Top 10 Walt Disney World Rides For When You Return

July 11, 2020, 1:19 PM · Walt Disney World reopened this morning - with a very limited number of visitors - and I must say, between the rise of cases in Florida and my love for Disney, I am cautiously excited to return. I do plan on eventually going back, when I feel it’s safe, and plan on riding my all-time favorite rides. (I’ll probably go back when all these rides reopen, and I can visit multiple parks in one day.)

So here is my top 10 list of Disney World rides worth returning for - most not in any particular order, except for the top three.

Pirates of Caribbean

Pirates of Caribbean - This ride invoked my sense of wonder and amazement when I first came to Magic Kingdom as a child. The full immersion into the swashbuckling world of pirates wasn’t all that scary, but I remember my heart racing as we meandered through all cannon fire for the first time. Now, what keeps it a great ride for is that it’s a fun relaxing boat ride that starts with a mostly air-conditioned queue, which makes it a nice respite from the harsh Florida heat.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror - Okay, so this ride did scare me when I was young, and it still does now. I’ve always been a big fan of the Twilight Zone and the way this ride mixes such a cool series with a mysterious, but frightening, story and ride is just perfect. I’m sorry it was changed to Guardians of the Galaxy in California, but I'm happy it retains its ominous presence at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise - I always appreciate this Magic Kingdom ride’s boat captain’s corny sense of humor. They’re very punny. Anyway, I always try to spot items I haven't noticed in the queue before, but my favorite time going on this cruise is during Christmastime when it’s transformed into the Jingle Cruise and decorated with nostalgic holiday decorations. I’m excited for the movie inspired by the ride as well.

Expedition Everest - I always get my thrills at this Animal Kingdom ride. Traversing through peaks and the valleys in a railcar is a fun experience, and it’s nice to catch glimpses of the beautifully green park when on top of the mountain.

Space Mountain

Space Mountain - It’s hard not to think about Space Mountain when you talk about Tomorrowland. The Magic Kingdom ride invokes a sense of nostalgia inside me with hearing all those 70’s stylized space sounds while feeling every imperfection of the steel roller coaster.

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris - I love seeing animals and personally want to see how they fared during this pandemic. They probably enjoyed not having trucks driven though every few minutes, but who knows, maybe they like seeing new people? In all, seeing the animals hang out brings a sense of normalcy back to a world that will be forever changed.

Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth - Speaking of changes, this is a ride that demonstrates how far the human race has gone. I’m always in awe of the first scene where ancient hunters are trying to down the giant wooly mammoth in the snow all the way up to the present day where someone is probably figuring out why they haven’t received their Amazon package. I’m also happy that Disney is still going to update the ride sometime in the future.

Toy Story Mania

3. Toy Story Mania - This is one of the newer rides on my list, but it goes to show you that Disney has evolved in some of its rides to include more interaction. The ride at Hollywood Studios mixes lighthearted fun competition with one of Disney’s most memorable properties for children. Call me a kid at heart.

Haunted Mansion

2. Haunted Mansion - This ride has been going strong since the opening of Magic Kingdom and is one of my favorites. The experience begins in queue where you walk around the graveyard where you eventually reach a Ghost Host that escorts you in little doom buggies through the many rooms of the spooky mansion. It’s an example of Walt Disney Imagineering at its finest with dancing apparitions to a few hitch-hiking ones. I always enjoy my time touring this old house.

1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - It was hard to put Haunted Mansion as number two, but Big Thunder is my absolute favorite because I’m always having a good time riding this little coaster. The way you ride through all those bunny hills along with its twists and turns makes it for good ol’ fashion family fun. The Western mine theme queue is fun to look at and the ride itself can be ridden many times. It’s even more fun at night and riding in the very back (just ask a cast member). The ride also offers a good view of Cinderella Castle.

And there you have it, the rides I plan on riding when I get back. Eventually, this pandemic will be over. So, keep your chin up, stay safe, and we will enjoy these rides again, together.

What are some of the rides you miss and want to ride when you get back? Still hooked on Rise of the Resistance? Let us know.

Replies (15)

July 11, 2020 at 1:25 PM

Okay, I'll play! Here are my (not considering the pandemic and need to minimize time indoors) WDW top 10 attractions.

  1. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  2. Flight of Passage
  3. Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway
  4. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  5. Haunted Mansion
  6. Impressions de France
  7. The American Adventure
  8. Tom Sawyer Island
  9. Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
  10. Finding Nemo: The Musical

July 11, 2020 at 2:22 PM

I'm in! Rides only though, it could get out of hand otherwise.
1. Haunted Mansion - THE best Disney ride ever created and you will never be able to successfully argue your case for an alternate
2. Tower of Terror
3. Rise of the Resistance (cause I've never ridden it)
4. Splash Mountain - yes it should have been updated earlier but it's still a great ride
5. Expedition Everest
6. Spaceship Earth
7. Kilimanjaro Safaris
8. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
9. Test Track
10. Living with the Land

Special dishonorable mention to Flight of Passage which I genuinely do not understand the love for. Just a glowed up Soarin from a bad IP

July 11, 2020 at 2:21 PM

Great list Robert. I appreciate some of your seemingly under appreciated rides like the people mover which is a nice relaxing ride. Pictures are awesome, thanks!

Great list too nrainone, I knew someone was going to have Haunted Mansion as number one!

July 11, 2020 at 3:56 PM

@Jeff, great list. Hard to argue with any of your choices as they are classics.

@Robert, Big Up! to you for your representing with some Tom Sawyer and one of my faves, the People Mover. I’ll even bundle the Carousel of Progress worth the People Mover for a cool, relaxing way to enjoy a break from the crowds and heat.

@Rainone, same fist bump to you for your recognition of Living with the Land. I wish Soarin had a virtual queue that would funnel some more love to that ride, but then it wouldn’t be our hidden little gem anymore would it?

I’ll throw mine out (in no order, just top ten)
1) Haunted Mansion
2) Splash Mountain
3) Tower of Terror
4) Dinosaur! The Ride (formerly Countdown to Extinction)
5) Everest
6) Flight of Passage
7) Spaceship Earth
8) Pirates of the Caribbean
9) Impressions de France/American Adventure (yes, they are allowed to tie- it’s my list damnit!)
10) The Great Movie Ride... whoops, ahem- Toy Story Mania

* Honorable pre-mention to RotR, Mickey & Minnie, Ratatouille, and Guardians eventually and hopefully :)

July 11, 2020 at 4:11 PM

As someone who doesn't live anywhere near Disney World, this post is a nice distraction from my theme park-less abode. Here are the top 10 rides I’ll be dashing to:
1) Rise of the Resistance (I've never ridden it, and can't stop thinking about when I will. It looks like the perfect combination of theming, thrills, and other things that start with “th”)
2) Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (I rode Tower of Terror in Tokyo, but can't wait to experience the fourth dimension)
3) Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway (Although it doesn't seem as amazing as RotR (you could say that the scale is “Minnie”-ature, the tech-infused theming looks stunning)
4) Expedition Everest (The second roller coaster I had ever ridden, and still one of my favorites today)
5) Toy Story Mania (It’s playful, it’s lively, and just so much fun!)
6) Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (I don’t expect it to be as good as rides later on this list - I wouldn’t “run” to this ride at DHS, but who doesn’t want to go sit in the Millennium Falcon?)
7+8) Avatar: Flight of Passage/Soarin’ (They’re both quite similar, top-notch simulators)
9) Frozen Ever After (Like MF - which is not a great abbreviation for a family-friendly ride, I don’t expect it to be a great ride, but it looks good enough and I’m always up for new experiences)
10) Haunted Mansion (It truly captures the joy of the screen-less Disney dark ride that made me a theme park lover)

July 11, 2020 at 5:58 PM

Wow, amazed more aren't mentioning taking one last trip on Splash Mountain before the change. But okay...

1. Pirates
2. Space Mountain
3 Rock n Roller Coaster
4 Star Tours
5 Rise of the Resistance (actually haven't gone on it myself but the videos are amazing)
6. Spaceship Earth
7. Test Track
8. Flight of Passage (another not ridden myself but want to)
9. Expedition Everest
10. Big Thunder Mountain

July 11, 2020 at 6:06 PM

BTW, if you haven't seen it, the Internet reaction to the WDW "Welcome Home" video is amazing.

The best ones being remixing it to the theme of Jordan Pele's Us movie.

July 11, 2020 at 11:09 PM

Assuming current plans hold, I'll be in Florida in October for a wedding and Disney will be part of that trip (how much Disney is still up in the air). Here's what I'd say I'm most looking forward to at the moment (roughly in order of priority):

1. Expedition Everest (my favorite Disney coaster)
2. Haunted Mansion (though it will be lacking something without the stretch room)
3. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (best ride at WDW IMO, though I don't have as strong of an attachment as some)
4. Flight of Passage (I'd like to give this one a second chance after being underwhelmed the first time)
5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom's best thrill ride)
6. Kilimanjaro Safaris (one of the best attractions for getting off your feet, and a great way to see the wildlife as well)
7. Toy Story Mania (I'll be able to play against friends I don't usually play with)
8. Soarin' Around the World (my favorite simulator attraction)
9. Splash Mountain (I haven't ridden Florida's version yet and likely won't get another chance)
10. Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway (the most noteworthy new addition since my previous visit in 2017)
HM: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (would rank higher if I didn't have a clone a half hour away at Disneyland)

July 12, 2020 at 2:19 AM

@MikeW- yeah I saw it, however I think the like to dislike ratio would tell a different story of the majority’s opinion.

As for my top ten rides at WDW I’d probably pick-

1. Flight of Passage- I’ve only been on it once and am so looking forward to getting back on it. I purposefully didn’t watch any videos of the attraction beforehand and was blown away by the world Disney was able to expand upon.
2. Tower of terror- since we lost the one in Disneyland I have to savor every time I go on the one at Hollywood studios, it’s the superior version.
3. Kilimanjaro Safari- I love the atmosphere of the whole ride, it’s great.
4. Expedition Everest- perfect balance of thrill and theming Disney has ever done on a coaster.
5. Mickeys runaway railway- Purposfully haven’t watched any videos and I can’t wait to see what all the hype is about.
6. Rise of the Resistance- I still put this on my list even though I’ve ridden it twice at Disneyland because it’s such a good ride that it’s always a must do.
7. Mickeys Philharmagic- this show has such a pure heart and wonder to it. It’s a great way to spend 7 minutes sitting down in a air conditioned room too.
8. People mover- sadly I never was even alive when the people mover closed at Disneyland, so this is the closest I have to it. If it’s anything like what the people mover was like at DL, then I’d ride it every time I visited DL.
9. Rockin Roller Coaster- I mean the theming is almost non-existence but going out into the alley after the preshow and watching the coaster launch is one of my favorite moments at the resort.
10. Spaceship Earth- the ending really makes it for me. I love learning about the history of communication but seeing all those stars and the earth is just... it’s really something man.

July 12, 2020 at 10:14 AM

@Jeffrey, my girlfriend and I love the Haunted Mansion so much we got engaged in the queue line last year!

@fattyackin Living With The Land is a gem. First time said fiance and I ever went to Epcot it was the second thing we both agree we had to do after Spaceship Earth.

Also, HOW DID I FORGET THE PEOPLEMOVER?!? I'd bump Test Track (which I still love, even in it's current Tron Track version) for PeopleMover for sure.

July 12, 2020 at 4:44 PM

Everyone has such good lists and cannot argue with any of the picks. It’s cool to see Runaway Railway on a few!

@nrainone - in the queue, that’s awesome!

July 13, 2020 at 10:45 AM

We were most recently at WDW in late January, and here are my top attractions...

1. Tower of Terror
2. Flight of Passage
3. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run
4. Rise of the Resistance
5. Haunted Mansion
6. Mission Space
7. Toy Story Mania
8. Expedition Everest
9. Pirates of the Caribbean
10. TestTrack

July 13, 2020 at 1:51 PM

My list, in no particular order would be:
1) Pirates of the Caribbean
2) Haunted Mansion
3) Big Thunder
4) Spaceship Earth
5) Soarin
6) Test Track
7) Jungle Cruise
8) Dinosaur
9) Tomorrowland Peoplemover
10) Peter Pan

July 13, 2020 at 3:42 PM

Millennium Falcon over Rise of the Resistance Russell? Woah.

I must say test track did come very close to making my top 10. Peter Pan is another under appreciated ride, but the lines don't make it seem that way...

I still can't believe no one put Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Slinky Dog, but maybe because they are too short of a ride?

July 14, 2020 at 8:31 AM

@Jeffrey - Absolutely, and I say that with little hesitation. I think if you've never ridden either attraction, RotR will wow a first time guest more than MFSR. However, from a repeatable experience, the story and experience of MFSR is miles better. We managed to get on RotR 3 times during the week we were in WDW in January, and while I wouldn't have minded riding another couple times if Disney had allowed multiple rides per day, I would have rather gotten another dozen or more rides on MFSR (We rode that 8 times over the week).

SDD is one of the most underwhelming roller coasters I've ever ridden. The average wait time versus the quality of the coaster is about as bad as it gets. Even with the length of the wait taken out of the equation, SDD as a coaster is not all that great. The main "pull-back" launch hypes you up that it's going to be intense, but is just tame.

7DMT is another coaster where the line oversells the quality of the coaster. I would probably rate 7DMT higher than SDD, but it's still not that great, mostly because the carts don't swing as much as you expect them to. BTMRR is far superior from a coaster standpoint, and if WDW's version had the lift C upgrades that DL's version has, it would be superior to 7DMT thematically.

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