PlanningThe ParksTips

First Trip To Walt Disney World? Don’t Miss These Rides

With four amazing Theme Parks, two waterparks, and Disney Springs, there is so much to do at Walt Disney World Resort. If you are planning your first trip to Walt Disney World, it is probably feeling a little overwhelming.

Determining where to stay, what to eat, what Disney ride to experience, and which Theme Park to start at can be a lot to figure out even for Disney veterans. To help you as you are planning, we have top rides that first-time visitors to Walt Disney World shouldn’t miss out on.

We are going to visit each of the four Theme Parks and give our recommendations for first-timers in that specific Disney Park.

We hope that this will help you have a better plan when you arrive at Walt Disney World.

Spaceship Earth
Credit: MCP


One might not think of rides when thinking of EPCOT, but there are some great ones that we think first-timers should experience.

1. Spaceship Earth

The icon of the Park is Spaceship Earth and is a must-do ride for first-timers in EPCOT.  Guests are able to travel through time and see how human communication has changed since the stone age.

This isn’t a super exciting and thrilling ride, but it is a great example of Disney Imagineering and creativity.  Listen to Judi Dench as the narrator of this ride that will take you through the giant geosphere.

If this is the first visit, you definitely need to experience this ride while visiting EPCOT.

Soarin in Epcot
Credit: Disney

2. Soarin’ Around the World

Found in The Land Pavilion, Soarin’ takes Guests to breathtaking wonders of the world.  Guests take flight and glide high above beautiful views such as the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal in India.

Using a 180-degree, 80-foot IMAX digital projection dome, these spectacular images are brought to life as they work together with pleasant scents to make Guests feel like they are truly soaring.

We highly recommend this ride for first-timers as it is truly breathtaking as you see the world’s wonders both natural and manmade.

3. Living with the Land

Also found in The Land Pavilion is the slow-moving boat ride Living with the Land.  This gentle boat ride allows Guests to see how Walt Disney World horticulturalists are finding innovative growing techniques as well as cross-breeding high-yield crops to help with growing plants.

Guests go through four different gardens where they will see all the unique ways that Walt Disney World is working on helping our environment.

Again this isn’t an overly exciting ride, but a must for first-timers so they can see a little of the behind the scene magic.

Credit: Disney

4. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

The newest ride in EPCOT is found back in the France Pavilion.  Remy’s Ratatouille Adventureland is a family-friendly ride that makes it fun for everyone.

Get shrunk down to the size of Remy before zipping and dodging around the many obstacles of Gusteau’s kitchen.  The new trackless ride system is something that you don’t want to miss.

Pandora - The World of Avatar
Photo Credit: Disney

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

There are some great rides that first-timers won’t want to miss out on when visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the first time.

1. Avatar Flight of Passage

Years after opening, Avatar Flight of Passage is still one of these most popular rides in all of Walt Disney World.

Guests connect with their very own banshee before flying over the Valley of Mo’ara.  Like Soarin’, this ride appeals to all the senses as it transports Guests to Pandora.

This amazing ride is one that first-timers shouldn’t skip.

2. Expedition Everest

A great thrill ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest shouldn’t be passed up.  This intense roller coaster goes high up into the mountains before Guests are sent back down- backward.

Guests race backward, through the dark, as they try to escape the Yeti.  If Guests are looking for a thrill, this is the ride for them.

Kilamanjaro Safaris
Credit: Disney Photo Tour

3. Kilimanjaro Safari

An extremely unique experience most of us will only get in Walt Disney World is a trip on a safari. Kilimanjaro Safari is a 20-minute ride through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve.

Here Guests can see around 34 species that make these 110 acres their home.  Lions, hippos, elephants, rhinos, and giraffes are just some of the animals that can be seen on safari.

Even though we love the excitement and thrill of Expedition Everest and Avatar Flight Passage, Kilimanjaro Safari would be our top must-do ride for first-timers visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  This ride is truly like nothing we have ever done before.

Tower of Terror
Credit: Disney

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has truly been transformed in the last few years and now has some of the best rides in all of Walt Disney World.  Guests won’t want to miss these during their first trip!

1. Rise of the Resistance

The number one ride in all of Walt Disney World is Rise of the Resistance.  This amazing experience puts Guests into the Star Wars movie like never before.

Guests will join the Resistance as they help Rey and BB-8 fight the First Order, but plans never go as planned.  Be prepared for all the twists and turns.

Even if Guests aren’t Star Wars fans, we highly recommend they check out this Disney ride.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway
Credit: Disney

2. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

The whole family will enjoy this ride featuring Mickey and friends.  The beauty of the different scenes is fantastic and being able to see Mickey in his first-ever ride is something that shouldn’t be missed.

Once again Walt Disney Imagineering does a fantastic job creating a ride that is fun and amazing!  Don’t miss out on this one during your first visit.

3. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

If your group enjoys thrill rides, they will want to make sure they head down Sunset Boulevard to Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

This is an extremely unique ride experience that takes Guests into the abandoned Hollywood Tower Hotel where they will board the service elevator.

The theming of this ride is fantastic, so take some time to enjoy the queue before dropping into the fun of the ride.

4.  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Featuring Aerosmith

Another thrill ride found down Sunset Boulevard is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  This high-speed coaster starts with a launch and then quickly twists and turns as you make your way through the streets of Hollywood.

Hold on tight and keep your head back as this ride is somewhat intense. First-timers will be impressed that such a thrilling ride is in Walt Disney World.

Slinky Dog Dash
Photo Credit: Disney

5. Slinky Dog Dash

For a thrill that isn’t as extreme as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster families can enjoy Slinky Dog Dash back in Toy Story Land.

This coaster sips through Andy’s backyard but don’t be fooled by his adorable face as this ride does have some thrills along the way.

Magic Kingdom - Main Street
Credit: How To Disney

Magic Kingdom

Let’s wrap up with the Disney Park where all the magic started for Walt Disney World- Magic Kingdom.  With over 30 rides to choose from, it can be hard to determine which rides are must-dos on a first trip.

We have a few suggestions when it comes to the rides you shouldn’t skip in Magic Kingdom during your first trip.

1. The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion is definitely a classic dark ride that first-timers to Walt Disney World should experience.  A combination of spooky and funny, this ride is a true Disney icon.

The immersive queue, outstanding visual effects, and overall ride experience is some of the best in Walt Disney World.

its a small world
Credit: Disney

2.  “it’s a small world”

We know that some might complain about this slow-moving boat ride in Fantasyland, but it is a classic and one that everyone should experience at least once.

If it is your first time at Magic Kingdom, a trip to “it’s a small world” should be on your list.  Enjoy seeing all the beautiful colors and countries that are represented.

We highly encourage first-timers to give it a chance!

3. Pirates of the Caribbean

One of the best rides in Walt Disney World is Pirates of the Caribbean.  This dark ride has it all with a great storyline, fun boat ride, and great songs.

First-timers shouldn’t skip out on this ride during their visit to Magic Kingdom.  They will be able to see how Disney Imagineers bring a story into a Disney Park.

4. Mountains

Finally, we recommend that you hit up the mountains in Magic Kingdom.  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and Space Mountain are three unique rides that first-timers should experience.

From the wild west to space, the mountains provide a great thrill along with fun storytelling.  Don’t skip these while in Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney World has so many magical and unique rides to choose from throughout the four Theme Parks that it can be hard to narrow down what to ride.  We hope that by providing this list of rides not to miss, first-timers will know what rides to focus on during their first magical vacation to Walt Disney World.

Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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