We have always loved Disney for its ability to create a truly immersive experience around every corner. Those experiences obviously include the innovative stage and firework shows Walt Disney World is known for. Shows at WDW happen on a schedule though, which means you’ll have lots of time for rides in between! With that in mind, we thought it would be helpful to create a Disney World ride guide. That way, you’ll know which ones to enjoy when you visit the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Walt Disney created Disneyland, and subsequently WDW, as a place for families to all play together. That means Walt wanted the adults considered just as much as the kids. So, at WDW, there are rides for everyone regardless of age, size, or mobility.
And don’t worry, we (Amanda and Giselle) will be telling you our favorites along the way.
As folks who travel with anxiety, we know how difficult the unknown can be. Allow us to alleviate some of that anxiety by denoting all Disney World ride we think entertain with less overstimulation with a little set of Mickey Ears. °o°
Magic Kingdom Park
Astro Orbiter °o° is a slow-paced space experience for the whole family. Two passengers take flight and soar in circles amidst a gleaming constellation of planets with Tomorrowland swirling around you.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad °o° is a classic Disney World ride that provides gentle thrills and small drops. Big Thunder is suitable for riders taller than 40” who then take a mine train through a haunted mine. While the train gets moving pretty fast, ultimately it’s a fairly smooth ride.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin °o° take a spin armed with your own ray gun! In this interactive experience, your party will be guided by Buzz Lightyear in a battle to defeat the chief enemy of the Galactic Alliance, Emperor Zurg. Aim at targets around the ride to determine the sharpest shooter in your group.
Dumbo The Flying Elephant °o° another kiddie coaster where you fly up and down in circles on Dumbo’s back. You’re able to pilot your own elephant choosing whether to go high or low as you spin round and round. This ride was often featured in the WDW commercials in our childhoods.
Haunted Mansion °o° another classic Disney World ride where 999 happy haunts keep you company. Take a labyrinth through an enchanted house with restless spirits who are not quite departed. Haunted Mansion is fun for all ages and a must for anyone visiting Disney for the first time. Don’t worry, it’s not like a haunted house. In fact, it’s more like a silly ghost adventure. Maybe introduce younger kiddos to “Muppet’s Haunted Mansion” first. This is Amanda’s favorite ride in the entire park and she owns way too much Haunted Mansion merch–especially this. [*Note this ride is very dark at times.]
“it’s a small world” °o° is a simulated boat ride around the world featuring a catchy song many either love or love to hate. You’ll see why as it’s repeated in many languages during the ten-minute ride. The little dancing animatronic children from around the globe make this “The Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed.”
Jungle Cruise °o° allows you to set sail through the rivers of Africa, Asia, and South America. This cruise is every bit as comedic as it is scenic thanks to the world class skipper navigating the steamer boats. Be sure to keep your arms and legs inside the boat lest they become lunch for passing piranha or one of the many hungry hippos. And keep your eyes peeled for one of Giselle’s must see Disney sights (and the highlight of every Jungle Cruise) the backside of water!
Liberty Square Riverboat °o° takes passengers on a half-mile sightseeing tour around Tom Sawyer Island. Hop aboard the Liberty Belle, an authentic steam-powered paddle wheeler for a 17-minute ride. This is a great option for families looking to rest their feet while continuing to experience the magic.
Mad Tea Party °o° a classic spinning teacup ride modeled after the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, featuring many characters from the classic Lewis Carroll novel, “Alice in Wonderland.” You can spin your cup as little or as much as you’d like to keep your ride a bit more gentle if dizziness is a concern. [*Note: If you are prone to motion sickness don’t ride this. If nausea becomes an issue on this ride, keep your eyes locked on someone directly across from you and have your group spin the wheel in the opposite direction to decrease intensity until the ride stops.]
Peter Pan’s Flight °o° soars over the streets of London, off into the clouds towards the second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning. When your ship has sailed to Neverland, you’ll encounter Captain Hook and the Lost Boys before Tinkerbell’s magic wears off. Finally you land back in London with Wendy. It was Giselle’s little sister’s favorite the first time she went to Disney, and it’s still a favorite of Giselle’s to this day.
Pirates of the Caribbean °o° the Disney World ride of the film franchise fame! (Disneyland had it first.) Pirates has been retrofitted with Captain Jack Sparrow animatronics to entertain all who set sail on the high seas through the Caribbean. This is a must-see attraction for a well-rounded Disney visit, as this delightful ride is sure to enchant riders of all ages. [*Note: This ride does use fog, simulated smoke scents and can be dark at times.]
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel °o° a classic carousel ride with a dash of Disney magic. This attraction was originally built in 1917 in Detroit before it moved to Disney World in 1971. The views of the castle from this ride alone are enough to make it enchanting.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train °o° Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho! It’s off to mine diamonds on this swaying family coaster which carries Snow White’s seven friends to work each day. You may find yourself waiting a bit to ride, but Disney has made it possible for you to mine your own jewels while you wait in the queue.
Space Mountain shoots explorers through the galaxy and plunges them into darkness with nothing but the light of the stars to guide the way. Its breakneck speed, sudden turns, and overall darkness might frighten some of the more timid space travelers, but anyone over 44” is welcome to board the craft. This was Giselle’s favorite ride on her family trip to WDW as a kid and it hasn’t lost any of its luster. [*Note: If you are sensitive to motion sickness do not ride this.]
Splash Mountain is a thrilling log-flume. You’ll wind through a whimsical bayou full of woodland critters singing for your delight. Like any water ride, you may get wet. So, if you don’t want to feel the full weight of a five-story drop splashing down on you, sit towards the back. [*Note: The current theming of this Disney World ride is based on Disney’s “Song of the South.” That movie is racist and we can’t wait for the coming re-theme to “Princess and the Frog.”]
The Barnstormer °o° let Goofy pilot you over Storybook Circus in a plane he built himself. This is a kiddie coaster you’d expect to find at most any amusement park. Still, it’s a cute ride for kiddos.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin °o° like Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride, this one is essentially a replica. Except, in this case, you’re riding on Aladdin’s Magic Carpet. Also, there’s a giant camel at this ride. Be careful, he spits.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh °o° the ride that inspired a TikTok trend, Pooh is still usually a family favorite. You see Winnie the Pooh and his friends go through a story together. Honestly, the story doesn’t make a ton of sense, but small children like it. [*Note: The darkness and fluorescent colors used in this ride can be frightening for children.]
Tomorrowland Speedway °o° drive a mini race car around a speedway without worrying about a crash! These cars might be on guided rails, but the drivers still control how fast they go. We’re not huge fans of this ride. That said, it’s hard to gauge how popular it is because the line is usually either really long or nonexistent. Folks must be at least 54” tall to ride alone and children under seven must be accompanied by someone 14+. [*Note: If you are sensitive to gasoline smells, this ride might make you ill.]
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover °o° a favorite for weary Disney guests everywhere. The PeopleMover is a relaxing ten-minute tour of Tomorrowland from above. These trams are magnet powered too, so there is no odor and you get to see a lot of unique vantage points. It’s so popular that Funko released a line of PeopleMover POP figures with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto!
Under The Sea~ Journey of the Little Mermaid °o° this is one of Giselle’s favorites. Our sea journey goes through the story of Ariel finding her land legs. Climb aboard a clamshell and take a musical adventure with our favorite mermaid. Don’t be one of the “Poor Unfortunate Souls” who glosses over it.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress °o° we are warning you now, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” will be stuck in your head. After all, the Sherman Brothers wrote it! (They are the duo behind the songs in “Mary Poppins,” “The Aristocats” and more.) So, take a 21 minute rest to see the show that Walt Disney first introduced at the World’s Fair in 1964. Because this is one of Amanda’s favorites, if you hate the ride–don’t tell her.
Frozen Ever After °o° replaced Maelstrom. Amanda is still not over Maelstrom getting replaced by this ride. Still, if you or your family are fans of “Frozen” this ride is a magical adventure. See Anna, Elsa, Olaf and the rest of their friends as you sail through Arendelle. [*Note: This ride can be very dark at times.]
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros °o° an oft-forgotten ride at EPCOT. Tucked away in the Mexico Pavilion join Jose and Panchito as they look for Donald. The Three Caballeros can’t perform without Donald! They aren’t The Dos Caballeros!
Journey Into Imagination With Figment °o° tricky Figment the Dragon takes you through the Imagination Institute. Together with Figment and Dr. Nigel Channing you’ll explore how the senses connect to imagination. Just like with Figment as a character, people tend to either love this or hate it.
Living With The Land °o° learn all about how food is grown at WDW! That sounds boring, but it’s actually a really fun ride. You take a gentle boat cruise through some of the park’s gardens too. Because it can be easy to miss, the ride is on the ground floor of The Land pavilion.
Mission: SPACE was designed to give astronauts-in-training an authentic Zero-G experience to prepare them for space travel. They were deliberately turning up the intensity on its guests, so Disney designed a less intense version of this space training camp experience. The green lane is designed to be sensitive to any and all astronauts prone to motion sickness (or anyone who’s enjoyed Epcot’s delicious adult beverages.) The orange line will take you to the high intensity version which employs centrifugal force to temporarily simulate the weightlessness of SPACE. [*Note: Giant flashing motion sickness warning, utilize the green line if you have any doubts about your fitness for intergalactic travel. The high intensity experience in the orange lane is easily the biggest thrill you’ll likely encounter at WDW.]
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure °o° a ride that only made Amanda cry twice. (She has Anton Ego tattooed on her shoulder.) Become a kitchen rat to see the world of Parisian kitchens from Remy’s point of view. See, smell and feel what it’s like to be a pint-sized chef. Also, Giselle fell in love with this attraction at Disneyland Paris and was delighted to see its mind blowing technology brought to WDW in their 2021 expansion of Epcot’s France Pavilion in World Showcase. [*Note: This ride can be jarring if you are sensitive to motion.]
Soarin’ Around The World °o° sit back and encounter the mesmerizing sights, sounds, and smells of a whirlwind flight around the globe. Feel like you’re floating from the comfort of your seat as you glide over elephants on the savannah. This ride is a favorite of Giselle’s, so no WDW trip is complete without Soarin’. If you can get the first row in your section, that’s the best row. [*Note: This ride can be dizzying if you are sensitive to motion.]
Spaceship Earth °o° lives inside the giant EPCOT ball at the front of the park. And, if you can read this, thank the Phoenicians. (And, if you don’t get that joke, thank us later.) As one of the older members of the Disney World ride collection, some folks don’t appreciate Spaceship Earth as much they should. Even so, this is one of Amanda’s favorite rides. As you glide through time to the narration of Dame Judy Dench learn about how humans innovated through time. [*Note: This ride does get very dark at certain points and there are simulated scents.]
Test Track °o° a slightly more intense version of Tomorrowland Raceway. But, instead of a race car you’re in a “sim” car with speeds of up to 65 MPH. You can even find out at the end which car did the best in those trials. [*Note: This ride can be hard to stomach for folks sensitive to motion.]
The Seas With Nemo & Friends °o° is another storybook Disney World ride adventure! However, this time you’re going under the sea with Marlin and Dory to find Nemo–again! Do keep an eye out for real fishies in a massive aquarium.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Avatar Flight of Passage °o° a truly unbelievable flight on the back of a banshee. From your bonded banshee you can see, smell and feel the world of “Avatar.” Between the incredible sights and the moving seat simulating your banshee breathing, this ride is a real marvel. Giselle loved it so much she rode it twice in one day! [*Note: If you’re prone to motion sickness, try keeping your neck up on this ride. Looking straight ahead helps a lot. While Giselle insists the view from the center of the screen assures the best view on Soarin’, she strongly suspects that being seated near the center of the screen on this attraction reduces the fishbowl effects this 4D flight creates with its sweeping panoramic vistas.]
DINOSAUR as in the 2000 Disney film by the same name. (Which was a great movie if you’ve never seen it.) Hop aboard a Time Rover to go back into the days of primeval forests. Your mission? To bring back one Iguanodon! The problem? The meteor that killed the dinosaurs is coming–no pressure. [*Note: Darkness, loud roaring and dinosaurs might be frightening for some children.]
Expedition Everest board a train headed to the tippy top of Mt. Everest. This train, a thrilling roller coaster, will take you on a twisty journey. We’ve even heard that a Yeti might live up on the mountain. But maybe that’s just a legend. [*Note: This ride can be jarring for those who get motion sickness and the darkness/effects might be frightening for some children.]
Kali River Rapids will either get you completely soaked by the rapids or not at all. If you’re up for the gamble, this river raft ride is a lot of fun. You might even see some playful baby elephants on your journey!
Kilimanjaro Safaris °o° is a big Disney World ride favorite among park goers. As part of Animal Kingdom’s conservation mission, the safari is part animal watch and part educational experience. For about 20 minutes you’ll get to see all kinds of animals who call WDW home. If you’re particularly lucky a giraffe might get in the way of your jeep. That means you get to stare at a giraffe until it decides to meander away.
Na’vi River Journey °o° a much calmer sibling to Flight of Passage. Drift down the river, experiencing the myriad life forms on Pandora. Even folks who aren’t big fans of “Avatar” will appreciate this ride. The Na’vi Shaman of Songs alone is worth the wait. Just wait until you spot her.
TriceraTop Spin °o° much like the Dumbo and Aladdin rides, this is another gentle one. Kiddos love TriceraTop because they get to control how high their dino goes. Parents love it because even their little kiddos can ride it.
Wildlife Express Train °o° for when the Safari wasn’t enough. Grab the train that takes you back to Rafiki’s Safari Watch. On the ride you can see some back areas where the animals live. At your destination you can go to a petting zoo, see the nature walk or learn more about saving the planet! Amanda loves to stop and pet the goats.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Alien Swirling Saucers °o° like the Tea Cups, this is a spinning vehicle ride. Take a spin with the cute green aliens from “Toy Story!” It’s a gentle-ish ride but maybe don’t load up on tots from Andy’s Lunchbox across the way. [*Note: Folks prone to motion sickness might want to sit this one out.]
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Rainway °o° lives inside the Studios’ iconic replica of The Chinese Theater. While it can’t replace Great Movie Ride in our hearts, it’s an excellent addition to the Disney World ride collection. Goofy is at it again! This time he has lost control of his train and you’re along for the ride. Yet another attraction that has a tune too catchy to get out of your head.
Millennium Falcon: Smuggers Run °o° an interactive space adventure! Join up with your crew to get your bounty back safely aboard the Millennium Falcon. If you play your cards right you and your teammates will get a good cut of the profit. If you don’t, well, at least you tried. [*Note: If you’re prone to motion sickness, try to sit up as straight as you can and face forward. It’s a fun ride and this helps!]
Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith join Steven Tyler in a stretch limousine on a wild ride to Aerosmith’s next gig. Featuring a loop de loop and a shotgun launch that goes from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds. This high octane experience is not for the faint of heart, but if you love classic rock music and a good thrill, this ride is sure to appeal to anyone who craves the thrill of a little scare, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster is certainly the attraction for you. [*Note: This is one of the highest intensity rides WDW offers, if inversion or fast turns trigger your motion sickness, this is ride best left off your day’s itinerary.]
Slinky Dog Dash °o° flying around the Tinker Toys on Slinky’s back! While this is a more intense rollercoaster than the other kiddie ones, it’s still fairly easy. This coaster is a lot of fun which is probably why it’s still so popular!
Star Tours °o° is a mainstay of Hollywood Studios. Predating Galaxy’s Edge by a lot of years, Star Tours is an old-school motion simulator. A randomized storyline will take you through the galaxy on a mission with C3PO as your co-pilot. And be careful, you might have a spy onboard! [Motion Sickness can also present an issue on this ride, the simulated motion effects are less apparent in the front of the Star Cruiser. The back row may leave you feeling weightless in your seat on some of the ride’s deep dives.]
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance °o° is not so much a ride as it is a unique experience. Rise is the most complex Disney World ride to date and once you ride it you’ll see why. “Star Wars” fan or not, this is the ride we will rope drop every day for. Amanda and her partner even rope dropped at 5 am once when it first opened. It’s that good.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ is not the ride to be boarded immediately after lunch, but if you can stomach it, will take you on a journey into a wondrous land of imagination. In this other dimension you’ll encounter not only the nostalgic glamor of old Hollywood, but multiple free falls from heights you’re not quite sure of. Don’t worry, the trusty service elevator at The Hollywood Tower Hotel may not always take you where you’re expecting, but the breaks never fail to catch you as you fall. [*Note: The simulated free falls of this attraction are not for everyone. Giselle loves the sensation of my internal organs being suspended momentarily for the few big drops on this attraction at Orlando and the similarly intense Hotel Hightower themed Tower of Terror a Tokyo DisneySea. However, she feels the supercharged feel Disneyland gave their Guardians of the Galaxy rebrand of their TOT attraction is too intense for her, who loves the thrill of the tamer, more deliberate pattern of falls in the traditional TOT schematics.]
Toy Story Mania! °o° is a newer iteration of Buzz Lightyear’s ride at Magic Kingdom. Play against your vehicle partner in a variety of carnival games. Zip through the series of games to see who comes out on top!