Home » The 11 Walt Disney World Rides Walt Would Have Loved The Most

The 11 Walt Disney World Rides Walt Would Have Loved The Most

In his last years on Earth, Walt Disney invested much of his vast personal fortune on a pet project. He purchased thousands of acres of land in a swampy part of Florida. His vision for this land involved a capitalist utopian society, but his untimely death prevented him from seeing any part of the construction there. This tragic turn of events bothers all Disney fans. It leads to a logical question, too. Which Walt Disney World attractions would Walt Disney have loved? Read on to find out the answers…


Image: DisneyWalt Disney was an engineer, a creator, and a tinkerer. He loved grandiose ideas and emerging technologies. He embraced change and welcomed new challenges. What does all of this have to do with DINOSAUR?

The attraction would have three important aspects to a time-traveling Walt Disney. The first is a tie-in to an animated movie. The visuals from that 2000 release would have amazed him, just as the lackluster story would have infuriated him.

The second is the historical element. Disney loved to take popular legends and fables and evolve them into ride concepts. DINOSAUR mines history to entertain, a favorite practice for Uncle Walt. Finally, the Enhanced Motion Vehicle technology that moves guests around the DINOSAUR set would appeal to his love of inventive ride carts.

Frozen Ever After

Image: DisneyTo a certain extent, I wonder if Disney would have liked Maelstrom better. Its innovative indoor/outdoor ride element delighted guests and would have caused him to feel admiration for the concept. As the first theme park attraction designer, that sort of creativity would have impressed him.

Uncle Walt would love Frozen Ever After, too. The first time he rode it, he’d gaze in awe at the details of the audio-animatronics (AAs). Even a few years later, they’re still the most advanced AAs in existence, demonstrating a kind of photorealism that heightens the immersion of Arendelle. The center stage showpiece of Elsa belting out Let It Go would thrill him, too. For all of its criticisms about saturation, Frozen is the most fitting callback film to the earliest days of Disney animated cinema.

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Image: DisneyWalt Disney had the craziest idea for Jungle Cruise. He wanted to populate the ride with live animals. His Imagineers were apoplectic at the idea, believing that it would be impossible to have a zoo at a theme park. In a way, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the greatest achievement of any Imagineering team since Uncle Walt died.

These cast members proved their boss right, demonstrating that animals could live safely and happily at a place filled with theme park attractions. If I shut my eyes, it’s easy to imagine the smile on Walt Disney’s face as he rides on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Na’vi River Journey

Image: DisneyWhen I mentioned Disney’s love of technical wizardry earlier, Pandora – The World of Avatar may have sprung in your mind. It’s the most futuristic of all current themed lands as well as the most engrossing. Uncle Walt would have loved exploring Pandora, and he would have recognized a kindred spirit in James Cameron, I’m sure.

While Avatar Flight of Passage is the showier of the Pandora attractions, I suspect Disney would take more enjoyment from Na’Vi River Journey. It’s a kind of boat ride that he invented, only it’s infused with 21st century special effects. The visuals and sound effects on display during this ride would impress even Walt Disney, a notoriously difficult person to impress.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Image: DisneyThis roller coaster is family-friendly and just plain fun. The swaying nature of the ride carts would cause him to wonder why he’d never thought of the idea. It’s so natural and obvious yet it didn’t anchor a theme park attraction until roughly half a century after Disneyland’s debut. Disney would also love that this ride honors his signature achievement, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the film that started the entire animated movie genre. I feel that the entire ride experience would make him jubilant.


Image: DisneyThe ride mechanic for this one is what would stand out for Disney. Soarin’ mimics the idea of Peter Pan’s Flight in the way that it simulates the experience of flight. While I’m sure Uncle Walt would have fun on the ride, I fear he would evaluate that aspect as a bit derivative, even though it’s the clearly superior version of the idea.

The way that Soarin’ scoops a large volume of people up in the air and then displays wonders from around the globe….well, THAT would blow his mind. Soarin’ was created almost by accident, and I’m confident that Disney would relish the tale of how a children’s toy evolved into an E-Ticket attraction.

Space Mountain

Image: DisneyThis legendary roller coaster opened more than eight years after Walt Disney’s death. What few people realize is that he’d worked on the project. Computer technology wasn’t advanced enough in the mid-1960s to complete the ride. Theme park tourists would have to wait until 1975 to see it come to fruition. For Disney, a ride on Space Mountain would signify the culmination of all his plans for the next great genre, the steel roller coaster. He’d started the industry with Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Space Mountain is the landmark achievement in coaster design that legitimized the concept.

Spaceship Earth

Image: DisneyWalt Disney was human, and literally any human on the planet would gaze in awe at the structure that the world knows as Spaceship Earth. It’s an engineering marvel that rivals anything else on the planet and dwarfs all other theme park-related structures. Once Uncle Walt got past the architectural achievement, he would cherish the ride, too. Like DINOSAUR, its celebration of history would appeal to him and, like Frozen Ever After, the lifelike AAs would grab his attention, too. Spaceship Earth is exactly the sort of grand design that Disney would have embraced had it been possible while he was still alive.

Splash Mountain

Image: DisneyThe water ride wasn’t a known concept during Disney’s life. Well, a little boat ride was, as he’d created that premise with It’s a Small World. The idea of an actual splashdown would have caught him off-guard, though. Let’s be honest. He might even hate it. Some people do, and nobody would be more aware of the sanitary issues of theme park water than Disney.

I suspect that he’d overlook those concerns due to his passion for the attraction, though. Splash Mountain celebrates a movie that Uncle Walt wouldn’t know has fallen out of favor, and he’s appreciate that the songs from that film have stood the test of time. He’d adore the AAs and cartoonish antics on display. The set pieces brim with activity and are probably the busiest of any theme park attraction.

Disney would love how much is going on in each scene, and he’d also experience fascination at the tension-building at play, both for The Laughing Place and the titular part of Splash Mountain. I think he’d feel the most joy on this ride out of anything at Walt Disney World.

Test Track

Image: DisneyTest Track might not be an attraction that you would have shortlisted as one that Walt Disney would love. Hear me out on why I think he’d be extremely passionate about this one. First of all, cars were still a relatively new technology during his life. The industry was still young at the time, as the 1960s were when the average consumer could afford one. Disney was always fascinated by automobiles, which is why Disneyland featured multiple versions of Autopia during its earliest days.

I suspect that the modernity of Test Track’s vehicles would earn his respect and admiration. He’d also love the Tron-esque lighting on display throughout the ride. The use of these gripping colors is one of the strongest points of the attraction. This dark ride experience creates a strong sense of disbelief, a subject dear to Uncle Walt’s heart, thanks to these lighting effects. This tactic accentuates the surprise at the end, the opening of the doors that lead outside. That burst of light is a sublime design choice that might cause Uncle Walt to gasp out in delight. It certainly does for the rest of us.

PS: Disney would have loved the organic nature of the corporate sponsorship, too. A natural businessperson, the entrepreneur always sought out ways to persuade other companies to pay for Disney attractions. Test Track would appeal strongly to this aspect of his personality.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Image: DisneyOut of all the attractions listed here, Disney might respond the strongest to this one. After all, it’s the only non-Disney intellectual property that he would recognize. Since The Twilight Zone aired during Uncle Walt’s lifetime, he would have hyper-familiarity with the source material. He would feel a bit jealous about the fact that Rod Serling has found a way to host an attraction from beyond the grave, too.

I believe that Disney would spend the most time at Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. He would marvel at the thematic touches visited in the hotel lobby. The aged décor impeccably gets across the point that humans haven’t been here in a very long line. Once Uncle Walt boarded the ride, he would mark out at the thrills of shocking upward/downward movement. Both the theming and the ride structure would elevate this attraction in his eyes. It might be his favorite overall if he visited Walt Disney World today.