23 January 2012


Walt Disney World is known for its classic dark rides and multiple mountain ranges. One sector, the dark rides, are family-friendly fare, while the mountains may not be for the faint of heart. Of course, so far as roller coasters are concerned, are the coasters of Walt Disney World really going to send sheer terror screaming down your spine? Today, I thought I would take a little bit of time to rank the roller coasters found on property.

First things first, we have to know which attractions we’re talking about. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines roller coasters as such:
roller coaster (ˈrō-lər-ˌkō-stər) noun: an elevated railway (as in an amusement park) constructed with sharp curves and steep inclines on which cars roll
Under this definition, we are asked to disregard several thrill attractions, including Test Track, Kali River Rapids, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Star Tours and Splash Mountain. So thrills are not simply handed out via roller coasters, but we’ll play ball with just the ‘elevated railway’ attractions today, but know that in a pure thrill-seeking rundown, Splash Mountain and Tower of Terror would have ranked very high. What we are left with are a handful of attractions: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, Goofy’s Barnstormer, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest and Primeval Whirl.6Goofy’s Barnstormer – Yes, this attraction is in the middle of a refurbishment, but the core of this kiddie coaster will remain the same. Goofy’s Barnstormer can be a bit cramped for adults, but is an excellent introduction to the world of roller coasters for young children. Plus, during its climb and at its peak, it offers great views of the Magic Kingdom. It should be noted that the final spot in this countdown will likely be held by The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train once it opens in 2013.5Primeval Whirl – For the hurky-jerky factor alone, I almost placed this attraction at the bottom of the list. However, Primeval Whirl plays close to its parking lot fair theme, and has similar excitement to Goofy’s Barnstormer. It gains the nod of one placement up because of the individual cars’ ability to spin free of the track. Basically, it is a Tilt-A-Whirl on a roller coaster track.4Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – It is my personal favorite on the list (though Expedition Everest is running neck and neck with it), and has held a special place in my heart since I was a wee lad. However, it doesn’t have a terrifying element to it, just some great visuals, some tremendous bumps, and a lot of speed, topping out at 30 mph.3Space Mountain – While actually slower than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, clocking in at a whopping 28 mph, Space Mountain amps up the exhilaration by sending guests hurtling through space, or in simple terms, along a track in the dark. Comparing the Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain to Disneyland’s for just a moment, there is a lot that could be done to intensify and plus the east coast version, but it is still a top tier coaster for Walt Disney World.2Expedition Everest – I’ll admit it, I miss the swinging, swiping yeti, but that doesn’t mean this attraction is any less worthy of a top spot. Steep drops, suck you into your headrest turns, and a backwards spiral into the mountain all make this an incredible must-ride roller coaster. Top speeds of 50 mph come during the 80 foot drop.1Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster – I fully believe this ride could have been made with just the launch sequence and guests would still line up for it! Going from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds (okay, to be honest it’s only 0 – 57 mph) is an immediate injection of adrenaline. Couple this with inversions and the surprise element provided by being in the dark and you have a roller coaster recipe for success. The only thing that could make Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster better is if it were longer.

So, that’s my ranking of the roller coasters in Walt Disney World, the real question is, what’s yours?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi - big fan of the blog, happy to be in on the action.

#6 - Definitely Primeval Whirl. The mediocre (at best) ride experience is met by some of the most pathetic themeing in all the Disney parks. Low ratings for ride and theme do not make a very worthwhile experience.

#5 - Barnstormer. Not the most thrilling ride, but unlike PW, at least it's not actively unpleasant. The themeing isn't exactly over the top, but there are plenty of nice scenes and gags, especially in the queue.

#4 - Space Mountain - It's hard not having this coaster higher, especially because it's a classic as the very first Space Mountain, but this one is just brutal to ride. Compared to the other SM installations, it's a bit of a joke. I give it points for nostalgia and an excellent setting, but it needs to give a better ride.

#3 - Rock 'N' Rollercoaster - No doubt this is at the top thrill-wise. The launch and inversions are fantastic, and the ride itself is smooth enough considering it's a Vekoma. What bugs me here is the theme. The on-ride effects are nice, but the story and Aerosmith tie-in is beyond unimpressive. What a 90s rock concert has to do with the Golden Age of Hollywood, I don't get. Just look next door to Tower of Terror and see how a ride SHOULD be themed.

#2 - Thunder Mountain. Not as thrilling as some, but a nice enough ride, and some exhilarating moments without being over the top. Where this ride really scores is the depth of the environment. It may need some TLC, but the themeing and props are terrific, and there are tons of small details.

#1 - Everest - The ultimate Disney mix of thrill and story. A great ride even without the setting, drops, a helix, impressive backwards portion, there's a lot going on. Add onto that the amazing scenery and attention to detail both in the queue and on the ride, and you're immersed like nowhere else. A+++ :)