Best Magic Kingdom Attractions & Ride Guide

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.

Top Magic Kingdom Attractions

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.

One of Walt Disney World's most UNDER-RATED attractions! Read the rest of the under-rated list:

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 carts full of treasure (and a dwarf!) in the Main Street Electrical Parade in Walt Disney World. For more MSEP photos, visit:

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…

The Rest

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.

Winnie the Queue!!!

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 ~ Voyage of the Little Mermaid is one of the MyMagic+ ready attractions at Walt Disney World. For answers to frequently asked questions about MyMagic+, read this:

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?).

Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World.

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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Your Thoughts…

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!

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88 Responses to “Best Magic Kingdom Attractions & Ride Guide”

  1. Shauna says:

    “Dinning plan” YOU SLAY ME.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      If you see anyone spell it that way, you can safely assume they don’t like Country Bear Jamboree. Also assume that they’re fans of Captain EO and Downtown Disney. ;)

      • Francisco says:

        Im a Disneyland annual pass holder, and had an opportunity to visit WDW a year ago. The Bear jamboree was definitely one of our favorite attractions and we’re quite puzzled why if Disneyland has a critter country and a hungry bear restaurant… Where’s our bears? I was quite pleased to finally have a better perspective on the two ‘kingdoms’ and although bigger in size WDW is definitely not ‘better’ than Disneyland as many claim. Next goal Paris ;)

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Francisco – Disneyland used to have a Country Bear Jamboree (2 theaters!) in Critter Country (it actually used to be “Bear Country”. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh replaced it. There are still nods to the Country Bears throughout the land.

  2. Poproc says:

    Love the list.
    I really like the carousel of progress, maybe it’s the history, maybe it’s the short lines. Either way, I hope they keep it going for a long time.

    • DF says:

      Yes, the Carousel of Progress is corny, but I love it. I prefer the older theme song (“Now is the Best Time of Our Lives”) to the current song (“There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”).

      • Tom Bricker says:

        I think both songs are great. I find it interesting that the song changed as society’s view of the future changed for the better.

  3. Mary says:

    I agree with you that Peter Pan is overrated. I tend to skip it unless forced to go on it by another member of my vacation party. It is such a short ride as well. I would give Hall of Presidents a lower rating. I prefer the American Adventure in Epcot over Hall of Presidents any day. While the Hall of Presidents is nice, it is hard not to fall asleep during.

    • Mary says:

      I just saw that you said it is good for when the unpatriotic need a nap. Don’t get me wrong-it is a great show about the US however the American Adventure with songs and different sets is more my kind of thing.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        I’m just kidding about those who fall asleep during Hall of Presidents. It can be tough not to, especially after a busy morning. I also prefer American Adventure, although I love both.

    • Troy says:

      Weirdly, I have never fallen asleep during the Hall of Presidents but have every time during the American Adventure. And so does the friend I travel with. We both love the show so my only guess is that all the walking without shade in the World Showcase makes us more tired than we think. I don’t know.

  4. I love all of these rides, and plan to visit each and every one of them when I come down to Disney by myselfnext time.

  5. Erica says:

    Great synopsis. I agree with most of your ratings. We love Barnstormer, for the exact reason you said–it got our 5-year-old to try roller coasters (she quickly graduated to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which she rode 7 or 8 times!). I completely agree with you on Stitch’s Great Escape. Fortunately we knew to avoid that one with our daughter. As a side note, if you do a list forAnimal Kingdom attractions, the same warning should go on the Bug’s Life show. It’s too intense for the younger crowd, which we found out the hard way.

    Enchanted Tales with Belle is great for anyone with younger kids, particularly “princesses in training.” The last time we were on Carousel of Progress, it got stuck (wouldn’t rotate) and we ended up seeing part of it twice. I think that ride has run its course, and I would love to see something new in its place, though my husband would likely side with the nostalgics of it.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yeah, Barnstormer definitely has its place for kids like yours. I’m just suggesting that anyone *not* in that situation should definitely avoid it. If your kids can do the ‘advanced’ coasters, there’s no point in dealing with the often long lines of Barnstormer.

      Carousel of Progress has been getting ‘stuck’ too much recently. Something definitely needs to be done with it. As much as it pains me to say, if they aren’t going to maintain it, maybe it’s time for a replacement. Although, if Tomorrowland (movie with George Clooney) does well, maybe its scene with Carousel of Progress will give the attraction a spike. That would be awesome!

  6. Kevin says:

    “Astro Orbitor (6/10) – Spinner ride similar to Dumbo.”

    Except higher in the air, tilted at a 45° angle, and much faster! This was mildly terrifying to have my 2.5-year-old on (for me, not her). :)

    • Bernadette says:

      Same here, Kevin – we rode it for the first time last September, and I had a vice grip on my daughter (despite the logical part of my brain knowing that it was perfectly safe!).

      • Tabitat says:

        Completely agree. I have slight trouble with motion sickness, so I know Mission Space Orange Team is a never again. However, on our recent trip Astro Orbitor almost did me in and we ride this every time. Maybe it’s how my son was leaning on me, but thought I was going to pass out!

  7. Daffystardust says:

    Great article!
    As a huge fan of the Haunted Mansion, I would warn that there are often little kids that cry and need the “chicken exit” because of the black out, scream, and hanging corpse in the stretch room. While adults will absolutely understand the humor woven into even the early portions of the ride, the ghosts don’t go full-on party until the cemetery scene. The first half of the ride leaves some doubt about their intentions.
    Many kids are completely ready for the Mansion pretty young, but others are definitely not.
    This is a very individualized situation.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I never thought of that (and somehow, have never experienced any crying kids in that room), but it’s an excellent point. I’ll revise accordingly.

      • Bernadette says:

        Ditto – my seven year old will ride any roller coaster, yet the HM stretching room scared the life out of her.

      • Emily says:

        When I was a kid, I remember having a death grip on my dad’s arm, eyes glued shut during the Stretch Room portion of Haunted Mansion. I never took the chicken exit, but I never much opened my eyes during that ride either.

    • Dave says:

      Absolutely. My 7-year-old was spooked by the stretch room and blackout and needed the chicken exit. My 9-year-old stayed on the ride–but just barely–and but didn’t enjoy it much. The ride is more intimidating than I remember (from 30-plus years ago). When I was around their age, I loved it.

  8. Aaron in DC says:

    I couldn’t agree more – skipping or falling asleep during the Hall of Presidents show is DISTINCTLY unpatriotic!! The American Presidents are a fascinating bunch, especially considering the humble roots so many of them sprang from. And a little star-spangled patriotism never hurt anybody!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      It’s like Calvin’s dad always said: making your kids watch the Hall of Presidents builds (their) character.

  9. Alex M says:

    I absolutely love the electrical parade, but it could be a nostalgia thing. We also think philharmagic is awesome!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I think nostalgia is a big part of the appeal for MSEP. I wonder how first-time guests feel about it (especially the music). I think the concept is a cool thing, regardless.

      • Betsy says:

        I took a first timer to see the MSEP and she was thoroughly annoyed by the music to the point where she vehemently disliked the entire parade. Spectro = 10/10! I would love for them to get a new nighttime parade in there, but with the daytime parade updates coming first, we may be waiting awhile.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Yeah, it’s not happening anytime soon. I think Dreamlights in Tokyo is a good template for how you modernize a night parade while still maintaining its charm and nostalgic appeal. That parade still features a bit of the Baroque Hoedown, but it’s not as dominant, and the actual parade tech is pretty awesome.

      • Marisa says:

        A few weeks ago I made my second trip to WDW, along with my brother, for whom this trip was a first time. On my first trip in 2006 I didn’t see MSEP, so this time around marked the first time for the parade for both of us. We both thoroughly enjoyed MSEP–the lights, floats, and music. On our second evening at MK we caught the parade three separate times, by which point we became frustrated with it, not so much because of the parade itself (although the music does get old after a while) but because it inhibits travelling the park in so many ways. As much as I enjoyed the parade numerous times, I would have liked to have seen Spectromagic in its place once or twice.

      • Marty says:

        I love the music to the Electrical Parade! In fact, during the recent 24-hour event at MK,I not only got up at 1am to watch the parade (again) on the live feed, but had the music playing from another window using a YouTube video! Can’t wait to see it again during my next visit.

  10. Ellen says:

    I love Jungle Cruise at dusk. The low light makes the cheesiness of it a little less apparent, and makes it overall a more fun experience to me.

  11. rosalie says:

    I agree with everything except echanted tales, if grading it “for what it is”, (a character meet experience for kids), it is definitely a 10. Every other chacter meet gives you 1-2 minutes of interaction time and its over. This one gives you lots of interaction time (however, it is structured through the story telling helping the kids interact, which isn’t bad if your child normally freezes up in the presence of royalty), and you really feel as though you’ve walked into beast’s enchanted castle! And the mirror thing? Awesome :)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I think that’s a fair point, and I toiled over whether to bump its score up a bit. My reservation is the difficulty of doing it without FastPass+ and that I think the main show might be a little bit uninspired, even from the perspective of kids (I could be wrong on that). I’ll give it some more thought and possibly revise.

      If others agree with you, I hope they share!

  12. SkipperKelly says:

    Tom–tell us how you really feel about the Country Bear Jamboree. :)

    When I was young, my parents would always make my brother and I sit through the Hall of Presidents. Now I can’t wait to make my son sit through it while appreciating it so much more as an adult.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      My actual opinion would involve too much cursing at those who don’t like it. This *is* the restrained opinion! ;)

      • Whitney says:

        While not a huge fan of the CBJ myself, my all-time favorite sentence ever uttered in the history of the world happened in the MK regarding the Country Bears… While walking the lady and her husband in front of us were having a heated discussion and she turned to him and shouted, “Da**it, Carl! Where else are we going to be able to see singing bears?!”

        Made my entire trip and is a phrase I’ve worked into my everyday life. :)

      • Tom Bricker says:

        That’s an awesome line. The ultimate trump card in any argument, I’d say. ;)

  13. Bernadette says:

    When we were there last September, our POTC boat was stuck for about 20 minutes – I still can’t get the song out of my head! :)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yeah, unfortunately on that ride (and ‘small world’) the wait in line might not be the only wait you have…

      • Bernadette says:

        We also got stuck during The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and were walked out through the attraction by a CM – my 10 year old son ranks that as the best part of the whole trip! :)

    • June says:

      This happened to us in April 2012, and was the highlight of our day because we had to be escorted out through a secret door, (cast members in waders came through and pulled each boat to an emergency exit) and given a blank fastpass. It was weird to see the robots moving with no soundtrack and all of the lights on! We got to see a lot of behind the scenes at wdw!!

  14. Wendy says:

    Love that you’ve put out a list like this. Looking forward to the rest of the parks so I can point friends here who are planning trips. I also look forward to a Disneyland version so that it’ll help me when planning mine and my husband’s first trip out there in 2015 or ’16!

  15. Nate says:

    I agree that Peter Pan’s Flight is overrated. Nobody should wait in line for more than 30 minutes (let alone 60+ a lot of times) for a 2.5 minute ride.

    However, I am curious as to why you say it’s “incredibly outdated.” I don’t disagree (seeing as how it’s original to the park), but I was wondering what ideas you might have that would bring it up to date. Possibly a re-imagining of the ride with updated, new technology ride vehicles?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      “Those who can’t Imagineer, critique on the Internet.” < – That describes me! ;)

      I don’t think the ride system needs replacing–it’s a classic. It’s the show scenes that need updating. Fluid and dynamic AAs. Fiber optics (or whatever is used on Mystic Manor), etc.

  16. KVP says:

    Hey I’m wondering how they treat a 1 year old in the enchanted tales with Belle? Do you know how we could do a photo in the way they que up the kids? I watched your video on youtube and there weren’t really young ones.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The 1-year old wouldn’t participate in the show, but there’s no reason you couldn’t hold the child while getting a photo with Belle at the end.

    • Tabitat says:

      My 5 year old son was freaked out by Enchanted Tales with Belle. He’s an odd one, but I love him. My one year old was too young to participate in the “story”, but entered the photo queue and hammed it up.

  17. Sarah says:

    Tom, I agree with you about the Carousel of Progress and the People mover (which we still call the Wedway People mover, just like Hollywood studios will always be MGM to us). We always go on them for a little break and no trip is complete without them. Even my 15 year old loves it.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Whoa, whoa, whoa. You raised a 15-year old who still loves Carousel of Progress and the TTA? Now *that* is some good parenting. Most teens are too cool for Disney completely, let alone the “dorky” rides! :)

  18. Mary says:

    I love Country Bear Jamboree. *there’s blood on the saddle* I used to live in LA and had an AP to Disneyland. The one thing I missed most from WDW was the bears.

    I agree with PhilharMagic being a must see. Unless you’re the last people in the door to a completely packed theater and are stuck in the corner of the front row. My neck hurt from trying to see the show. :)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Love Country Bear Jamboree? You must be highly intelligent! :)

      With a lot of the theater shows, how long you wait is entirely dependent upon when the next show starts. If you arrive at the last minute, that can mean having a poor seat, but that’s usually not the case.

  19. Nicole says:

    Thanks for this list! Pirates of the Caribbean has a drop in the dark that can catch any unknowing person off guard. Kids (and anxiety ridden adults) may not like that so much. :)

  20. Susan says:

    We just did our first wdw trip, but as Southern Californians visit Disneyland at least monthly. I was SO happy to see the PeopleMover, Country bears, Carousel of Progress, and the MSEP since we don’t have them anymore. I thought it was just nostalgia, but our kids really enjoyed these as well and had never experienced them in California.

  21. DF says:

    Great list, as is the EPCOT/World Showcase list. My Disney gripe is always the long lines and the crowds. I am a Florida resident and try to go on off-peak days and times, but it still always seemed jammed. My biggest gripe is double-wide strollers and electric carts that slow down movement… and make me wonder, “How did America get so fat?”

  22. Sean says:

    Hands down, my favorite attraction in MK is Philharmagic. I could spend the whole afternoon watching that show over and over, probably because (being a 25 year-old) it showcases all the movies I grew up with. Splash Mountain & Space Mountain are obvious classics and fan favorites, but I actually love the Buzz Lightyear ride. It reminds me of a ride in Universal just like that but is Men In Black-themed. Always love a ride that ends with bragging rights.

  23. Greg says:

    I’d bump Tom Sawyer’s Island up to a must-see. Well, you did rate it 7, so I guess there was a pretty high cut-off for must-sees – a lot of good attractions in MK. At least, I think lines aren’t usually long, and you can spend as much or as little time there as you like, so it really comes down to what are the must see mini-attractions ON Tom’s Island. #1: the caves, #2: the barrel bridge, #3: the pop-guns upstairs in the fort (try to get the one that faces Thunder Mountain so you can shoot at other tourists).

  24. Evan says:

    Fairly accurate list but let’s be honest it should be characterized as a “without kids” guide. Belle, little mermaid, Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan are all pretty great for the little ones. And as a parent they are worth the wait. It’s all my little ones talked about before and after therefore they were very worth fast passes in my mind. Waiting an hour for little mermaid vs 5 min?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      As for whether something is worth using FastPass+, since you only get 3, the criteria for that is based solely on wait times. If you’re only do rides with kids (e.g. no Space Mountain, Splash, etc.), use a FastPass+ on Little Mermaid. If you’re doing everything, that’s a mistake.

      I respectfully disagree on the ‘without kids’ assessment. If I rated those attractions for the teens and up demographic, here would be their scores:

      Enchanted Tales with Belle: 5/10 (scores points only for the tech)
      The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: 4/10
      Peter Pan’s Flight: 6/10 (scores higher because it has a certain charm–even for adults–thanks to the flying ships)
      Little Mermaid dark ride: 5/10

      I’m not saying that these attractions aren’t worth it for kids–I realize kids love them and also that kids are the target demographic. However, impressing kids isn’t always a difficult task. Not only that, but kids are unpredictable. If you polled ten thousand parents, I can almost guarantee that every single (non-height restricted) attraction would be the favorite for someone’s kids. I know of kids whose favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World is Stitch’s Great Escape. That doesn’t make it an objectively ‘good’ attraction for kids.

      Part of the problem is that Walt Disney World has no truly ‘killer’ Fantasyland dark ride that would show just how antiquated and unimpressive its current lineup is. The closest thing would be Splash Mountain, which is much more impressive than any Fantasyland dark ride. I don’t think it’s too hard to look at Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, etc., and see how much more elaborate those are than Fantasyland dark rides, and rate the Fantasyland ones with that in mind, though.

    • Dave says:

      I agree that this seems more like a “without kids” list.

  25. Ryan says:


    I know you are trying to be even keeled on this, but it is ok to give your true 10/10 for the People Mover. My young kids and my wife and I (young kids at heart) love this ride. It would hurt our trip if we couldn’t ride this multiple times per trip. It is an ambiance ride (great views of the park, Space Mountain with the lights on once in awhile, cath the MSEP at night while riding it, etc) in an ambiance park. Most people, at least to me, seem to forget about experiencing the atmosphere and are so focussed on accumulating as many rides per day. As for MSEP, our first trip was June of 2010, it played 2x per night when we were there. It was instant must experience for us. One addition to this is the Kiss Goodnight you have mentioned before. This is right up there with the fireworks/Castle projection for me. It is a nostalgic, near tearing up moment, especially with your children. It is that emotion that makes this place so special. Thanks for all of your work.


  26. Chris Harwell says:

    I loved Winnie the Pooh-rode it a few times in our 2 days at MK, and I can’t wait to ride The Little Mermaid-I’ve watched the video several times already. So they’re not maybe rides for me. I also LOVE Peter Pan’s Flight! But the biggest thing you flubbed on is that you said there are NEVER ANY LINES FOR THE TREEHOUSE!!! We got there at opening and my aunt who has been many times INSISTED on starting with the treehouse, which had an AWFUL LINE of over an hour! She would NOT BUDGE because she swore her route was the fastest! If it was me, I would have come back to the treehouse after the rest of adventure land! But after that, there were NO LINES! Until we got to Splash Mountain (an hour) and BTMRailroad (1.5 hours), then Peter Pan (45 minutes), and Space Mountain (1.5 hours). I TOLD HER those are the rides to ride FIRST and she WOULD NOT LISTEN!! But anyway, the treehouse also gets AWFUL LINES IN THE MORNING and the people move SOOOO SLOW that it takes FOREVER TO GET THROUGH THE THING!!!

  27. Bethany says:

    I know Prince Charming’s carousel is just an “ordinary carousel” to some but I still believe the ambiance of Disney, the castle looming over it, the intricate differences between each horse, and the (alleged) fact they are repainted regularly (I’ve heard nightly but I can’t buy into anything without confirmed facts, right? ;)) scores it higher on the list for me. But then again, I love carousels :D Another great post!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I think that’s a very fair point! There have been a number of times when there has been no wait at the end of the night and we take a spin on the carousel–and those have been some great times thanks to the ambiance you describe. Still tough for me to recommend it to the general park-going public, but I *personally* agree with you! :)

      • Bethany says:

        I understand ^^ there isn’t exactly ground breaking technology involved, but I’m glad to see the magic of it isn’t lost on you and your wife. It certainly isn’t lost on us!

      • april says:

        last time we went the wicked stepmother and stepsisters from Cinderella were on the carousel with us!! very, very fun for the kids.

  28. Sue says:

    Great reviews–I agree with most of your ratings. I would give Enchanted Tales with Belle a 10, though, maybe an 11, at least for the first visit. We thought it was magical, and I went through it with two adult daughters. We couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces–it is Disney at its finest, and I hope there are more interactive attractions like this one to come. Hands-down our favorite attraction of our five-day visit.

    I’d also bump up the rating for Barnstormer on my score card, for this reason–it’s the only coaster I can go on with my kids, since I have problems with motion sickness. And I’ve been able to go on it with them since they were little, so we’ve made a lot of happy memories (and several videos) on that attraction. The new queue is much more interesting than the old one, too, and we’ve never had to wait in it very long. It was very creatively integrated into Storybook Circus as well. The theming of that whole area gets another 10 in my book.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Interesting perspective on Enchanted Tales with Belle, especially coming from all-adults. I don’t know why, but I guess we just expected more substance to the main show. The build up to that point is excellent, but the main show was a bit of a letdown, we thought. Good to hear from others, though. It helps provide some balance to our opinions! :)

      • Marisa says:

        Tom, I agree with both you and Sue on your ratings for Enchanted Tales with Belle. For my first time to Disney since 2006, I absolutely loved Enchanted Tales for its ambiance, atmosphere, details, and innovation for a character experience. BatB is one of my favorite Disney movies, so naturally I was thrilled to see a new attraction devoted to the story. However, given those high expectations I was somewhat dissapointed in the lack of substance of the main part of the attraction–more depth to the content would have been appreciated. All of the guidebooks I read before my trip alluded that this attraction was just as much for children as for adults, but I found the superficiality of the story-telling part of the attraction a bit of a detterant for going again. This attraction definitely is more for children.

  29. Dawn Hicks says:

    We are visiting in early June and I was wondering if you have any advice. I have been to Disney several times, mainly when I was a child, but we are going with our children this year and my disabled 7 year old step daughter. I was wondering if you have any advice or information when visiting with a handicapped child that may make hers and our experience better. Thank you!

  30. Tamara says:

    My younger daughter can not even get past the queue for the Haunted Mansion. The music played outside sets a very scary tone…and it works on her every time.

    As for Mission Space…I waited outside as my husband and older daughter went on the orange experience…the looks on their faces were priceless. Needless to say they will NEVER do that again!

    By the way…I have three kids ranging from 6-12…and we agree with all of your assessments!

  31. Jena says:

    This summer will be three years in a row of Disney parks for my husband and I, and I’m really glad I’ve had a chance to read through these posts and comments. About half of the top rides you’ve listed are ones we haven’t made time for in the past. I will definitely make time this year!

    As a child I had a terrible experience on Splash Mountain (nearly broke my nose, covered myself in blood!) and I cried throughout Peter Pan’s Flight because I thought we were truly that high in the air… It was very fun to go back and “conquer” those rides! Now it’s time to make some new memories.

  32. Tamika says:

    Thanks for this post. It is very helpful for first-timers like my family.

  33. benny says:

    I liked Stitch’s Escape better back when it was Alien Encounter. I understand the reason to change it to be more kid friendly but it was way more creepier when it was alien encounter.

  34. Rick Gregory says:

    As a frequent visitor of Disneyland and having just spent 4 days as a first timer at Disney World, I can say without exception that the Magic Kingdom in Anaheim is magnitudes better. The Pirates Ride has a much larger drop at DL and has a lot more ambiance, especially the restaurant and fireflies and even smells. There is WAY more detail in this and the Haunted Mansion rides (and others) in California. There’s no Matterhorn at DW (the replacement is Exhibition Everest in Animal Kingdom I suppose). The circus area seems cheap and the whole park is in a word lame in comparison. However Disneyland has no Epcot, Hollwood Studios or Animal Kingdom, all of which are MUCH more enjoyable and with more detail than the MK at Disney World. Disappointed in MK big time.

    • Charlene says:

      Hi Rick,
      Any recommendations for a frequent Disneyland visitor as well visiting the Magic Kingdom? We want to do the best rides and attractions that we dont have here at Disneyland and save the rides that we have and aren’t different than DL for last.

  35. Lyssa says:

    I was just wondering what kind of camera/lenses that you use for all your pictures because they’re incredible :) thanks

    and I LOVE your website, I can’t wait to start planning our Disney trip

  36. Andrea says:

    How is carousel of progress outdated? Do we have Google’s that make us feel as those we were in the game? Or ovens that we can control with our voice? I don’t know about you but that’s a big no for me, I love carousel of progress it’s a classic! I would hate to see it go!

  37. Andrea says:

    I meant goggles

  38. Patrick Hite says:

    I agree with most of your ratings, but would rank Buzz Lightyear higher. We do it multiple times each trip and everyone from my 71-year-old mom to my 9-year-old daughter loves it. We’ve never had an issue with the guns not working. With FP+s in hand for Splash & Space Mountains and BTMR, we hit Buzz first thing at 8 am last week and walked right back in for round 2, then finished off our day at 12:30 am with one more round.

  39. selina romo says:

    Resting at hall of presidents right now..thanks really appreciate all ur advise!

  40. Danny says:

    The one thing that Disneyland had that Disney World doesn’t…


    Classic! And don’t forget:


    Then you went past Autopia with the Polynesian-like music playing…

    Go Disneyland PeopleMover Thru the World of TRON!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I think if every attraction had a TRON segment, the world would be a better place. Just imagine it on Tom Sawyer Island! ;)

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