The "best" ride at WDW is such a contentious topic. So I conquered my fear of roller coasters and elevators breaking and rode every ride at WDW (except Mission: Space, because claustrophobia was the one fear I couldn't quite conquer) during my year in Florida.
After careful consideration and a lot of time spent waiting in lines, here are my top favorite rides (in no particular order):
Soarin' Around the World
Give me the elephant scene smell in a candle please. This imitation of paragliding around famous places in the world takes you from my favorite, Mount Kilimanjaro and its grass smell, to Epcot. If you sit in section B row 1 or 2, you'll have the best experience. Soarin' has dropped on my list ever since I experienced Avatar Flight of Passage, but it's still an attraction that has first timers coming off impressed.
The American Adventure
Those who know me best might be shocked I picked America over O Canada!, but I can't deny my love for Epcot's ideal version of America. I listened to perhaps Disney's largest cast of animatronic characters tell me the story of America several times after the election last year, and it gave me hope that we'll make it through this. Plus, you can't beat the music. Just ask Maggie and me to perform our rendition of "Two Brothers" - we've already done it in the middle of Olive Garden.
"They're not gonna make it, they're not gonna make it!" I laugh nonstop at this race against time as some idiot paleontologist sends guests to the Cretaceous Period right before dinosaurs go extinct. Maggie is afraid of it. We all have our own opinions.
Avatar Flight of Passage
Perhaps the single coolest ride Disney has ever created. Think Soarin' with all its glitches fixed. No gaps on the screen, no distortion. Just you, flying on your banshee, over the most beautiful computer generated places in the world. It takes my breath away every time I ride it. I could also be biased because it's the only ride I haven't been on at least five times.
As you race through the mountains, hoping to find the Yeti, you might actually be a tiny bit afraid on this roller coaster (afraid of all the hair ties where the track ends, that is). But I love the thrill and the great view of Disney World offered at the top, just before you start to race downhill.
Toy Story Midway Mania
If there was only one attraction I was allowed to ride at Disney for the rest of my life, this would be the one. As a "point and shoot" game, I try to beat my score every single time while spending a few brief minutes in the world of a toy. Could this possibly be my number one ride? I'm not giving a definite yes, but...
The Music of Pixar Live! A Symphony of Characters
In a controversial move, Tower of Terror and Rock n' Roller Coaster are left off my list and The Music of Pixar makes it. Maybe I'll spend another blog post explaining my unlikely opinions :) But if you love the music in Pixar movies, you'll love this show. Seeing this music performed live is even more moving. I dare you not to sob during the Up segment.
The Haunted Mansion
"Welcome, to the Haunted Mansion! I am your host...your 'ghost' host..." I can quote quite a bit of this ride through each spooky scene. The engineering that created the ghostly effects is remarkable and I love all the characters that appear throughout (shoutout to my favs, the singing busts). During my college program I got to take a behind the scenes tour of this ride. With a few tricks, I got to show up as a ghostly head in the ballroom--a highlight of my DCP experience.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
As my mom says, "Get on grumpy, get off happy!" This is a Sausser family favorite. The mine cars swing throughout the ride and the short hills and turns make it hard not to smile. If you want the most magical experience, try to time your ride with the fireworks. There's nothing quite like racing around Magic Kingdom while the sky lights up overhead.
Big Thunder Mountain
In another controversial move, I picked Big Thunder over Space Mountain. This roller coaster cracks me up similarly to DINOSAUR. If you ride by yourself, you'll slide from one end of your seat to the other so many times it can bruise you. But don't be fooled by the last uphill chug. The dip that follows might inspire you to say, in the words of one little boy, "that was boring!" As for the rest of the ride? Hold on to your hats, because this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness!
This was one of my favorites when Maggie was my skipper. But her days in the jungle are over. Guess I took her for "granite."
When baby elephant Stella was being adorable and I had a good safari driver, this too was a favorite. But sometimes Stella was behind the scenes and my safari driver had nothing interesting to say and then it wasn't so fun anymore. Memorable moment: when the white rhino almost charged our truck during a nighttime safari.
Festival of the Lion King
FOLK was demoted to Honorable Mentions because it's so hit or miss nowadays and the Animal Kingdom category was so long. It's still a lot of fun to watch this show, tumble monkeys or not, and the best way to spend 3o minutes in air conditioning. I always enjoy myself and leave a little happier than when I came in.
It is awesome. You can't really beat a roller coaster in the dark. It's just uncomfortable. I always feel a bit abused by the time I get off at the end. But the time Maggie and I rode when the PeopleMover lights were on was exciting; the illuminated perimeter cast just enough light on the ride for it to be cool but not terrifying.
So, What are your favorite attractions at WDW?
And is anyone else terrified of Tower of Terror? No? Just me? Fine. I guess you can drag me on it one more time...