I love a good top ten list and it’s been a while since Wandering in Disney had one. When thinking about possible topics, I noticed a gross oversight! I’ve done plenty of attraction rankings on the site but have never gotten to a top ten list of Walt Disney World attractions. In this post, that’s exactly where we’re headed.
For consideration, I’ve included any ride, 3D movie and animatronic stage show. I guess another way to say that is I didn’t include any live entertainment! Why say something once when you can say it in two different ways. With that criteria in mind, there were over 60 attractions considered. There was obviously some bias involved in the list but I did try to consider a number of factors like the ride system, theme and plot, uniqueness and queue.
A few honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the list include Walt Disney World’s two newest attractions, TRON Lightcycle Run and Cosmic Rewind. Keeping on the roller coaster thought, Space Mountain narrowly missed the list and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train doesn’t quite live up to the line hype. Finally, the PeopleMover, Runaway Railway and Living with the Land were some personal favorites that didn’t crack the top ten. All of the parks are represented, albeit just barely in Epcot’s case. Let’s get to the list!
10. Jungle Cruise
I debated a few attractions for this spot but ultimately landed on Jungle Cruise thanks to the family friendly aspect and the timelessness of it all. If this was just a boat ride showing off some cool animatronics then sweet! That’s good enough. But you add in the B-movie quality of the skipper’s jokes and then Jungle Cruise can take a leap into core memory status. If you get that amazing ride with the perfect skipper, Jungle Cruise is one of the best rides in the world.
9. Spaceship Earth (Epcot)
Epcot’s lone attraction on the list is in the best ride building of all time, the centerpiece of the park. Unfortunately, there are bad parts of this ride as some of the age is showing, the narration has some doozies and the ending looks bad. But the attraction is amazing inside of the ball, and has a great concept taking guests through the world’s history. It’s everything Epcot set out to be!
8. Country Bear Jamboree (Magic Kingdom)
Look, I have my biases. Country Bear Jamboree has more character and humor than any other attraction at Walt Disney World. Who doesn’t want to see a group of bears singing some old country songs before chaos takes over? Not only is this hilarious, but there won’t be a line and this is unlike anything else offered! If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on Country Bear Jamboree click on pretty much anything else I write.
7. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
The only one of Magic Kingdom’s mountains that make the list, Big Thunder has an excellent story behind it along with a unique setting and a little bit of thrill. The coaster is surprisingly long and sits right alongside the water. It’s one of the most picturesque parts of Magic Kingdom. I wish it had a few more special effects but the ride is still wild without them!
6. Expedition Everest (Aniimal Kingdom)
This begins a run on Animal Kingdom attractions, as they occupy 3 of the next 4 spots. Everest looms over the park in both a beautiful and menacing way. That feeling carries over to the queue and attraction as riders try to escape from a gigantic yeti. Even without our favorite non-working animatronic, Everest is a thrill ride with surprises through a beautiful mountain. It’s an integral part of Animal Kingdom and worth riding both during the day and night.
5. Avatar Flight of Passage (Animal Kingdom)
When I first went on Flight of Passage, I thought the experience was incredible and beautiful but that the novelty would wear off eventually. I couldn’t have been more wrong as this is aging like a fine wine, or whatever the Navi drink. Between the soundtrack and astonishing visuals, Flight of Passage has ascended into the top 5 on my list. The queue is also gorgeous, wandering through different settings before getting to a pre-show that this post will conveniently forget about.
4. Haunted Mansion (Magic Kingdom)
An undeniable classic and one of the few rides I prefer at WDW over the Disneyland iteration, at least once you’re in the actual ride. The facade and queue are fun and thematically endearing to Liberty Square. Once you’re on the ride every scene is a hit, culminating in a fantastic and campy finale. This also has the best pre-show of… all time? The stretching room extends the ride into the queue and is iconic, as long as no one in there with you is reciting the narration. That should result in Disney jail.
3. Kilimanjaro Safaris (Animal Kingdom)
Because the next two attractions have height limits, this is my favorite family attraction at Walt Disney World and certainly one of the most impressive. An attraction that is really the thesis of Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris goes through some beautiful scenery and showcases an amazing array of animals. This is also the most repeatable ride at WDW because the subject of the ride, the animals, are always doing something different. I wish there was a little more plot than the current iteration offers but it’s always a wonderful experience.
2. Rise of the Resistance (Hollywood Studios)
I’m a little antsy about putting something new so high on the list. There are certain references in Rise of the Resistance that may not age extremely well, as we don’t know how well the latest trilogy will stand the test of time. But that’s the only drawback to this epic 20+ minute experience. The first time ride through is one of a kind here and Disney’s best. Even when those surprises are over on a re-ride, the scale and ride system are absolutely incredible. This is everything modern Imagineering can be and I hope there’s more masterpieces like this in the future.
1. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios)
Tower of Terror is perfection in nearly every way. Having it loom over Sunset Boulevard as both an icon and something ominous makes Hollywood Studios so much better than it would be otherwise. There is a mystery there while still being extravagant and beautiful. That mystique follows guests into the queue, whether that’s the gardens or the dusty props on the desk before descending into the elevator shaft.
Once in those elevators, the ride system still wows nearly 30 years later. Having a simple drop ride wasn’t good enough. No attraction in Walt Disney World tells such a concise and coherent story. Even if you’re terrified of falling to your death like any normal person would be (at least that’s what I tell my wife), there’s no denying how incredible Tower of Terror is.
What do you think of our top 10 Walt Disney World attractions? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Interested in a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Planning Guide to help you along the way! If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Top 10 Lists