10 Best Walt Disney World Rides

Don't Miss These Attractions at the Florida Resort

Expedition Everest Disney World
••• Disney. Used with permission.

Are you planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Do you want to know which rides and shows are must-sees at the resort's four theme parks? Herewith, a list of the very best attractions -- or at least my rundown of what I consider to be the parks' very best offerings.

If you want a more customized ranking of the resort's attractions, check out the Best Disney World Thrill Rides and the Best Disney World Rides for Kids. If you (or someone you know) would rather avoid the thrills, I've prepared a special guide, Walt Disney World for Wimps.

By the way, you might be surprised to discover some of the attractions that are missing from the list. Classic attractions such as Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain didn't make the cut, for example. While those rides are great and are undoubtedly E-Ticket attractions, they are really more thrill rides (and mildly thrilling at that) than story-based attractions that transport guests and weave tales as well as the ten attractions...MORE listed below. With dozens of other great Disney World rides and shows from which to choose, it can be tough to pare them down.

OK, let's start the countdown of Disney's ten best rides in reverse order:

  • 01 of 11

    Honorable Mention: Turtle Talk with Crush

    Turtle Talk with Crush Disney attraction.
    ••• Courtesy of Disney
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 0
      This is a charming show with no gotchas or scary moments.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion in Epcot

    Some might find it odd to choose the "Finding Nemo"-themed show above classics such as Jungle Cruise and Peter Pan's Flight for a top-ten list of best Walt Disney World attractions. But Turtle Talk with Crush, in which the surfer dude interacts with audience members via real-time animation, is an astonishing Imagineering breakthrough. Between laughs, adults scratch their heads in bewilderment, while young kids nonchalantly, if delightedly, chat with the witty reptile.

    It may be the resort's most underrated and under-the-radar attraction. In 2016, Disney updated the attraction to include characters from the popular sequel, Finding Dory. If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for, dude?

    While you are at the pavilion, take a ride on the delightful The Seas with Nemo and Friends. In...MORE another head-scratching innovation, animated creatures swim along with actual marine life in a saltwater tank. Also worth checking out is the wonderful show, Finding Nemo - The Musical, at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

  • 02 of 11

    Number 10: Splash Mountain

    Splash Mountain
    ••• Courtesy of Disney
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 4.5
      One giant splashdown
    • Height Requirement: 40 inches
    • Location: Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom

    Disney marries the classic log flume ride (with one humdinger of a drop) to an animatronics-filled dark ride themed to the Uncle Remus characters from "Song of the South." You'll be humming "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" (once you regain your composure from the drop).

  • 03 of 11

    Number 9: Expedition Everest

    Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom
    ••• Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 6
      Fairly intense positive G-forces, backwards coaster motion, darkness.
    • Height Requirement: 44 inches
    • Location: Asia land in Disney's Animal Kingdom

    It is the combination of the coaster thrills and the attraction's lavish, immersive environment that makes this a Disney E-ticket must-ride. Read my review of Expedition Everest, one of the top roller coasters in Florida.

  • 04 of 11

    Number 8: Mission: SPACE

    Mission: Space at Epcot
    ••• Austin Kirk/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 7.5
      The sustained G-forces can be unnerving; the simulated liftoff and flight is very realistic; the capsule is quite confining.
    • Height Requirement: 44 inches
    • Location: Future World in Epcot

    The groundbreaking attraction simulates space travel by incorporating a unique ride system and immersing passengers in a highly detailed vehicle. Note that wimpy guests can opt for a non-spinning, mild version of the ride. Read my review of Mission: SPACE.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Number 7: Fantasmic!

    Fantasmic at Disney World.
    ••• Courtesy of Disney
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 2.5
      Percussive explosions, nightmare scenes.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Sunset Boulevard in Disney's Hollywood Studios

    The nightly Fantasmic! show is an incredible Imagineering achievement that combines classic Disney animation (projected on enormous water screens), pyrotechnics, animatronics, live actors, and other wizardry to deliver a storytelling tour-de-force. With Sorcerer Mickey at the helm, Fantasmic! positively oozes "Disney-ness." Be sure to get to the stadium at least an hour before show time for decent seats, especially when the park is crowded.

  • 06 of 11

    Number 6: Soarin’ Around the World

    Soarin’ Around the World at Epcot
    ••• Disney. Used with permission.
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 2.5
      Gentle motion simulation, moderate height, and "soaring" simulation.
    • Height Requirement: 40 inches
    • Location: Living with the Land Pavilion in Epcot

    An engaging Disney E-ticket ride that uses pioneering "flying theater" technology, Soarin' is a charming adventure. In 2016, it traded in a tour of California for international destinations including China, South America, and Australia.

  • 07 of 11

    Number 5: Star Tours - The Adventures Continue

    Star Tours - The Adventures Continue ride
    ••• Disney. Uded with permission.
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 4
      Relatively mild motion simulator thrills.
    • Height Requirement: 40 inches
    • Location: Disney's Hollywood Studios

    Blast off to a Star Wars galaxy far, far away in this spiffy, updated version of the first motion simulator ride. The technology behind the ride, which, among other things, allows multiple possible story lines, is truly astonishing. An expanded Star Wars land, which will bring two new attractions and a reportedly astonishing level of detail and immersion scheduled to open in the Studios park in 2019. Read my review of Star Tours.

  • 08 of 11

    Number 4: Avatar Flight of Passage

    Avatar Flight of Passage ride
    ••• Disney. Used with permission.
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 4
      Relatively mild flying theater thrills.
    • Height Requirement: 44 inches
    • Location: Pandora — The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom​

    Disney takes the flying theater ride system it developed for Soarin' to the next level with this breathtaking attraction. Tethered to an avatar, you'll experience the thrill of riding a banshee high above the moon of Pandora. When it debuted in 2017, it immediately vaulted into top-10 status at Disney World.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Number 3: The Haunted Mansion

    Disney's Haunted Mansion
    ••• Rain0975/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 3.5
      More silly than scary, the ride is dark, loud...and haunted! Very young children may find it disconcerting.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom

    One of the all-time classic, great Disney attractions. (But you know that, right?) Read my review of the Haunted Mansion.

  • 10 of 11

    Number 2: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

    The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
    ••• WireImage/Getty Images
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 7
      Multiple freefall drops and launches, sensations of weightlessness, psychological thrills.
    • Height Requirement: 40 inches
    • Location: Sunset Boulevard in Disney's Hollywood Studios

    A modern-day classic Disney theme park attraction that combines a thrilling freefall ride, dazzling effects, and an inspired storyline. Read my review of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

  • 11 of 11

    Number 1: Pirates of the Caribbean

    Pirates of the Caribbean ride
    ••• Disney. Used with permission.
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 2.5
      Small splashdowns, mildly frightening images.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom

    A landmark achievement in theme park storytelling, it is a pitch-perfect attraction. Read my review of Pirates of the Caribbean. And if you are in a yo-hoing mood, check out my article about the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song.

    By the way, Pirates may be the best ride at Disney World (in my opinion, anyhow), but there is another Disney ride that surpasses it and jusat may be the best theme park attraction in the world: Pirates of the Caribbean. Say what? Read my review of the next-generation attraction at Shanghai Disneyland, Battle for the Sunken Treasure.