Theme Park Insider

Monday Top 10: Disney's Best Roller Coasters

September 15, 2014, 11:32 AM · Roller coasters probably aren't the first things that come to mind when you think about the Disney theme parks. But Disney really helped start the modern era of coasters, as its Matterhorn Bobsleds (built by the late Arrow Corporation) was the first multi-train, tubular steel roller coaster in the world. Disney's led the way since then in blending theme with thrills with several wildly popular coaster rides. In fact, it's likely that more people have ridden Disney's roller coasters than coasters at any other theme park chain, due to Disney's huge lead in theme park market share.

Here are the top 10 roller coasters at Disney theme parks, as rated by Theme Park Insider readers. To maximize variety, for coasters that Disney's copied at multiple parks, we've listed the top-rated version.

10. Matterhorn Bobsleds
Disneyland

Disney's first roller coaster hangs on in the number 10 spot, though it'd probably have rated higher if not for the new trains installed during the 2012 refurbishment. Many fans have complained about the smaller seats, as well as the new 42-inch minimum height requirement that keeps the Matterhorn from being the "first coaster" that it was for generations of future coaster enthusiasts.

9. Raging Spirits
Tokyo DisneySea

Raging Spirits

Themed to a South American archeological dig, the Intamin looping coaster packs a punch in its relatively small footprint. You'll also find this coaster at Disneyland Paris as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril.

8. Space Mountain: Mission 2
Disneyland Paris

Space Mountain: Mission 2

Okay, we've got two "Space Mountains" on this list. But Paris' Jules Verne-themed version is so unlike the other Space Mountains around the world that it deserves a separate entry. This Vekoma launch coaster offers sidewinder, corkscrew, and tongue inversions, a top speed of 44 miles per hour, and headaches galore for people expecting the tamer, traditional Space Mountain ride. But for riders who know what they're getting into, SMM2 offers the most extreme thrills legally available at a Disney theme park.

7. Crush's Coaster
Walt Disney Studios Paris

Crush's Coaster

Star with a Maurer Söhne spinning coaster and surrounding it with a Finding Nemo-themed dark ride and you'll have what was (until Remy arrived) the most popular ride at the Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris Resort. With no Fastpass, though, the hours-long waits depress many readers' enthusiasm for the ride.

6. California Screamin'
Disney California Adventure

California Screamin'

A modern steel coaster decorated to look like an old-fashioned beach-side woodie, this Intamin looping coaster couldn't be more different than Raging Spirits in look and feel. Enhanced with on-ride audio and a high-speed launch, Screamin' is a great ride for young fans looking to make the first step up to "big kid" coasters.

5. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Disney's Hollywood Studios

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster

The ultimate in blending high-speed thrills with a high-volume soundtrack, this Vekoma launch coaster is Disney's most popular "upside down" coaster, and the wildest ride to a concert you'll ever (again, legally) experience.

4. Expedition Everest
Disney's Animal Kingdom

Pour one out for the still-broken "Disco Yeti," but then just allow yourself to enjoy the highest-rated roller coaster at Walt Disney World. Wonderfully decorated, with a blend of speed, thrills, and excitement that appeals across generations, Everest truly is a "can't miss" experience for first-time visitors to the Walt Disney World Resort.

3. Space Mountain
Disneyland

Space Mountain

Among the traditional Space Mountains, Disneyland's version gets the nod from readers for its on-board soundtrack and smooth-riding track, thanks to a 2005 rebuild. And if you visit in the fall, you can experience the "Ghost Galaxy" overlay, when Disney changes up the music and the visual effects for Halloween.

2. Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars
Hong Kong Disneyland

Perhaps overshadowed by the wildly popular Mystic Manor, Big Grizzly Mountain also helped transform Hong Kong Disneyland from an afterthought to a park that's now high on many Disney's fans "I wish I could visit there" bucket lists.

1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Disneyland Paris

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

The "wildest ride in the wilderness" is our readers' favorite ride on a coaster in a Disney theme park. Paris' version wins over the other Thunders, thanks to its length and unique tunnels under the Rivers of America at the beginning and end of the ride, keeping it ahead of a late challenge from Anaheim's new "explosive" finish.

What is you favorite thrill ride at a Disney theme park?

Replies (13)

September 15, 2014 at 12:06 PM · Correct! Big Thunder in Paris is just amazing and has the best combination of thrills and theming at a Disney park. I'd also rate Space Mountain in Paris even higher; it's quite an experience!
September 15, 2014 at 1:41 PM · I actually find the themeing of Aerosmith to be super irritating and would have put that and Space Mountain (just for being so tame and barely themed) at the back of the list. I think Space Mountain Mission 2 and the Matterhorn deserve to be much further up. I think they are both great examples of storytelling and themeing being well-matched with a coaster. I especially love the beautiful steampunk decor on the former and the mysterious explorer aspects of the latter.
September 15, 2014 at 1:42 PM · Matterhorn shouldn't make the list. That thing beats you up. Felt like I had been in a car accident in the end on my recent trip.
The space mountain ghost galaxy theme is pretty cool. (Not as good as the haunted mansion overlay). Caught it on opening day Friday. Can't comment on the parks outside the U.S. but I agree with the listed rides in both U.S. parks.
September 15, 2014 at 3:18 PM · I wouldn't rate California Scream'in that high. It is really tame.

In a world where the Yeti does not work on Everest, I would swap around Matterhorn and Everest because at least Matterhorn's Yeti works.

I would bump Aerosmith up a spot or two. If they re-theme it to the Hannah Montana Rock'n Roller Coaster, I would delete it from the list.

I would also trade out Matterhorn with either Disneyland's or Magic Kingdom's Big Thunder Mountain. According to others they may not be as good as their foreign cousins, but in my book they are pretty solid rides.

September 15, 2014 at 3:34 PM · What???? No primavel whirl????
September 15, 2014 at 3:37 PM · Disneyland Paris Space Mountain is better than the original ones!

September 15, 2014 at 4:05 PM · If it was the original Paris Space Mountain (Space Mountain: De la Terre à la Lune) I would easily rate it as the top Disney coaster. Mission 2 not as much so.
September 15, 2014 at 4:59 PM · It must have been a long time since I rode California Screamin' because I loved it!

I think if Disney could remove Aerosmith, and simply make it "Rockin Roller Coaster", it could be higher. Get a couple of modern bands in there, and randomly rotate who you see in the waiting room, as well as the music options in the ride itself.

I feel like Paris is a mixed bag. Sounds like it needs work, overall, but it has some real standout attractions that you don't find elsewhere. I hope to check it out.

As for Hong Kong Disney, I'm expecting to visit in December.

In fact, if things work out, it may be my new local park. Not holding my breath on a move. But I hope to review the park and the Grizzly coaster all the same.

September 15, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Rock'n'Roller Coaster is probably my favorite coaster at Disney. I love the inside set-up along with the near-misses on the actual track.
September 15, 2014 at 5:13 PM · No seven dwarfs mine train? Just kidding it's not a real roller coaster and the cars don't even rock that much. Rock N Roller coaster is Disney's best
September 16, 2014 at 1:01 PM · Really surprised by this list. Maybe it's changed since I visited in 2012, but with the exception of Rock and Roller Coaster and maybe Crush, the coasters at the Paris parks are just brutal, jarring, loud, and just plain uncomfortable. (The entry into the chain lift on BTMR is truly deafening.) Sure, they look pretty but if you can't re-ride it, what's the point.
September 18, 2014 at 1:43 AM · Now I have had some experience at DLR I can have more of an opinion - yay!
Space Mountain at DL is way better than MK version. I managed to see it as 'classic' and with Ghost Galaxy & really enjoyed it a lot. But agree that Paris is an awesome ride.
I had to go on the Matterhorn but my first comment when I exited was, 'hey remember when none of my bones were broken?' Nice to see a working yeti though, even if I ended up with 2 bruised knees! :-)
I do have a special place in my heart for RnRRC, but I really did enjoy California Screamin' too
September 19, 2014 at 2:08 PM · Shocked to see Space Mountain 2 in that position.
It is a roller-coaster that rivals with attractions like that from other theme parks specialized in thrill rides.

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