Walt Disney World Thrill Rides
You watch the Disney commercials and there’s the castle, there’s the carousel, there’s the spinning elephants and there’s Mickey. YAWN! You’re thinking you’ll be in a sea of toddlers and bored out of your mind if you head to Disney World. If twirling in a tea cup isn’t “your cup of tea”, no problem, there are plenty of great attractions that will send your pulse racing.
Starting at the Magic Kingdom, think “mountains.” There are three of them to conquer including Tomorrowland’s iconic Disney ride “Space Mountain.” Picture a roller coaster in the dark and you get the idea. In the light, it’s really not much more than an oversized Wild Mouse rides that you'd find at carnivals, but turn off the lights, add some stars, planets and a soundtrack and it’s a whole other experience.
Next, head over to Frontierland and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This one takes you on a runaway train as it careens through mines and canyons. The clicking and clacking sounds make it seem as if your rickety train is out of control. This one is outdoors and takes on an extra dimension of the thrill factor when you ride it at night.
Close to Big Thunder is Splash Mountain. Be prepared to get wet, soaked or saturated. You never know how bad it will be, but that’s part of the fun. (If you want to stay dry, slip on a rain poncho.) You climb into a log and float along watching B’rer Bear and B’rer Fox trying to catch B’rer Rabbit. There are cute animals, songs and then there’s that plunge. You saw it outside, and now you’re looking at a long, dark, black summit that you’re log is about to climb. No turning back, this is it. Next thing you know, you’re at the top and hurtling down in a cascade of water. You Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah did it!
The one thing that’s weird about Splash Mountain is that it’s based on Disney's “Song of the South” movie which you can’t buy in the U.S because it’s considered “politically incorrect.” Even though it won’t seem familiar like other Disney tales, it’s still one of the best rides in Disney World.
It’s time to take the Monorail to Epcot. First stop, Test Track also known as the ride that breaks down more than a Ford Pinto. When it is running, its fantastic! You get in the car, buckle in and experience what it’s like to be a test track dummy. You go over bumpy roads, screech to a stop with and without anti-lock brakes, go through cold and hot chambers and then you burst onto the banked track where you’ll reach a speed of 60+ miles per hour. I know, big deal, the speed limit is 65 on a lot of highways but there’s something about the rate of acceleration combined with being in a convertible that’s an instant rush.
After you’ve patted your comb over back down, next door is Mission Space which takes you to Mars via the use of simulators and a centrifuge. This attraction has more than it’s share of controversy. There have been two fatalities and numerous calls for paramedics to assist the riders. The deaths have been attributed to medical conditions, but therein lies the problem. These conditions are often “hidden” and it’s not until you’re on the ride that you realize that you should have skipped this one. Take the numerous warnings seriously. Motion sickness is the biggest complaint, so much so that they provide “barf bags”. Still, many people ride it and love it. You know yourself the best. If you’re not sure how you will be able to handle the centrifuge, they now offer two versions of Space, one with the centrifuge and one without.
Not quite fitting the usual description of a “thrill ride” is “Soarin” over at the Land Pavilion. It’s not a roller coaster, you don’t flip upside down, but it’s become one of the most popular attractions in Disney World, deservedly so. There are rows of seats. You put on your seat belt and next thing you know, you’re hang gliding over California. Will you scream and clutch the hand of the person next to you? No you won’t, but you’ll have experienced one of the most incredible rides that Disney offers.
Time to hop on the boat and get to Disney Hollywood Studios. You can’t miss the Hollywood Tower Hotel and as you head towards it down Sunset Boulevard, you can hear the screams coming from the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The theming is amazing. You wind your way through the long abandoned hotel and once you’re ushered into the study, there’s Rod Serling on the TV in glorious black and white. Next, you’re in the basement and being seated in the freight elevator. You strap yourself in and before you know it, you’re 13 floors above Hollywood Studios and going up and down and up and down and up…and down. The sequence constantly changes so it’s never the same ride twice.
As you exit, to your right is Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Think they could have come up with a longer name? This is an indoor roller coaster and the only one at Disney World that loops upside down. You get in your stretch limo and within seconds you’re zooming at 60mph. The soundtrack is blasting, you’re racing through the darkness and you’re having a screaming great time.
Another attraction that gives you some action is Star Tours. Granted it’s not in the same league as the other rides and could use some updating (Pee Wee Herman is the voice of the main character). Still, it’s a fun simulator, especially for Star Wars fans.
There’s one park left, Disney's Animal Kingdom. With its latest addition, Expedition Everest, this park has come into it's own. On Everest, you’re in pursuit of the mysterious Yeti. What starts out as a nice, gentle coaster ride suddenly changes. You’re going forward, you’re going backwards, and you’re going forward again with the Yeti getting closer. This roller coaster has the absolute best surprises.
Are you hot? Want to cool off? Climb in the raft and head down Kali River Rapids. The raft spins as you head down a series of waterfalls. You’ll probably get drenched so be prepared.
Finally, there’s Dinosaur. Here you’re sent back to prehistoric times in pursuit of a mild mannered iguanodon. Trouble is, the other dinosaurs don’t have the same temperament. Dinosaur really jerks you around. It’s very loud, very dark and there’s a very scary surprise towards the end.
That’s it; you’ve done the Disney thrill rides. Are they the fastest, tallest, loudest and scariest? No, they’re not. What sets the Disney rides apart from the others is the theming. All of the rides follow a great story. You’re rocketing through the galaxy, caught on a runaway train, being pursued by ravenous creatures, or heading to a rock concert in the world’s fastest limo. You’ll go on the attraction for the thrill factor and leave with a tale to tell. There are plenty of attractions and shows that may not meet the “thrill” criteria but are still a lot of fun for all ages. That’s what Disney's all about.