Walt Disney World – Must Ride, Will Ride, Once & Done

Peter Pan's FlightI’m completely serious when I say I’m honestly not trying to rub it in.  You know….how I keep reminding you that I’ll be at Walt Disney World all week next week?  I’m not doing it to be mean.  I’m just so rediculously excited!  I keep picturing myself (and The Fam) riding rides, watching shows, eating favorite Disney foods, and so on.  Which gave me a scathingly brilliant idea (as Hayley Mills once said)….

I’ve divided Walt Disney World attractions into three groups:

  • Must Ride – Wouldn’t be a trip to Disney without doing this attraction! * = will ride multiple times if at all possible.
  • Will Ride – Probably not on every trip, but will re-visit the attraction as time allows.
  • Once and Done – Been there, done that and may never feel the urge to do it again.

Toy Story Midway ManiaYour mission should you choose to accept it:  Jump in with comments and tell me how your lists would be different from mine.  I’d be especially interested in knowing WHY you feel the way you do about a particular attraction.  If you think one of my must do’s is a stupid choice, tell me.  If you think one of my once-and-done attractions is a big mistake, speak up!

Here we go:

Must Ride:

Magic KingdomSpaceship Earth

  • Space Mountain*
  • Splash Mountain*
  • Big Thunder Mountain*
  • Haunted Mansion*
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • It’s a Small World
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor


  • Soarin’*
  • Test Track
  • MaelstromIMG_1903
  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Toy Story Midway Mania*
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror*
  • Rock’n’ Roller Coaster*
  • Star Tours
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • SHaunted Mansion Signtudio Backlot Tour
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

Animal Kingdom

  • Expedition Everest
  • Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Dinosaur
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Pangani Forrest Exploration Trail
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek

Will Ride:

Magic KingdomBUZZ! Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

  • Dumbo
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Prince Charming Regal Carousel
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Hall of Presidents
  • Walt Disney World Railroad


  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
  • O Canada
  • Reflections of China
  • Impressions de FranceMexico Pavilion
  • Living with the Land
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure
  • The American Adventure
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream
  • The Magic of Disney Animation
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Beauty and the Beast- Live on Stage

Animal Kingdom

  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Flights of Wonder

Once and DoneMad Tea Party

Magic Kingdom

  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • The Barnstormer
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Stitch’s Great Escape
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Tom Sawyer Island
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Swiss Family Tree House


  • Mission: Space
  • Innoventions (East and West)
  • Captain EO
  • The Circle of Life

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • The American Idol Experience (actually have never even been, no desire to go)
  • Lights, Motors, Action – Extreme Stunt Show
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Animal Kingdom

  • TriceraTop Spin
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Affection Section
  • Wildlife Express Train
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical

NOTE:  Three new attractions aren’t ranked yet –

  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

What do your lists look like?  What changes on your ranking.  What did I rank in the “Once and Done” category that I need to revisit?  What’s in your “Once and Done” that I ranked higher?








17 thoughts on “Walt Disney World – Must Ride, Will Ride, Once & Done

  1. Pingback: Geekin’ On WDW 015: 25th Wedding Anniversary Pre-Trip Report | Geekin' On WDW

  2. Love the list, I am completely stealing this topic for my blog, with credit going to you of course!
    Answering this makes me realize how being fortunate enough to be a fairly frequent visitor changes how I view it. It is okay to not ride every ride each trip, so my Must Do List is pretty short:
    Magic Kingdom:
    Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Peter Pan, Dumbo
    Spaceship Earth, Soarin’, Gran Fiesta Tour
    Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, Muppet*Vision 3D
    Kilimanjaro Safari and Dinosaur

    That’s it! Lots of stuff I’m happy to ride as time allows. There are many rides I cannot ride due to motion sickness, and others we don’t care for.

    Thank you again for a terrific and thought provoking article!

    • I’d be curios to read the Disney Musings take on this. You do have a short must-do list and it’s really different from mine! Can’t wait to see your version.

  3. I’m not getting sick of your excitement. I’m getting more excited for our trip in June, too!
    I’m going to pick on your one and done category. I did the American Idol one time and went to the finals show. Just me and the boys went but we really did enjoy it. I like the stunt show but my wife doesn’t. My wife loves the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Some things I have to do for her. We all love the Country Bears and laugh like dorks every time we see it. Lindsay and I tried the Astro Orbitor once. I couldn’t fit in it so I can’t ride it. Waited in a long, long line to find that out. Love this post and list. I think it would make for a great podcast topic before we go on our trip. I’m hoping you can do your trip report on the podcast after we both return from our June trips! Thanks!

    • I’m more willing to see the Bears than Idol! Absolutely we will have to discuss this in June. A sense a friendly argument coming on!

        • Yes, indeed, and WDW will be offering all those wonderful things to me TOMORROW!!!! Sorry, just had to let that out.

  4. Carousel of Progress is on my once and done, that guy is super creepy. And the repetitive music is too loud.

    Barnstormer is a must-do for me, went on it twice just last week (just returned from vacation). So is Finding Nemo the Musical – I love it, listened to the sound track to it last night at home.

    I have to keep Rock ‘N Roller Coaster, Star Tours, Expedition Everest on the once and done as well, rides that either make me vomit or nearly vomit – not doing again!

    I will admit to never having seen Captain EO and will happily continue to not see it.

    • I agree about the creepy-ness of Carousel, but it’s so old-school Disney! I rode Barnstormer for the first time in 2012 and it was just so SHORT (less than a minute) – wasn’t worth a wait in line. Clearly, I’m going to have to give Nemo another chance since the musical is such a favorite with so many! Now, the vomiting thing I agree with which is why Mission: Space and the Mad Tea Party are on my Once and Done list. Oddly, Rock’n’ Roller Coaster and EE don’t bother me at all, but Star Tours is iffy – I’ve got to make sure I don’t do that one on an empty stomach. Thanks for reading and commenting! Nemo here I come!

  5. I would have to subtract “It’s a Small World” from ‘Must Ride’ and move it to ‘Once and Done’. Super repetitive things get under my skin, so this ride is my personal nightmare.
    I’d add Finding Nemo: The Musical and The Great Movie Ride to ‘Must Ride’. Finding Nemo knocked my socks off… I was not expecting it to be as good as it was. My wife and I both teared up by the end of the show. The Great Movie Ride… it is one of the few memories I have from my trip to Disney as a kid, so it has some sentimental value for me, and is one of the few rides that can change (albeit very small changes, i.e. each host does it a little different). It’s also the essence of Hollywood Studios to my wife and I.

    Great post!

    • Hi Rick. I started to add comments by each attraction about why they were on a particular list. Some of my must-do’s are for purely sentimental reasons (rather than because the ride’s so enjoyable) and it’s a small world falls into that category (like The Great Movie Ride is for you). I was looking for feedback like yours – particularly so I would know if I need to give something another chance – clearly, Nemo (musical) is one that I should re-visit. I’ve only seen it once…maybe I was tired and cranky and didn’t give it a fair rating. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      • Great call with the adding why it falls into the category. Before I saw your reply to my comment, I saw above that you were planning on giving Nemo another shot and it made me smile. You will LOVE IT! We skipped it on our first trip together, and when we finally got around to seeing it last time, we were bummed we didn’t see it the first time around!

        By the way, I’ll have you know, I’ve read through 24 pages worth of your blog so far and plan on reading more. I love it! My wife and I love DisneyWorld just about as much as you and yours do. You’re certainly bookmarked and soon to be shared with fellow Disney-loving friends of mine.

        Great blog, keep up the great work!

        One small note of feedback, however small, the yellow background you use is rather blinding for us migraine sufferers. Is there a way you can make it a less intense flavor of yellow? Maybe a Pineapple Dole Whip hue instead? 😉 Thanks!

        • Rick! Thanks for the kind words! I will certainly be happy to tone down the yellow when I get a chance if you’ll keep reading!

          • DEAL! I just started reading your Unfair & Unbalanced Review of the Quick Service eats around DHS… you have me cracking up. AND it’s much needed because the DH and I are kinda stuck wondering what we’re going to eat on next trip because nothing QS at DHS really struck our fancy last time.

          • I noticed the change in background color. If my eyes had lips, they could kiss you!

          • What a lovely thing to say! I did do that just for you. Thanks for noticing.

  6. I love this post – it’s getting me even more excited for our trip this summer! It’s been a while since I’ve thought so in-depth about the attractions. Let’s see… I’d have to add PeopleMover, Carousel of Progress, and Living with the Land to the Must-Do category. There are a few other things I’d adjust a bit, but those three are absolute requirements for us!

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