“What’s your favorite ride?”
As a Disney enthusiast, I LOVE to ask this question. As a Disney enthusiast, I HATE to be asked this question. Why do I hate it? Well, because there just is not one clear answer for me! As someone who has traveled south to the Mouse many times and at many different stages in my life, the answer to the favorite ride question has changed, many, many times.
As a child, I remember I loved the People Movers! You might know this ride better as the TTA (Tomorrowland Transit Authority). Can’t really tell you why I loved it so much, maybe it was because it was a slow ride, but an outdoor ride, and it gave you a nice break from standing in long lines in the heat of the summer afternoon. And it also could be that it took you right inside Space Mountain, and gave me a first hand look at a ride I was terrified to try as a child!
Another Magic Kingdom favorite as a small child was Peter Pan’s Flight. Something about boarding that pirate ship, and flying over London and Neverland was just so thrilling to me as a kid! A simple ride for sure, but something that I must admit, as an adult, I still can’t wait to get on this one every year. And while we’re talking pirate ships, Pirates of the Caribbean was a for sure must for us. As a kid, if you asked me for directions around the park, I would answer, “You head straight down Main Street towards the castle, and then hit a left towards Adventureland just past the Crystal Palace. Skip right through the tiki towers and right past a big tree house and a cruise boat, and look left for the sign with the skull and crossbones! That’s where you want to go first!”
And of course, I can’t rule out two Magic Kingdom staples – the Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder Railroad (which I called the Mine Ride as a kid). Both of these rides were equally thrilling to me as a child, and for very different reasons! One was just fast enough, that I felt like a big kid living on the edge of speed and danger, one because the ghosts, while friendly ghosts, were just enough to give me a little spook – especially when they popped out from behind a tomb stone!
Another favorite from childhood was “the big ball”, also known as Spaceship Earth, in Epcot. The best part to me, was the ride back down. Your car slants backwards, and you get to look up and gaze at the start the whole way down. To me, that was fascinating – still is today! And since we’re talking Epcot, let’s talk Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. Now as a kid, this relaxing boat ride didn’t feature Donald Duck and his amigos, but they have added good ‘ol Donald, and they make a fun addition to this educational, but fun short ride.
As an older child, and then a teenager, I must say that as new rides and new parks were added to the beloved Orlando vacation spot, my top excitement list changed up a bit! I remember still the first time I was brave enough to ride Space Mountain! I had a BLAST! And who hasn’t wondered if that thing floating across the ceiling really was a chocolate chip cookie? (Disclosure – if you have only experienced this ride since it’s refurbishment in 2009, you might have no idea what I am talking about. In 2009, they changed this ride a bit and made it darker. Now, there is no longer a meteor shower featuring a chocolate chip cookie – honestly, I miss it!) I also remember the year they put in Splash Mountain. This was the first ride at WDW where they featured a photo at the end of the ride, that you could take home as a pricey souvenir. I did of course purchase said photo, and it remains in a drawer where I keep special documents, and momentos.
I also remember well when Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened. Of course, back? then, the park was called MGM Studios. Nevertheless, the Great Movie Ride was the coolest thing ever to me. An avid fan of The Wizzard of Oz, I loved how this ride just seemed to take you right into some of the coolest movies! I was 16 years old when the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opened. I rode this the third day after it opened to the public. The line was so long, the wait was over 2 hours, and I remember the cast members were handing out free lemonade because it was so hot waiting in line! The thrill of the drop was overwhelming, and I was only able to ride it once that day, due to how weak it made my knees – but I told EVERYONE I met that they had to give it a try!
But I will tell you, nothing matches the enjoyment I have of the rides now that I get to experience them as a parent. It is amazing the feeling you get when you are sitting next to your child, and you can just feel the excitement they have as they are seeing the sights, and taking in the experience for the first time. Even rides that weren’t that special to me before, seem to be something to certainly not miss when experiencing them along side a child. These days, my must do list includes things like riding Star Tours over and over and over during the Extra Magic Hours, just to ensure that we WILL get to see all the different scenarios possible. Another new favorite is the challenge of who will beat who in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (and I must admit, I’m a great ride partner on this one because I am awful at it!)
So there’s a bit of a compiled list of some of my favorites, but if I am being honest, there is no one true favorite ride in Walt Disney World. I truly love them all. It is my favorite place in the world to travel after all. So now I ask you, what is your favorite ride? Feel free to comment, and let me know what you simply can’t miss, and why it is such a favorite of yours!