By: Orange Bird Devo
Walt Disney World is known for iconic images such as Dumbo the Flying Elephant, a golden carousel, Cinderella Castle, and a cast of lovable characters. Many thrill seekers don’t associate Disney World with high speeds, big drops, and adrenaline rushes. However thrill rides take on a whole new definition at Disney World. What sets apart thrill rides at Disney World from anywhere else is the magic of storytelling. Walt Disney Imagineering combines storytelling with high speeds, twists, turns, and big drops in order to create perfect attractions for thrill seekers.
Below is a list of must dos for thrill seekers at Disney World along with hyperlinks to other articles with more information on these attractions.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Along with these major thrill rides, there are many other attractions at Walt Disney World that thrill seekers will enjoy. Since there are so many things to see and do at the parks, it is important to have a plan. Below you can find some key tips as well as sample itineraries to help you plan your day at the park.
Before you arrive at the parks here are a few things you should keep in mind.
The Times Guide- The times guide provides the daily schedule for each park. This includes the park hours and show times. You can pick up a times guide at various locations around the resort including the parks and your hotel. You can also find the times guide on Disney World’s website as well as the My Disney Experience app. I would highly recommend that all thrill seekers check the times guide for the nighttime spectaculars at Disney World. The nighttime spectaculars at Disney World have been thrilling guests for over forty years. For more information on nighttime entertainment check out my article Orange Bird Devo’s Guide to Nighttime Spectaculars.
Extra Magic Hours- Disney Resort guests are able to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. Each day one park opens one hour before opening and another park stays open two hours after closing. Extra Magic Hours is the perfect opportunity for thrill seekers to ride their favorite attractions with little to no wait. Check the times guide to see which park has Extra Magic Hours that day.
Fastpass +- Fastpass + is a service that Disney offers to all guests. Fastpass + allows guests to make reservations ahead of time for popular attractions. This allows guests to bypass long waits for attractions at no extra charge. Resort guests can make reservations up to 60 days before while offsite guests can make reservations up to 30 days before. Many of thr theill attractions are very popular so taking advantage of Fastpass + is important. For more information about Fastpass + check out Disney Magic Diva’s article 10 Tips to Get the Fastpass+ You Want at Walt Disney World.
The following sample itineraries are based on one full day and include all major thrill attractions as well as other attractions that thrill seekers will enjoy. Everybody plans a Disney vacation different so feel free adjusting these sample itineraries according to your party’s preferences.
Magic Kingdom –
- Before you head to the park make sure to make Fastpass+ reservations. The three attractions I would recommend making reservations for are Splash Mountain, Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I suggest making your Fastpasses at the following times; Space Mountain at 10:00am-11:00am, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 1:30pm-2:30pm, and Splash Mountain 4:00pm-5:00pm.
- Arrive at the park an hour before opening. Main Street USA now opens an hour before the rest of the park. This will give you the opportunity to enjoy breakfast at the Main Street Bakery as well as experience the brand new welcome show on the castle forecourt stage.
- After the welcome show head towards Tomorrowland and experience the mild, but wild, Stitch’s Great Escape. If time allows, help Buzz Lightyear fight the Evil Empreror Zurg on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, then use your Fastpass for Space Mountain. If you have some extra time enjoy some of the other great Tomorrowland attractions. My personal favorite is the TTA Peoplemover because it gives you a great view of Tomorrowland and Main Street.
- After Space Mountain head over to Storybook Circus and join the Great Goofini on the Barnstormer roller coaster. Although the Barnstormer is considered a kiddie coaster, it is fun for kids of all ages. If time allows ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant after the Barnstormer.
- Head towards Fantasyland and use your Fastpass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Many attractions in Fantasyland are geared towards families, and although the main goal for thrill seekers is to experience all the thrills I would recommend checking out some of these classic Fantasyland attractions If time allows.
- After Fantasyland, ride the Haunted Mansion before the Festival of Fantasy Parade. If time does not allow, then ride the Haunted Mansion after the parade. The 999 Happy Haunts in the Haunted Mansion are looking for number 1,000 so enter if you dare.
- After the Haunted Mansion and Festival of Fantasy parade, mosey on over to Frontierland and use your Splash Mountain Fastpass. After you get soaked on Splash Mountain ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Be sure to hang out to your hats and glasses because it’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!
- After Big Thunder will probably be a good time to eat dinner. For Quick Service I would recommend either Pecos Bill’s or Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. If you are looking for a table service restaurant then make a reservation for Be Our Guest restaurant for an immersive dining experience in the Beast’s Castle. Tip: Reservations fill up quickly for Be Our Guest so make sure to make your reservation 180 days before your vacation.
- After dinner head over to Adventureland to experience Pirates of the Carribbean and the Jungle Cruise.
Tip: The Jungle Cruise can have lengthy lines so try to acquire a Fastpass for it after you have used your Splash Mountain Fastpass.
- After Adventureland try to revisit some of your favorite thrills. Try to see if there are any Space Mountain Fastpasses available.
- Experience The castle projection show and Wishes Fireworks from Main Street U.S.A.
- If time allows after Wishes, revisit one of your favorite thrill attractions. All attractions admit guests right up until closing time.
- Before you head to the park make Fastpass reservations. Epcot unlike Magic Kingdom works on a tier system. This will only allow you to choose one major attraction and two less popular attractions. In this case make two Fastpass reservations. One for Test Track, as this attraction never has a short wait, and Mission Space. I suggest making the reservation at 10:00am-11:00am for Test Track and 11:30am-12:30am for Mission Space.
- Arrive at Epcot about 30 mins before opening. When the park opens head directly for the Land Pavilion, which is the home to Soarin’ Around the World. The line is usually shorter first thing in the morning. If the line is short, consider riding Soarin’ twice.
- After Soarin’, head for Test Track and use your Fastpass. While waiting on the line for Test Track take out your phone and make a Fastpass for Frozen Ever After. Fastpasses are difficult to obtain for Frozen Ever After, so take whatever time you can get. If you do not wish to ride Frozen Ever After then get another Fastpass for Test Track or Soarin.
- After Test Track use your Fastpass for Mission Space and experience the thrill of Space! For ultimate thrill seekers, I would recommend experiencing the Orange Team which is a more thrilling experiencing than the milder Green Team.
- After Mission Space feel free to enjoy other Future World attractions if time allows.
- After Future World head for World Showcase and experience the thrill of being in other countries. While World Showcase doesn’t have conventional thrill rides there are many experiencing I would consider thrilling. Most notably the food in World Showcase. My favorite restaurant in World Showcase is the Tangerine Cafe which is a quick service restaurant that serves Moraccan Food.
- In World Showcase experience the fantastic show The American Adventure. The American Adventure is an animatronic show about America’s history. the animatronics, story, and music are incredible. I highly recommend this show to everyone, even thrill seekers.
- As night falls gather around the World Showcase Lagoon and experience the thrilling nighttime spectacular Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios-
- Before heading to the park be sure to make your Fastpass reservations. Hollywood Studios also works on a tier system. In this case make reservations for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at 10:00am-11:00am, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at 11:30am-12:30pm, and Star Tours at 3:00pm-4:00pm.
- Arrive at the park about 20 minutes before opening. When the park opens head directly for Toy Story Mania. The line is usually shorter in the morning, and with the addition of the third track wait times have dropped significantly. If you have time, try to ride Toy Story Mania multiple times in the morning as the wait time rises significantly during the afternoon and evening hours.
- After Toy Story Mania head for Rockin’ Roller Coaster and use your Fastpass. Rockin’ Roller Coaster generally has the longest wait times at Hollywood Studios.
Tip: If you want to ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster multiple times and can’t obtain another Fastpass then consider riding as a single rider. The wait times are significantly shorter if you don’t mind being separated from the rest of your party.
- After Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster head for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and use your Fastpass. I highly recommend riding the Tower of Terror as many times as you can because the drop sequence changes for each ride. The more you ride the Tower of Terror, the more surprises you will discover about this attraction.
Tip: The Tower of Terror is even more terrifying at night, so be sure to ride it at night too.
- After the Tower of Terror, enjoy all of the other attractions Hollywood Studios has to offer. The park is currently undergoing a major re-imagining so attractions are limited, but they are great. I suggest taking a few rides on the Great Movie Ride. The Great Movie Ride is an immersive journey into the movies and also provides great Air Conditioning on a hot day in central Florida.
- Consider making time for lunch or a snack. My favorite snack at Hollywood studios is the Carrot Cake Cookie. It is sweet and delicious. The Carrot cake cookie can be found at Sweet Spells on Sunset Blvd.
- When the time comes, use your Fastpass for Star Tours. I also recommend riding Star Tours multiple times as there are multiple Star Tours adventures you can experience.
- After Star Tours have some dinner. There are many wonderful restaurants at Hollywood Studios but my favorite is The 50’s Prime Time Café. For more on the Prime Time Café check out Main Street Diva’s article Walt Disney World Dining Must Do: 50s Prime Time Cafe
- After dinner check the Times Guide and see what nighttime spectaculars are showing that night. Hollywood Studios has a few different nighttime shows that have changed frequently over the past few years. The two main shows are Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular and Fantasmic. I recommend seeing both but sometimes their schedules conflict and it is only possible to experience one. If this is the case I recommend choosing Fantasmic. Fantasmic features a journey into the imagination of Mickey Mouse and features fireworks, water screens, and other water and fire effects.
- If there is time after the nighttime shows experience one or two of your favorites one last time. This would be a good opportunity to ride the Tower of Terror at night.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom-
- Before heading to the park be sure to make your Fastpass reservations. For Animal Kingdom make Fastpass reservations for Dinosaur at 9:30am-10:30am, Kali River Rapids at 1:00pm-2:00pm and Expedition Everest from 3:00pm-4:00pm.
- Arrive at the park about 20 mins before park opening. When the park opens head directly for Primeval Whirl.
- After Primeval Whirl use your Fastpass for Dinosaur. If the wait is short, ride it again. Animal Kingdom is the largest park at Disney World so you may not be able to get back around to Dinosaur later on.
- After Dinosaur try to catch the next showing of Festival of The Lion King. This is my favorite live show on Disney World property. The music, performers, puppets, and audio animatronics are amazing. The show lasts about 25 minutes and I recommend arriving about a half hour before showtime to get good seats.
- After Festival of the Lion King head for Kilimanjaro Safaris. The wait for Kilimanjaro can get long so you can either wait on the line and rearrange your current Fastpassses or try to get a Fastpass for Kilimajaro after you use up all of your other Fastpasses.
- After Kilimanjaro use your Fastpass for Kali River Rapids. You will get soaked on Kali River Rapids so it is nice and refreshing on a hot Florida day.
- After Kali River Rapids use your Fastpass for Expedition Everest. Everest is one of the best rides at Animal Kingdom and it is very popular. So even consider heading to Everest during a day with morning extra magic hours or evening extra magic hours to experience it with little to no wait.
- After Everest consider seeing Finding Nemo the Musical. It is a great show and truly gives you the thrill of a Broadway style experience. However, Finding Nemo runs about 45 minutes so it takes up a big chunk of time. If you would rather experience the thrill rides more and try other thrilling adventures then skip Finding Nemo the Musical.
- If you are really up for a thrill try the Wild Africa Trek. The Wild Africa Trek is a privately guided VIP tour with close encounters with African wildlife. The price per adult is about 189-249 dollars. Advanced reservations must be made through Disney for the Wild Africa Trek. For more information visit Disney World’s official site.
- At around 4:00pm-5:00pm take a break for dinner. I recommend Yak and Yeti Local Foods Cafe in Asia. If you have some extra time consider going to Animal Kingdom Lodge resort and eat at Boma Flavors of Africa. Boma is a delicious African buffet and has selections for everyone in your family.
- As the sun sets head back for Kilimanjaro Safaris. The Safari is a whole different experience at night. Certain animals are more visible at night than in the day.
- After Kilimanjaro Safaris, if time allows head over to see the Tree of Life projection shows. These projection shows occur throughout the night about every 15 minutes.
- After the projection show experience Animal Kingdom’s new nighttime show Rivers of Light. Rivers of Light is expected to open sometime in 2017 and will combine water effects, live performers, floats, and phenomenal lights to create a nighttime spectacular. Check the times guide to see if Rivers of Light is playing that evening.
- After Rivers of Light, if time allows ride Expedition Everest at night. This attraction is a whole new animal at night. The mystery of the Yeti is truly emphasized in the dark. Everest will admit guests right up until closing.
Are you ready to experience the thrill of the Walt Disney World Resort? If you’re ready to start planning your Disney World vacation get a quote from Patricia at All for Dreams Travel, the official travel agent of Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos.