Monday Top 10: The Most Popular Rides in Orlando

October 27, 2014, 10:11 AM · We know that you love talking about theme parks. (You probably wouldn't be reading theme park websites if you didn't!) Over the years, we've learned which theme park attractions are most likely to get people talking, and they are among the most popular theme park rides in the world. To kick off our weeklong celebration of theme parks, here are our Top 10 Most Popular Rides in Orlando, as determined by the most votes cast in our Theme Park Insider reader ratings. Obviously, newer attractions are at a bit of a disadvantage here, as they haven't been open that long. And "popular" doesn't necessarily mean "best," but the 10 rides here certainly include some of our Orlando favorites.

10. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
Disney's Hollywood Studios

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue revamps Disney's original Star Tours ride with a 3D projection system and multiple, randomly-selected scene options during your flight from the pursuit of the evil Galactic Empire.

9. Splash Mountain
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Splash Mountain

Fans love this musical romp with fun characters, some nifty twists and bumps, and its soaking wet, 40-miles-per-hour, 52-foot drop.

8. Test Track

Test Track

While you wait to board, you'll get to choose some of the elements of a new car that will be tested during your ride. Once on board, you'll ride in a six-seat "test vehicle" as unseen engineers test your car for traction, response, efficiency, and, of course, speed.

7. Jurassic Park River Adventure
Universal's Islands of Adventure

Jurassic Park River Adventure

"Oooh, ahhh... that's how it always starts. Then later there's running and screaming." Sure enough, the velociraptors escape, the meat-eaters are running loose, and, oh, is that a T-Rex trying to eat you? Hang on, because it's all downhill from there.

6. Soarin'


Board one of three massive "hang gliders" for a flight around the state of California, breezing along above river rafters, orange groves, golf courses, national parks, and even an aircraft carrier. For the finale, you'll skim above a downtown Los Angeles freeway on your way to a fireworks display at Disneyland, making this the only theme park attraction whose climax is a scene from... another theme park.

5. Haunted Mansion
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Haunted Mansion

This Dutch Gothic Revival New England mansion looks innocent enough on the outside, but 999 "happy haunts" reside inside. The Haunted Mansion long has been one of Disney's most popular attractions at theme parks around the world, with its deft use of stagecraft to create a variety of illusions.

4. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Disney's Hollywood Studios

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Themed to an "Old Hollywood" resort from the late 1930's, this elaborately themed drop ride offers multiple drop sequences, so you'll probably not get the same ride twice.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Pirates of the Caribbean

Walk through the Spanish fortress and step into a bateau for your ride into a mysterious cavern. Be sure to "keep your ruddy hands in board," though, for "there be rough seas ahead," ones that will drop you into a musical pirate adventure.

2. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Universal's Islands of Adventure

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

J. Jonah Jameson's hired you as an intern at the Daily Bugle, to test its new automated news-gathering vehicle, the SCOOP. But, of course, news breaks and everything goes “terribly wrong,” and you're soon twisting and spinning around the city as a collection of villains torments you with fireballs, floods, and even a 100-story drop.

1. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Universal's Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Professor Dumbledore has opened Hogwarts Castle to Muggles for the first time, and you're invited. Step inside the castle for a walking tour of the dungeons, greenhouses, and Dumbledore's office, before Harry, Ron and Hermione catch up to help you board a flying bench for an airborne tour of the castle and grounds. Now if only you could get away from that nasty dragon that keeps chasing you....

What is your favorite theme park attraction in Orlando? And which one have you gone on the most over the years? Tell us, in the comments.

Replies (23)

October 27, 2014 at 10:28 AM · These are all definitely top rides in Orlando. I'm surprised to not see the Mummy included on this list, which has always been a favorite of mine as well. I also haven't heard from people that Gringotts is a clear favorite, as impressive as it is.

Maybe the only ride on this list that I feel pretty lukewarm about is the updated Test Track. It seems like it has lost its focus in the renovated version. What am I looking at, a bunch of shapes and colors? Not sure.

Also, can't wait for a new favorite to be built one day soon. What is it going to be? King Kong? Something further in the future? There's nothing like taking that first ride on a new attraction and just being blown away by the technology enough to suspend disbelief for a couple of minutes (until many, many re-rides reveal all of the intimate details of how it's done). Most recently I felt this way with Forbidden Journey - had never experienced anything like that before.

October 27, 2014 at 10:35 AM · Great list! I'd only make two substitutions -- The Mummy for Test Track and Everest for Soarin' .... I've never understood the appeal of Soarin' and the length of its wait is a beat down. I rode it once and that was enough.
October 27, 2014 at 11:24 AM · Escape from gringots
October 27, 2014 at 11:28 AM · "For the finale, you'll skim above a downtown Los Angeles freeway on your way to a fireworks display at Disneyland, making this the only theme park attraction whose climax is a scene from... another theme park."

Well, there's the Simpsons ride...but that isn't a *real* theme park.

October 27, 2014 at 11:33 AM · Although, Haunted Mansion and POTC are true classics that I love my vote is for TOT. My first visit to WDW was in Aug of 94 and TOT had just opened that summer. I fell in love as soon as I walked into the queue and heard the eerie 40's music. :)
October 27, 2014 at 11:43 AM · It's a nice list and I get why they are in the list except for Soaring. I feel this "ride" is the worst thing Disney ever build. There is no story, with every scene change it takes you out of the illusion and it's completely out of place in Orlando. On top of that the execution for the past few years is appalling with a dirty film and fuzzy projection. It's also disappointing that this "ride" technique is the hart of the main ride for Avatar.
You can compare this ride to Universal Studios Hogwarts Express that tries and succeeds you virtual magical train ride compare to a kite flight experience Disney fails to pull off.
October 27, 2014 at 11:46 AM · I would say i'm surprised to not see a few attractions that I thought were popular, but of course the list is comprised of most popular based on ratings from this site alone, like you said, not necessarily the best, but a couple attractions I'm very surprised didn't make the cut. Toy Story Mania, Rock N' Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, Revenge Of The Mummy or Manta.
October 27, 2014 at 12:23 PM · We always try to concentrate on the best aspects of every ride/attraction we experience. (we tried for hours to do this with Stitch. Ugh!)As far as our family's concerned, this list is pretty accurate. Maybe differences in numbering. But much as we loved Jurassic Park, we would have to remove that and Test Track to be replaced with The Mummy and The Hulk. Two wonderfully fun and thrilling rides.(We were on Test Track before the TRON version.) Test Track was the biggest disappointment of our Orlando trip. As a matter of fact, it might not be in our top 20. And my 11 year old daughter cannot fathom that Dr Doom's Freefall is no where on this list. And I, personally, would have Everest on here somewhere.
October 27, 2014 at 12:07 PM · Not that I consider it the top, but considering the demand for the fast pass and the line for it, I'm surprised Toy Story Mania did not make the list.
October 27, 2014 at 12:20 PM · 6. Soarin' "making this the only theme park attraction whose climax is a scene from... another theme park."

For many years, the Muppets 3-D attraction at California Adventure (now temporarily closed) was showing the same ending at the Magic Kingdom. Come to think of it, The Muppets 3-D was showing at MGM/Disney Studios with the ending of the Magic Kingdom too. Thus, this theme park attraction has a climax from scenes from another theme park at both locations.

October 27, 2014 at 12:16 PM · OT: How could Soarin' possibly be the worst attraction that Disney has ever built?! It maybe not be as good as it should be, but worst ever? All the Disney attractions on the list I like, but I would put Expedition Everest in there somewhere too.
October 27, 2014 at 12:26 PM · Where's It's a Small World on the list!?!!??! Kidding, it's a great list and I would include mummy and dueling dragons when it was dueling.....
October 27, 2014 at 12:38 PM · Based on persistently LONG wait times during our recent trip, I would guess that the most popular attractions in Orlando are currently the following: Escape from Gringotts, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
October 27, 2014 at 12:40 PM · TOT should be in at least the top 3, though it is #1 with me.
October 27, 2014 at 1:05 PM · Toy Story Mania has very low capacity in a park that has very few rides. That's probably the main reason for it's long lines. Toy Story at California Adventure, a park with lots of rides, has much shorter lines.....My "favorite attractions" from this list are 1. Splash Mountain 2. Spider Man 3. Forbidden Journey...Thanks to Express Pass, the attraction from this list I ride the most on vacation would be Spider Man, by far. I generally ride it apx. 10 times each vacation....But if I was rating the "best rides" from this list it would be 1. Forbidden Journey 2. Splash Mountain 3. Spiderman......And if I was doing a most popular attractions in Orlando list, Soarin & Test Track would not even be in the top twenty. I believe both Hogwart's Express & Gringott's will make future lists once they're around for a while. It's also my opinion that Transformers & Mummy should be in the top ten of this list.
October 27, 2014 at 4:21 PM · True, there are not many rides at DHS, especially for younger children. Hence it is more popular at DHS than at DCA.

Even at DCA, where do people go at rope drop? RSR, the RSR FP line...and TSMM. Endlessly popular. And when we go to ride TSMM there, we usually wait about 40-45 min., even on school days.

October 27, 2014 at 7:12 PM · I am surprised that Space Mountain did not make the list. That ride has always been popular and still is.
October 27, 2014 at 7:28 PM · I would replace Test Track with the Incredible Hulk, and Soarin with Expedition Everest. Perhaps people just don't like roller coasters as much as I do. Soarin is great! I think it's fantastic for people in Orlando to feel like they're experiencing all of the amazing landscapes of California. California is an amazing state (speaking solely of its natural beauty for the purpose of the post), but I do agree that too often, the lenses are dirty and it really takes you out of the ride. I still love it.

I also don't particular see what is so amazing about Splash Mountain. I've ridden it. It's cute. But Bluto's Bilge ride is a much more entertaining water ride, in my opinion.

My soft spot at Disney is the Haunted Mansion, but it's on the list, so I have no qualms about it.

October 28, 2014 at 9:04 AM · Most I agree with, but I would replace Star Tours, Test Track, and Soarin with Everest, Gringotts, and the Mummy. Those 3 are hands down better then the later.
October 28, 2014 at 10:56 AM · My absolute favorites are Revenge of the Mummy, Tower of Terror and Expedition Everest!
October 31, 2014 at 1:38 PM · Body Wars

October 31, 2014 at 1:38 PM · Oh wait, thats gone now...
November 2, 2014 at 10:41 AM · Would have loved to have seen Space Mountain and the Mummy on the list, but there's so many great attractions now. Gringotts I was a bit underwhelmed by...maybe it was the two hour wait wearing down my excitement. The loading area was simply amazing in terms of detail and scope...the ride itself was fun, but I still like Journey better out of the two Potter rides.

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