Top 10 Disney Theme Park Attractions


Disney has hundreds (if not thousands, I’m not counting!) of theme park attractions and rides at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland. Obviously, not all of these attractions were created equally. At their best, Disney attractions are timeless classics that have multi-generational appeal. At their worst, they’re dressed up versions of amusement park staples.

I thought it would be fun to put together a list of what I consider the 10 best attractions worldwide. As there are literally more Disney parks than there are attractions on this list, some great ones are bound to be snubbed, but I’m keeping to a strict 10 attraction limit. Even if I had a list with 40 more honorable mentions, I’d be still be snubbing some very worthy attractions. As it’s a multi-continent list, it’s not like this top 10 has any functional utility anyway…it’s more geared at being a fun conversation piece for Disney theme park fans. I want to do more worldwide lists like this, so if this one is popular, it will be the first of many more to come. I enjoy comparing and contrasting all of the different parks, and want to do more posts like that, anyway. They’re a nice change of pace from the normal trip planning material here.

A few notes about the list before we get started. First, while it’s my personal list, I’m considering not just what I like the best, but also what I consider to be objectively the most impressive and captivating attractions. I don’t have any specific scoring criteria–it’s basically just a mix of my gut reaction and analysis. Second, only attractions that are currently operational are eligible. It’s very easy to say Horizons or Journey into Imagination should be #1, but there’s no perfect way to tell how those would have aged or if opinions today are clouded by the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. Third, only the best version of each attraction (we’ll call this the “Tower of Terror” rule). Finally, this list is a moving target based partially on how I feel when I’m writing it. If you ask me my top 10 tomorrow, you might get different answers.

With that said, here’s the list in no particular order! (more…)

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. (more…)

Disney Dining Reviews Index

Walt Disney World and Disneyland Restaurant Reviews

Walt Disney World and Disneyland have hundreds of restaurant and dining options, which can be overwhelming for some people. To assist, we’re highlighting reviews of some fan-favorite Disney restaurants here. This page features links to each Walt Disney World and Disneyland restaurant we’ve reviewed, plus links for the Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disney Resort restaurants we’ve reviewed thus far. (Reviews for Hong Kong Disneyland Restaurants are coming soon.)

Each review features a detailed description of the restaurant, some useful information for it, several food photos, and our opinion (or opinions, plural, if the two of us disagree about a particular Disney restaurant) on the restaurant. At the end of each review, we assign a numerical score out of 10 to each restaurant, based upon its cuisine and ambiance. Unless the review explicitly states otherwise, we do not factor service into the score, as service varies so widely (even at the same restaurant on the same night) based upon a number of factors that we do not feel it useful to you to score a restaurant based upon our anecdotal service experience. As for the scores, think of them along the lines of letter grades you received in school. A score of 10/10 is an A+, a score of 8/10 is a B-, a score of 6/10 is a D-, (and so on), anything below a 6/10 is varying degrees of flunking. Scores are not listed for any restaurants located in international parks at this time, as we do not feel we have sufficient experience with these restaurants to give them numerical scores. We expect that to change as we try more options and revisit locations.

Please note that this page includes links to only restaurant reviews. We have a wide variety of other dining resources, including where to eat to maximize your savings on the Disney Dining Plan, where the best cupcakes, steaks, etc. are found, and a myriad of “Top 10″ dining lists. In many cases, these resources are more helpful than the reviews themselves. To find these resources for your destination, be sure to check out our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews & Resources or our Disneyland Resort Restaurant Reviews & Resources. Both of those pages include links to reviews, plus the other resources.

Click each restaurant name to read our full review of the restaurant, and see some photos of different items that each restaurant serves!

Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews

Walt Disney WorldEPCOTVia NapoliWhile not the best restaurant for value on the 2013 Disney Dining Plan, Via Napoli is a great place to eat in Epcot!

Resort Hotels

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2014 Tips

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a special hard ticket event held in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. For 2014, the party will be held on select nights in November and December, likely starting November 7 and concluding December 19. After December 19, the party entertainment will be available to all day guests (and included in theme park admission), but waiting until Christmas week also means going during the busiest time of the year, and when rooms and dining are most expensive. We will have a full schedule of the exact 2014 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party dates once they are announced.

Here is our Christmas party tips for 2014, based upon our experiences attending the party for the last five years. The Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2013 schedule is now set, with parties starting in early November and continuing through December! Ticket prices will vary for 2014 based upon whether you purchase in advance or on the day of, are a child or adult, and whether you have an Annual Pass, Disney Vacation Club membership, or some other affiliation that entitles you to a discount. In any case, the event is not cheap, starting at $57 for children with advance purchase on select nights and exceeding $70 for adults on the “Premium” night! To purchase tickets, visit Disney’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party page.

That said, if you’re visiting Walt Disney World in November or December, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an absolute must-do! But more on that later. First, let’s provide an overview of the events to those who haven’t been.

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Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2014 Tips

The 2014 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties at Walt Disney World will incur in September and October. On these nights, the Magic Kingdom closes at 7 p.m. to guests who haven’t not purchased tickets for the Halloween Party. So you can prepare for the Halloween Party now, here is our analysis based upon the last several years (we go to it yearly) to help you determine whether this expensive hard ticket event is worth it to you, and if so, what your “Plan of Attack” should be to efficiently conquer the various offerings.

Exact dates of the party are not yet known, but based on the park hours that have been announced, here is our predicted Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2014 dates: September 1, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, and 28; October 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30, and 31. Again, these dates are presently unconfirmed, but we’ve predicted party dates for the last few years and are rarely wrong.

Note that this guide covers Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, not Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. For info about the latter, read our comprehensive Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland!

Should I Attend?

So at over $50 a pop for tickets to the 2014 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, you might be trying to determine, “is it worth it?” If you’re asking this, you’ve probably never been, otherwise you’d know the answer to this question. Our opinion, as Disney-biased tourists, is that it most definitely is worth the price: at least once. Once you’ve experienced the party once (it doesn’t change much year-to-year), you might determine that it’s simply too expensive to experience again. For a one time event, though, it’s definitely worth it for everyone except those on traveling on thin budgets. Personally, we prefer Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but I think it’s fair to say that the two are about equally popular with guests (the guest costumes at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party are pretty awesome to see).

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