I'm often asked what my favorite rides are in Disney World, so I've sorted them by park, and I've graded them three ways:
JMO: This is my preference, which is a balance between nostalgia and thrill, from the perspective of a 3'8" tall adult.
Thrill: This is for people who typically prefer Universal Studios, as the thrill of the ride is mostly what matters.
Kids: This is my perception of how a child would enjoy the ride. Kids generally don't mind getting dizzy or wet, and some are easily frightened by some rides.
A= Great B= Good C= Decent D = Avoid
Astro Orbiter - The seats are so bad and narrow! It gives a great view of the park, but getting up to the ride itself is a pain, especially if you need the elevator like I do. This is an option if you're waiting on something else in Tomorrow Land, as the wait times generally aren't too long.
The Barnstormer - This is a great introduction to roller coasters for kids. The biggest complaint is how quick the ride is. If the wait is longer than 45 minutes, wait until it goes down. It is surprisingly fun for those who have never been on it before.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - This is the ride everyone sees in the advertisements for Disney World. It's a classic. It's a "lap bar" coaster, so there isn't anything too crazy about it. It's just fun, and it is in fact the "wildest ride in the wilderness!"
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin - This ride is decent, until you ride Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios. After you ride that, you won't want to do this one ever again. There are some "point" strategies you can look up for extra bragging rights though, which does add an element of fun to the ride.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant - Disney moved this ride a while back, and now there are two of them! That has helped reduce the wait times, and it's a good time killer if you're waiting on Barnstormer. This ride has high nostalgic value for those of us who went to Disney World as a kid.
Haunted Mansion - This is perhaps my favorite ride in the entire park! This was the very first ride constructed in the Magic Kingdom, and the "Keys to the Kingdom" behind-the-scenes tour will show you all the secrets behind making this such a cool ride. Kids may start off a little scared, but they'll come off wanting to ride it again and again. This is one of the few rides that takes your picture also.
It's A Small World - Here is another nostalgic ride, and it's got the classic "water ride" smell! Unfortunately, if you get stuck on this ride, the theme song will not leave you for days. The artistry of the dolls and the changes in music make this an entertaining ride for guests of all ages.
Jungle Cruise - You either love this one or you hate it. Young kids will believe the animals are real, but unfortunately, they're all animatronic. The jokes are hit or miss, depending on the skipper you get. One of the best parts of this ride is during Christmas, it transforms to the "Jingle Cruise" with all new Christmas-themed jokes!
Liberty Square Riverboat - This is one of the few "rides" I have never been on. The boat is on a track, and it just looks boring and packed with people. I'm sure there is somebody somewhere who loves this ride more than anything else, but it's definitely not for me.
Mad Tea Party - If you have a tendency to get motion sick or dizzy easily, avoid this one. It makes me nauseous just watching people ride it. Your teacup spins, while it spins... This one is not for me, but kids absolutely love it.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin - This ride is the exact same as Dumbo. If the big kids are on a ride, you could take the little kids on this one to kill some time. Other than that, I'm not sure why people ride this. It is very close to the Dole Whip stand though, which is nice.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - This is a surprisingly good ride. They did a great job with some effects, and it's a fun one for people of all ages.
Peter Pan's Flight - This is another one of my top rides in this park! It has one of the best standard queues (although I almost always use the Lightning Lane here), as you go through the Darlings' home. This ride has great music, and you travel scene to scene. It does seem to get quicker and quicker every time I ride it though. I'm convinced they speed it up to move people through it, although I've been told they don't.
Pirates of the Caribbean - Here's another one of my favorites! They have revamped it over the years, making it better and better. The music, the smells and the scenery culminate into a nostalgic classic of a ride! This one takes your picture seconds before a surprisingly big drop! I do always hate it when I get drenched by a cannonball splash though...
Prince Charming Regal Carousel - This is a pretty standard carousel. If you love them, you'll love it. If you don't, you won't. It does provide some pretty good music as you walk by though, which definitely adds to the theme park ambiance.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train - This ride is awesome, and because of that, it often has the longest wait in the park. It's both a coaster and a "dark ride." Sometimes I ask the cast member out front if I have to wait on my own ride. Sometimes it works, but often times it doesn't.
Space Mountain - I love this ride so much! It's very dark while you ride, and it's pitch black dark if you ride during some ticketed events! Every time I get on, I'm hoping a maintenance issue will happen, which will turn the lights on. I've heard it's terrifying to see. One thing to note about this ride, is the standard queue is not handicap accessible. They will give you a return time if you are in a wheelchair, even without using their DAS service.
Splash Mountain - This is a super fun one as well! If you sit in the front two rows, you'll get soaked. If you sit in the back row, you don't get very wet at all. If you have a party of 8, half of it will get soaked! This one takes your picture right before the giant fall, which is guaranteed to take your breath away. It's being re-themed soon, so it will be interesting to see how the new version compares to this classic.
Tomorrowland Speedway - I just don't get this ride at all. The "go karts" are hilariously slow, and you are so confined by the track you are on. There is always a longer wait than I expect, and I can't help but assume each rider comes off the ride disappointed.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover - I actually really like this ride! My mom used to take me on it while the rest of my family were on Space Mountain. You get to go through Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear's ride. It's longer than most rides in the park, and it's a good escape from the heat or the rain.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid - I think they did a great job with this ride! The music is just so good, and the entire ride seems to be designed around the soundtrack. The detail of Ursula is impressive, and the "Under the Sea" room is highly entertaining.
Walt Disney World Railroad - This has been under construction for a while, but when it's operational, it's functional as well, saving you some steps to get you to the other side of the park.
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress - A lot of people skip this ride, but I really enjoy it. It shows Walt Disney's vision so well, and I think it's great that they've kept it around all this time. There is rarely a long wait, so it's a good time killer.
Thrill seekers, you'll want to ride all 3 "Mountains" as well as the Seven-Dwarf Mine Train. After those are done, if you're willing to give nostalgia a chance, look at the other "A" rides in the JMO column.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out my other posts grading the rides in the other three parks!