Best Disney World Rides for Kids

The Top 10 Attractions for the Youngest Visitors

It's a Small World ride

Courtesy of Disney

It's been said that Walt Disney World brings out the child in all of us. Among the dozens of rides offered at its parks, however, which ones especially reach out to younger children? Per Walt Disney's grand design, all of the rides at Disney World are made for adults and children to enjoy together. But some of the more thrilling attractions have height restrictions and aren't intended for small fry. And while nearly all of the rides appeal to kids of all ages, some have the perfect blend of whimsy and charm to delight toddlers and pre-tweens. Here are my picks for the ten best Disney World rides for children.

  • 01 of 11

    Dumbo the Flying Elephant

    Dumbo ride at Disney World

    Courtesy of Disney

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 1.5
      Spinning action; vehicles rise up
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom

    Sure, it's similar to simple spinning rides found at amusement parks and carnivals everywhere (although the Disney ride is decked out like some magnificent Renaissance machine designed by Leonardo da Vinci). But there is something affirming and timeless about boarding the famous flying pachyderm. No visit to Disney World would be complete without a spin on Dumbo. It is, perhaps, the definitive Disney attraction and the best Disney World ride for kids.

    It's so popular, Disney added a second Dumbo ride when it expanded its New Fantasyland area. It also features a big top circus-themed waiting area where kids can have fun before their ride aboard the soaring elephant.

  • 02 of 11

    Peter Pan's Flight

    Peter Pan's Flight

     HarshLight/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 1
      Sensation of flying high in the air. Slightly menacing villains.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom

    It's one of the original Disney World (and Disneyland) attractions. The sweet ride sends guests soaring high above London and off to Never Land in flying galleons that are suspended from a track above the vehicles. Disney's other Pirates ride can be a bit foreboding and overhwleming for small children, but Peter Pan strikes the perfect balance of adventure and nostalgia. Who could resist a ride powered by pixie dust?

  • 03 of 11
    The Seas with Nemo and Friends!

    Josh Hallett/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy! 10=Yikes!): .5
      Some scenes are a bit dark
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Future World in Epcot

    A stunning breakthrough by Disney Imagineers integrates the characters from Finding Nemo with the actual fish and animals in the tank of the marine life pavilion. The illusion will have adults baffled, but young children will simply accept it -- and love it. A sequel of sorts to the film, the simple story has Nemo pretending to be lost (talk about a fish who cried wolf, eh?). The Omnimover system uses cute "clamobile" vehicles.

  • 04 of 11

    Voyage of The Little Mermaid

    Voyage of the Little Mermaid - Disney's Hollywood Studios

    Josh Hallett/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 1
      The giant Ursula puppet could be a bit unnerving for wee ones
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Disney's Hollywood Studios

    A theatrical retelling of the classic animated film (in condensed form), the show includes many of the movie's popular songs. Kids will root for the upbeat, plucky heroine and be delighted by the in-theater effects.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    "It's a Small World"

    It's a Small World ride

    Courtesy of Disney

    Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy! 10=Yikes!): 0
    Perhaps the most gentle park ride ever designed.

    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom

    Young kids are wide-eyed as they glide through the Disney park original (which was one of the four attractions Disney developed for the 1964 New York World's Fair). The relentlessly upbeat and bright ride might seem a tad cloying to adults -- and its never-ending theme song can induce fits of hysteria -- but children absolutely adore it.

  • 06 of 11

    Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room

    Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room

    Jared/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): .5
      There is an interlude when the room turns dark, and the noise level gets a bit loud.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom

    A throwback to the Disneyland attraction that was the first to offer Audio-Animatronics, the charming show features talking birds and flowers as well as endearing, if dated (in a good way) songs. For about ten years, Disney tampered with the show and grafted characters from Aladdin and The Lion King onto the classic show. Fortunately, it realized its update was misguided and restored the nostalgic version.

  • 07 of 11
    Journey of the Little Mermaid

    Theme Park Tourist/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 2
      Meanie Ursula might upset young kids in her dark scene.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom

    The chirpy ride tells the classic Mermaid fable in ride form and uses cutting-edge animatronics. Little kids should love it

  • 08 of 11

    Turtle Talk With Crush

    Turtle Talk with Crush

    Courtesy of Disney

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy! 10=Yikes!): 0
      The delightful show has no scary moments.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Future World in Epcot

    Like The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride, which is in the same pavilion, Turtle Talk with Crush is one of those Disney attractions that use industrial strength Imagineering magic to confound adults, but seamlessly enchant children. The surfer dude from Finding Nemo interacts and chats with audience members via real-time, on-the-fly animation. This is perhaps the most underrated attraction in all of Disney World as well as one of the best for young kids. In 2016, Disney updated the attraction to include characters from “Finding Dory.”

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Enchanted Tales With Belle

    Belle and Maurice’s Cottage

    Jennifer Lynn/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 0
      The presentation has no scary moments.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom

    Enter a magic mirror and be transported to the Beast's castle. There, you'll encounter The Wardrobe and Lumiere (two mighty impressive animatronic figures) as well as Belle and other characters from the film. The charming attraction is interactive and incorporates many kids in each performance.

  • 10 of 11

    Honorable Mention: Tom Sawyer Island

    Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island

    Loren Javier/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 1
      Rickety bridges and other structures may offer mild thrills to younger kids.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom

    The enchanting playground provides a great way for rambunctious kids to blow off steam. There are plenty of nooks to explore and interactive adventures to uncover. The raft ride to and from the island adds to the adventure.

  • 11 of 11
    Finding Nemo the Musical at Disney's Animal Kingdom

    Courtesy of Disney

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 0
      The show has no major scary moments.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Disney's Animal Kingdom

    Nemo and his pals are certainly well represented on this list. The third in three exceptionally charming Disney World attractions based on the Pixar film, the show summarizes the lost fish story using oversized puppets manipulated by visible actors. It adds wonderful musical numbers (the movie did not have any songs). The Broadway-quality theatrical production will please audiences of all ages, including little folks.