Now that we’ve hit 2017 planning for our trip to Disney World and Universal Studios has begun in earnest. I know, we don’t depart for another 250 days, but for me planning is part of the trip, so it’s never too early to start.
First off I decided I would make sure I planned plenty of time for everyone’s favourite attractions and dining locations. So, to that end, I compiled a list for each family member. Here’s list number one. Disney World’s top three attractions by Joe, our son and expert, age 12.
Disney Expert Age 12
Let me tell you a bit about Joe first, he’s 12 but will be 13 on our next trip to Orlando. He’s been to a few theme parks in the UK. He’s also been to Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando. Though not a daredevil, he will try some of the bigger rides. Unlike some boys Joe is happy to go on the ‘family’ rides, he’s not worried about loosing his credibility by going on Peter Pan. He can get a bit scared in the ride queues when they are very atmospheric. He refused to go on Gringotts ride because the queue freaked him out. When he eventually decided to get on the ride he loved it. And he’s got very clear opinions about what are his favourite attractions and why.
Disney World Favourite Attraction #3 : Space Mountain
Space mountain is one of the oldest rides at Disney World. Opened in 1975 only 4 years after Magic Kingdom first welcomed guests, it has stood the test of time. The attraction has been updated a couple of times so the ride system isn’t the original, which is a good thing. In today’s world space mountain doesn’t feel futuristic or particularly ground breaking as a ride but it’s still great fun. The cars are bullet shaped so riders sit single file. If you’re kids like the security of having a parent sat next to them that’s something to note.
This ride is about quick turns and small drops, in the dark. This makes the ride feel more intense than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Splash Mountain. The ride is jolty but that’s why my son loves it. He feels like he’s in space, amongst the stars, and the jolts, quick turns and the dark star spotted environment all add to the experience. It’s a classic that still pulls in the crowds.
Height requirement 112cms, children under 7 must ride with an adult. Rider swap available*.
Disney World Favourite Attraction #2 : Test Track
Test Track is something pretty special amongst theme park rides. When you’re 12 and you get the chance to design your own car and then test it, an attraction becomes the thing of dreams. The beauty of this ride is how well it builds the excitement. From the great queue which culminates in designing your own test vehicle, the anticipation builds. Riders then climb into cars and venture out into the controlled test environment. Breaking, cornering and suspension are all tested with results displayed on screen for the custom vehicle you have created. Once the testing is complete the car then accelerates onto the ‘test track’. This massive track runs outside, around the edge of the attraction and the 6 seater cars devour it at speeds of up to 65 miles an hour. It’s fantastic.
It’s a thrilling ride, even for my husband who will take on any ride (including Mission Space Orange) it’s a blast and exciting and different enough to make you want to ride it again and again. For kids it’s thrilling but lacks the steep drops which can scare less adventurous types. It’s really great to ride this during the day and then go back in the evening when it’s dark. The ride feels different at night when flood lit, great different.
Height requirements 102cms. Rider swap available.
Disney World Favourite Attraction #1 : Seven Dwarves Mine Train
One of the newest additions to the Magic Kingdom list of attractions, Seven Dwarves Mine Train is a small roller coaster with a lot packed in. When you’re a 12 year old caught between child and wanting to be more grown up this is the ride which ticks all the boxes.
The attraction starts with an animatronics element, like Winnie The Pooh or Little Mermaid. The mine cart then starts a steep climb accompanied by animated dwarves all whistling while they work. Finally the cart is let loose onto the track. There are no steep drops or inversions, the fun here is provided by a tightly winding track and a modern ride car which swings sideways as it corners the track. It’s great for all ages, it’s the ride Joe chose to go on the most.
From a parent perspective this ride has an issue though and that is in its popularity. Careful planning of fast passes is required to maximise the enjoyment. With queues of up to 180 minutes at peak times any ride would struggle to live up to the anticipation. In addition if you only ride with fast passes you miss out on a great interactive queue. This is the kind of attraction touring plans were made for!
Height requirements 97cms. Rider swap available
Honourable Mention: Expedition Everest
My son absolutely loves this ride. It didn’t make the list because it’s a much bigger and more thrilling ride than others at Disney World. It’s more like the big ticket numbers at Universal. It’s got a great story and it’s a really clever ride which takes you on a trek up Everest to seek out the Yeti.
My son has always had a fascination about Yeti’s so that makes it super special. Unfortunately the Yeti has arrived before us and riders are faced with a broken track at the very top of the mountain. There’s a short but anticipative wait before the cars hurtle backwards, this time into a pitch black tunnel. There is no loop inversion in this track but the tight corkscrew which is traveled backwards in the dark sure makes it feel like there is one. The car then halts once more before moving forwards onto a more traditional style of roller coaster, a fast and tight track with plenty of excitement.
This coaster is pretty special. It looks absolutely beautiful, though that is slightly lost on a 12 year old boy, as is the intricately detailed queue. And it’s totally thrilling.
Height requirements 112cms. Rider swap available
P.s. On the way back from riding expedition Everest grab a soft swirl coke float from the Anadpur Ice Cream Truck (you can use a DDP snack credit). Just the thing to cool down after a thrilling ride which might just leave you dry mouthed!