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Top Magic Kingdom Thrill Rides

Looking for Thrills at the Magic Kingdom? Head to the Mountains.

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The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is known more for its boundless charm, immersive themes, and cuddly characters than for white-knuckle, thrill rides. While no attraction at the Magic Kingdom can match the behemoth coasters and other adrenaline-pumping rides found at parks like Six Flags, it does offer some rides that appeal to thrill-seekers. On the mild-to-wild scale, however, riders of nearly all thrill-tolerance levels should be able to handle Disney's legendary mountain range and its classic dark rides.

Then again, some visitors to the park want to avoid thrills. I've got some great advice for them in my guide, The Magic Kingdom for Wimps

Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain
Disney. Used with permission.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 5
    One giant splashdown
  • Height Requirement: 40 inches
  • Location: Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom
  • Fastpass: Yes
Disney marries the classic log flume ride (with one humdinger of a drop) to an animatronics-filled dark ride themed to the Uncle Remus characters from "Song of the South." You'll be humming "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" (once you regain your composure from the drop).

Space Mountain

Space Mountain
Disney. Used with permission.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 5
    More twists and turns than big drops. Darkness factor adds to thrills.
  • Height Requirement: 44 inches
  • Location: Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom
  • Fastpass: Yes
Perhaps the most famous indoor roller coaster (along with its namesake rides at other Disney parks), Space Mountain offers more psychological than kinetic thrills. Riders are often surprised to learn that the legendary ride reaches a relatively puny top speed of 27 mph. It's the effects, the darkness, and the element of surprise that make it seem faster. A 2009 makeover made the coaster experience even darker (although it did not improve the somewhat bumpy ride).

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Disney. Used with permission.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 4.5
    More twists and turns than big drops.
  • Height Requirement: 40 inches
  • Location: Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom
  • Fastpass: Yes
With a top speed of 36 mph, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is 9 mph faster than Space Mountain. Without the indoor coaster's canopy of darkness, however, Thunder Mountain somehow feels slower. The mine train coaster's three separate lift hills--that's a lot of click-clack-clicking-- are an unusual feature, as are its Old West themeing and effects.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean
© Arthur Levine, 2003. Licensed to About.com.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 2.5
    Small splashdowns, mildly frightening images.
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom
  • Fastpass: No
It's a stretch to classify Pirates of the Caribbean as a thrilling attraction, but the boat ride's small drops, lights-out moments, and somewhat menacing imagery can be unsettling (in a good, theme park kind of way). Regardless of thrills, Pirates is one of Disney's--and all of parkdom's--most beloved attractions.

The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion
© Arthur Levine, 2003. Licensed to About.com.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 3.5
    More silly than scary, the ride is dark, loud...and haunted! Very young children may find it disconcerting.
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom
  • Fastpass: No
There are no coaster-like drops, dips, or twists on Disney's classic dark ride. But with a name like "The Haunted Mansion," you'd have to expect at least a few gotchas from the attraction's 999 ghosts. The beating heart of the ghostly bride, the pop-up ghouls in the cemetery, and the unseen victims pounding on the doors are among the more frightening scenes.
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