Our top 15 Disney World attractions not to skip (even if you can't skip the line)

As someone who has been to Disney World a bajillion times as a season passholder and a seasoned Orlando resident, I've got some real opinions when it comes to what's worth my time and, more, how to maximize my time to ensure I hit all my favorite rides at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and (my personal favorite) Disney's Hollywood Studios (which, whatever, I will forever refer to as MGM). Here are my top 15 rides that keep me going back year after year (and in my weaker years, week after week), as well as three honorable mentions. - Ashley Belanger

Related: My top five former Walt Disney World attractions

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1.	Tower of Terror (photo via)
Tower of Terror gets maximum props because it is never the same ride, so repeatability is a sincere factor here. Additionally, I’ve always enjoyed the good-natured creep factor of the hotel’s bellhops, and the Twilight Zone sequence in the beginning is probably the best waiting experience you get at Disney (with possible exception to Toy Story Mania’s extremely detailed queue that I’m convinced I’ll never pick up on every little reference).
1. Tower of Terror (photo via) Tower of Terror gets maximum props because it is never the same ride, so repeatability is a sincere factor here. Additionally, I’ve always enjoyed the good-natured creep factor of the hotel’s bellhops, and the Twilight Zone sequence in the beginning is probably the best waiting experience you get at Disney (with possible exception to Toy Story Mania’s extremely detailed queue that I’m convinced I’ll never pick up on every little reference).
2.	Space Mountain (photo via)
This is likely where I’ll get the most disagreement, but Space Mountain is a classic ride that throttles you through the darkness and has always been worth the wait. Nothing ruins my Disney experience more than when this ride is down, which it frequently seems to be due to maintenance. Please keep fixing it, though, because I’ll always want my fix.
2. Space Mountain (photo via) This is likely where I’ll get the most disagreement, but Space Mountain is a classic ride that throttles you through the darkness and has always been worth the wait. Nothing ruins my Disney experience more than when this ride is down, which it frequently seems to be due to maintenance. Please keep fixing it, though, because I’ll always want my fix.
3.	Expedition Everest (photo via)
The first time that you get on this ride and realize you are going to be catapulted backwards through an admirably scary lair, it quickly turns from shock into a gigglefest. Tip: If you show up toward the end of Animal Kingdom’s hours (they typically close well before the other parks), you can basically ride Expedition Everest with no wait as many times as you wish (because the families by that point are evacuating to the parks with later hours).
3. Expedition Everest (photo via) The first time that you get on this ride and realize you are going to be catapulted backwards through an admirably scary lair, it quickly turns from shock into a gigglefest. Tip: If you show up toward the end of Animal Kingdom’s hours (they typically close well before the other parks), you can basically ride Expedition Everest with no wait as many times as you wish (because the families by that point are evacuating to the parks with later hours).
4.	Splash Mountain (photo via)
The only thing keeping Splash Mountain from the top of my list is that, as a spoiled Orlandoan, there have been countless times that I’ve opted out of this experience just cuz I didn’t want to get wet that day. But everything else about this ride from the story to the stomach-flipping final drop is joyous.
4. Splash Mountain (photo via) The only thing keeping Splash Mountain from the top of my list is that, as a spoiled Orlandoan, there have been countless times that I’ve opted out of this experience just cuz I didn’t want to get wet that day. But everything else about this ride from the story to the stomach-flipping final drop is joyous.
5.	Toy Story Mania (photo via)
I dunno about anyone else, but this is my favorite addition to the parks in recent times, and even though the wait times are dependably absurd, the satisfaction of leveling up on this midway/kids coaster hybrid keeps me coming back and patiently catching up with Mr. Potato Head in the queue.
5. Toy Story Mania (photo via) I dunno about anyone else, but this is my favorite addition to the parks in recent times, and even though the wait times are dependably absurd, the satisfaction of leveling up on this midway/kids coaster hybrid keeps me coming back and patiently catching up with Mr. Potato Head in the queue.
6.	Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster (photo via)
The fastest start to any ride at Disney makes it worth sitting through that ridiculous Aerosmith entry sequence. Tip: Even if you’re in a group 20 people deep, go the single rider route. You’ll end up riding with a friend more often than not, and unless you’re the souvenir photo type, it goes by so fast, it really doesn’t matter who’s in the bucket seat next to you having their head rattled off.
6. Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster (photo via) The fastest start to any ride at Disney makes it worth sitting through that ridiculous Aerosmith entry sequence. Tip: Even if you’re in a group 20 people deep, go the single rider route. You’ll end up riding with a friend more often than not, and unless you’re the souvenir photo type, it goes by so fast, it really doesn’t matter who’s in the bucket seat next to you having their head rattled off.
7.	Primeval Whirl (photo via)
Don’t be fooled by this seeming kids’ coaster, cuz this is a ride most folks sleep on, so there’s rarely more than a 15-minute wait. The twists and turns of this time-travel-themed ride will have you laughing more than you’d ever guess.
7. Primeval Whirl (photo via) Don’t be fooled by this seeming kids’ coaster, cuz this is a ride most folks sleep on, so there’s rarely more than a 15-minute wait. The twists and turns of this time-travel-themed ride will have you laughing more than you’d ever guess.
8.	Spaceship Earth (photo via)
It was a really great update when Disney added the personalized storyline option to this ride that may move slowly, but you’ll savor every minute.
8. Spaceship Earth (photo via) It was a really great update when Disney added the personalized storyline option to this ride that may move slowly, but you’ll savor every minute.
9.	Big Thunder Mountain (photo via)
You can’t go to Magic Kingdom without a ride on this railroad, and while it may be the coaster you opt for because it has the shortest wait time, it remains a classic good time, especially if you anticipate the turns ahead and lean in on them.
9. Big Thunder Mountain (photo via) You can’t go to Magic Kingdom without a ride on this railroad, and while it may be the coaster you opt for because it has the shortest wait time, it remains a classic good time, especially if you anticipate the turns ahead and lean in on them.
10.	Soarin’ (photo via)
From the group games you play in line to the marvelous flight simulation that follows, it might not be the most thrilling but it’s definitely among the most pleasant rides at the parks.
10. Soarin’ (photo via) From the group games you play in line to the marvelous flight simulation that follows, it might not be the most thrilling but it’s definitely among the most pleasant rides at the parks.
11.	Dinosaur (photo via)
I have a definite weakness for any sort of prehistoric simulator, but this ride will have even the bravest rider cowering with its moody Cretaceous atmosphere.
11. Dinosaur (photo via) I have a definite weakness for any sort of prehistoric simulator, but this ride will have even the bravest rider cowering with its moody Cretaceous atmosphere.
12.	Star Tours (photo via)
A recent update to Star Tours dramatically improved both the effects and the story for anyone who might have felt like the original ride had fallen behind the times. It’s definitely worth revisiting if it’s been a while, especially with the added bonus of limited wait times and adorable padawans training out front.
12. Star Tours (photo via) A recent update to Star Tours dramatically improved both the effects and the story for anyone who might have felt like the original ride had fallen behind the times. It’s definitely worth revisiting if it’s been a while, especially with the added bonus of limited wait times and adorable padawans training out front.
13.	Test Track (photo via)
Once you get in the vehicle, you may run hot and cold about the inside track (especially when you smell that burning rubber), but when you peel out into the open air, that is an experience worth savoring over and over.
13. Test Track (photo via) Once you get in the vehicle, you may run hot and cold about the inside track (especially when you smell that burning rubber), but when you peel out into the open air, that is an experience worth savoring over and over.
14.	The Haunted Mansion (photo via)
Maybe it’s just because I have this vivid memory from my youth of my father reaching out from a different cart toward the end of the ride and legitimately spooking me OR perhaps it’s because of the fun effects (that I don't agree needs updating) this ride employs, either way, it’s a perfect stopover on your way from the castle to Splash Mountain.
14. The Haunted Mansion (photo via) Maybe it’s just because I have this vivid memory from my youth of my father reaching out from a different cart toward the end of the ride and legitimately spooking me OR perhaps it’s because of the fun effects (that I don't agree needs updating) this ride employs, either way, it’s a perfect stopover on your way from the castle to Splash Mountain.
15.	Maelstrom (photo via)
Again with the nostalgia, so bear with me, but my first trip to Disney was exclusively to Epcot, and the memory of going back over the falls in Norway for the first time has always stuck with me, not to mention the elaborate trolls. It’s brief but magical.
15. Maelstrom (photo via) Again with the nostalgia, so bear with me, but my first trip to Disney was exclusively to Epcot, and the memory of going back over the falls in Norway for the first time has always stuck with me, not to mention the elaborate trolls. It’s brief but magical.
Honorable mention: The Barnstormer  (photo via)
Like Primeval Whirl, this junior roller coaster is much more fun than most adults anticipate.
Honorable mention: The Barnstormer (photo via) Like Primeval Whirl, this junior roller coaster is much more fun than most adults anticipate.
Honorable mention: Carousel of Progress (photo via)
This was Walt Disney’s favorite ride … but then he never made it on the Tower of Terror.
Honorable mention: Carousel of Progress (photo via) This was Walt Disney’s favorite ride … but then he never made it on the Tower of Terror.
Honorable mention: Muppet Vision 3D (photo via)
Because it is undeniably fun being part of the peanut gallery.
Honorable mention: Muppet Vision 3D (photo via) Because it is undeniably fun being part of the peanut gallery.