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Best Theme Park Rides

Top Picks for the Best Theme Park Rides, Shows, and Attractions


Expedition Everest is among the best theme park rides.

At night, Expedition Everest has dramatic lighting. The Disney attraction is among the best theme park rides.

©Arthur Levine 2006. Licensed to About.com.
The best theme park rides use a lot of razzle-dazzle to immerse guests in their alternate universes, but they never forget to effectively tell a story. Engaging your senses, enveloping you, and placing you at the center of the action, great attractions make you forget about the technology behind the illusions and transport you to magical places.

The best ride designers know that parks are all about shared experiences. By taking the themed journeys together, families and friends create treasured memories.

Many, but not all, of the top theme park rides, use well-known characters as the basis for their story lines. By tapping into the cultural zeitgeist, the rides are able to jump right into the action without having to acclimate riders. Parks are also able to generate anticipation (not to mention ticket sales) among the characters' built-in fan base.

As you might expect, Disney, with its long history and incredible portfolio of themed attractions, dominates the list of best theme park rides. But the Universal parks have a strong presence, particularly near the top of the list. And one ride that's neither at a Disney nor a Universal park makes it onto the list.

Honorable Mention Best Theme Park Ride

Expedition Everest
Expedition Everest Ride Review
Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World

As a roller coaster, Expedition Everest is just OK. And as a themed dark ride, the attraction would be just OK without the coaster elements. But the combination of the coaster, which is integral to the ride's story, and the attraction's lavish, immersive environment, creates another Disney E-ticket must-ride and a welcome addition to Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Special note: The inclusion of Expedition Everest on the best theme park rides list is predicated on the attraction's featured character, the Yeti, being fully operational. Soon after the ride opened, the massive animated character failed to work properly and has not been restored to full functionality to date. While it's still a great attraction, it is not operating as intended and lacks the grand finale highlight that helps warrant its status as one of the best theme park rides.

Other Disney World rides info you might enjoy:

The Best Theme Park Rides countdown continues with numbers 1 to 15.

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