Thrills For Your Whole Family
“MINI” THRILL RIDES AT WDW
You know the big “Mountains” of the World: Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Expedition Everest. But, what about the thrills for the little princes and princess? Adventures come in all sizes and it doesn’t have to be big to be exciting. But, did you know that one of the Disney theme parks doesn’t have any mini thrills at all? Don’t worry, I’m going to forecast the future for that one.
There are plenty of thrills suitable for the mini-adventurers out there, and I promise to be your tour guide on that journey. Fasten your seatbelts for a milder ride through the wilderness!
WHAT IS A MINI THRILL?
Mini thrills are tamer thrill rides. They are attractions that all (or most) of the family can enjoy together. Obviously with the word “thrill” in the title, babies or small children may not be able to enjoy the ride, or may be a little scared, but they are a good option for the mini thrill seeker in your family.
MINI THRILLS OF MAGIC KINGDOM
Magic Kingdom has the biggest selection of mini thrill rides in all of Walt Disney World. In fact, Magic Kingdom has the best selection of all types of rides, which makes it one of the best family parks in the entire World.
One of the greatest mini thrill rides for all ages at the Magic Kingdom is the Astro Orbiter. It is a slow, spinning ride like Dumbo that kids of any height can ride. What makes it a thrill
ride is the location. Astro Orbiter sits above the Tommorowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. From this elevated location, you can see all of Tomorrowland. If you don’t like heights, this mini thrill ride is not for you. If you are looking for a similar experience a little closer to the ground, check out The Magic Carpets of Aladdin in Adventureland or Dumbo the Flying Elephant in New Fantasyland.
The Barnstormer is a great first roller coaster for your mini thrill seeker. You must be at least 35” before you can experience the ride’s small hills and drops that may even seem like Space Mountain to the little ones. The ride is over in about a minute, but the memories of a first roller coaster will last a lifetime.
There are 999 happy haunts to visit at the Haunted Mansion. Ghouls of all heights are invited to board a Doombuggy tour through Master Gracey’s manor on the hill. The thrilling part of this attraction includes mysterious noises, perfectly projected ghosts that mingle and interact with each other, and moments of darkness.
You can be any height to board the Mad Tea Party but beware the spins! If you don’t mind spinning while you are spinning then this mini thrill will delight you. This mini thrill ride is a little too intense for me. I can’t even watch it.
Young and young at heart can board the Pirates of the Caribbean and sail the seas, but beware of swashbuckling scallywags. Although this is a slow-moving ride, there are a few small drops and moments of total darkness. The thrilling parts include a little bit of gunfire exchange between a few pirates and a town on fire. Most swashbuckling mates love this mini thrill.
Once your young thrill seeker graduates from The Barnstormer, the next stop is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The newest coaster at the Magic Kingdom is fit for guests 38” and taller, and is quite the thrill! Not only can you experience a series of small drops, you’re on a runaway mine cart that sways back and forth. Ultimately, it’s a very smooth ride that mini thrill seekers will want to experience over and over again.
MINI THRILLS OF EPCOT
Although there are many things to experience in Epcot as a family, it isn’t really a park for thrill rides. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t pack a powerful punch with what is there.
New to Epcot is a nice mini thrill for the whole family, Frozen Ever After. Located in the Norway Pavilion of World Showcase, the Audio-animatronics employ projection technology to transport you to Arendelle. There are a few small drops and moments of darkness, but the entire family can experience the beautiful world of Frozen.
One of the best mini thrills in all of Walt Disney World resides at Epcot. For guests 40” and taller, Soarin’ is a thrill that cannot be beat. It is a slow ride that soars to great heights as you are transported high above the Great Wall of China and various other breathtaking locations around the world, all while sitting in front of a projection screen. You are lifted around 40 feet off the ground to experience simulated hang-gliding. There are even smells to enhance the experience. This is my favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World.
MINI THRILLS OF DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
I am sad to report that there are currently no mini thrills at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The range either goes from big thrills to no thrills. Come on Hollywood Studios, what’s going on here? We can hold on to hope that with the expansion, comes mini thrills. What do you say we take a glimpse into the future?
There’s not a lot of predicting that comes with Toy Story Land since Disney has already announced that a family coaster is in the works. Slinky Dog Dash will twist and snake its way around Andy’s backyard. It should be a nice mini thrill addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, although it’s several years away.
Star Wars Land has been given an opening year of 2019. In the preliminary information surrounding this new land, nothing indicates a mini thrill being added. However, Disney would be silly not to add a thrill that the new generation of Star Wars fans can experience with their older counterparts.
Personally, I’d love to see the Imagineers add a mini Speeder Bike coaster through Endor and the Ewok Village. It would be a nice way to really submerse guests into the world of Star Wars and let the little fans enjoy it too.
MINI THRILLS OF DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM
Although there are many attractions for the young and young at heart at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there are only two mini thrills. Perhaps with the opening of Pandora: The World of AVATAR, there will be a new mini thrill to enjoy. By the description, the Flight of Passage may fit in to the mini thrill category. Luckily, we’ll find out this May!
Primeval Whirl is a great mini thrill for daring guests 48” and taller. Step back in time with this roller coaster that features small drops and many spins. The thrilling part of this attraction is the spinning while you are experiencing a roller coaster! This is one of those mini thrill rides that borders on big thrill. It’s a great transition ride for older kids who are on the cusp of experiencing bigger thrills like Expedition Everest. If you love mini thrills but hate spinning, stay away from this one! If you love spinning, give this mini thrill a whirl!
The best kind of mini thrill for the younger thrill seekers is the kind where they have control of the extent of the thrill. Triceratop Spin lets you soar high above Dinoland U.S.A. on a dinosaur. Your young pilot will have control over the height and movement of the dinosaur.
Since it hasn’t officially opened, it’s hard to say for sure if Flight of Passage is truly a mini
thrill, but I’ll stick it here for now. The Imagineers have said they are using motion-based technology, along with film technology, in the creation of this attraction. Although only a few artist renditions have been released, the descriptions make it seem like Soarin’ (see Mini Thrills of Epcot in case you accidentally skipped that section).
THE SUPER-SECRET ALTERNATIVE PLAN
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I don’t like the major thrill rides like Expedition Everest or Rock n’ Roller Coaster. Sure, I’ve braved them, but ultimately, I prefer the mini thrill rides. The super-secret alternative plan only works if you have smaller children. Book your older child and significant other on a major thrill ride like Expedition Everest and let them know you have “taken one for the team” and will take your younger thrill seeker on Triceratops Spin. No one must know that you are chickening out. It looks like you are simply being kind. The best thing is, this works in all the theme parks.
FAMILY THAT THRILLS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER
At the end of the day, it’s all about having fun together. Mini thrills are in the eyes of the beholder. To a young kid, The Barnstormer can be the biggest thrill of a lifetime. To a young big kid (like me), riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is as wild and crazy as some will get. Even if the mini thrills are the only type of attraction you like, or even if you have agreed to only experience attractions that everyone in the family can experience, it’s all about having fun as a family. And having fun is what Disney is all about, isn’t it?