Which Disney Rides Are the Scariest?
Halloween is just around the corner, so we’re all thinking about everything spooky in our lives.
When you think about horror, Disney theme parks don’t spring to mind, but Imagineers possess a twisted sense of humor. Sometimes, they toss in some gothic elements.
Here are eight of the scariest Disney rides you’ll find this Halloween season.
Humanity counts as this planet’s apex predator today. We rule the lands and have imposed dominion over the other creatures of Earth.
However, that wasn’t always the case. Dinosaurs once towered over everything else, including our cave-dwelling ancestors.
We once hid in fear lest we accidentally draw the attention of these savage beasts.
DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom forces us to relive these days, as we time travel back to the era when humanity feared these larger creatures.
The lights go out, the dinosaurs start sniffing around, and we wind up in a race to escape the past before we become dinosaur snack food. It’s intense!
Imagine being alone in the dark with the mystical Yeti. That’s the core concept of Expedition Everest.
Somehow, the monster isn’t even the most terrifying part of this ride, though.
We’re riding a train through the Forbidden Mountain when we notice broken tracks up ahead.
At this point, our unseen driver panics and decides that the best course of action is to throw the train in reverse.
Our train cart slings us backward at warp speed as we enter the dark void of the Forbidden Mountain. It’s pitch black, and we’re traveling at high velocity.
The moment is simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating.
Somehow, our dramatic descent grows even more intense when we encounter the fabled and apparently not at all mythical Yeti!
Expedition Everest takes a lot out of you.
Haunted Mansion/Haunted Mansion Holiday
There are two versions of this ride, one of which is a temporary overlay. However, I couldn’t in good conscience leave either off the list.
The original version of Haunted Mansion displays so many disturbing scenes.
We take them for granted since Disney plays so much of the ride for laughs. Still, there’s the Hatbox Ghost, Murder Bride, and Hanging Host.
None of those things are what you’d expect to encounter at what is ostensibly a family theme park, right?
This ride is a glorified eight-minute séance wherein all the spirits happily taunt you for having the audacity to breathe.
The Halloween through Christmas overlay fosters fear via different means.
You enter the fictional realm of Halloweentown, whose benevolent ruler, Jack Skellington, is objectively terrifying. For that matter, the other residents are rather unsettling.
When we talk about the scariest Disney rides, the list begins and ends with these two Haunted Mansion experiences.
It’s a Small World
Fear manifests itself in many different ways.
While the first three attractions we’ve discussed include some white-knuckle moments, the terror at It’s a Small World works differently.
The fear is psychological…and unintentional.
Guests fear the thought of getting stuck on this ride, which would lead to an infinite loop of the song.
Sure, you hear the music repeatedly when you’re sailing your boat through It’s a Small World. You know that the music will eventually end, though.
Let’s say that the ride stops, though. Now, you’re hearing “It’s a Small World After All” over and over again until either the power in the building goes out, or you stab your eardrums.
Somehow, that’s only half the horror here. Those puppets turn into scenes from a slasher movie when you stare at them for too long.
I have been on It’s a Small World when it breaks down. It’s a deeply unsettling experience.
Those dolls stop being cute when it’s just you and them for 30 minutes.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Have you ever been sentenced to prison? I sincerely hope not for your sake.
I’m also pretty sure that you haven’t been eternally damned in the afterlife…although if you have, I’d like to hear that story.
So, the improbable nature of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is part of what makes it such a scary experience.
You take on the role of Mr. Toad, a barrister with a love of fast cars. You experience life like he does in the movie.
Alas, Mr. Toad isn’t the best driver, which causes him to break the law a time or two (hundred).
So, a judge sentences Mr. Toad to prison, an unlikely fate for a barrister. Mr. Toad isn’t made for hard time, which causes him to make a jail break.
Alas, that means more bad driving, which ultimately leads to an unfortunate encounter with a train. And that leads to eternal judgment, which doesn’t go in your favor.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is so entertaining that you may not think about the moral implications of it. They’re quite mortifying, though.
Raise your hand if you’re afraid of heights. I presume that roughly 20 percent of you are, even though scientists believe the number’s only five percent.
They’re wrong. A staggering number of people are afraid of heights, and I know this because I used to be.
I literally had to go to the top of a skyscraper and look down for about 15 minutes until the subconscious part of my brain stopped being scared.
Disney fans can take a different approach. You can board the Pixar Pal-A-Round at Disney California Adventure. It’s a modified Ferris wheel that’s somehow much scarier.
You cede all control to the ride operators on Pixar Pal-A-Round. You’re just one of many people trusting the machinery to do its job here.
People who think about it too much can and do freak out. This kind of fear isn’t manufactured in any way. It’s a totally natural human reaction to heights.
Space Mountain – for several reasons
Earlier, I mentioned the sensory deprivation on Expedition Everest. That moment when you enter the darkness defines terror.
Space Mountain invented that.
No matter how much you try to pay attention on this ride, the dizzying design will leave you befuddled.
You’re alone in the darkness of space, and there’s nothing you can do about it until you reach your destination.
Also, that’s just the mental aspect. The physical aspect causes true fear as well.
Space Mountain delivers a notoriously bumpy ride that can cause headaches and/or a sore back. So, that concern floats in the back of your mind, too.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
What’s scarier to you, the thought of visiting an abandoned but possibly haunted hotel or an elevator suddenly malfunctioning.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror works as a “pick your poison” kind of unsettling experience. The ultimate scary Disney ride.
Rod Serling tells you right from the start that people mysteriously vanished at this place. He’s warning you that you shouldn’t be here, and he’s right.
You’re entering a place that has captured the spirits of several other souls. And some may say that’s not even the worst part.
You’re boarding an elevator that you know will malfunction. What sane person would willingly do that?
You will because you love the scariest Disney rides!