With a surplus of time on our hands, we decided to rank every single ride and show at Walt Disney World–all 94 of them–with quick pros & cons. Previously, we’ve rated and reviewed every attraction at Walt Disney World, but never before have we listed them all from worst to best.
At their pinnacle, Walt Disney World attractions are iconic and timeless classics with multi-generational appeal. At their weakest, WDW rides are indistinguishable from amusement park fare or direct-to-video sequels you’d skip over on Disney+ or Netflix. Then there’s a ton of middle ground of good stuff or nostalgic favorites in between.
Ironically, the best and worst attractions at Walt Disney World both debuted in the last year. I’m not sure if this is cosmic justice of sorts, and Imagineering created one because the other was just a little too good, or if it’s simply coincidence. Fortunately, there are far more spectacular attractions than “watch this as penance for enjoying yourself too much” type ones…
Obviously, ranking every attraction at Walt Disney World is a pretty herculean undertaking. We opted to make it more challenging by also updating our attraction guides & reviews in the process. You can find those here:
These ‘ride guides’ were first published years ago, and while we’ve updated them to remove extinct attractions and add new ones, re-reviewing some attractions was overdue. For example, we gave incredibly high marks to PhilharMagic back then. However, the animation hasn’t aged particularly well and 3D movies have fallen out of favor. We still enjoy it, but it’s definitely no longer an elite attraction at Magic Kingdom.
I don’t want to overdo what’s going to be a long list with too much prefatory text, but here are a few quick ground rules for our rankings. First, we’re attempting to be objective to the greatest extent possible, with art direction, themed design, duration, and ambition level all taken into account. However, attractions are not penalized for difficulty in obtaining FastPass+ or wait times.
Second, we try to minimize subjectivity in the rankings, as this isn’t simply a list of our favorites (that’s been done already). However, that’s not always possible. Plenty of diehard Walt Disney World fan favorites don’t get the love they deserve among the general public. By contrast, some crowd-pleasers are (in our view) overrated and their quality doesn’t justify their popularity. A lot of people like Wild Hogs and Grown Ups, but that doesn’t mean they belong on the AFI Top 100 List.
Finally, we don’t include anything that’s solely a meet & greet or entertainment act. To merit inclusion, offerings need a purpose-built venue or infrastructure (meaning no Halloween or Christmas shows make the cut, either). Anyway, on with our rankings of all 90+ rides and shows at Walt Disney World, from worst to best…
94. Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along – This new film is an offensively bad piece of revisionist lore that spews forth the untold story of LeFou, which should have remained that way. Far worse than a direct-to-video sequel, and proof that fanfic authors might someday see their awful dreams turned into our painful realities. (Read more: Epcot New Film Reviews: The Good & Ugly.)
93. Star Wars Launch Bay – Glorified gift shop with a smattering of movie replicas, a couple of meet & greets, and photo ops. It’s especially sad now that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has opened, with the vibe of a Spirit Halloween on November 1.
92. Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival – Cartoon shorts that you could watch on Disney+ shown in a 3D theater with effects thrown into the mix. The shorts are delightful…when viewed at home.
91. Imagineering Presents the Epcot Experience – A preview center of all things to come in Epcot’s transformation (or maybe not now?), with slick visuals. Unnecessary if you’re doing a once in a lifetime Walt Disney World trip.
90. Primeval Whirl – If you want to spend hundreds of dollars per day on lavish theme parks to experience tacky county fair quality rides, Primeval Whirl and Dinorama are for you!
89. Tomorrowland Speedway – Perfect for those who want to enjoy the stench and cognitive impairment of vehicle exhaust. Scores points among kids as it gives them a chance to drive, and preview the fun of being stuck in traffic.
88. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – Spinner ride. Do Astro Orbiter or Dumbo instead.
87. TriceraTop Spin – Spinner ride that ranks one higher because dinosaurs.
86. Barnstormer – A roller coasterfor kids who want mild thrills, but are too short for other coasters. Everyone else should avoid this due to long waits, short duration, and lackluster visuals.
85. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel – Ordinary carousel. Okay at night thanks to pleasant views of Fantasyland and Cinderella Castle lit up.
84. Mad Tea Party – A fun and iconic diversion, although there’s really nothing more to this experience than can be found at virtually any amusement park. Disney just dresses it up better.
83. Up! A Great Bird Adventure – The writing is an absolute mess, and the way the characters from Up are forced into this is cringe-worthy. If you can get pas that, the avian encounters in isolation are majestic and enjoyable.
82. Alien Swirling Saucers – The little green aliens pilot spaceships that spin and whip around guests in an attraction that is a mildly enjoyable 90 seconds, but a lack of details or quirk coupled with sometimes long waits drag it down considerably.
81. Awesome Planet – A film that showcases Earth’s beauty and diverse natural landscapes. In-theater lighting effects and an original musical score, plus narration from Ty Burrell as a realtor (ha!) pitching Earth is amusing.
80. Epcot Forever – The interim fireworks that features an assortment of songs that pay tribute to the park’s legacy and rich history and features fun effects, including kites.
79. Mickey Shorts Theater – Home of the new “Vacation Fun” Mickey Mouse short and a scattering of photo ops (including one dedicated to the fan-favorite “Potatoland”), the Mickey Shorts Theater is surprisingly well done, and just what Disney’s Hollywood Studios needs–more places to avoid crowds and enjoy AC.
78. Canada Far & Wide – Another film, this time showcasing the beauty and diversity of Canada in CircleVision 360. Beautiful musical score plus narration by actors Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy that offers a whirlwind tour of the country.
77. Reflections of China – Another Circle-Vision 360 film, this time about China. Poetically narrated, and features scenes in China where Western camera crews typically are not allowed. It’s beautifully shot and scored, with a sweeping camera that envelopes guests in the action in a way not possible through traditional film.
76. Astro Orbitor – Spinner ride similar to Dumbo. Elevated location in Tomorrowland makes this a fun diversion, especially at night if lines are shorter.
75. Disney Junior Dance Party! – A musical celebration featuring Disney Junior characters, including Doc McStuffins, Vampirina, Timon, and Mickey Mouse. If you have kids, it’s probably for you. If you don’t, it’s probably not.
74. Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire – A ‘smile and dance’ show on the Cinderella Castle stage with musical numbers via a fun festival with Mickey and various characters. The plot is flimsy, but the dancing, singing, and costumes are solid.
73. Frozen Sing-Along Celebration – Sing-along for kids, but there are a few moments of chuckle-worthy humor for adults. The Royal Historians of Arendelle weave the songs together with a loose retelling of Frozen. Better than it probably should be.
72. Rafiki’s Planet Watch – Board the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to see a petting zoo and a number of exhibits concerning animal care. It’s interesting, but not commensurate to the huge time commitment.
71. Journey into Imagination with Figment – Showcasing the power of imagination…with the least imaginative and obnoxious attraction possible. Still has its moments, but Figment deserves better.
70. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – Winnie the Pooh and his crew are low-key among Disney’s best characters, but even they cannot give sufficient heart or charm to this rudimentary dark ride.
69. The Seas with Nemo and Friends – A dark ride retelling of the Finding Nemo story with a few scenes projected into an actual aquarium. There are other high tech scenes and memorable effects, but this is probably overselling the attraction, which is just okay.
68. Voyage of the Little Mermaid – When this black light puppet show debuted in the early 1990s, the tech was cutting edge. Time has done it no favors, nor has Disney’s unwillingness to update it. There’s still something to be said for bright puppets in the dark and this trippy show, though.
67. Rivers of Light – The nighttime spectacular at Animal Kingdom is more abstract in nature than other night shows and embraces subtle beauty than big moments. Pacing issues and lack of excitement, among other things, drag it down. Nevertheless, this taste-specific show works really well for some (a minority) of guests. Read more in our full Rivers of Light Review.
66. Walt Disney Presents… – A walk-through tribute to Walt Disney, with a film at the end. It helps put the parks in context, lifts the curtain, and in so doing makes the theme parks more impressive. Walt Disney Presents will make you appreciate Walt Disney World more.
65. Dumbo the Flying Elephant – The iconic Dumbo spinner ride is a classic and rite of passage for all kids, but thanks to improved lighting and short waits, it’s now a fun night-time attraction for guests of all ages.
64. Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage – A Broadway-style stage retelling the story of Beauty and the Beast in condensed form. This show is old, but still does enough with its choreography, performances, and dramatic styling that it feels like it actually brings something new to the table.
63. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – 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 but very imprecise and somewhat archaic.
62. Mission: Space – Simulator that sends guests crashing on Mars in the more intense version and orbiting Earth on the less intense one. It’s an interactive thrill ride, but that oversells it. The story itself isn’t compelling and interactivity is half-baked. The thrills are the primary draw.
61. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor – A screen-based show during which monsters interact with and tell jokes to guests. Laugh Floor can be hit or miss, largely depending upon guest interaction quality. We find it far funnier than it probably is.
60. Liberty Square Riverboat – Relaxing way to float around Frontierland. Like the Tomorrowland Transit Authority or the Walt Disney World Railroad, but on water.
59. Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse – 0% of children today will have seen this movie, but treehouses are universally fun.
58. Kali River Rapids – Whitewater raft ride spinning freely down a river through rainforest, ruins, and deforested areas with message of conservation. Kali River Rapids has a pretty setting (minus the deforestation), but there isn’t enough substance to the scenes and it’s weak by raft ride standards. The best part might just be the line, so hooray for that.
57. The Boneyard – There are only a couple of things (literally) that Disney did right with Dinoland and Dinorama, and this is one of the two. Even as adults, we’re huge advocates of play areas done right, and this is exactly that.
56. Hall of Presidents – Ah, finally! That point of the list where things get politically charged. Irrespective of your feelings on the presidents–any of them–this is a interesting and educational attraction that’ll make you feel less guilty about pulling your kids out of school for a Disney trip. Arguably a tad too long as each president is introduced and stands for applause and/or boos.
55. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail – Wildlife walking trail, with (you guessed it) gorillas as the highlight. There are also hippos underwater and being close to them and the gorillas is pretty awesome.
54. It’s Tough To Be A Bug – 3D show about touting the benefits of inspects with the cast of A Bug’s Life. This is a prime example of how you use Disney characters to make an educational (at least partially so) film feel like pure entertainment. A cool setting and in-theater effects keep this relevant years after it debuted.
53. Gran Fiesta Tour – Boat ride featuring the Three Caballeros with Mexico’s culture as a backdrop in the search for Donald Duck. Weaves culture together with Disney characters–a fun experience for anyone who likes boats, Mexico, fiestas, or waterfowl.
52. Tom Sawyer Island – 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. Worlds away from the chaos of a theme park.
51. Once Upon a Time – Magic Kingdom nighttime entertainment utilizing projection mapping, pyro, lasers, and fire. Features Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast telling bedtime stories to Chip, weaved into the stories of numerous classic animated films. Not bad, but merely an appetizer before the fireworks.
50. Tree of Life Awakenings – Walt Disney World has an obsession with nighttime projection mapping shows, but this is nonetheless beautiful and majestic–the most easily digestible and moving of the bunch.
49. Star Wars: Galactic Spectacular, Movie Magic & Wonderful World of Animation – Three different nighttime projection shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that celebrate movies. You can guess the content of each based upon the names. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is the main fireworks show, but even that is light on pyro.
48. Lightning McQueen Racing Academy – An impressive Lightning McQueen Audio Animatronics vehicle is the highlight of this theater show in which McQueen collaborates and competes with other cars via a screen. It’s a fun show with cheeky humor and enough morsels that it won’t bore adults–kids will likely love it.
47. Mickey’s PhilharMagic – A 3D montage film mostly from the “Disney Animation Renaissance” cleverly tied together with Donald Duck. The animation style is a bit dated now, but children of the 90s are still sure to enjoy this film (really, anyone should enjoy it).
46. Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – Musical serenade of catchy songs from Audio Animatronics birds. It’s iconic, historic, and just the right duration to maintain guest interest. We love it.
45. Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple – Small scale stage show giving kids the opportunity to become Jedi. This is an attraction that kids will absolutely love if they’re into Star Wars and are extroverted. It’s not quite as much fun for the audience, but it’s still cute.
44. Walt Disney World Railroad – A relaxing railway ride around the Magic Kingdom, albeit not with a ton to see. Despite its egregious lack of dinosaurs, trains are timeless, so this is solid.
43. Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid – New Fantasyland’s Little Mermaid dark ride is one of the most popular in the park, but it’s too much of a book report. There are a couple of cool scenes and Audio Animatronics, and the queue is really cool, but could be more imaginative and engaging.
42. Turtle Talk with Crush – An underrated interactive show that allows kids to talk with Crush from Finding Nemo in a screen-based attraction that mimics a water tank. Turtle Talk is just as enjoyable for adults, as part of the humor goes over kids’ heads, and there are a lot of “kids say the darndest things” type moments in every show.
41. MuppetVision 3D – If you have a sense of humor, you’ll love MuppetVision 3D. The pre-show is actually the highlight of MuppetVision, and can fairly be described as sidesplitting. The main 3D show is good, and uses the typical 3D show gimmicks, plus characters in the theater. Not loving MuppetVision 3D is distinctly unpatriotic.
40. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – Featuring a variety of different stunt styles, plus humor, and engaging narrative scenes. It’s like a behind the scenes look at the filming of iconic moments from Indiana Jones. It just works.
39. Dinosaur – A high-speed, wild drive in a time rover through scenes with Audio Animatronics dinosaurs before the moment of extinction. Dinosaur has a humorous pre-show video and memorable scenes in a prehistoric world. Any ride with dinosaurs is great, but there is admittedly a lot of dead, dark space here.
38. Fantasmic! – Nighttime spectacular in which you enter Mickey Mouse’s dreams in a show featuring mist screens, characters on stage, boats, fire, fireworks, and an interminably long Pocahontas segment. It’s completely unlike the fireworks and projection shows elsewhere.
37. Toy Story Mania – A 3D screen-based shooter game with Toy Story characters that is (literally) also available for the Nintendo Wii. It’s a fun game-based attraction, but it’s too one-dimensional and not nearly as good as the hype suggests.
36. Enchanted Tales with Belle – This elaborate character encounter doesn’t get enough credit, especially from adults like us. However, for what it is, Enchanted Tales with Belle is very strong. The lead-in conceit and technology are seriously impressive, even if the hokey main show stumbles a bit too much.
35. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith – An intense (by Disney standards) roller coaster with a loop, featuring Aerosmith. The pre-show and queue help make it more interesting, but Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is basically an ordinary rollercoaster in the dark. It’s short but fun–and the kind of ride you could find in any amusement park.
34. Jungle Cruise – A boat safari through the rivers of Adventureland, with the real highlight being the non-stop zingers of the skippers. Jungle Cruise is somewhat taste-specific, as you’re not riding for the antiquated animal Audio Animatronics. If you don’t appreciate dry, intentionally corny, or self-aware humor, you may not like Jungle Cruise.
33. Space Mountain – A dark roller coaster through outer space. Space Mountain is admittedly somewhat ordinary, but has history and style going for it. There’s cool themed design, a blast-off tunnel, and music to enhance the experience. It also has interesting post-show scenes in space.
32. Living with the Land – Boat ride showcasing the future of agriculture that weaves together elements of a traditional Disney attraction with a heavy dose of “edutainment” components. I think gardening is pretty awful, but even I love the look this ride offers at experimental horticulture techniques. Living with the Land is a testament to human ingenuity, and it’s a shame that more people aren’t interested in a relaxing float through Epcot’s greenhouses.
31. Na’vi River Journey – It’s Living with the Land, but with alien plants imported from outer space. Oh, and one of the most breathtaking Audio Animatronics figure Imagineering has ever created. It’s good, but not as good as it should be.
30. Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress – An Audio-Animatronics stage show with scenes in different eras showcasing technological innovations. The last scene is woefully outdated and this probably won’t appeal to average guests, but they are wrong–Carousel of Progress is a delightful blast from the past.
29. Frozen Ever After – This boat ride in Epcot’s Norway pavilion features characters from Frozen, taking guests to the fictional country of Arendelle, and immersing them in moments and music from the film. It’s a cute attraction with cool Audio Animatronics figures and fun songs. Read our spoiler-free Frozen Ever After Review for more thoughts.
28. Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover – A slow-moving diversion with nice views of Tomorrowland, pure and simple. It’s hard to articulate what makes the Peoplemover so special–perhaps it’s the chance to relax and decompress while soaking up the sights and sounds of Magic Kingdom sans crowds.
27. Test Track – It’s like the Peoplemover, but much faster. Guests design a SimCar and then get into a test car to see how it compares on ‘the grid’ to the prototype they’ve designed, concluding with a thrilling speed test. Aesthetically reminiscent of Tron, the interactivity is fun and engaging–and moderately educational.
26. Soarin’ Around the World – A popular hang-glider simulator ride that offers a grandiose flight over amazing locations around the globe plus an epic score and subtle effects. Overuse of CGI, gimmicky transitions, and bent architectural icons drags it a bit, but Soarin’ remains an exceptional flight.
25. Impressions de France – Wide-format film highlighting the culture and natural beauty of France set to a hauntingly beautiful score. It’s surged here due to subjectivity and our sentimentality–Impressions de France is our favorite film in all of Walt Disney World. It has a beautiful, chills-inducing score, a digital projection, and breathtaking visuals.
24. ‘it’s a small world’ – Possibly Walt Disney World’s most polarizing attraction, ‘it’s a small world’ is the iconic boat ride featuring the children of the world and that song. Again, unless you live under a rock, you’re familiar with it and already have an opinion of it.
23. Country Bear Jamboree – A stage show featuring Audio Animatronics singing bears, Country Bear Jamboree is nuanced, sharp, and irreverent. It subverts Southern stereotypes and offers something intelligent and good-looking guests (and kids) will love. We’ve heard that some people find this historic and iconic attraction “boring.” Those people are monsters.
22. Slinky Dog Dash – The crown jewel of Toy Story Land, which isn’t really saying a ton, but Slinky Dog Dash is still better than expected. It delivers pleasant thrills, a nice track layout, and queue details. The biggest weakness is its relative lack of Imagineering, with no show scenes–albeit a cute ending.
21. Festival of the Lion King – Acrobats, singers, and other performers in tribal attire and vibrant costumes, plus parade floats with Lion King characters and other creatures enact scenes inspired by the Lion King in a very lively theatrical show. There’s a lot of stuff going on, in what basically amounts to a lot of audio-visual stimulation. The show just flat out works, and its almost abstract nature allows the audience to just sit back and enjoy the wow-inducing performers.
20. Finding Nemo: The Musical – Human performers are paired with creatively-made puppets in a condensed retelling of Finding Nemo. The big draw here is how the entertainers manipulate the puppets. Are the humans the focus or the puppets they’re controlling? (Why not both?!) It’s an interesting concept, and the presentation and music are excellent. This show brings enough novelty to the table to elevate what would otherwise be a retread.
19. Maharajah Jungle Trek – Walk-through animal exhibit with birds, bats, and tigers. Its scenes that bring you up close to various animals, all while traversing through an elaborate Asian environment. The animal encounters are great, but the themed design and environments are what sets this apart from an ordinary zoological exhibit. At one point you’re going through the ruins of a remote ancient temple–it feels reclaimed by nature, and an actual environment where these animals live, rather than just observing them in their pens.
18. Peter Pan’s Flight – This is the Fantasyland dark ride done to near-perfection, taking guests in “flying” ships bound for Neverland. Peter Pan’s Flight’s age and poor condition prevent total suspension of disbelief; it could seriously wow audiences with a modernization (easily soaring into the top 10 in the process). Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of magic in flying above London’s busy streets and a pirate ship.
17. Festival of Fantasy Parade – Magic Kingdom went years (decades?) limping along with the same, tired daytime parade. Festival of Fantasy changed that, delivering an ambitious and large scale production. The parade floats are all large, detailed and have a lot of substance to them. There are tons of highlights, but the one everyone remembers is the steampunk-esque Maleficent float that breathes fire. Check out our Festival of Fantasy Parade Tips post for best viewing places and more.
16. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue – A 3D motion simulator montage ride through various locations in the Star Wars universe that was recently updated to include scenes from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and tie into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Those updates have made Star Tours’ story more cohesive, and the attraction is arguably better than Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. (We don’t think so, but the case could be made.)
15. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run – The ‘supporting’ attraction for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is definitely not a perfect attraction, with the interactivity being a mixed bag and a gameplay-centric ride not being everyone’s cup of tea. However, there’s a lot to like about Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run beyond the game/ride experience. The queue is beautiful, the pre-show is impressive, and stepping foot into the Millennium Falcon while waiting to board the ride is arguably the highlight of the attraction as a whole. Read our Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run Review for more feedback on the attraction.
14. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway – With only a handful of ride-throughs on this before Walt Disney World closed indefinitely, this is our ranking that’s most subject to change. However, we found ourselves enjoying Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway more with each subsequent ride-through, so this doesn’t seem too high. Runaway Railway features a series of loosely-connected vignettes in a variety of environments. There’s tremendous range in the settings, and the pacing becomes fairly frenetic and disorienting at points. In a sense, the ride is very much in keeping with how a cartoon would bounce around, and it also boasts an earworm of an original song. Runaway Railway probably is not destined to become a modern classic, but it’s a formidable new ride in a park full of them. Read our Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Review for more.
13. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – This family roller coaster’s strengths are its Audio-Animatronics, themed design, music, and novelty level. Its weaknesses are duration and show lighting. Despite its popularity among the general public, we’d argue that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is underrated among Walt Disney World fans–it’s destined to become a modern classic. is the newest ride in Magic Kingdom, and is one of the most popular at Walt Disney World. Read our spoiler-free Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Review if you want to know more.
12. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Continuing the train trend, Big Thunder Mountain a rollercoaster themed as a runaway mine train on a ride through the landscape of the Old West. It doesn’t have show scenes per se, but it flawlessly executes on its concept and provides visual gags and details that are easily ascertainable as you whip past. Hang onto your hats and glasses, because Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is “the wildest ride in the wilderness!” (It’s also one of Walt Disney World’s very best rides at night.)
11. Spaceship Earth – A slow-moving dark ride through Audio Animatronics-heavy scenes depicting the evolution of how humans communicate and technological innovation housed in Epcot’s iconic geodesic sphere. The story of our communication evolution is a compelling one, and besides a few cringe-worthy moments in the script, it’s very captivating for all guests. It loses a point for the cheesy screen-based ending and lack of show scenes during this descent.
10. Expedition Everest – This roller coaster takes a page out of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad’s playbook and improves upon it in nearly every conceivable way. Expedition Everest features a foreboding queue, incredible details, interesting ride vehicles, a spectacular ascent, and on-ride encounters with a yeti. Many effects on the attraction now do not work; the most notable of these is the large Audio Animatronics “Disco” Yeti. Despite this, Expedition Everest is still impressively fun and Walt Disney World’s most ambitious roller coaster.
9. Happily Ever After – There is no more fitting of a way to close a day in the Magic Kingdom than with fireworks. The park’s latest nighttime spectacular is Happily Ever After, which replaced Wishes. As we write in our Happily Ever After Review, this is one of the best fireworks shows Disney has ever done, anywhere. Happily Ever After is absolutely not to be missed. We recommend viewing it on Main Street with the fireworks exploding behind Cinderella Castle (best spots are recommended in our Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Guide).
8. Kilimanjaro Safaris – Animal Kingdom’s flagship safari ride through environments virtually indistinguishable from the African savannas. Kilimanjaro Safaris is an amazing attraction, showcasing a multitude of animals in what appears to be their natural environments. It proves that sometimes the best Imagineering is the invisible kind that fades into the background, and the most thrilling experiences aren’t high tech thrill rides, but the real world.
7. Avatar Flight of Passage – This thrill ride is like Soarin’ on steroids, done to perfection. Riders climb aboard the back of a banshee and link to an avatar flying through Pandora for a simulator experience that is far more ‘active’ than any past attraction of its nature. You can feel your banshee breathe, the wind and spray of the ocean in your face, and smell plenty of scents along the way. Even though Avatar Flight of Passage is a screen-based attraction, that fades away during the experience. You are fully immersed in the experience, and fully suspend disbelief and embrace the action over Pandora. Flight of Passage has a certain je ne sais quoi that provokes an emotional response unlike many other attractions.
6. Pirates of the Caribbean – A boat-ride back in time to the days when pirates ruled the high seas. Pirates of the Caribbean features Audio Animatronics pirates, including Captain Jack Sparrow, engaging in swashbuckling mayhem. It’s degenerate fun for guests of all ages, with great detail, amusing visual gags, fully immersive environments, and catchy music. While the Walt Disney World version is the weakest at any Disney park, it’s still a timeless classic.
5. The American Adventure – An Audio Animatronics-driven “montage” stage show of key moments in American history. The scenes are detailed and insightful, and impressive as they rise from the stage. The American Adventure is a powerful show that may make the eyes of patriotic Americans leak a bit. It ranks as one of the all-time greatest achievements of Walt Disney Imagineering, and has aged incredibly gracefully. Those with short attention spans may not appreciate it, but the same could be said for Avengers: Endgame. Seeing the Voices of Liberty perform before American Adventure and a meal at Regal Eagle Smokehouse afterwards is the ultimate in distinctly patriotic experiences at Walt Disney World.
4. Splash Mountain – A log flume ride based upon Disney’s infamous Song of the South film that features Audio Animatronics critters. Thankfully, it’s far better than its source material, deftly mixing thrills with memorable show scenes for one of Imagineering’s peak works. On top of that, Splash Mountain features a great range in environments, catchy music, and moody atmosphere–all of which culminates with a big drop into the briar patch.
3. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – A free-fall thrill ride set in the Twilight Zone with an elaborate lead-in and excellent story. Tower of Terror’s mood, the atmosphere, and the environments before the ride are all top-notch. It’s ominous, intimidating, and foreboding from the moment you set eyes on the Hollywood Tower Hotel looming at the end of Sunset Boulevard. From there, the build-up continues in the queue and pre-show, right down to the moments that the randomized drops begin. While it features a ton of nods to Twilight Zone episodes, the attraction’s masterful use of suspense is downright Hitchcockian.
T1. Haunted Mansion – If Tower of Terror is Hitchcockian, then Haunted Mansion is Lynchian. It’s part surreal dream, part beautifully imaginative and impressionist nightmare. Haunted Mansion is so interesting because it works on multiple levels. Each of the scenes can be taken at face value for what it offers in terms of spooky and/or humorous imagery, or attempts can be made at deeper analysis.
Like an especially vivid dream, guests want to make sense of Haunted Mansion. This is why so much has been written about the attraction, why there are so many fan theories explaining it all, and why visual elements of Haunted Mansion are so meaningful to so many. Haunted Mansion is an experience that etches itself in your memory, even if you’re not entirely sure why. It’s Walt Disney World’s only transcendent attraction–a work of art that will be discussed and debated for generations to come.
T1. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – While it lacks Haunted Mansion’s artistry and timelessness, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is a revolutionary feat of Imagineering that redefines what a theme park attraction can be. It blurs the boundaries of queue, pre-show, attraction, and puts guests in the middle of an intergalactic adventure.
What makes Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance so mind-blowing, in large part, is massive set pieces and a slew of how did they do that moments. The Imagineers used everything in their proverbial bag of technical tricks, and executed them all flawlessly. The result with Rise of the Resistance is something epic in scale that feels more like an interactive blockbuster film than it does a traditional theme park ride like Haunted Mansion. (Read our spoiler-free Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Review for more.)
The two #1 attractions use very different approaches to evoke very different emotions, both with similarly high degrees of success. It’s for this reason that we view Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Haunted Mansion as the yin and yang of Walt Disney World attractions. Two complementary counterparts, separated by decades and storytelling styles, but together representing the range of perfection in Walt Disney World attraction experiences.
Obviously, no one is going to have identical rankings of every single Walt Disney World attraction. With that said, which rankings on our list do you really agree or really disagree with? Which Walt Disney World rides and shows do you think are overrated or underrated? What makes your top 10 and bottom 5? We’re ready to hear friendly and spirited debate about a lighthearted topic that ultimately doesn’t matter, so please share your thoughts in the comments–even if you disagree with all of our Walt Disney World ride rankings!