A Ride Chicken’s Guide to Magic Kingdom Attractions
For years, thrill rides have been the name of the theme park game. In fact, before COVID-19, Disney World had begun construction on two new coasters – Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind for EPCOT and TRON Lightcycle Run for the Magic Kingdom. However, not everyone loves coasters or thrill rides. In fact, there are many Disney guests out there who feel sudden drops, dizzying heights, and high speeds are anything but magical.
So for my fellow Disney ride chickens, I’ve created a ranking system to help you know what to expect and maybe what to avoid when compiling your Magic Kingdom touring plan.
I’m breaking down the different elements of a ride that may be a little scary or extreme, such as drops, height, darkness, and speed. I’m also using a simple 1 to 3 scale with 1 being less intense and a 3 being the most intense.
Pirates of the Caribbean
One of the most legendary theme park attractions of all time, Pirates of the Caribbean is an indoor boat ride through detailed pirate-filled sets and with a few appearances from Captain Jack Sparrow.
While it is a slow-moving cruise averaging just over 7 minutes, there is one moderate drop and moments of darkness.
Darkness Rating: 2
Even though Pirates of the Caribbean is somewhat of a lighthearted attraction, there are several scenes with little to no lighting; and as already mentioned, this includes that single drop.
Drop Rating: 1.5
Pirates of the Caribbean’s single drop is 14 feet and takes place entirely in the dark. Fortunately for ride chickens, it’s not that big or intense and serves to transition guests into the pirate world.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a runaway mine train coaster that offers as much detail as it does thrills. While it’s the self-proclaimed wildest ride in the wilderness, it doesn’t have any inversions or significant drops. It is, however, on the rough side and packed with sharp turns and dips.
Drop Rating: 1
While there are plenty of hills and dips, there are no huge drops or significant plunges aboard Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Speed Rating: 2
The average speed of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is 35 mph. And while this doesn’t sound fast, it sure feels like it! This is especially true when swinging around corners and going up and down hills.
Splash Mountain is a massive log flume attraction with dark ride elements. Guests follow Brer Rabbit as he searches for his “laughing place” while outsmarting Brer Fox and Brer Bear along the way!
This 18-minute ride is mostly a gentle float in and out of Chickapin Hill and through the attraction’s show scenes. But there are a series of small drops that increase in intensity until that signature plunge into the Briar Patch. The small drops are more fun than thrilling, and there is more than one way to get wet along the way!
Drop Rating: 3
Splash Mountain’s main drop is a 5-story, 50-foot plunge at a 45-degree angle at a speed of about 40 mph! You will definitely lose your stomach (and your mouse ears!) before getting splashed! Tip: Riders in the back of the log may get a little wet, but those sitting towards the front can expect to get soaked.
Height Rating: 2
It’s at the top of the lift hill for the ride’s biggest plunge that guests will see just how high up they are before dropping those 5 stories into the Briar Patch. If you’re not a fan of heights, you may want to skip this one; however, if you’re feeling adventurous, do note that it’s over quick!
The Haunted Mansion is a fun yet spooky dark ride through a haunted estate home to 999 happy haunts! This attraction is a Disney Park classic and known for its incredible detail, use of effects and audio-animatronics, cast of characters, and lore.
To experience this ride, guests board a slow-moving Doom Buggy for a gentle tour of the Haunted Mansion. Towards the end of the experience, the Doom Buggies will slowly rotate and move backward down an incline. This movement is gentle, smooth, and by no means scary. Also, there are no drops, heights, or jump scares on the Haunted Mansion.
Darkness Rating: 2
In keeping with the theme, there are moments of darkness that may make some guests uncomfortable.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a swinging family coaster themed after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I consider Seven Dwarfs Mine Train a cross between a coaster and a dark ride since a significant part of the attraction consists of a slow-moving journey through the mine where a million diamonds are mined by audio-animatronic dwarfs.
Drop Rating: 1.5
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is an incredibly smooth and fluid coaster designed for families. Yes, it has a few turns and hills with the largest drop being 39 feet tall. However, they’re not nearly as rough or sudden as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; and even the swing of the vehicles is barely noticeable. It’s honestly one of the best coasters for little ones and ride chickens alike.
Height Warning: 1
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train’s track is largely built into the hill and scenery. Rarely do you feel elevated or even far off of the ground.
Speed Rating: 1.5
Just like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train’s max speed is 34 mph. While I did rate Big Thunder’s speed at 2, I’m only rating the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train’s speed a 1.5. My reasoning is that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train slows down and moves a dark ride pace for part of the ride experience. Also, it doesn’t feel as fast as Big Thunder since it isn’t as wild and rough.
The Barnstormer is a short and sweet kiddie coaster. Here Goofy, as the thrill-seeking Great Goofini, has been working on an aerial stunt show in the barnyard. Aboard this ride, guests have the chance to climb aboard Goofy’s stunt plane for their own wild flight.
So the Barnstormer’s ride experience is so quick that if you blink you might miss it. But it still manages to pack in a few dips and moves pretty fast! For thrill junkies, it’s a letdown; but for coaster rookies and ride chickens, it’s probably the perfect length.
Drop Rating: 1.5
So there are no major plunges or drops, just a few dips that end in turns to keep things smooth and easy.
Height Rating: 2
Most Disney World coasters are either enclosed or built into the scenery to hide the track. I would argue that much of the Barnstormer’s thrill element is related to its an elevated track where guests can see and feel that they are up off the ground.
Speed Rating: 2
The Barnstormer’s top speed is 40 mph, but since the ride is short it’s over before you know it.
Astro Orbiter is a retro-rocket-themed spinner attraction where guests ride high above Tomorrowland and past a myriad of planets. While it’s true there are other spinner-style attractions at the Magic Kingdom, such as Dumbo the Flying Elephant and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Astro Orbiter is different in that it’s taller, faster, and tilts!
Height Rating: 3
In order to ride Astro Orbiter, guests have to take an elevator up to the boarding area. This means you’re already up pretty high before you even board the ride vehicle. Once aboard and lifted in the air, you’re flying at about 60 feet from the ground and at a slight tilt. You may want to skip this one if heights aren’t your thing.
Speed Rating: 2.5
Astro Orbiter seriously feels a lot faster than Dumbo and packs in 11 rotations per minute with your rocket at a tilt. I’m definitely warning against this one if you’re prone to motion sickness.
Space Mountain is an indoor, space-themed roller coaster that takes place almost entirely in the dark! Guests board a rocket-shaped ride vehicle that sits low to the ground and with individual front-to-back seating. There are no inversions, but you can expect just about everything else in this 2 and 1/2 minute classic coaster.
Darkness Rating: 3
Except for when traveling through the strobe tunnels, Space Mountain’s ride experience takes place entirely in the dark. Some ride chickens appreciate this since because they can’t see how high up they are or what’s coming next; but for others, it only makes it scarier.
Drop Rating: 3
Space Mountain offers A LOT of drops and dips which come as a total surprise to the rider since they can’t see them coming! The coaster’s steepest drop registers at 39 degrees but you can expect to lose your stomach multiple times during this ride!
Speed Rating: 1.5
Most guests are surprised to learn that Space Mountain’s top speed is only 28 mph. It definitely feels faster, but ride chickens can take comfort in the fact that Space Mountain is one of the slower thrill rides in the park.
Are you a ride chicken when it comes to Disney attractions? Which Magic Kingdom ride would you recommend for guests looking to avoid thrills?
First published October 5, 2020. Updated September 1, 2021.
10 thoughts on “A Ride Chicken’s Guide to Magic Kingdom Attractions”
I know lots of people like thrill rides, but I feel like usually you can get that kind of thing “anywhere”, its the unique dark rides that really set DIsney apart and what I personally love. Of these, I’d tell someone who isn’t fond of thrillers to do the Snow White one. It’s mostly a dark ride 🙂
I’m not into thrill rides. I have been on nearly all the rides at least once just to see whether I like them. This is a really good article to help guests decided whether a certain ride is for them. Please can you write another article like this when new rides are introduced? I am apprehensive about trying the new Slinky ride in Hollywood Studios as I’m not sure whether it will have too many drops etc. I haven’t gone on the new Star Wars rides because I’m not sure about them. I’ve not done Mission to Mars either – but I have tried everything else and know which rides I will now avoid. That doesn’t mean I sit and wait for the rest of the family to go on these thrill rides holding all the bags – there is so much to do and see, which I do while the rest of my group are on the thrill rides – including posing in front of the WDW photographers and getting a few “magic” photos just on my own! So you don’t feel you are missing out not going on the thrill rides. WDW is great for that. I also agree with Tia – if you are on a ride with your eyes shut or travelling too fast you can’t see WDW fantastic attention to detail.
Hi Ruth! Thanks for commenting! A Ride Chicken’s Guide for the other Disney World parks is in the works where I’ll be tackling Slinky Dog Dash, Rise of the Resistance, Smuggler’s Run, and more so stay tuned!
Of these the only ones I’ve done are Haunted Mansion and Pirates, and they are likely to remain so. For someone who is truly Ride Cautious like me, the drop in Pirates (and in Frozen at Epcot) feels like about my limit. I have contemplated attempting Splash Mountain as a point of personal pride but every time have…cautioned out.
Long ago my partner rode Barnstormer with her then-5 year old; she said it was very rough in the rapid jerking turns, and her son was very frightened.
The in-the-air swooping in Peter Pan might be too much for some exceptionally cautious folks, though I enjoy it despite fearing heights.
I should also point out that the Unofficial Guide included a review of Seven Dwarves from two older ladies, who believed the talk of it being an “easy” coaster but were utterly terrified.
I always compare Space Mountain to riding a Wild Mouse in the dark. The start of the initial climb jerked my head back so hard I had a headache.
The drop in Pirates is a little rough and in the dark but otherwise no big deal.
The Barnstormer is a bit rough and as I remember the seats are hard plastic so you feel all of it. But it is short.
Big Thunder Mountain is mostly g-forces on the turns, which always seem to come right after the drops.
I rode Big Thunder Mt. ONCE and found there was no head rest. I felt my head was going to snap off! I tried Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ONCE and prayed it would end half way through. Barnstormer was way too much and I wouldn’t even go near Space Mountain. But Pirates is fine and Splash Mt. is even Ok, although I might keep my eyes shut for the big drop.
Thank you ! Thank you !! You saved me. I was going to ride Astro Orbiter next time thinking it was like Dumbo only higher up. Scratch that one. FYI: Years ago my then 8 year old daughter even scared me on Dumbo ! She kept going up and down, up and down ! We’ve laughed about that ever since.
Now what about ROTR ??? I’ve heard it’s great, not to be missed even though there is 1 “small dip” ???
I’m a major chicken. We just got back. My daughter and a couple CMs convinced me to go RoR. It’s not one of my favorite rides, probably one and done for me LOL With that said, it’s not that bad, especially if you close your eyes haha What POV videos of it so you know what to expect. When you head the cart click, you know something is coming. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t get the motion sensory added on top of the actual movement.
The scariest thing about the Haunted Mansion is the fact that it stops so often. If your kids are by themselves in a doom buggy and cannot see you, they may be scared… according to a friend’s kids. 🙂
Seven dwarves mine train is not an easy ride at all. It careens around turns twisting around as it goes.