There’s no right way to do Disney World, and while we may not focus heavily on roller coasters in our visits we completely understand why people coming to a theme park might want to know the best roller coasters. So in this post, we set out to rank the roller coasters of Walt Disney World.
As with all our ranking posts, we need to give some amount of context here. The first is that these lists are always a combination of our personal views, views we know others hold, and objective factors (like ride length).
The second big thing to highlight is that this isn’t just a sub-list of our ranking of every ride at Walt Disney World. While all these rides are on that list, they rank differently there than here because different factors come into play when ranking roller coasters than when ranking all rides.
There are eight roller coasters in three parks at Walt Disney World. While we definitely think you should read the rest of this post for the full context, we’ll give you the ranking right away. Here is how we rank the best roller coasters in Walt Disney World:
Expedition Everest — Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Slinky Dog Dash
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
The Best Roller Coaster in Walt Disney World
Let’s start with the best roller coaster at Disney World—Expedition Everest.
1. Expedition Everest — Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (Animal Kingdom)
Without spoiling too much, Expedition Everest is indisputably one of Disney’s best rides. The Forbidden Mountain imposes on you long before you even make your way to the ride, setting you up for one of the scariest and most surprising rides in Walt Disney World.
The queue is arguably the best on property, too, setting up the story of both the expedition and the Forbidden Mountain (which is not the same as Mount Everest).
And the ride experience is something else. With powerful turns, stunning resort-wide views, thrilling drops, and shocking surprises along the way,
Yes—the ride isn’t technically fully functional. The Yeti does not have the range of motion that added to the terror in the early days of the ride due to a complex structural problem (it isn’t as simple as repairing the animatronic). That said, even the current version of the ride is an easy pick for the best roller coaster in Walt Disney World.
The Rest of the Disney World Roller Coasters
2. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (Hollywood Studios)
If I were a tad more objective, there would be a tie for first (but who wants a tie for first, anyways?). Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is the most intense of the Walt Disney World roller coasters and the only one that goes upside down.
Like Space Mountain, this ride takes place mostly in the dark. While the story isn’t Disney’s best work, the integration of Aerosmith music and blacklight into the ride make it one of the most intense experiences on property.
3. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom)
Along with Space Mountain (next up), Big Thunder Mountain is one of two rides that really epitomizes the old school Disney attitude toward roller coasters. It is one of the longest rides in this list at 3 minutes long. It offers beautiful views of Magic Kingdom. And there’s a story there, but they don’t just slap you in your face with it.
At the end of the day, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is incredibly fun, and that’s what puts it up here. Even better, the ride starts the day with next to no waits as most people start their mornings in
Sure, it’s an older roller coaster and thus a bit uncomfortable. It also doesn’t have any of the exceptional thrills of the two rides above it on this list—but that’s why it’s appropriately ranked here.
4. Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Space Mountain is a legendary coaster. Disney’s indoor, in-the-dark ride is 100% surprise, and that’s the real selling point.
There’s little story, there’s no crazy motions, and it always manages to strain our physiques just a little bit. But the shocking twist and turns, the zany music, and the screams of other guests who are always surprised by every dip make this a unique experience in Walt Disney World.
5. Slinky Dog Dash (Hollywood Studios)
Slinky Dog Dash checks several key boxes—smooth track, fantastic views, some fun twists and turns, and cutesy theming. This is a great ride, and a good roller coaster. Clocking in at around 1:45, its biggest shortcoming might be its length.
At night, Slinky Dog Dash is an entirely different experience. The already stunning views become even more vibrant. At night, I’d probably rank the ride at least in a tie for third with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
6. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Magic Kingdom)
I have no doubt some fans will flip out over Seven Dwarfs Mine Train’s low placement on this list. Heck, I’ve already ranked the ride as the sixth best at Disney World, so how can it be only the sixth best roller coaster as well?
Look, the ride has plenty of virtues—it’s a beautiful dark ride, of decent length, it’s incredibly smooth, it has great animatronics, and it has a relatively low heigh requirement (38 inches). And while these add up to it being a great ride, they don’t necessarily make it rank well as a roller coaster.
The dark ride components aren’t really what people tend to be looking for in roller coasters. If you think they’re the perfect addition to the ride, then take solace that I (and apparently Disney) agree.
7. Barnstormer (Magic Kingdom)
With its 35” height requirement and one-minute ride-time, Barnstormer is the first roller coaster for many kids at Disney World. There’s really very little to day. For a 60-second ride, it’s fine. Kids seem to enjoy it. But would I say it’s a necessary component of any Magic Kingdom day? Not by a longshot.
8. Primeval Whirl (Animal Kingdom)
Personally, I prefer Primeval Whirl to Barnstormer, but I think there are good reasons to put it last. First, it’s a “wild mouse” coaster, which to me places it more in a “hybrid” category where I maybe discount any “roller coaster” bonafides.
Second, and related, is that I find it incredibly uncomfortable. I have to ride it frequently (that’s part of the job), but I’m pretty much always trying to just survive it.
Finally, it has a ridiculous height requirement. The required 48” is the highest in the resort, tied with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
While I’d give it some credit for cute storytelling, plenty of people strongly disagree with me on this point, so I’m happy to concede that Primeval Whirl is probably the worst roller coaster in Walt Disney World.
Coming Soon: TRON Coaster (Magic Kingdom)
Coming to Magic Kingdom in 2021 will be a new TRON coaster. The roller coaster is expected to be a copy of the version found in Shanghai Disneyland, which we’ve had the pleasure of riding numerous times. While we don’t want to say quite where it will rank for us when it opens, I think it’s safe to say it will place in the top half of this list.
Coming Soon: Guardians of the Galaxy Coaster (Epcot)
Unlike TRON, no one knows fully what to expect from the Guardians of the Galaxy Coaster, expected to open in 2021 in Epcot. Like much of what Disney is doing these days, we are expecting some revolutionary design, so it’s possible—maybe even likely—this ride will compete for the top spot on this list.
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