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Best Disney World Rides for Kids

The Top Ten Best Attractions for the Youngest Visitors

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It's been said that Walt Disney World brings out the child in all of us. Among the dozens of rides offered at its parks, however, which ones especially reach out to younger children? Per Walt Disney's grand design, all of the rides at Disney World are made for adults and children to enjoy together. But some of the more thrilling attractions have height restrictions and aren't intended for small fry. And while nearly all of the rides appeal to kids of all ages, some have the perfect blend of whimsy and charm to delight toddlers and pre-tweens. Here are my picks for the ten best Disney World rides for children.

There is an accompanying original About.com video showcasing the best rides for kids at Disney World.

Do you want more top picks? If it's screams you are after, check out the Best Walt Disney World Thrill Rides. Or peruse my choices for the Best Walt Disney World Rides, regardless of age. For a general overview of the top things to do at the resort, go to my Best Things to Do at Disney World. If you (or somebody you know) wants to avoid thrills, see my advice in Walt Disney World for Wimps

1. Dumbo The Flying Elephant

Disney. Used with permission.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 1.5
    Spinning action; vehicles rise up
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom
  • Fastpass: No
Sure, it's similar to simple spinning rides found at amusement parks and carnivals everywhere (although the Disney ride is decked out like some magnificent Renaissance machine designed by Leonardo da Vinci). But there is something affirming and timeless about boarding the famous flying pachyderm. No visit to Disney World would be complete without a spin on Dumbo. It is, perhaps, the definitive Disney attraction and, in my opinion, the best Disney World ride for kids.

2. Peter Pan's Flight

© Arthur Levine, 2012. Licensed to About.com.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 1
    Sensation of flying high in the air. Slightly menacing villains.
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom
  • Fastpass: Yes
It's one of the original Disney World (and Disneyland) attractions. The sweet ride sends guests soaring high above London and off to Never Land in flying galleons that are suspended from a track above the vehicles. Disney's other Pirates ride can be a bit foreboding and overhwleming for small children, but Peter Pan strikes the perfect balance of adventure and nostalgia. Who could resist a ride powered by pixie dust?

3. it's a small world

©Arthur Levine, 2005. Licensed to About.com.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 0
    Perhaps the most gentle park ride ever designed.
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom
  • Fastpass: No
Young kids are wide-eyed as they glide through the Disney park original (which actually debuted at the 1964 New York World's Fair). The relentlessly upbeat and bright ride might seem a tad cloying to adults -- and its never-ending theme song can induce fits of hysteria -- but children absolutley adore it.

4. The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Disney. Used with permission.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): .5
    Some scenes are a bit dark
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Future World in Epcot
  • Fastpass: No
A stunning breakthrough by Disney Imagineers integrates the characters from Finding Nemo with the actual fish and animals in the tank of the marine life pavilion. The illusion will have adults baffled, but young children will simply accept it -- and love it. A sequel of sorts to the film, the simple story has Nemo pretending to be lost (talk about a fish who cried wolf, eh?). The Omnimover system uses cute "clamobile" vehicles.

5. Turtle Talk with Crush

Turtle Talk with Crush
Disney. Used with permission.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 0
    The delightful show has no scary moments.
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Future World in Epcot
  • Fastpass: No

Like The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride, which is in the same pavilion, Turtle Talk with Crush is one of those Disney attractions that uses industrial strength Imagineering magic to confound adults, but seamlessly enchant children. The surfer dude from Finding Nemo interacts and chats with audience members via real-time, on-the-fly animation. This is perhaps the most underrated attraction in all of Disney World as well as one of the best for young kids.

6. Voyage of The Little Mermaid

Disney. Used with permission.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 1
    The giant Ursula puppet could be a bit unnerving for wee ones
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Fastpass: Yes

A theatrical retelling of the classic animated film (in condensed form), the show includes many of the movie's popular songs. Kids will root for the upbeat, plucky heroine and be delighted by the in-theater effects.

7. Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room

Disney. Used with permission.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): .5
    There is an interlude when the room turns dark, and the noise level gets a bit loud.
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom
  • Fastpass: No

A throwback to the Disneyland attraction that was the first to offer Audio-Animatronics, the charming show features talking birds and flowers as well as endearing, if dated (in a good way) songs. For about ten years, Disney tampered with the show and grafted characters from Aladdin and The Lion King onto the classic show. Fortunately, it realized its update was misguided and restored its nostalgic version.

8. Finding Nemo – The Musical

Disney. Used with permission.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 0
    The show has no major scary moments.
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Fastpass: No
Nemo and his pals are certainly well represented on this list. The third in three exceptionally charming Disney World attractions based on the Pixar film, the show summarizes the lost fish story using oversized puppets manipulated by visible actors. It adds wonderful musical numbers (the movie did not have any songs). The Broadway-quality theatrical production will please audiences of all ages, including little folks.

9. Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid

© Arthur Levine, 2011. Licensed to About.com.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 2
    Meanie Ursula might upset young kids in her dark scene.
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom

The chirpy ride tells the classic Mermaid fable in ride form and uses cutting-edge animatronics. Little kids (especially little girls) should love it.

10. Tom Sawyer Island

Disney. Used with permission.
  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 1
    Rickety bridges and other structures may offer mild thrills to younger kids.
  • Height Requirement: None
  • Location: Frontierland in the >Magic Kingdom
  • Fastpass: No

The enchanting playground provides a great way for rambunctious kids to blow off steam. There are plenty of nooks to explore and interactive adventures to uncover. The raft ride to and from the island adds to the adventure.

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