Thrill Rides Abound at Walt Disney World's Theme Parks
Walt Disney World’s four world-class theme parks – Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom – each boast not-to-be-missed thrill rides with names like Expedition Everest, Rock ‘n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Mission: SPACE, Test Track and Splash Mountain.
One of the most popular new Orlando-area thrill rides, Expedition Everest, can be found in Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Expedition Everest, which towers nearly 200 feet high, is a thrilling train adventure through icy canyons and mountain caverns toward a terrifying encounter with the ferocious Yeti or abominable snowman. You must be at least 44 inches tall to ride Expedition Everest.
At Disney-MGM Studios, thrill seekers have their choice of Rock ‘n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, a classic indoor roller coaster that features classic songs from the legendary rock group; and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which features a scary, 13-story plummet aboard a faulty elevator within a decrepit, 199-foot-tall Hollywood hotel. You must be at least 48 inches tall to ride Rock ‘n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and 40 inches tall to ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
Epcot is home to Mission: SPACE, which opened in 2003 and takes you on a simulated space flight to Mars (complete with motion sickness bags) at the “International Space Training Center.” Each member of the four-person crew is assigned a specific role – pilot, commander, navigator and engineer. Adjacent to Mission: SPACE lies Test Track, a six-passenger vehicle that cruises onto 50-degree banked curves at speeds up to 65 miles per hour. You must be at least 44 inches tall to ride Mission: SPACE and 40 inches tall to ride Test Track.
Space Mountain, the original thrill ride at Walt Disney World, still draws huge crowds in Tomorrowland. Two roller coaster tracks wind their way through the 183-foot mountain at speeds of 28 miles per hour in total darkness. You must be at least 44 inches tall to ride Space Mountain.
Two other classic thrill rides at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, lie within Frontierland. Splash Mountain takes you on a wild flume ride as you visit characters such as Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear and Brer Fox from Disney’s 1946 classic, Song of the South. However, the real highlight of Splash Mountain is the five-story free fall at a 45-degree angle into the splash pool below at 40 miles per hour. Adjacent to Splash Mountain lies Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, a “runaway train” that winds its way through an Old West mining town around mountains, through caves and over sulfur pools. You must be at least 40 inches tall to ride both Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
“When you plan your itinerary around Disney’s popular thrill rides, make sure you take advantage of Disney’s FASTPASS, a free reservation system that will help you avoid long lines,” said Kyle Collins, Director of Interactive Marketing for HotelsCorp.com. “To use FASTPASS, simply visit the FASTPASS ticket machine at the entrance to the ride and insert your admission ticket. The FASTPASS ticket you receive will indicate a time frame that allows you to return later without waiting in line.”
Note: Be sure to check height and medical restrictions that are listed at the entrance to each of Disney’s thrill rides.
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