It’s the dreaded list. Naming favorite attractions always spark the sort of ravenous debate that every Disney fan has an opinion on, and few times is everyone able to agree.
The thing is, every Disney attraction has a guest who has some sort of emotional connection to it. Whether it’s an age-old classic that feels you with nostalgia or a new one that blew your mind the first time you rode it, every attraction means something to someone. And it’s all justified because they are all fantastic.
Here are my top 5 attractions in Magic Kingdom® Park, in reverse order:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad® Attraction
Finding an attraction to best fit the fifth spot was easily the hardest thing I’ve had to do this week, and that’s saying a lot considering I’m currently writing this while in the middle of college final exams. Walt’s first Florida park has been my favorite for quite some time, and nearly every attraction has an argument at making my list because of it.
Even up to a few years ago, there were other coasters and an endless amount of dark rides that would have made this spot, but it all changed when I got to ride the wildest ride in the wilderness in the dark. It was during my high school senior trip, and after another special mountain ride had been closed, we made our way over to the original runaway railway.
As a thunderstorm brewed far in the distance, we knew our time in the park was dwindling to an inevitable end, so we got in line with hopes that we would get to ride something before one those infamous summer storms struck.
And did we ever get to ride it.
It was one of the first attractions we rode that evening once things got dark, and the flooding glow of lights around the ride’s sculptures created an atmosphere unlike any we had experienced thus far in the trip. Then bam, far out in the distance a bolt of lightning cracked the air, timed perfectly just as we tipped over the first drop and were brought into the nighttime air for the first time.
It turned an incredible attraction into a full-on experience, and now each time I ride it, I cannot help but remember that moment that now stands out as iconic in my memory. It was the ultimate atmospheric scene-setter, and while maybe a one-time event isn’t good enough to land an attraction on this list, I’m making the list, and therefore I’m making the rules. It absolutely belongs at number five.
Space Mountain® Attraction
While an upcoming trip to Disneyland® Resort and the inevitable arrival of the goliath Tron coaster threaten to steal my undying love for the dark coaster (a dark ride meets a roller coaster meets an original IP, need I say more?), the ride that always intimidated me as a child still beckons my name. In fact, it would not be a trip to Walt Disney World® Resort, and dare I say Central Florida, if I did not start one of my days out with a trip through the ride’s queue.
As my beloved Tomorrowland®Area changes with the times, the attraction’s nostalgic retro-future aesthetic that I grew up with takes me right back to the early days of my childhood. The music is the sort of nerdy thing that makes my heart race every time I hear it (it’s looping in my head as I write about it, I’ll have you know), and that first drop straight into blackness makes my stomach drop every single time.
The debate as to whether the front or the back seat is more thrill-inducing will forever be charming, as will getting off the ride with my always taller-than-myself friends who through jittering teeth try to explain how they thought their limbs were going to be severed, yet kept them raised anyway.
The ride’s become a rite-of-passage for each guest I bring to the parks for the first time, as it’s the perfect marriage of that fabled Disney theming and the thrill that every theme park is expected to have.
Few other rides embody the total spirit of, “Woah, that was awesome!” as well as this one does.
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
If you can’t tell, I really, really, really love the Tomorrowland®Area. Like a lot. So much so that the sheer naming of Disney’s live-action film Tomorrowland has caused it to become cemented in my mind as an all-time classic, and I will not be hearing any arguments as to otherwise.
But in all seriousness, I’m an absolute sucker for anything Walt Disney and the company’s history, and thinking about the PeopleMover as a prototype for what would have been the transit system in the original Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow makes me giddy every time I ride it.
The slow-moving tour of perfection embodies everything I adore about what I consider to be classic Disney, as it is filled with unique looks at my favorite place on the planet and a perfect opportunity to people watch and relax. Going through the backside of some of my favorite attractions and getting to see them from another angle is a borderline emotional experience, and that occasional feeling of getting to see one of the iconic mountain rides with the lights on is the type of gamble I’m willing to take every time.
I could probably write a novel on how incredible this attraction is, but since I’ve already posted about this attraction in full, you can just read my thesis statement there.
Pirates of the Caribbean® Attraction
There is an infinite number of reasons as to why this attraction is nearly flawless.
The smell of the water. The atmosphere of the queue and its hollow rendition of the theme song. The slight bit of thrill. The originality of the storyline. The attraction having its own original characters that people have fallen in love with. The sentence fragments that make you teleport yourself to the ride, wishing you were slowly crawling in your boat through the mist of Davy Jones.
It’s awesome and it’s one of the most memorable attraction experiences Disney has ever produced. In fact, you’re probably still thinking about that sweet, sweet smell of the water. I know I dream about it often.
So much can be said about the attraction’s incredible use of themes and what was once its innovative use of animatronics, and the fact that it still holds up so well is a testament to its design.
Its inclusion on this list is only aided by the fact that it is always accessible, with a nearby FastPass+ selection always in reach. An embodiment of that classic Disney feel, it does not get much better than this.
Splash Mountain® Attraction
There are not enough words in the English language that can properly articulate how perfect of an experience this attraction is. A flawless combination of storytelling and thrills, the flume ride exceeds every qualification that constitutes an outstanding Disney attraction.
In a conversation about the variation of themes and interesting concepts, this one meets them all. It takes the idea of bringing intellectual properties into the parks, but spins the characters off into a story completely unique to the theme parks. It represents everything right that is storytelling through thrills and meets the undeniable fun of riding back-to-back due to its abundance of small details.
It takes the flume ride that nearly every theme park has and takes it to the next level, innovating everything from its themed queue, to its half-outdoors and half-indoors loading area, to its original score and glorious set pieces.
Splash Mountain takes all the best aspects from Disney’s top attractions and melds them into one, creating an experience unlike that found at any theme park, much less a unique experience just among other flume rides.
It might forever be unbeatable as the best attraction in all of Disney theme parks, a title it unapologetically deserves.