5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Disneyland Paris
Big Thunder features an excellent use of hiding the track and incorporating the coaster cars into the storyline for the attraction, with the cars being part of a mine train. The track is similar in the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom variants, but the Disneyland Paris version by far the best. Taking the place of Tom Sawyer Island within Disneyland Paris’ Frontierland, the guests board the coaster and go under the river to travel on an island in the middle of the river. There are some great experiences when you coast on track hanging over the water. The finale takes you back under the river through a dark and thrilling tunnel.
4. Space Mountain – Disneyland
Far smoother than the version at Walt Disney World, this version also has 2×2 seating that is more friendly to families. The twists and turns in the dark are thrilling as is the energetic musical score by Michael Giacchino.
3. Space Mountain: Mission 2 – Disneyland Paris
This version shares little in common with the domestic predecessors. The guests “take off” via linear induction launch and then you plunge into the darkness of the mountain. This version is wilder than the other Space Mountains too, with three three inversions. Also features music by Michael Giacchino.
2. Calif Screamin’ – Disney California Adventure
Whereas most Disney coasters try to hide the track with rock work or darkness, the exposed structure of California Screamin’ sets a wonderful backdrop for Paradise Pier. The design follows the wooden coasters of the era it celebrates, but thanks to steel track technology, this is a smooth and thrilling coaster. Over 6000 feet, by far the longest Disney coaster (by over 1000 feet), this is the only coaster at the Disneyland Resort with an inversion.
1. Expedition Everest – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
For the summit of our list, this one seems to be the Disney coaster that everyone can agree on (it ranked at the peak coaster by each member of our family). Plenty of thrills with a g-force inducing backwards section as well as a gigantic drop. But it also appeals to those who avoid inversions. It also includes the pinnacle of Disney place-making, as they’ve created an entire Hymalayan town of Serka Zong surrounding the attraction. The queue tells the story of past expeditions who experienced the mythical Yeti and is quite beautiful too. While it’s disappointing that the attractions animatronic Yeti has been motionless for many years, it’s still a thrilling encounter on one of Disney’s best attractions ever.