Weekly Top 10: The Best Disney Attractions
Disney remains the industry leader in theme parks, with the most-visited parks in the world, led by the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. But what are the top attractions that are inspiring so many people to visit the Disney parks?
Everyone has individual favorites, but here are the top 10 Disney attractions worldwide, as selected collectively by Theme Park Insider readers. It speaks to the depth of Disney's offerings that this list includes attractions from all five of Disney's theme park resorts around the world, from the original in Anaheim, to Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong.
10. Splash Mountain Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Splash recently topped our list of rides that outdid their source material, but everyone's laughing place holds up on its own for delightful characters, music, and just the right amount of thrills.
9. Indiana Jones Adventure Disneyland
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, Indy revolutionized the theme park industry with its use of motion base ride vehicles.
8. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney World's top thrill ride has inspired duplicates around the globe, but none of those versions top the original.
7. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Disneyland Paris
Thunder puts the Disneyland Paris Resort on the list, with its unique island setting amplifying the wildest ride in the wilderness.
6. Fantasmic! Disneyland
Disney's best nighttime show is more than 20 years old at this point, but frequent upgrades have kept it fresh and a must-see for Disneyland visitors.
5. Aladdin Disney's California Adventure
Disney's brought Aladdin to Broadway now, but if you're in Southern California for your vacation, instead of New York, Disney's original stage adaptation of this animated hit ought to be one of your top stops.
4. Radiator Springs Racers Disney's California Adventure VIDEO
The highlight of California Adventure's impressive Cars Land expansion, RSR is looking as good as ever again thanks to recent refurbishments.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean Disneyland
The ride that perhaps more than any other elevated theme park dark rides above their carnival predecessors, Pirates today endures as the flagship of one of Disney's most lucrative entertainment franchises.
2. Mystic Manor Hong Kong Disneyland VIDEO
The newest attraction on our list, Mystic Manor alone changed Disney's Hong Kong park from an afterthought to a bucket list essential for many Disney fans.
1. Journey to the Center of the Earth Tokyo DisneySea VIDEO
Perhaps Disney's most stunning theme park experience, Journey demonstrates how amazing, captivating and wonderful attractions can be.
What are your favorite Disney theme park rides and shows? Please tell us, in the comments.
Great list overall, but I gotta ask.... How far out of the running for the top 10 was Haunted Mansion? I understand how all the rides on this list top HM, but two shows as well?? Admittedly, I haven't seen either one of them so I can't really judge but, come on, it's Haunted Mansion!! :-)
My top two favorites were 10 and 9, but it's hard to argue with most of the picks. I haven't been to Hong Kong or Japan, but I'd put Pirates from Disneyland and Indy up there for me too. I'm a little surprised to see Fantasmic and Aladdin so high. Both are great shows, but I may have underestimated how much they're liked.
I guess my only issue with including RSR and probably Journey to the Center of the Earth (haven't been on it personally but have watched the video for it) so high on this list is the ride times for those rides seems so short. Not to say that they aren't great rides, but for me rides like PoC, HM and Splash Mountain maintain a certain level of immersion simply by having longer ride times. And those would probably be at the top of my list (along with IJA and Fantasmic). And I agree about Mystic Manor - I want to ride that one bad, but not enough to travel to HK. Build it at DLR, please!
Its a nice list but I miss the Ratatouille attraction.
Nice list...especially including Aladdin on it. That show truly is wonderful. I remember Disney had plans to replace it with a Toy Story show... That wouldve be a travesty, not because of Toy Story but because of the removal of Aladdin.
Not just the order but I have to agree with the park selection too. Some versions are definitely better than other. For example, TOT at WDW is better than at DCA. I have mentioned this in another thread but I rode the original first and was very confused when I rode it in California. I thought wait a minute we didn't move forward!.
What? We're forced to fly to Asia, if we want to experience Disney's two best attractions? No thanks!
Obviously would've liked to see Mansion up here, but these are 10 great attractions. Really shows how many top attractions there are between the Disney parks.
Tower of Terror is my favorite ride anywhere.. so I'd have it higher up.
This is a pretty good list and really reinforces that every Disney property has at least one or two unique high quality attractions. I've only been to the Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris, so I haven't done about half the attractions listed above, but almost all those that I have deserve their spot (Big Thunder Mountain is the main one I disagree with...it's good but not significantly better than others and not the best ride (or even best roller coaster in my opinion) at Disneyland Paris).
Wow amazing that Poohs Hunny Hunt and Haunted Mansion didn't make the list. Well just shows the huge variety of attractions that disney offers. Had it been a ride only list those 2 should be on it.
Where is Space Mountain? I'm really surprised that it wasn't there, same with Star Tours and Test Track. Space Mountain is a classic ride that I would put in the top 5. My list is (excluding non- US parks)
I cannot agree with this list. Mystic Manor way too high and Tower of Terror way too low. Pirates in Disneyland is not that great. Splash Mountain way too low and Aladdin? Really? Fantasmic? WHAT!?! "I can't wait to go to Disney to see Fantasmic." Those words have never come out of my mouth! Anyone else? It's more like, "I can't wait to go to Disney so that I can go on Space Mt, Splash Mt, ToT, Test Track, Everest" so on and so forth. FANTASMIC!?!
10. Journey Into Your Imagination (don't judge)
Keith, many people, myself included, love Fantasmic more than most rides. It is a 30 minute spectacular show that really is wonderful to see. As opposed to a 2-5 minute ride.
I have to separate the shows/movies/walkthrus/restaurants from the "rides", so here are my top ten Disney rides (I have only been to the US parks).
Must point this out: Which attraction has the most books and active fan sites dedicated to it? A clue: it was neck and neck two years ago for best overall attraction loosing to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. If you guessed the Haunted Mansion, you would have been correct. We gauge when to visit the parks based on whether it will be up or not. If any of the ten listed are down, we still would consider visiting, but not if HM is down. I even see bumper stickers on random cars that say "My other car is a Doombuggy" and I live over 500 miles away. I like these top ten lists, and everything cannot make it. The fact that they are subjective is great to generate debate, but it is the crown jewel of the parks.
10. Space Mountain - DL
Pirates of the Caribbean not a big deal?! It is the theme park standard since 1967. Along with New Orleans square and haunted mansion, they are Walt Disney's magnus opus, his final addition to the one place in the world that he pured his soul into.
I could agree with a few of the selections on this list. However, the absence of The Haunted Mansion really does strike a chord. An attraction that is often imitated and never duplicated. About as timeless now as it was when it first opened.
I agree with this list but also wish that the Haunted Mansion was on the list. I'm also a sucker for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Alice in Wonderland and the old Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland, now, sadly, defunct... gone to Yesterland. It's with Jesus now. :(
I'm with you James...Mission Space does not get the credit that it deserves because it's simply too realistic (particularly when it opened in it's most intense ride setting). Let's face it, most people don't have what it takes to be an astronaut, and the conditions and forces simulated by the ride system are about as close as you can get to the real thing without strapping yourself into an Atlas V capsule. I do wish they would update the movie or at least give guests some variability in the attraction, because the whole story gets old even 2+ years between rides. However, the ride system is incredible, and so amazingly realistic.
If shows count, Legend of the The Lion King is a must for my list! It's always been an amazing, emotional show. And everyone always sings along because its almost impossible not to! You just walk out of that theater feeling great!
BTM Paris is better than the US versions; however the best two rides in Paris are Ratatouille, and Crush's Coaster. I thought the Pooh ride in Japan was great; however Ratatouille is even better. I didn't expect much from Crush but it was great! best coaster in Paris.
These are my favorite Orlando rides.
James - As for Pirates at DLR and WDW, I did not favor the longer version at the DLR. In all honesty, the Pirates at DLR gives an extra small drop (the 1st drop is not spectacular and not necessary in repeating), an additional scene at the end (Pirates shooting at explosive barrels-pretty good and would be nice to have at WDW), a lift up the waterfall at the end, and the added fluff of Pirate skeletons in the caves at the beginning. The DLR version did not add to my enjoyment or to the story I understood of the ride. WDW has the better setup (the queue), a better/more haunting opening in the caves, the drop that leads directly into the battle at the fort, and ends after the treasure room cutting out the unnecessary lift up the waterfall that adds nothing but more time to the ride. The WDW version is a shorter ride but should not be discredited because of it. The WDW version is a better show condensed without the redundancy at DLR.
Keith - I appreciate your willingness to stand alone in the crowd, but in this case I cannot disagree more. I will grant you that the queue for the WDW version is better, but in large part all the queues at WDW are better than their Disneyland counterparts. And the Disneyland version makes up for the queue with a terrific intro scene floating serenely through the Blue Bayou. As for the "unnecessary" first drop, it is almost as long as the drop in Splash Mt (50+ feet), just not nearly as steep. And I am not sure how it is unnecessary, as it provides a mild thrill, but is still accessible to all ages. Is there something wrong with a bit of a thrill to start a ride? But rather than debate the question further, let's just see what the TPI voting public decided back in 2011:
•_• well...someone defending Florida's version...I thought I would never encounter one...
Disneyland's POTC is to Disney World's POTC as WDW's Haunted Mansion is to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.
Where is Impressions de France?
Where is Impressions de France?
So what you are telling me is that a 2 hour 45 minute version of a movie is better than a 2 hour version simply because it is longer, with more stuff but really not more story. I'm not buying it. Keeping with the movie analogy, have you every seen a movie, like the 2005 King Kong, that could have been 45 minutes less in length and been better off because of it. That's the way I felt with DLR Pirates and I feel that's the way the Imagineers felt as well when they did WDW Pirates. I understand the building of the WDW Pirates was a rushed project to accommodate guest complaints about the absence of the ride. But in comparing DLR with WDW, everything the Imagineers did at WDW was "plussed" and in turn is better than DLR including the later addition of the WDW Pirates. With the WDW Pirates, what was repetitive and did not advance the story of the ride was not included. The beginning of DLR Pirates is a necessary transition between New Orleans Square and the story of the ride. At WDW the story of the ride is established in Caribbean Plaza and then extended in the queue. The various scenes of skeletons in the caves is repetitive and sometimes silly, like the skeleton drinking an endless bottle of red wine. The harpsichord played by a pirate ghost in the DLR Pirates is used to better effect a WDW in the Haunted Mansion. The second drop in the caves at DLR is necessary to further drop the ride below the train tracks and in the end not that thrilling, which in turn is unnecessary at WDW. The scene of the skeleton steering the shipwreck in the lightning storm is better setup and featured at WDW as is the drop at WDW, strategically placed to thrust guests into the middle of the cannonball siege at the fort. The incline up the waterfall at the end of DLR Pirates is unnecessary to the story and excluded from the WDW version. The WDW Pirates is a better version because the sequence and setup of the scenes tells a more compelling story compared to the repetitiveness and unnecessary features of the DLR Pirates.
I am glad you have a strong opinion, Keith, and that you back it up with an impassioned response.
Personally, I like Disneyland's better, but not nearly to the degree that Mr. Rao does.
^I'll take a whole redo of Adventureland into Pirates Land if you don't mind!!! And perhaps they can sell various shades of Jack Sparrow guyliner for the real men! ;)
I like it James. I like it a lot. Throw in a complementary Sparrow facial-hair stylist and it would be perfection.
And, Jack, I read the Harry Potter books before I saw the movies, and the films weren't just a let down, I HATED them - intensely. Still do. I have a hard time understanding how JK Rowling can be so concerned about the theme park representation of her Potterverse, but so nonchalant about the dismantling of her novels on the silver screen.
Excellent list. As for the top two rides, unfortunately Disney can't clone them in the U.S. because the asian parks have an a guarantee of exclusivity for a number of years. I don't know when that guarantee expires, so we can still hope.
I can't really join the California vs. Florida Pirates of the Caribbean debate as I have yet to ride the Florida version of the ride, but no debate is complete without including the Paris version. I rode that version when I visited Disneyland Paris in 2012 and I honestly think it is superior to even the California original. The ride is only 10 minutes long (unlike California's 15, which I honestly feel is borderline too long), but features almost all the same scenes and flows better. In addition, the Paris version is unmodified, meaning that none of the film characters appear and the pirates still chase the women in the town. Since the scenes occur in a completely different order, here's a run-through of this version (from my memory):
AJ - I wrote "[PotC's first drop] is almost as
Ok. My say on Pirates. I had grown up on the WDW version. And I first rode DLR's before I discovered this website, so I didn't know what to expect. I got a lot more than I bargained for and was happy about it. The additional scenes made the story make more sense to me. And of course, I'm all for an extra drop. I still really love WDW's, but DLR's is so much better. That also kinda reflects my opinion on Harry Potter. I saw the movies first, which are now some of my most favorite movies ever, and then I read the books which I thought were better. It was like reading the movies but with more detail and extra plots. So good!
Jack- Great point about the order in which you experience it. In being a WDW veteran for over 40 years now, I just felt underwhelmed about DLR. The DLR Pirates was probably the catalyst for my reaction because it did not live up to the hype. In all, not much of Disneyland did. Standouts of my first every visit to DLR were Radiator Springs, Pinnochio (very charming and fun!), Space Mountain (the ride went on and on and on and on), and the Subs (this ride brought back VERY strong memories of 20,000 Leagues at WDW!). Everything else...eh. As for the Harry Potter movies, I did not read the books but really enjoyed the movies. So, like you said, the order of the experience plays an integral role in your reaction to it.
After visiting DLR and coming back underwhelmed, I start to get concerned that if I every do get to make it to Paris or better yet Tokyo that I will feel the same reaction to those parks because of the hype placed on them. Is DisneySea really that good? In all honesty I would prefer to hear that it sucks and come back completely surprised. I don't want to tear down the high expectations I have of these parks as I had for DLR. Coming out of it, though, I now have a greater respect and admiration for WDW.
You're right, James, I misinterpreted what you wrote. However, the physical drops are still not the same length, as 52.5 feet refers to the height of Splash Mountain's drop, not the flume length (which, from basic trigonometry, would be about 72 ft long...slightly more to allow for curvature). If the flume was indeed 52.5 ft long, the drop would be less than four stories, which completely goes against everything Disney advertises about the ride (it's often referred to as a five story plunge). I think that is why I was confused by your original statement.
AJ, I guess it is neither here nor there at this point, but perhaps a correction or two is in order after all [done!]. Let's just say that Disneyland's PotC's first drop is as
AJ-just wanted to let you know that I'm a WDW fan and I loved Indianna Jones Adventure! In fact, it's my favorite Disney ride that's not here in Florida! (At least that I've ridden)
wait, Space Mountain is not on the list?!
Although I am sure no one is still viewing this thread, just for grins I went ahead and put together my top ten list of non-ride attractions at Disney.
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