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, you need to know which rides and attractions are not to be missed, and which rides you can probably skip. This guide to Magic Kingdom rides contains short reviews of our top picks, as well as numerical scores for every attraction in Walt Disney World. Of course, everyone’s preferences will vary (small kids can’t ride roller coasters, teens may not like ‘kiddie rides’, etc.), so we’ll also provide a brief description of every attraction to give you an idea of whether particular attractions might be good fits for your family.
Our list of the top Magic Kingdom attractions includes headliners and sleeper-picks that a lot of people overlook, but that are worth checking out. We don’t recommend skipping any attractions based upon the advice of others if you have the time to experience them all, but chances are that your time is limited, and it would take many guests a couple of days just in the Magic Kingdom to do it all, so there are some things most people will have to skip. This should help give you an idea of which Magic Kingdom rides and attractions are must-see for you, and which ones you won’t have time to do. Note that this list only covers Magic Kingdom. We have a separate Epcot Ride Guide, and will have separate guides for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the near future.
Not everything on this list is a headliner or “E-Ticket” attraction that draws huge crowds. We think this is a good thing–popular attractions are popular for a reason, and most people won’t need to be told that they should experience them. It’s the other, less-popular attractions that round out a day in the park, and experiencing the “right” less-popular attractions can make or break your day. Plus, a day in the Magic Kingdom is about variety, and some lesser-known attractions are also exceptional, just not in a ‘knock-your-socks-off’ way. You could spend all day waiting in lines to experience the “Magic Kingdom Mountain Range” multiple times each because they are thrilling, but if all you care about is thrills, you aren’t having a well-rounded experience (and there might be better Orlando theme parks for you that cater more towards thrill seekers, anyway).
This guide assumes that you have a full day to spend in each of the Walt Disney World theme parks. You may have more or less time depending on how many day tickets you purchase and whether you add on the Park Hopper option (read our Walt Disney World Ticket Guide to determine which tickets are best for you).
Numerical scores are on a scale of 1 to 10, and only take into consideration overall quality relative to that specific type of attraction. In other words, dark rides are judged against other dark rides, roller coasters are judged against other coasters, etc., to create a relatively level playing field. If an attraction has a height restriction that precludes kids from riding it, its “score” for them wouldn’t be as high as what we’ve listed. Likewise, attractions geared towards kids but may not appeal to adults. Here, we only consider how well done the attraction is, overall, within its category, when experienced by its target demographic.
Pirates of the Caribbean (10/10) – Pirates of the Caribbean is a boat-ride back in time to the days when pirates ruled the Caribbean. The attractions features Audio Animatronics pirates, including Captain Jack Sparrow, engaging in swashbuckling mayhem. This is shorter than the Disneyland version of the ride, but it’s still great fun for guests of all ages (the darkness and gunfire might scare really young children). It contains great detail, tons of characters, a catchy song, and lines usually aren’t too long due to its high capacity. Do this one whenever.
Space Mountain (9/10) – Space Mountain is a dark roller coaster through outer space. There’s some cool theming here, a blast-off tunnel, and music to enhance the experience. It also has some interesting post-show scenes in space, and games in the queue (so if you do have to wait in line, there’s that.) This roller coaster has a 44″ height requirement and is entirely in the dark–plan accordingly if you have kids. Space Mountain is a FastPass+ attraction, and it’s highly recommended that you utilize FastPass+ for it or that you prioritize Space Mountain early in the morning or late at night.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (8.5/10) - Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the newest attraction at Walt Disney World, and is the crown jewel of New Fantasyland. It opened in Summer 2014, and is proving incredibly popular with guests already. We covered this new attraction in a comprehensive, spoiler-free review, so check that out if you want to know more. In summary, the strengths of this attraction are its Audio-Animatronics and theming, the weaknesses are duration and show lighting. This roller coaster dark ride hybrid has a 38″ height requirement, but is very smooth and should not bother those with mild fears of heights. We highly recommend getting FastPass+ for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train if you can. If not, do it first thing in the morning or get in line just before the park closes.
Haunted Mansion (10/10) – The Haunted Mansion is a slow-moving dark ride that is home to 999 happy haunts that are dying to meet you. No further explanation should be necessary. If you aren’t familiar with the premise of the Haunted Mansion, you’re probably living under a rock. It’s commonly (mistakenly) referred to by guests as “the Haunted House,” probably by the same people who refer to Dr. Victor’s monster as “Frankenstein.” In the Haunted Mansion, the ghosts are the more jovial, singing type, so it shouldn’t startle young children, but it is dark. This is another attraction that you can do whenever.
Splash Mountain (10/10) – Splash Mountain is a log flume ride that features a story from Disney’s Song of the South film, and climaxes with a big drop into the briar patch. Not only does it have that thrill, but it has great Audio Animatronics-driven show scenes that make it an all-around winner and one of the best attractions in all of Walt Disney World. Minimum height is 40″; the drop is the only part of the ‘scare-factor’. We recommend using FastPass+ for this, or hitting it in the morning.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (8.5/10) – A guest favorite, Big Thunder Mountain a rollercoaster themed as a runaway mine train on a ride through the barren landscape of the Old West. Hang onto your hats and glasses, because Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is “the wildest ride in the wilderness!” Big Thunder Mountain is a FastPass+ attraction, although we probably wouldn’t use FastPass+ on it. Do it relatively early or late at night.
Enchanted Tales with Belle (9/10) – An elaborate character encounter (for lack of a better term) in New Fantasyland, the draw of this attraction really depends upon the guests. Everyone will (probably) be impressed by the technology utilized in it, but only small children and their parents are likely to enjoy the actual experience, which is a bit hokey (in fairness, for some kids, this attraction will be the highlight of the trip). This is now typically one of the attractions with the longest wait times in the Magic Kingdom, and using FastPass+ for it is highly recommended. If you can’t get FastPass+, consider doing it first thing (or skipping it), but know that it’ll consume a big chunk of time and waits will be longer elsewhere by the time you finish.
Country Bear Jamboree (9.5/10) – A stage show featuring Audio Animatronics singing bears from the South, Country Bear Jamboree is a love it or hate it attraction. If you surveyed a random sample of Disney guests, a good 90% would probably disagree with our score for Country Bear Jamboree. They’re wrong. It also typically makes the “worst” lists written on Disney forums by people who probably love the convenience of the “dinning plan.” They’re also wrong. Country Bear Jamboree is a nuanced, sharp, and irreverent show that most intelligent guests (and kids) will like. If you’re the politically correct type who can’t look past a few wry jokes by singing bears as they parody stereotypical Southern culture, Country Bear Jamboree isn’t for you. Those who enjoy irreverent and witty humor will like Country Bear Jamboree. Do Country Bear Jamboree whenever.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant (7.5/10) – Now part of New Fantasyland, there are two Dumbo spinners that have considerably eased wait times (moving it from its iconic location behind Cinderella Castle also probably assisted in decreasing wait times). It’s a classic and rite of passage for all kids, but thanks to new lighting and short waits, it’s now a fun night-time attraction for guests of all ages. Don’t use FastPass+ on it.
Peter Pan’s Flight (7.5/10) – This barely makes the “best” list cut. It attracts some of the longest lines in the park, but unless you use a FastPass+ on it or arrive right at park opening, you should skip Peter Pan’s Flight. It’s iconic because it takes guests in “flying” ships above London and Neverland, but it’s so incredibly outdated that unless you have serious nostalgia for it or young children who might buy into actually flying, there’s a good chance it will be a letdown given the waits. We enjoy Peter Pan’s Flight, but feel it’s vastly overrated.
‘it’s a small world’ (8/10) – ‘it’s a small world’ is the iconic attraction featuring the children of the world and that song. Again, unless you live under a rock, you’re familiar with it. Lines are never all that long, it’s good for guests of all ages, and is a relaxing boat ride. Experience this whenever–don’t use FastPass+ on it.
Mickey’s PhilharMagic (10/10) - A 3D montage film mostly from the “Disney Animation Renaissance” cleverly tied together with Donald Duck. Children of the 90s are sure to love this film, but really, anyone should enjoy it. Do it whenever–we recommend it as an escape from afternoon heat. Definitely don’t use FastPass+ on it.
Jungle Cruise (8.5/10) – Jungle Cruise is a boat ride through the rivers of Adventureland that encounters hippos, lions, and piranhas, among other animals and natives, along the way. However, the real highlight here is the non-stop zingers of the skippers who pilot the boats. If you don’t appreciate dry, intentionally corny, or self-aware humor, you may not like Jungle Cruise. We’ve seen a number of guests exit the Jungle Cruise with confused looks on their faces. It is highly skipper-dependent. If you get a poor skipper, this could be a 4/10 ride–our 8.5 rating assumes a good skipper. Do this somewhat early in the day, but not first thing. Don’t waste FastPass+ on it.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (7/10) – Enchanted Tiki Room is a 15-minute musical serenade from Audio Animatronics birds in a theater-in-the-round. You’ve probably heard these catchy songs before; the fun music of this attraction, and its history, makes it an attraction not to be missed. The theater is somewhat dark, but it should be fine for kids.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover (7/10) – This is here because it’s a no-wait, slow-moving diversion that offers nice views of Tomorrowland, pure and simple. It makes for a good rest, and for most people, that’s it. If you’re looking for an attraction that’s more of an engaging experience, go elsewhere. We love it, but we’re not the norm. Note that it does go through Space Mountain, so a portion of it is in the dark, which might scare kids. Do this whenever–it’s best at night when the neon of Tomorrowland is lit.
Hall of Presidents (9/10) – Several stage shows have made this list, and that’s because Disney does them well. This show featuring Audio-Animatronics of all United States Presidents, plus a ‘preamble’ video and speeches is very well done, albeit long. It will be most appreciated by older audiences, and least by kids. But unless you are looking to raise communists/terrorists, you should make them watch it. It’ll make you feel less guilty about pulling them out of school for a Disney trip! Shows begin on the hour and half-hour, and there is never any line–do it when the distinctly unpatriotic members of your group might need a nap.
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (8.5/10) – A screen-based “stage” show during which monsters interact with and tell jokes to guests. It’s not popular with Disney fans, but there are sour grapes there over its location in Tomorrowland. We think the Laugh Floor fires on all cylinders, with great guest interaction and humor that appeals to a wide range of audiences. Kids will laugh at the “standard” jokes told by the monsters, adults will laugh at the interactions between monsters and kids (and adults). The jokes change depending upon the audience, so if you really enjoy it, do it again. Shy guests may not like it due to uneasiness about being picked on. Otherwise, guests should like Monster’s Laugh Floor for its cleverness and interactions. Do this whenever, don’t use FastPass+.
Main Street Electrical Parade (7.5/10) - This nighttime light parade is incredibly dated, but is still a Magic Kingdom classic that is great fun to watch and shouldn’t be missed. If it’s showing twice (per night) during your visit, see the second showing–it’s far less crowded.
Wishes! (9/10) – There is no more fitting of a way to close a day in the Magic Kingdom than with Wishes. Watch it on Main Street with the fireworks exploding behind Cinderella Castle (best spots are recommended in our Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Guide). Make sure to arrive early to watch Celebrate the Magic, a very good show in its own right. The FastPass+ viewing spot is okay, but not nearly as good as our recommended locations.
As of right now, you can use 3 FastPass+ per day, which still leaves several headliners on this list that you’ll have to do via standby. This is why arriving early is so important–the first hour the Magic Kingdom is open, you can efficiently experience attractions without lines. You can probably get as much done in that first hour alone as you could over three hours later in the day! Same goes for the end of the night, as lines start to thin out about an hour before the park closes, especially if the closing time is late.
The middle of the day is when you should schedule your FastPass+ attractions and also experience the less-popular (but still excellent) attractions above. As time allows, fill in other options from “The Rest” below…
Astro Orbitor (6/10) – Spinner ride similar to Dumbo. Elevated location makes this a fun diversion, especially at night if lines are shorter.
Barnstormer (4.5/10) – A roller coaster only for kids who want to prove themselves on a coaster, but are too short for other coasters. Everyone else should avoid this due to long waits, short duration, and lackluster visuals. It has a 35″ height requirement.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (6/10) – Buzz Lightyear enlists your help in an interactive and competitive game-attraction to save the universe in this blast-em-up, ride-through adventure. It’s like a ride-through video game, and is fun. Loses points because its guns are often inaccurate or don’t work. It’s somewhat in the dark, but with a lot of black-light and neon, so it shouldn’t be a problem with most kids. Lines fluctuate greatly for this and can be very long, but generally aren’t too bad at the end of the day. Don’t use FastPass+ on it.
Liberty Square Riverboat (7/10) - Relaxing way to float around Frontierland, but like the Tomorrowland Transit Authority or the Walt Disney World Railroad, it’s justa an ambiance ride.
Mad Tea Party (5/10) – A fun and iconic diversion, although there’s really nothing more to this experience than a similar one at a local fair.
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (4.5) – Ordinary carousel. Okay at night if there’s no wait and you have time to kill.
Stitch’s Great Escape (4/10) – Not as terrible as it’s made out to be, but still pretty bad. Young children are the target audience, but there’s a decent chance they’ll be scared by it.
Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (7/10) – Fun area that can be quickly explored as a nice change of pace from doing rides. Never any waits, do it whenever.
Tom Sawyer Island (7/10) – An entire island play area for kids that harkens back to a bygone area. It’s really well done, and a great place for kids to blow off energy. Adults may enjoy the tranquility of the island, too. Doesn’t feel like a theme park.
Tomorrowland Speedway (4/10) – Kids might like it as it gives them a chance to drive; save for that, it’s really not a good attraction.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (3/10) – Yet another spinner. Do Astro Orbiter or Dumbo instead.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (6.5/10) – The newest Fantasyland dark ride. It’s enjoyable, but don’t let “newest” fool you–it utilizes old technology and feels like it could be 40 years old. This is a popular attraction, but is neither worth a long wait time nor using FastPass+. Do it early or late in the day when lines are short, if at all.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid (7/10) – New Fantasyland’s Little Mermaid dark ride is one of the most popular in the park, but much like Pooh’s dark ride, it’s neither worth the long wait times nor using FastPass+. There are a couple of cool scenes and Audio Animatronics, and the queue is really cool, but it misses our “best” list because of its wait times. If you can ride it with less than a 30 minute standby wait, definitely go for it.
Walt Disney World Railroad (7/10) - A relaxing train ride around the Magic Kingdom, albeit not with a ton to see. Needs some dinosaurs (doesn’t everything?).
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress (7/10) - An Audio-Animatronics stage show with scenes in different eras showcasing technological innovations. This is one of our favorite attractions (a must-do for us) in the Magic Kingdom, so it pains me to put it on “the rest” list, but we enjoy it for nostalgia’s sake. The last scene is woefully outdated and Carousel of Progress probably won’t appeal to average guests–although older guests will likely enjoy the trip down memory lane.
This leaves out random pieces of entertainment, character meet & greets, and a few other seasonal offerings, but it should cover every attraction on a Magic Kingdom park map. If you have the time, try as much as you can, as you’ll likely disagree with us on at least a few of these attractions.
If you’re planning a trip, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
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Which Magic Kingdom attractions are your favorites and which do you skip? Do you agree or disagree with our ratings? If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World yet, which Magic Kingdom attractions are you most excited about? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!