Edited by: Kellie Jez
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Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is known for being “The Most Magical Place on Earth” and its 4 theme parks have been a travel destination for millions around the world year after year. Rides like the Haunted Mansion, Spaceship Earth, and Tower of Terror are iconic and have thrilled guests for years.
While there are so many magical things at Disney World, it’s often the rides that stick with you long after you’ve left the park. It can be tough to choose just one favorite, but most people have a favorite ride.
With Disney World celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, we wanted to join in the fun by finding out which ride is the favorite in each state. To do this, we surveyed over 5,300 Americans and asked them their favorite ride out of the 4 parks as well as their favorite ride in each specific park: the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Keep reading to find out the favorite ride in your state!
With over 5,300 responses to our March 2021 survey, there was a lot of data to dig into. We’ve broken it down by the questions we asked: respondents’ favorite ride at any park and then at each specific park.
We analyzed the data for each state and the ride with the highest number of responses was deemed the favorite in that state. Below are the full results of our survey.
It’s immediately apparent the classic Disney rides are also the fan favorites. Space Mountain, the high speed dark roller coaster, came in first by count of state with 13 states. The Haunted Mansion was second with 12 states, and Big Thunder Mountain and “It’s A Small World” tied for third with 5 states. Pirates of the Caribbean rounded out the top 5 and is the favorite in 3 states.
Many of these are original “E” ticket rides and it’s clear that the joy, exciting, and sense of imagination they give guests is just as strong now as it was decades ago when some of these rides opened. These are some of the most iconic rides not only at Disney, but in the world and guests still flock to them year after year.
The chart above shows the overall favorite rides at all of Walt Disney World. The results are similar when comparing by count of state but with some key differences. The top 2 are still the same: Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion. Each received over 10% of the total responses, a high amount when considering the number of rides in each of the 4 Disney World Parks.
Pirates of the Caribbean jumped to 3rd overall with 5.5% of responses, followed by Big Thunder Mountain (5.3%), Splash Mountain (5%), and “It’s A Small World.” (4.9%).
Interestingly, although we asked for the favorite ride out of any of the parks, only 1 ride outside of the Magic Kingdom made the top 10: Avatar Flight of Passage. A thrilling technological marvel with gorgeous theming, Flight of Passage has become a leading attraction not only in Animal Kingdom, but at all of Walt Disney world.
Tied with Flight of Passage in 8th is Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. The ride, which debuted at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, is another iconic part of Disney history and takes guests through different eras of American history. It also features one of the catchiest tunes, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”
Men vs Women
We wanted to look at how responses differed between men and women. Overall, the results are similar but the top 2 rides are flipped. For men, it was Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion as favorite and runner-up, for women it was Haunted Mansion and then Space Mountain.
One of the more surprising results we found in any part of our survey was how many men said that Country Bear Jamboree was their favorite ride. It’s another classic, but certainly doesn’t have the thrills of a Space, Big Thunder, or Flight of Passage.
Another interesting result is that a second non-Magic Kingdom ride is in the women’s top 10: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It’s a signature ride at Hollywood Studios and has been a favorite there since that park opened.
Coming in at the top by count of states is a tie: Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion with 14 states a piece. Not a big shock after being such favorites when analyzing by overall results.
A few notable names that were a favorite in one state each: Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, and Astro Orbiter. These, like the rest, are all some of the oldest and most iconic rides in the park.
Now let’s take a look at the overall results of Magic Kingdom, beyond just a count of states.
Here are the top 10 favorite rides:
- Space Mountain (16%)
- Haunted Mansion (14.4%)
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (9.4%)
- Pirates of the Caribbean (9.2%)
- Splash Mountain (8.3%)
- “It’s A Small World” (5.5%)
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (4.8%)
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress (4.3%)
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant (3.9%)
- Jungle Cruise (3.7%)
Again, a lot of responses for the classics! The only ride in the top 10 that was built in the last 30 years is Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, the interactive shooting dark ride which debuted in 1998.
The results for Epcot were surprising, especially when it came to the number of states that love Mission: SPACE. It was the favorite in nearly 40% of states (19 states in total) and almost double that of Spaceship Earth (10 states), which was the second by count of states. Soarin’ was 3rd with 9 states and Test Track and Frozen Ever After were tied for 4th with 4 states each.
The results were a lot tighter for the 2nd – 4th spots when looking at overall percentage of responses:
- Mission: SPACE (22.3%)
- Soarin’ (16.5%)
- Spaceship Earth (15.8%)
- Test Track (13.3%)
- Living with the Land (8.6%)
- Frozen Ever After (7.6%)
- Journey Into Imagination with Figment (5.8%)
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends (5.6%)
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (2.9%)
- Turtle Talk with Crush (1.6%)
Mission: SPACE is again the leader but bunched up right after it is Soarin’, Spaceship Earth, and Test Track, all within a few percentage points of each other.
Interestingly, Living with the Land was more of a favorite than Frozen Ever After, despite Frozen leading it in the count by states. If you’ve never been on Living with the Land, located near Soarin’, we definitely recommend it!
Moving on to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, 2 of the biggest thrill rides at Disney World took the top 2 spots: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. By count of state, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, the only inverted roller coaster at Disney World, came in 1st with 19 states.
Tower of Terror was the favorite in 12 states, followed by 2 of the new signature Star Wars rides: Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (6 states) and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (5 states).
Now let’s take a look at the top 10 favorite rides by overall percent of responses.
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (17.8%)
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (15.9%)
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (10.4%)
- Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (9.1%)
- Muppet Vision 3D (7.5%)
- Toy Story Mania! (7.4%)
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (6.8%)
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue (6.7%)
- Star Wars Launch Bay (6%)
- Slinky Dog Dash (5.1%)
Looking at the overall results for Hollywood Studios, Tower of Terror actually came in above Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster by percent of responses. Similarly, Rise of the Resistance and Smuggler’s Run flipped spots when looking at the data this way as compared to count of states.
Moving on to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there are clear favorites when it comes to rides. Looking at the data first by count of state, Avatar Flight of Passage comes in as the top ride with 17 states. Expedition Everest, the thrilling roller coaster, is second with 13 states.
Interestingly, DINOSAUR, the immersive and sometimes-bumpy dark ride, was the favorite in 10 states. Rounding out the top five are Kilimanjaro Safaris (7 states) and Kali River Rapids (3 states).
Now let’s look at the overall results for the park:
- Expedition Everest (19.7%)
- Avatar Flight of Passage (17.4%)
- Kilimanjaro Safaris (15.2%)
- DINOSAUR (14.6%)
- Kali River Rapids (9.9%)
- It’s Tough to be a Bug (6.6%)
- Na’vi River Journey (6.5%)
- Rivers of Light (5.7%)
- Primeval Whirl (3.1%)
- TriceraTop Spin (1.3%)
Similar to what we saw for Hollywood Studios, we have some position changes when looking at the data this way. Expedition Everest is the favorite ride with nearly a fifth of the total responses (19.7%). Flight of Passage is second with 17.4% followed by the Safari at 15.2%. DINOSAUR is 4th with 14.6% and Kali River Rapids is 5th with 9.9% of responses.
There are a lot of reasons why Disney World is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. From the characters to just a sense of magic in the air, the 4 theme parks at Disney World are a place people want to go and come back to time and time again.
One of the biggest reasons are the iconic rides. Some of these are rides guests are enjoying for the first time and others are ones they’ve enjoyed since childhood. Every guest has a favorite — a ride that thrilled them, enchanted them, inspired them, or brought them happiness.
Our study found that many of these rides of some of the oldest and most revered: the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, “It’s A Small World”, and more. These classic rides, along with a few of the newer ones too, are the ones that stick with guests long after they’ve left the parks. As Walt Disney said, “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.”
Do you have a favorite ride at Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!
We surveyed 5,627 Americans in March 2021. The respondents were a mix of ages and genders but all respondents were 18+ years old. We estimate the margin of error is less than 2.5% with a confidence level of 90%.
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