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Expedition Everest
Credit: Disney

Not a Disney Fan? Try These Rides in Walt Disney World’s Theme Parks

If you’re about to accompany your Disney-obsessed significant other, friend, parents, or children on a Walt Disney World vacation without sharing in their obsession, you may be a little wary right about now. 

As a non-Disney fan, the most magical place on Earth may not be so magical for you. But the good news is that there’s more to Walt Disney World than meeting Mickey Mouse, getting autographs signed by Disney Princesses, and finding the perfect pair of Mickey Ears.

Here are just a few of the attractions in each Walt Disney World theme park that have nothing to do with animated, singing cartoon characters. If you’re not a Disney fan, you’ll love these rides in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom!

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Credit: Disney Tips

Magic Kingdom

Space Mountain

Many of Magic Kingdom’s attractions boast themes closely tied to animated Disney films, which may not appeal to a non-Disney fan. But there’s not a single cartoon character to be found on Space Mountain – though you might be too scared to open your eyes long enough to find out! Space Mountain in Tomorrowland is a speeding roller coaster that takes place in the dark, with glowing comets, meteors, shooting stars, and satellites around you.

Too thrilling for you? Hop on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover, an elevated tram that goes behind the scenes of Magic Kingdom attractions, including right through Space Mountain.

Jungle Cruise

If you don’t appreciate a good pun, you may want to avoid Jungle Cruise. The skippers on this classic Magic Kingdom ride are renowned for their grown-worthy jokes as they guide you down the river, through animatronic jungle animal scenes.

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Credit: Disney Tips

Haunted Mansion

Liberty Square’s Haunted Mansion is part comedy, part scares, and completely excellent. Your Doom Buggy will take you through a haunted house filled with 999 happy haunts, some eerily haunting, some downright terrifying, and some endearingly hilarious. Don’t miss the interactive queue – it’s worth the extra wait.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest

It’s the tallest attraction in all of Walt Disney World: Expedition Everest. This Animal Kingdom coaster walks the line between terrifying and thrilling. You’ll climb high into the mountains where you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Walt Disney World Resort, but don’t get too complacent, because the track is about to disappear, and you’ll be thrown backward to meet the famed Yeti. 

Don’t miss the fabulous Nepalese-themed gift shop once you get off the ride. (Note: Expedition Everest will be closed until mid-April 2022 for refurbishment.)

Na’vi River Journey

Located in Pandora – The World of Avatar, Na’vi River Journey is a peaceful river ride through the bioluminescent rainforest of Pandora. The effects throughout the attraction are simply stunning, and you’ll truly feel like you’re in the midst of an ethereal alien jungle, complete with glowing flora and fauna! 

The Shaman at the end of the ride is the most advanced Audio-animatronic Disney has built to date.

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Credit: Disney

Kilimanjaro Safaris

There’s perhaps no attraction that will make you forget you’re in Walt Disney World as effectively as Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. This 18-minute-long expedition to the Harambe Wildlife Reserve will transport you to the savannahs of Africa, where you’ll observe and learn about giraffes, lions, elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, and more from the safety of your open-air safari vehicle. The ride experience is completely different in the dark, so if you can, ride twice.

EPCOT

Spaceship Earth

Every Walt Disney World theme park has its own icon: Magic Kingdom has Cinderella Castle, Animal Kingdom has the Tree of Life, and Hollywood Studios has had several over its lifetime (Earful Tower, anyone?). In Disney’s EPCOT Park, the icon is the behemoth geodesic dome Spaceship Earth, and Guests can go inside to ride the attraction of the same name.

Spaceship Earth takes you on a slow-moving, 16-minute-long journey through some of the most pivotal moments in human history. Audio-animatronics bring important moments to life, from the first cave painting to the moon landing.  Plus, the ride is narrated by Judi Dench – enough said.

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Credit: Zach Riddley

Soarin’ Around the World

If you’ve always wanted to go hang-gliding but never worked up the courage, this attraction is for you! You’ll leave the ground and soar high above world wonders like the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Great Pyramids, and Swiss Alps, all displayed brilliantly on Soarin’s 180-degree IMAX dome. 

The inspiring musical score has become synonymous with the ride, and the scents piped in will transport you effortlessly to each location. Young, young-at-heart, Disney fan or not, this is an attraction no EPCOT Guest should miss!

Hollywood Studios

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

You’ll hear the creepy 1930s music emanating from the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before you see the ride itself. The theming here is top-notch – even if we’re not riding, we often wait in the queue just to take in the cobwebby lobby frozen in time, the dusty library, and the horror-movie-worthy boiler room. 

The ride itself is a thrilling series of drops from your haunted elevator – except Disney Imagineers designed a system that actually pulls your elevator down faster than gravity would.   

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Located in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Rise of the Resistance is the first of its kind. It uses multiple ride systems and employs Cast Members to create a completely immersive 20-minute experience for Guests. 

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Credit: Disney

You’ll be thrown into a battle between the First Order and the Resistance, and while this isn’t a roller coaster or thrill ride in a traditional sense, it IS thrilling, in a way no other theme park attraction ever has been. This is a must if you’re visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Bottom Line

If you’re not a Disney fan, a vacation to Walt Disney World may not be your first choice. But there are so many attractions in each Disney Park to enjoy that aren’t “Disneyfied”, and simply offer Guest the best in innovative design, state-of-the-art technology, and immersive theming.

About Stacy Milford

Stacy has lived in 4 countries on 3 continents, and travels whenever humanly possible. Passionate about music theatre, dessert, and adventure in the great wide somewhere, she visits Walt Disney World every year, usually during Halloween! Stacy currently divides her time between writing and teaching English as a second language to children in China, and is pretty sure growing up is over-rated.