Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is one of the most popular and beloved vacation destinations in the world, known for its iconic characters, immersive theming, and unparalleled entertainment offerings. However, one of the main reasons why millions of people flock to this magical place each year is its world-class rides. From classic attractions that have been thrilling guests for decades to cutting-edge technology that immerses you in new worlds like never before, the best rides at Disney World are truly one of a kind. Let’s take a closer look at why the rides at this beloved park are so great and which ones you won’t want to miss on your next visit.
One of the many aspects of Disney World that keeps people coming back is the parks play on nostalgia. One study reveals that yearning for a “simpler time” reduces brain activity and could help people overcome low levels of pain like headaches. According to researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, feeling nostalgic helps people overcome low levels of pain by reducing brain activity. While these feelings have been found to reduce people’s perception of pain, biological mechanisms at work have remained a mystery — until now.
These nostalgic trips to Disney World also could help you be more productive when you return home. Researchers from Ohio State University argue that, in the long run, being productive all the time harms your mental health. Their findings reveal that taking part in leisure activities was a long-term investment towards greater happiness and lower levels of stress and depression. However, if people viewed recreational or leisure activities as a waste of time, then it would still have detrimental effects on their mental health.
To help you plan all the fun on your visit, let’s dive into the best rides at Disney World. StudyFinds set out to do the research for you, visiting 10 expert websites to put together this list of exciting, magical, and thrilling coasters and rides. If you’ve got your own suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!
The List: Best Rides at Disney World, According to Thrill Seekers
1. Avatar: Flight of Passage
This immersive, 3D flight simulator ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom takes you on a breathtaking journey through the world of Pandora, featuring stunning visuals and realistic sensations that make you feel like you’re flying on the back of a banshee. “I was blown away by this attraction and was literally speechless coming off the ride – because it’s not just a ride, it really is an experience. I never wanted it to end. As it stands, it is well worth an hour or two wait. Easily the best flying theater/simulator attraction I’ve ever been on, but also one of the best, most immersive rides ever,” says Coaster 101.
Avatar Flight of Passage is the best ride at Disney. pic.twitter.com/Wf2STG4RZP
— Dan Snow (@malignantvine) February 17, 2022
WDW Prep School also loves the experience. Why? ” Flight of Passage is one of the most popular rides across Walt Disney World, especially at Animal Kingdom. While wearing 3D glasses, guests board a simulator and are able to experience what it would be like to fly on a banshee over Pandora. It is truly an unbelievable attraction.”
The Verge talk about it truly creating immersion: “Theme park attractions don’t normally require real suspension of disbelief. You strap into a vehicle, get swung around a bit, and then you’re off and running to the next line. But when you’re dealing with an entire immersive world, like Disney’s new Pandora: The World of Avatar, that dynamic changes. There has to be a narrative behind the ride, an in-world reason for people to line up when they’ve ostensibly traveled to an alien world known for its lush, exotic landscapes.”
2. Space Mountain
This classic indoor roller coaster ride in Magic Kingdom takes you on a thrilling journey through outer space, featuring sharp turns, sudden drops, and fast speeds that will leave you feeling exhilarated. “Because it feels so out of control (in a good way)” says Disney Fanatic, “Have you ever felt like you’re going to hit your head or go flying off the tracks on Space Mountain? I know I have, but I think that’s part of the fun. You know that Disney’s rides have an excellent track record of safety, so while it may feel out of control, you probably have enough faith that it’s safe to make the feeling thrilling, not scary. I imagine that dogs who stick their heads out car windows enjoy this same thrill!”
“Ever since, the thrill ride has provided park guests with an out-of-this-world experience as they strap into a rocket, drop into darkness, and fly through space, passing comets, shooting stars, and more. Part of what makes the attraction so unique is that it is almost completely in the dark. There are no lights on so guests do not know what is coming next and it also makes the ride feel as if it is going faster than it actually is,” says Fox 35.
WDW Info adds: “Even if you’ve never been to a Disney park in your life, you have most likely still heard of Space Mountain. The iconic Tomorrowland attraction opened in the Magic Kingdom in 1975, and since then it has been one of the most popular theme park attractions in the world.”
This simulator ride in Epcot takes you on a virtual hang-gliding journey around the world, allowing you to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of various global landmarks, such as the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower, and the African savanna.
“An instant classic and among Imagineering’s best achievements, Soarin’ Around the World is a giddy adventure that engages your senses and figuratively, if not literally, sends you soarin’. It debuted at the Disneyland Resort and proved so popular that Disney cloned the ride at Walt Disney World’s Epcot. Through the years, it has upgraded the attraction and, in 2016, introduced entirely new content with new airborne destinations,” adds Trip Savvy.
“The core of the experience that made Soarin’ a new classic remains unchanged. The free flight simulation of soaring above the land and epic score still make this attraction a must-do. Those two things are the heart and soul of Soarin’, and are what made the original one of the best attractions of modern Imagineering. I don’t care if you swap the ride video out for ‘Soarin’ Over Indiana‘, so long as the two core elements of Soarin’ remain, you have at least an 8/10 attraction,” writes Disney Tourist Blog.
4. Expedition Everest
This roller coaster ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom takes you on a thrilling journey through the Himalayas, complete with a steep drop, sharp turns, and encounters with the legendary Yeti. “It’s easily Disney’s biggest thrill coaster,” says Insider, “I don’t go to Disney for its coasters. Yes, it has a few good ones like Space Mountain and there’s California‘s Matterhorn. But overall, Disney’s a family theme park. So the first time I went on Expedition Everest last fall — my family never saw a point in heading to Animal Kingdom before Pandora opened — I thought I was going on a normal coaster. I had no idea there was a twist to the ride.”
“Expedition Everest is one of Disney’s most exciting thrill rides. This one is special. Not only do you hurtle down the track at break-neck speeds, you hurtle backward down that same track. Wild,” raves Dad’s Guide to Disney. “Disney has outdone themselves with the themeing in this ride.”
“There’s just something about the two drops on Everest that really make it my all-time favorite. The first one is backwards and I think that makes all the difference. Everest only hits about 50 mph, which is still pretty darn fast, but going that fast backwards is really something else. Then just when you thought you’ve had all the fun you need, you still have the big forwards drop coming up. One is in the dark and one is in the light and they’re both so awesome. I can’t wait to get back and feel the 3 G’s pulling me into that seat! It totally makes you feel alive,” adds Mouse Planet.
5. Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror
This dark ride in Hollywood Studios takes you on a spine-tingling journey through an abandoned hotel, featuring sudden drops, unexpected twists, and eerie special effects that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Its theming is perfect as put by Countdown to Magic: “In the same tradition of The Haunted Mansion, Disney’s design team really captured the feel of an abandoned, 1930’s-era, high class hotel. The exterior is imposing, towering nearly two-hundred feet above you, its coral-colored edifice scorched by lightning, the plaster peeling and crumbling, and the grounds – surrounded by cobblestone walls – are overgrown with weeds and shrubs.”
“Tower of Terror is certainly one of Disney World’s more scary rides in terms of eeriness and thrill factor. The ride theme revolves around paranormal activity inside of an old Hollywood hotel and the high thrill factor comes from sudden large drops down the elevator shaft,” warns Magic Insider.
Thrillist talks about the randomized nature of the ride, “the ride runs on a software randomizer, meaning no two experiences are exactly alike — which is all the reason you need to go more than once. Daredevils should take the center seat in the back row — trust me.”
You might also be interested in:
- Coaster 101
- WDW Prep School
- The Verge
- Disney Fanatic
- Fox 35
- WDW Info
- Trip Savvy
- Disney Tourist Blog
- Dad’s Guide to Disney
- Mouse Planet
- Countdown to Magic
- Magic Insider
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.