Many people have their tried and true favorite attraction they plan to enjoy during their Disney vacation, but there are just as many people, young and old, who have never been to a Disney Park. For them, the options seem overwhelming at times! You can’t do everything on your first trip, and at the same time you don’t want to miss anything! So to give those new guests a hand, I will go park by park in Walt Disney World, and offer my opinion of which rides and attractions you do not want to miss. I’ll begin with Magic Kingdom rides. Magic Kingdom is sectioned off into six themed areas, five of which contain rides. To give the best overview of Magic Kingdom, I selected my top picks from each of the themed areas with rides.
5. Peter Pan’s Flight – Fantasyland
This is a dark indoor ride through a storybook-like presentation of the Peter Pan story as it was told by Walt Disney in his 1953 animated movie. The loading/unloading docks feature Omnimover-style moving ramps to allow for safe, quick traffic flow. You board your enchanted pirate ship and sale through the sky, looking at the animatronic characters depicting scenes from the movie below you. You even have the chance to see a 48-foot recreation of Captain Hook’s pirate ship. The Disney FastPass system is available for this ride and it is highly advised that you take advantage of that system, as wait time for this ride tend to run on the long side (especially during the peak seasons). This is a must do because it is a perfect example of the storytelling aspect that Disney wanted to preserve in his parks; the story is played out for you and you become an integral piece of it.
4. Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – Tomorrowland
This is the ride known by many names in Walt Disney World. The Blue Line, the TTA and Super-Skyway are all names used to reference this ride! It is themed to resemble a mass transit system of the future in which you are given the grand tour of Tomorrowland. You receive one of a kind sneak peaks and previews to all that Tomorrowland offers. The load/unload area is Omnimover-style, but unlike Peter Pan’s Flight, the TTA does not offer the Disney FastPass system. Good news is, the short queue lines usually found at this ride make the FastPass unnecessary. During the tour you will see the inside of Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, and Stitch’s Great Escape. And my two favorite tips for this ride: first, keep your eye out for a Hidden Mickey in the diorama of the hair salon; second, if Space Mountain has broken down and have their interior lights on then get to the TTA as soon as you can! During the pass the TTA makes through Space Mountain, you will see the tracks and complete interior with the lights on. I always recommend doing this attraction first when you get to Tomorrowland; it allows you to have an overview of what is available so you can have a better idea of what you do and do not want to do.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean – Adventureland
This ride was the last in Disneyland to be overseen by Walt Disney himself; he died three months before its opening. This is an indoor, dark, water type ride with two lines (don’t worry, it is rare that you get wet in this ride). The line to the right moves slightly faster than the left line, usually. The Torre del Sol watchtower will help you find the ride from a distance in Adventureland. The well-known movie franchise of Pirate of the Caribbean was originally based off of this ride, and since its release, Disney has integrated some of the characters from the movies into the ride. Jack Sparrow is scattered throughout the ride in the most unexpected places. Try and see home many of the scene in the ride they ended up putting into the movie! Disney FastPass is available for this ride, and is usually needed. This ride is a must do for any Disney fan. The theming of everything from the queue to the gift shop is phenomenal; the hand of Walt can be felt by the most avid of fans; the adaptation for the new generation while keeping a nod to the original concept; all are reasons to ride this ride!
4. The Haunted Mansion – Liberty Square
“When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls. Whenever candlelights flicker, where the air is deathly still. That is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight.”
You will find all that and more in your adventure through this haunted house. There is no lack of creativity through the queue or the ride itself. Your journey begins outside the mansion with a winding path through the graveyard. You enter into the house, and that when things get dark… literally. I don’t want to spoil one of the best Disney rides in Magic Kingdom for you, so just prepare yourself for a haunting good show of animatronics, special effects and fabulous story telling. Your “Doom Buggie” wheels you through the mansion in an Omnimover vehicle (and beware, you might have a spirit take a liking to you and follow you home). There is no height requirement for this ride, and no FastPasses either. This is one ride you will wish had FastPasses; the line is a bit tedious (especially in the heat of peak season). Never the less, I recommend this ride to anyone brave enough to venture it! The thrills are mild, but younger guests might be nervous their first time.
5. Splash Mountain – Frontierland
This is the largest ride on the Magic Kingdom list, and it is by far my favorite ride at Magic Kingdom (even though I used to work at Space Mountain)! This is a log flume-style dark ride based on the stories of Uncle Remus which was translated onto film by Disney in 1946 with Song of the South. Your log flume winds around and through the mountain, offering stunning views of the surrounding park. Near the end, you face a stomach plummeting 53 foot drop into a briar patch that is sure to get you wet if not soaked! The story will keep you entertained, and you will hear the official theme song of Walt Disney World: “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”. The best time to ride this is at night. I like to even plan to hit this ride during the fireworks; coming outside from the singing animatronics to a sky exploding with color is pretty spectacular.
Of course, this was a really hard list to make! Each ride has its own special place in my heart, and a different thing to love about it; but by doing at least these five rides, you will have a good overview of the various styles of Disney rides, and the classics that have been loved for generations. No matter what you end up doing during your stay, you are almost guaranteed a good time!