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17 Scariest Rides at Disney World (And How to Deal With Them!)

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So you’re planning a trip to Disney World, and whether you are traveling with small kids or just have a scaredy cat in your bunch, you may be a little hesitant about some of the rides. Disney World is a family-friendly theme park, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some scary rides. Here we’ll break down all the scariest rides at Disney World, as well as some non-scary rides that may have some surprising moments.

Plus we’ve got tips to deal with Disney World’s scariest rides to maybe make them a little less scary!

Trying to figure out what rides are best for your kiddos? Check our our Disney Rides by Age Guide!

Are There Scary Rides at Disney World?

Yes! You may think of Disney World as a theme park for kids, but it’s really not! While there is of course so much for kids to do, there is just as much focused toward older kids and adults. And this includes scary and/or thrilling rides!

Of course, you’ll find plenty of non-scary rides at Disney World. But if you have a kiddo who can get easily frightened, do your research! There are several of gentle rides that still have some element of darkness or movement that could be startling. (But don’t worry, there are still plenty of rides with absolutely no scare factor whatsoever!)

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Scariest Rides at Walt Disney World

Let’s break down the scariest rides at Disney World! While everyone is going to have their own scare-level, I’ve done my best here to list these rides from the scariest to less-scary.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

I count Tower of Terror as the scariest ride at Disney World because honestly it is probably the only ride I will NOT ride. (I’ve ridden it once, and I never have to do it again!) A lot of this has to do with the fact that I do not like the drops, but the ride is thematically creepy too.

Tower of Terror is themed as the Hollywood Hotel, where you enter the Twilight Zone. Even the cast members get in on the action, adding to the creepy vibe. The ride itself starts off slow, but soon you enter the elevator where you plunge up and down from floor to floor at random intervals.

Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Scary Elements: Creepy elements, long drops, darkness
Height Requirement: 40 inches

DINOSAUR

My favorite story about DINOSAUR is that when I was a kid, my parents made me go on it the first time we went to Animal Kingdom. It doesn’t have any big drops or super fast moving elements, and I was plenty old enough to handle it. (I was just a ride wimp.)

But this ride is truly scary, and when we got off my mom felt really bad for making me go on it because she had no idea how scary it would be.

In DINOSAUR you are transported back to the dinosaur times, and all is well until a meteor (that you know will cause extinction) is suddenly hurtling toward you, a t-rex pops out at you, and you have to get back to the present day before you become extinct too.

The ride vehicle here is a Jeep-like safari truck, and there are lots of bumpy “roads,” jerky movements, and some fast driving. So while it’s not exactly a fast ride, it does have a lot of movement. (If you’ve been to Disneyland, it’s very similar to the Indiana Jones ride.)

Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Scary Elements: Scary dinosaurs, impending doom, jerky movements, darkness
Height Requirement: 40 inches

Mission: SPACE Orange

The first thing you need to know about Mission: SPACE is that there are two sides to it with two versions of the ride. The Green side of Mission: SPACE is a slower, family friendly ride, while the Orange side is maybe the most intense ride at Disney World.

In Mission: SPACE Orange you are hurtled up into space, feeling the G-forces of the rocket underneath you. It also spins, so this is definitely one to avoid if you are prone to motion sickness. AND you sit in a very enclosed space, so avoid it if you feel claustrophobic in crammed quarters.

Location: Epcot
Scary Elements: Intense movement, intense situations, enclosed spaces, spinning, darkness
Height Requirement: 40 inches

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is the only roller coaster at Disney World with an inversion. So definitely plan to ride this if you are a roller coaster fan!

It’s a fun ride, themed as you trying to race through Hollywood to make it to an Aerosmith concert in your stretch limo.

It is definitely intense though. This is a launch coaster, which means at the beginning of the ride you will go from 0 to almost 60 mph in less than 3 seconds, which can feel INTENSE. I love this roller coaster though, even if the launch doesn’t always feel the best as I get older.

Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Scary Elements: Roller coaster, fast launch, inversions, darkness
Height Requirement: 48 inches

Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest is one of my favorite roller coasters ever! Take a trek through the Himalayas that is smooth riding until you get to the top of the mountain and discover the Yeti has pulled up the tracks.

This roller coaster is definitely on the scarier side because it has fantastic storytelling and a backwards launch downhill in the dark. But I think all the movement is super fun, and if you can handle a little Yeti scariness and want to up your roller coaster game from something like Big Thunder Mountain, this is perfect!

Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Scary Elements: Roller coaster, scary Yeti, backwards drops, darkness
Height Requirement: 44 inches

Space Mountain

Space Mountain is quickly moving up my list of scariest Disney World rides for two reasons: darkness and jerky movements. Over the years, Space Mountain has gotten both dark and jerkier, and as I have gotten older, this hasn’t been a fun combination. (Honestly, last time I got off the ride I said never again…but honestly it will probably happen again at some point.)

Space Mountain used to have a bit more of a glow-in-the-dark element, but now it seems that the ride is mostly just darkness. And I’m not sure if the track is getting older or if I am just getting older, but it rattled me around a lot more than I expected last time I rode it.

The coaster itself is not super intense (probably more along the lines of Big Thunder Mountain), but the darkness of the ride makes it feel scarier than it actually is.

Location: Magic Kingdom
Scary Elements: Roller coaster, darkness, jerky movement
Height Requirement: 44 inches

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

Epcot’s Guardian’s of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opened in 2022 and is quickly becoming a fan favorite. In this ride, you help the Guardians of the Galaxy save the world, and of course you get to enjoy some 80s hits.

This is an indoor roller coaster, and the innovative aspect of this ride is that it has ride vehicles that purposefully spin to direct you to large screens that convey the story elements. It also has a backwards launch element.

Be cautious of this one if you are prone to motion sickness. But I have heard people say they feel a lot better if they focus on the track instead of on whatever the ride wants you to look at.

Location: Epcot
Scary Elements: Roller coaster, loud noises, backwards launch, darkness, spinning
Height Requirement: 42 inches

It’s Tough to Be a Bug

It’s Tough to Be a Bug is not really a ride. It’s a show that takes place in the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom. It’s themed after the movie A Bug’s Life, so it should be cute right?

WRONG.

This is definitely one of the scariest things at Disney World, as giant bugs fly toward you, crawl across you (through sensors in the seats) and lower from the ceiling. If you have ANY kind of bug phobia do not go to this. And if you have kids that frighten easily, also avoid it. I have seen families with screaming kids get up and leave multiple times!

Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Scary Elements: Scary bugs, bugs popping out, loud noises
Height Requirement: none

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Rise of the Resistance is one of the most advanced rides at Disney World. It uses trackless technology to sweep you through the Death Star and escape from Kylo Ren. There are multiple elements here: a transporter, getting captured by the First Order, and escaping from the Death Star.

This is SUCH A COOL ride, but it is pretty intense. Kylo Ren is trying to capture you. Storm troopers are shooting at you. And then you find yourself in the middle of a space battle. There’s also a small drop toward the end (when you enter your escape hatch) that you might not be expecting.

It’s a fun ride, but make sure the kiddos and people more prone to frights know what to expect.

Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Scary elements: Space fighting, bad guys, fast movement, sudden drop
Height requirement: 40 inches

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

Smugglers Run is a motion simulator ride in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. In the ride, you are traveling in the Millennium Falcon to steal coaxium from the First Order.

It’s an interactive ride, meaning you are supposed to work with your team in the cockpit to get as much coaxium as you can and escape the First Order. (Don’t worry, if you do nothing you’ll still escape.) Some people like this, but some people complain about it being a distraction from just enjoying the ride.

Because it’s a motion simulator, the ride can be a bit intense for people prone to motion sickness. And there are some loud and jarring elements, especially because you’ll have ships shooting at you and you’ll come in for a rough landing.

Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Scary elements: Intense movement, bad guys, loud noises
Height requirement: 38 inches

Avatar: Flight of Passage

Flight of Passage is my absolute favorite ride at Disney World! It’s an incredible motion simulator ride that has you riding through Pandora on the back of a banshee. It’s a beautiful and thrilling ride, that also makes me tear up toward the end every single time.

While I think the ride is mostly fun, it is thrill ride and can have some scary elements. There is one particular scene where a larger banshee is chasing after you, and you narrowly escape it.

You should also know that this is a 3D ride, and that combined with the motion simulation might bother some people prone to motion sickness. And it might feel too intense for younger kids.

Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Scary Elements: Intense movement, brief chase scene
Height requirement: 44 inches

Star Tours

This is another Star Wars motion simulator ride, except this takes place in one big ship with a lot of other people. The story on this one also changes, so you may get a different version of it on different rides.

It has similar elements to Smugglers Run (intense movement, ships shooting at you, etc.), but because you are in a larger simulator it is not quite as immersive (i.e. intense). However, younger kids that frighten easy may still not like it….I speak from experience.

Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Scary Elements: Intense movement, bad guys, loud noises
Height Requirement: 40 inches

Test Track

The idea behind Test Track is that you are testing out a vehicle. The ride puts your through everything from swerving tests to heat tests and concludes with a thrilling speed test.

I wouldn’t exactly call this ride scary, but it does have some thrilling elements. Probably the scariest moment is when you race toward a wall and the ride tries to make you think you are going to crash into it before it opens and you find yourself outside. It’s definitely a thrilling ride, but not exactly frightening.

Location: Epcot
Scary elements: Speed, darkness
Height requirement: 40 inches

Kali River Rapids

Kali River Rapids is a water raft ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And it is probably THE wettest ride at Disney World (see more about Disney’s water rides here). Honestly, probably the scariest part about this ride is that you never know when you are going to get wet!

There are a few small drops and thrilling situations, and the ride vehicle is a circular raft that spins as you go along. Some of these may be frightening to younger children, but most older kids will be fine on this ride.

Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Scary elements: Small drops, surprise water, spinning
Height requirement: 38 inches

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean is a classic Disney ride! And while I love it now, I can attest to the fact that it can be scary for kids because apparently when I was three years old I hid on the floor of the boat for the entirety of the ride.

In Pirates of the Caribbean, you find yourself in the middle of a pirate battle and then follow the pirates as they plunder a city. The first half of the ride is a bit darker, with cannons and a small drop. The second half is more cheerful, as pirates sing and wreak havoc on the city.

Most older kids and adults will be fine, but the loud canon noises and the small drop may frighten some more sensitve kids.

Location: Magic Kingdom
Scary elements: Loud noises, small drop, darkness
Height requirement: none

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

If your kiddo is ready to graduate from smaller coasters like Barnstormer, Big Thunder Mountain is a great next step! This is a mid-tier coaster, with fast movement, small drops, and twists and turns, but there are no large drops or inversions.

There are some loud noises to be aware of, and of course, it is a roller coaster. But generally this is a great coaster for braver kids and adults who maybe don’t want an intense coaster experience. However, it may be too scary or fast for some younger kids, even if they do meet the height requirement.

Location: Magic Kingdom
Scary elements: Roller coaster, small drops, loud noises, slight darkness in some areas
Height requirement: 40 inches

Haunted Mansion

While I don’t think Haunted Mansion is particularly scary, it IS a ride all about ghosts so I guess we need to consider it here.

In the Haunted Mansion, you ride through a dark haunted house in a doom buggy. It’s a slow moving ride, but you do see lots of ghosts and creepy elements.

There are really two half of this ride though: the creepier more sinister first half as you tour the house, and the more festive end of the ride where the ghosts are basically have a party in the graveyard. There’s also a part where a mirrored screen makes it appear as if there is a ghost in the doom buggy with you.

Kids that are really afraid of ghosts may find this to be too much, but most kids, even younger kids, will be fine!

Location: Magic Kingdom
Scary elements: Ghosts, darkness
Height requirement: none

Pro Planning Tip: We almost always use Undercover Tourist to buy our Disney tickets! They are an authorized Disney World ticket seller and they sell tickets at a discount. Just buy your tickets online, link them to your My Disney Experience app, and you’re good to go!

Other Possible Scary Rides at Disney World

While the rides listed above are definitely the scariest rides at Disney World, there are some other rides that may have elements that could be scarier to your smaller kiddos.

Here are some elements to be aware of with other rides.

Magic Kingdom

  • The Barnstormer: kiddie coaster with small drops
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin: darkness
  • Mad Tea Party: spinning
  • Peter Pan’s Flight: darkness, Captain Hook
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: kiddie coaster with small drops, darkness
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover: darkness
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid: darkness, Ursula

What about Splash Mountain? Some of you may notice Splash Mountain is not on this list! That’s because the ride officially closed in January 2023 and will be reopening in late 2024 as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure! We’ll likely add it to the list of scariest rides though just because of that big drop!

Epcot

  • Frozen Ever After: two small drops (one of them backwards)
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment: loud sudden noises, darkness
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure: loud sudden noises, darkness
  • Soarin’ Around the World: flying sensation, darkness
  • Spaceship Earth: darkness

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Alien Swirling Saucers: spinning
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway: loud noises, slight motion simulation that makes it seem like you are going over a waterfall (not intense though)
  • Muppet*Vision 3D: sudden noises and 3D movement
  • Slinky Dog Dash: kid-friendly roller coaster

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Na’vi River Journey: darkness
Slinky Dog Dash track

Tips for Riding the Scariest Rides at Disney World

Here are some tips for you or your kiddos for dealing with Disney World’s scariest rides!

Watch Video Clips Before You Go

If you or your kiddos are hesitant about a ride before you go, find a ride POV (point of view) on YouTube so you know what to expect.

Sit In the Front of a Roller Coaster

I know this sounds counterintuitive, but the front of a roller coaster has less time to pick up speed going downhill, and is therefore less intense.

This advice doesn’t exactly work on Expedition Everest since it goes forwards and backwards, so your best bet is to sit somewhere in the middle there.

Hold On!

This sounds basic, but if you are feeling nervous, make sure your safety harness or lap bars are snug, and hold on to them! And plant your feet firmly on the floor of the ride vehicle.

Close Your Eyes

If all else fails and you are just too scared, just close your eyes and make it through the ride! Also, if you are NOT prone to motion sickness and are on a 3D ride, take off those 3D glasses to make the ride seem a lot less real.

Look Around You

Take yourself out of the immersive element of a ride by looking around at the other people on the ride.

Sometimes this can be fun from an engineering perspective too. For instance, on Flight of Passage you feel like you are in a small room, but once the ride starts, if you look to your right or left you’ll see you are actually riding with a lot of other people.

Don’t Sit in the Front of DINOSAUR

Most of the scary elements pop out in front, so you’ll be further away from them in the middle or the back.

Skip the Haunted Mansion Stretching Room

The pre-ride stretching room at Haunted Mansion is often what scares people the most. There’s a creepy narrator telling a creepy story, and at the end the room goes pitch black for a moment. If this isn’t going to work for you, you can ask a cast member if you can skip the stretching room and go straight to the ride.

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