Ranking the Latest Rides at Walt Disney World
Change is afoot at Walt Disney World, as Imagineers have nearly completed another new ride, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Over the next two years, Disney will add two more, Tron Lightcycle Power Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
However, before we move forward, I want to evaluate the past five years of new additions.
Here’s how I would rank the new Walt Disney World rides from the past five years.
Spoilers: You will NOT agree with some of my choices!
Alien Swirling Saucers
I’ve ridden everything listed here several times. I also understand that opinions are, by nature, personal.
How I feel about these attractions won’t match how you do, which is totally fine!
We wouldn’t have fun debating this stuff if we agreed on everything, right?
I’m someone who has held minority opinions throughout my life…and proudly so. I don’t mind going against the crowd.
This ride possesses the most essential ingredient in any Disney theme park attraction. It’s fun!
Even Imagineers sometimes get too serious and forget this component at times.
When I’m whipping around on Alien Swirling Saucers, I don’t have a care in the world. I’m totally in the moment, and I adore that sensation.
If this is the “worst” new ride at Walt Disney World, the list is extremely impressive!
Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run
In fact, I like Alien Swirling Saucers so much I almost ranked it ahead of the Millennium Falcon ride. It’s apples and oranges, though.
Alien Swirling Saucers uses the laws of physics against riders, causing them to careen into one another.
Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run updates some of the mechanics of Star Tours – The Adventures Continue to turn the concept on its head.
You’re part of a group of pilots, engineers, and gunners working together to steal acquire Coaxium from strangers.
With Star Tours, you enter a movie theater-style room and watch the proceedings unfold in front of you.
On Smugglers Run, you determine what happens as it’s an interactive game of sorts.
You’re still watching a movie, but you don’t realize it since you’re in a cockpit looking at a viewscreen.
I adore the gaming element and thrill at the idea of playing alongside five of my friends.
However, this ride qualifies as evolutionary rather than revolutionary. So, I cannot slot it high on the list.
Avatar Flight of Passage
Here come the rotten tomatoes flying through the air!
Much of what I just said about Smugglers Run applies to Avatar Flight of Passage. It, too, improves upon an existing ride, Soarin’.
You leave the planet behind to soar, though. Now, you’re trying to tame a Banshee on Pandora, yet the experience plays out similarly.
You’ll enter several different areas, each of which includes new visuals and a distinctive scent. Along the way, you’ll encounter your fair share of aliens, too.
Actually, these creatures live on Pandora. You’re the alien from another planet. But I digress.
The point is that cast members proudly declare Avatar Flight of Passage is Soarin’ on steroids. Personally, I prefer the original, though.
I find the motorcycle ride cart uncomfortable and would probably enjoy the ride more if it were just a regular seat like in Soarin’s auditorium.
I know that most people rate Avatar Flight of Passage as a 10 out of 10 and slot it in the Best of Disney class. I’m simply not in that group.
In fact, I prefer…
Na’Vi River Journey
I apologize for the heresy.
I guess I should explain two things here. First, I’m a sucker for technology. Second, I love Disney boat rides.
Ergo, Na’Vi River Journey marries two of my favorite things in a seamless, immersive ride experience.
Many people criticize the attraction for its lack of action, as all the dangers on display provide atmosphere only. There are never any interactions with predators.
I could care less. When I board this boat and set sail, I buy into the illusion that Pandora exists.
I admire the flora and fauna, paying particular attention to the bioluminescent colors on display throughout the ride.
Na’Vi River Journey is beautiful, relaxing, and immersive. I’m in awe of it.
If I can only ride Pandora attraction during a visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I pick this one. In fact, I’ve done that before!
Slinky Dog Dash
Okay, everything from this point forward on this list is a ride I would describe as an E-ticket attraction.
In other words, I think they’re all phenomenal. To wit, I would feel disappointed if I left any of these parks without experiencing the rides in question.
I speak from experience here, as I couldn’t ride Slinky Dog Dash during my most recent Disney’s Hollywood Studios visit.
The wait-time never fell under 60 minutes for Slinky Dog Dash, which didn’t work for me on a hot day.
After all, Toy Story Land is notoriously lacking in cover from the sun. So, I passed on the opportunity to ride Slinky Dog Dash, but it broke my heart.
This ride somehow celebrates the physics of the Slinky as a toy. It does so in an organic way for a roller coaster, though.
You’ll forget about the science until your coaster cart stretches out to one side, only to spring back into a straight line. It’s one of the best Imagineered rides ever!
Frozen Ever After
Okay, Frozen Ever After turns five in June, which means that it barely made the list due to the timeline.
Basically, when Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure arrives, Frozen Ever After will fall off the chart, so to speak.
As such, we should take this opportunity to appreciate one of the greatest re-themings in Disney theme park history.
Like so many EPCOT fanatics, I adored Maelstrom. Still, I recognize that it had served its purpose and outlived its usefulness.
Any Disney ride with consistent wait-times of 10 minutes or less may need reevaluation. So, I see Disney’s point in changing things up at the Norway pavilion.
Plus, Frozen Fever was already running wild at Disney theme parks at the time.
An attraction based on the story is, well, hard to argue as anything other than a terrific idea.
Time has proven Disney right, as Frozen Ever After has maintained massive crowds since its inception.
From a selfish perspective, we’ve probably ridden Frozen Ever After more than any other attraction listed here…and it’s not even close.
Back in the Before Time when FastPasses were available, I’d choose Frozen Ever After every park visit without fail. It’s one of my overall favorites.
Imagineers don’t receive enough credit for the brilliant theming in place throughout the line queue.
On the ride, everything builds to Let It Go, just as it should.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Sometimes, I can acknowledge that a ride is superior in structure yet not like it as much.
That’s the explanation that I offer as I rank the best ride at Walt Disney World as my second-favorite from the past five years.
Don’t misunderstand. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance qualifies as an Imagineering masterpiece, one they may not top for a decade or more.
In truth, Rise of the Resistance combines so many popular ride elements that you’re effectively experiencing four or five attractions at once.
That’s not hyperbole, as integral parts of recognizable rides reside under the hood of the Star Wars ride’s architecture.
Thanks to these hidden mechanics, I genuinely believe I’m living out a Star Wars adventure when I board the spaceship and head off into the unknown.
I’m lost in admiration throughout the attraction, from when the situation turns to the cast member improv in the middle to the final shootout.
The grandeur of Rise of the Resistance elevates it above all sci-fi rides that have come before it. Still, there’s one thing it can’t do.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
“I hope we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”
I love and admire all the attractions on this list. However, none of them stars the mice that started the Disney craze in the first place.
Before 2020, Disney had never built an entire ride for Mickey or Minnie Mouse. Then, everything changed when Goofy decided to work as a train engineer.
Suffice to say that Goofy imperils his friends and takes a runaway railway through a series of misadventures in trying to make things right.
The breathtaking graphics on display remind riders of the beauty of Disney illustrations. This essential aspect gets overlooked too often.
Also, the trackless carts take a premise that started with Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and elevates it to unprecedented standards.
Guests dance on this ride. Who could have possibly expected that?
Look, everything on this list will slap a smile on your face. Only one attraction would make Walt Disney himself feel like a child again, though.
That’s why Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is Disney’s best new ride!
Feature Image Rights: (Kent Phillips, photographer)