Even though Disney World is by far the best family-friendly theme park in Florida, it also contains some top-tier roller coasters. It does have a couple of sheer thrill rides, but where Disney really sets itself apart (as usual!) is its superior theming. If you’re looking for sheer adrenaline, I’d recommend checking out other amusement parks like Six Flags or Universal Studios (its new Velocicoaster is quite unique). If you’re a thrill-seeker looking for a great balance between excitement and impressiveness, Disney might be the place for you. Its coasters have special effects like lighting, animatronics, physical sets, and other features that are simply unmatched by other parks. The rest of the article contains a rating of all current Disney World roller coasters. We start out at the top with S tier (the best!) and will work down from there. All ratings are based on my own personal opinions, so take them with a grain of salt. However, as a parks expert, you can trust that they’re accurate. Explanations of each roller coaster will include some of the features which influence my ratings. That way, you can consider which types of rides you may enjoy more or less than I do. That way, you are prepared to plan your Disney World vacation accordingly! Before we get started, be aware that Roller Coasters have height requirements to keep riders safe. Disney’s tend to be less than other parks, which make them great for younger riders to become more comfortable with thrill rides. This could be a huge factor in deciding whether you want to take your 40” kids to Disney or Universal Studios.
S Tier Coasters
To begin our list, I present to you the best that Disney has to offer. These attractions should be on your bucket list with a big star next to them to make sure you don’t miss out. If you leave Disney without riding them, you have made a huge mistake.
#1 Expedition Everest, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The best roller coaster at Disney World is this beast in Asia of Animal Kingdom. The massive mountain façade of the ride is enough to make it a must-do in the park, but the features of the coaster make it even better. It has a fairly large drop, smooth sweeping turns, and a (spoiler alert!) backwards section. Unfortunately, the ride should be even better. The huge yeti animatronic at the end of the ride (her name is Betty) is meant to be even more impressive than it is in its current state. It only functioned as it was meant to for a few months after opening before Disney realized it was causing damage to the structural integrity of the whole mountain. The yeti, powered by airplane jet engines, was meant to lunge and swipe at riders as they passed by, massively increasing the thrill and immersion of the ride. Lead Animal Kingdom Imagineer Joe Rohde actually made it his mission to fix the yeti, but unfortunately was never able to and is now retired. Unfortunately, with Disney’s financial struggles and poor management, the beast will never be fixed. Despite all of this, the ride still earns its place among the top of the Disney Coaster list. The ride also gets bonus points for its impressive museum-type queue and single rider’s line which often has little to no wait. It is a great way for you to hop back in line to quickly take another ride without making your whole group wait.
#2 Splash Mountain, Magic Kingdom
Located in Frontierland of Disney’s most popular park is Disney’s best-rated ride. Despite it being primarily a log flume attraction, it has roller coaster elements which (based on my own rules) allows it to be on the list. Unfortunately, Disney is re-theming the ride to the Princess and the Frog. It’s truly a shame that such an amazing ride will get the recent Disney movie tie-in treatment (the Louisiana bayou doesn’t quite align with the “wild west” theme of the rest of Frontierland), but it should still stay as one of the best rides. The whole experience is about 12 minutes long, so the long waits you may have to endure to ride it make it well worth it. It has 3 overall drops, story elements, and great views, which all add to its high rating. As an added bonus, despite being a water ride, it usually only lightly splashes you, allowing you to avoid the drenching that many other theme park water rides deliver.
#3 Space Mountain, Magic Kingdom, Tomorrowland
Space mountain is a classic (some might say old) coaster which uses tight turns, small drops, and darkness to create the illusion of high-speed space travel, though the ride only has a top speed of 23mph. The ride keeps you guessing as you careen through the cosmos in the pitch-black darkness, and it’s impossible not to have a smile on your face the whole time you ride. It is a bit jerky, so those with back problems beware. However, in my opinion, that’s part of what makes it so fun! A last bonus point is given to Space Mountain for its ride vehicles. Instead of the usual large car with tons of sweaty strangers next to you, they only fit one person in each row. This fact, combined with only having a bar across your lap, allow you to really feel the wind and flail your arms around as you blast off.
* Tron Lightcycle Run, Magic Kingdom
This ride gets no rating because it is STILL not open. Despite being a duplicate attraction borrowed from Disney’s park in Shanghai, it has been under construction in Florida for 5 years. It should open in the Spring of 2023, so be sure to check it out when it does. You’ll sit on the vehicle leaned over as if riding a motorcycle! It looks like a ton of fun with great speed and lighting, but is sure to garner long waits.
A Tier Coasters
At this level, the roller coasters are great, but leave a little bit to be desired. Still, if you skip out on these as a roller coaster fan, you’re majorly missing out.
#4 Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Epcot
Disney’s newest roller coaster is themed (of course) after their ultra-popular Marvel Universe film. It gets high marks because of its unique ride vehicle which freely rotates as you ride, causing an interesting effect. It does tend to give some riders motion sickness (and becomes Disney’s second ride to offer barf bags, conveniently located next door to the other ride with that accomplishment – Mission: Space). It has a very cool pre-show which pays homage to the attraction it replaced – Universe of Energy, and other Epcot classics like Horizons. It has a backwards launch at the start of the ride, but otherwise is a fast and smooth flight through space with occasional screens to look at. All in all, it’s a great coaster that gets points taken off for having an impossible line. In order to ride (without caving to Disney’s Genie+ Individual Lightning Lane $15+ per person fees), you have to wake up at 7am, go to Disney’s App to reserve a time, and then show up at the window of time it will provide. It’s a whole mess to have to go through, and incredibly annoying.
#5 Rockin’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Located on Sunset Boulevard next to its best thrill ride friend the Tower of Terror, this roller coaster gets the highest marks for sheer thrill within Disney. It’s similar to intense thrill rides you might see at other top quality amusement/coaster parks. It uses a magnetic launch system to push you from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds. It follows that start with 3 inversions while blasting classic Aerosmith songs via on-board speakers. This is by far the most thrilling ride at Disney World. Be sure to consider the single rider’s line to help save time – but be warned that it often still has long waits. If the single rider line is out the door and down the ramp outside the entrance, it will be over 45 minutes of waiting.
#6 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Magic Kingdom
The self-proclaimed “wildest ride in the wilderness” is always a fun time for the whole family. It’s not quite as thrilling as many other roller coasters, but it makes up for that with its swift turns and bumps that will slide you back and forth in your seat. It’s a classic Disney attraction and has amazing capacity for a roller coaster (it can have up to 7 trains on the track at the same time!) so wait times are kept relatively low. It has great theming throughout the mountain, with all sorts of antique mining equipment. It’s definitely a ride where you benefit from being in the back of the train, so be sure to ask a cast member for those back seats!
B Tier Coasters
Now we’re hitting the bottom part of the rankings. These coasters are still great, but all of them have something that’s keeping it from being one of the best. Be sure to make an effort to ride them, but your Disney vacation won’t be ruined if you skip them.
#7 Test Track, Epcot
Test Track is sort of a roller coaster, and therefore counts for the purposes of this list. It’s a slot-car style ride that simulates the testing of a new vehicle. It will go through braking, handling, and speed tests (hitting 65mph!) with you on board a car you designed (sort of). The queue will give riders an opportunity to design their own car, but those designs have no impact on the ride itself. Test Track used to have a slightly different theme- that you were a crash test dummy being put through the paces. Unfortunately, as with many Disney changes, the ride has gotten worse after the updates. It’s still one of the most popular attractions in Epcot, so be careful with the wait times for this one. There is a single rider’s line for the ride, so feel free to make use of it if it would benefit your group!
#8 Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Magic Kingdom
As another unique type of roller coaster, Seven Dwarfs mine train sits in the middle of Fantasyland and eats up all sorts of guests waiting hours to ride. It is Magic Kingdom’s most popular attraction, despite it not being the best ride. You’ll board a mine cart which can swing back and forth (adding some novelty to the ride) and take a quick zip around the story of Snow White. The ride is fairly short but is a bit longer due to a story scene in the middle. It is fairly fast and has smooth swooping turns. This makes it a great introductory coaster for kids because it lacks a ton of thrill, but still feels like a roller coaster. If you plan to ride it, be sure to visit first thing in the morning to avoid the huge wait times.
#9 Slinky Dog Dash, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land has many of the same features as Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train. It is a little bigger and has some small drops but is focused on being smooth and approachable for kids. The track is long and offers great views of Andy’s backyard, but the coaster just lacks an “oomph” that makes it more exciting. The biggest points are taken away from the ride because of its horrendous wait times. Again similar to the aforementioned mine train, it is so approachable to families that EVERYONE ends up trying to ride, which makes the wait times skyrocket. If you’re looking to ride, it’s a great option for a Lightning Lane.
#10 The Barnstormer, Magic Kingdom
A true kiddie-type coaster, the Barnstormer is at the bottom of the list because it is simply not good. It’s way too short, the seats are uncomfortable, and it offers no theming. The only reason to ride is if your kid needs to take the baby steps of going on the most-tame coaster in the park before advancing to the better ones.