There are many lists out there, but none so meticulously cultivated. Here are the official Fire by Arthur’s Top 12 Disney World rides. Feel free to use this list as you prioritize your trip.
#12 Test Track
If you love going fast and feeling those g-forces, Test Track is your ride. People enjoy designing their cars beforehand as well, which usually provides some laughs when you see the crazy pictures on the screen. I do think it would be much more interesting if your design affected the actual performance of the ride, though I can see where that would be difficult to implement. I’m not a big fan of all the jerky swerving and brake testing in the beginning. But when you get outside onto that race track WHOLLY! CANNOLI! BATMAN! Hold onto your hats . . . . it’s go time!
I’ll never forget the first time I saw the massive T-Rex looking dinosaur running at our vehicle—I thought I might have to change my underwear afterwards. My family didn’t actually ride DINOSAUR until our fourth Disney World trip, so we were excited to find a new attraction that was fresh and fun. The warning signs outside the ride are there for a reason; if your kids are little and get scared easily, they will likely be crying at some point.
#10 Frozen Ever After
This ride gets a lot of mixed reviews, yet it’s impossible to ignore the popularity of Frozen and the nice shiny new animatronics. Overall, it’s a fun little attraction that does a decent job of making you feel the magic of Frozen. I will say, it feels a bit awkward for those of us that remember riding it as the viking themed Maelstrom, before they converted it into Frozen. It’s also a little weird having it in the Norway section of Epcot, when we all know it really belongs over in Magic Kingdom.
#9 Space Mountain
Though this ride is almost as old as Disney World itself, it still holds its own. Once, I had the pleasure of sitting in the very front of the coaster, and in those tiny one-person carts it feels like you have nothing in front of you but air. The ride is completely dark most of the time, and I seriously thought I was going to be flung off into the black ether while going around some of the rickety curves.
#8 Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
This smooth little coaster is a beautiful, albeit quick, ride. It feels very new and fresh, with high quality theming. I particularly enjoy going on it at night because of the gorgeous lighting all around, and the cozy little cottage at the end. There is zero jerkiness to this ride, and its silky feel makes it seem like you are flying, especially in the dark. It is also in a prime spot among Fantasy Land, making it easy to get to after visiting the castle.
#7 Splash Mountain
This is Disney World’s signature log flume ride. It is not only one of the highest dropping pure log flumes in the world, but it has an entertaining storyline as well. The Br’er Rabbit theme is fun and quirky, though it might not appeal to everyone.
#6 Spaceship Earth
Yes, the big Epcot ball—that actually has a great ride inside. While this attraction may feel a bit dated, that’s part of its charm: the nostalgia factor. This ride is pure, original Epcot. It reminds me of when I was back in elementary school (in the 80s), and the “lucky kids” that went to Florida for vacation would show me pictures of them in front of the Epcot ball. I thought it looked like the coolest thing imaginable. At the time, I also thought Epcot was a whole separate thing from Disney World. Anyhow, Spaceship Earth is a cozy, slow moving exploration of human history. It’s also a great respite from the heat if you’ve been walking around the open pavement of Epcot in the blazing sun.
#5 Expedition Everest
If you are a huge roller coaster fan, this is your primary destination at Disney World. It doesn’t come close to setting any world records for height or speed, though it is no slouch in that department. The storyline, theming, and variety of direction (going backwards, ooof!) do provide a lot more creative qualities than you will find on your normal amusement park roller coaster.
#4 Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster
It’s crazy fast. Even though the Aerosmith themed ride doesn’t have 400 ft drops like the big roller coasters at Six Flags type amusement parks, it has never left an adrenaline junky disappointed. Granted, if riding stomach flipping roller coasters is your primary goal, Disney World is probably not the place you want to be.
#3 The Pirates of the Caribbean
This was the last ride Walt was fully involved in building before he died, and the pure storytelling detail shines through. It is immersive and exciting, even if you don’t take the popularity of the Johnny Depp movies into account. Not to mention, the distinct Florida water smell will stick in your mind after riding “Pirates,” and you’ll remember the attraction with fondness anytime you catch a whiff of that scent elsewhere.
An interesting thing to note is the changes that have occurred with this ride over the years, as social sensibilities evolve. There used to be a “Pooped Pirate” who was worn out from too much time with wenches; he’s now tired from eating too much. The pirates used to chase the wenches in front of the windows (for love); now the women chase the pirates for stealing their pies. And finally, the “Red Headed Wench” will be changed from an auctioned off bride, to a pirate herself, auctioning stolen goods.
#2 Toy Story Mania
This attraction is often the only reason some people go to Hollywood Studios. It’s a ton of fun playing the game and trying to get a high score. Whenever I get to the end, I always wish I could keep going. That’s really the only drawback to this ride—the wait is usually long and it seems like it’s over before you know it. I do wish Disney would take this interactive gameplay direction with more of their rides. I also think they should replace the Buzz Lightyear ride, which is supposed to be a game, but feels horribly old and clunky. Toy Story Mania, on the other hand, has crisp, colorful, creative gameplay that will stay fresh for many years to come.
#1 The Haunted Mansion
The detail and theming in The Haunted Mansion is not matched anywhere else in Disney World. From the animatronics, to the narrator’s voice, to the ghost projections, to the catchy music . . . . the complete experience is a masterpiece. And it’s pure Walt Disney. I could personally go on this ride all day long, though most folks would probably not take their enthusiasm that far. I’ve also had the pleasure of riding The Haunted Mansion during the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party, which provides an extra level of spooky fun. There is a lot of lore around this ride, with many rumors involving its history (some true, most not so true) that give it a creepy feel.
Well, that wraps up the Fire by Arthur’s Top 12 Rides at Disney World. You may not agree with all of these, and that’s part of the fun. If I missed any rides you think should be in the list, go ahead and let me know!