First Timer’s Cor­ner

WDW Magazine - - Contents - BY DAVE SHUTE

Walt Dis­ney World has a num­ber of “thrill rides.” First time vis­i­tors may find th­ese ei­ther more or less in­tense than they were ex­pect­ing. Most thrill rides at Walt Dis­ney World are much less in­tense than the most ex­cit­ing rides at re­gional amuse­ment parks—places like Six Flags or Cedar Point. But even so, most are not for the young, and some are not for the faint of heart.

The clas­sic “thrill ride” at a re­gional amuse­ment park is a mas­sive roller coaster that dom­i­nates the park’s sky­line, fea­tur­ing steep drops, sharp turns, and var­i­ous up­side-down and twisted parts—called “in­ver­sions.” Th­ese rides pro­vide fun by first, cre­at­ing the sense that com­pared to ev­ery­day life, the sys­tem is dan­ger­ous, per­haps barely in con­trol, and second, en­gi­neer­ing feel­ings of weight­less­ness.

Walt Dis­ney World has barely any of th­ese rides. The two rides at WDW that come clos­est to this are Ex­pe­di­tion Ever­est at An­i­mal King­dom and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Dis­ney’s Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios. Both, how­ever, have two dif­fer­ences. First, they are very short—im­por­tant if you hate them, as you will be off soon—and second, they are themed—they don’t sim­ply ex­ist as a struc­ture of steel and a name, but rather are deeply vis­ually themed to a spe­cific con­cept.

Ev­ery other thrill ride at Walt Dis­ney World is less chal­leng­ing, and other than for young

kids, more will be chal­lenged by motion sick­ness than by the ac­tual scari­ness of the ride sys­tem. If you are con­cerned, one per­son in the group (just one, so that the sur­prise of the rides aren’t given away to ev­ery­one) should check out ride reviews on Dad’s Guide to WDW, easy­, or The easy Guide to Your Dis­ney World Visit, and sup­ple­ment th­ese with reviews of Youtube videos.

But be­fore you do that, com­ments on the trick­i­est rides in each park fol­low. Note, by the way, that those who en­joy the rides that fol­low would list most of them as their fa­vorite rides at Walt Dis­ney World.


At the Magic King­dom—space Moun­tain, Big Thun­der Moun­tain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and The Barn­stormer all are based on a roller coaster con­cept. While less chal­leng­ing than the two rides noted above, those who can’t abide roller coast­ers should avoid them, but most—even the fear­ful—will love them. Of th­ese, Big Thun­der can also raise motion sick­ness is­sues, and Splash Moun­tain is a spe­cial case—most of it is a charming, light-hearted and easy ride, but it ends with a big drop that is highly vis­i­ble from the out­side, and scares off many peo­ple who would love this ride.


At Ep­cot—soarin’ Around the World will chal­lenge those with a moder­ate to se­vere fear of heights. Test Track fea­tures open-topped cars that at one point hit more than 50 mph. Most fam­i­lies will ex­ceed that in their daily driv­ing, but it is thrilling in the mo­ment. The “Or­ange” side of Mis­sion Space no­to­ri­ously eats those prone to motion sick­ness—such folk should ride the green side, or skip it.


As noted above, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster is a real thriller of a coaster. Tower of Ter­ror has the scari­est name of any Dis­ney ride, and is not for those with a fear of heights. Star Tours can be tricky for those sus­cep­ti­ble to motion sick­ness as well.


Ex­pe­di­tion Ever­est is a real roller coaster. DI­NOSAUR can be scary and un­com­fort­able for those with motion sick­ness. Dis­ney’s new Pan­dora: World of AVATAR, to open here in late May, might add an­other thrill ride to the mix.

The thrill rides at Walt Dis­ney World, with a cou­ple of ex­cep­tions, are pretty mild com­pared to the roller coast­ers you will find in other parks. They are also among the most loved rides in the world. If you are un­com­fort­able with the prospect of rid­ing them but tempted at all, try them. You will know af­ter you’ve rid­den a cou­ple whether or not they are for you, and, if they are, they will add an­other di­men­sion to your en­joy­ment of the Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort.

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