You’ve been saving and planning and saving and planning for months on end. Your goal is to have the most magical Disney vacation possible. Finally, the day arrives and you’re beyond excited. You walk down Main Street U.S.A. full of hope and optimism. However, by the time you reach Cinderella’s Castle, your clothes are soaked with sweat and your body temperature is quickly rising. The park is packed and your plan is shot! What do you do to beat the heat?
Well, there are some great rides you can enjoy without long waits, and some rides that give you a cool sanctuary from the outside heat. Today, I’ve invited Tim Miller to join us so that we can give you two distinct Top 5 lists. Be sure and listen to the podcast for full details as Tim and I have fun comparing our favorites.
Tim’s Top 5 Rides to Beat the Heat
Essential Facts: Magic Kingdom, No height requirement, Fastpass+ is available, Guests must transfer to a standard wheelchair and then to ride vehicle, 13 minutes long
Located inside the iconic Epcot “ball”, Spaceship Earth lasts a heat-beating 13 minutes in air conditioned bliss. Time it right and you should have a short wait before enjoying this classic ride. You won’t find high thrills inside, but you are guaranteed to come back to Earth a lot cooler and more relaxed! This is a great retreat for the whole family.
Essential Facts: Magic Kingdom, Guests must be 44″ tall to ride, Fastpass+ is available, Guests must transfer to a standard wheelchair and then ride vehicle, 2:30 minutes long
Tim rates this as one of the most fun rides in all of Walt Disney World. The long, dark walk inside gives you ample time to cool off before the short roller coaster hurdles you through the blackness of space. Due to the popularity of this classic Disney thrill, you may have a little more time to cool off inside than you really need. Consider a Fastpass+ during peak crowds.
Essential Facts: Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guests must be 40″ tall to ride, Fastpass+ is available, Guests must transfer to a standard wheelchair and then ride vehicle
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror offers an exciting relief from a park with little to no shade. Souls brave enough to enter the 5th dimension will enjoy the rush of air as they repeatedly drop down the phantom elevator shaft. Be warned that this ride is not for the faint of heart, but offers a thrill unlike anything else in Walt Disney World. It would rank higher on the list if not for the queue. Expect to wait outside before entering a small room in the hotel with 20 sweaty strangers. From here you are released to the “boiler room” which isn’t actually hot, but something about the theme makes it less than ideal for cooling off for some.
Essential Facts: Epcot, Guests must be 40″ tall to ride, Fastpass+ is available, Guests must transfer from wheelchair/ECV
Your feet are dangling, your face is flushed with cool air, and the world flies by below as you soar around the world. When it comes to beating the heat, this ride is hard to beat! Located entirely indoors, the long queue and ride will give you ample time to cool off. The sensation of gliding through the air may be one of the most refreshing experiences you will ever have. With a new film, upgraded special effects, and a third ride track, Soarin’ Around the World is a can’t miss ride and #2 on Tim’s list to beat the heat.
Essential Facts: Magic Kingdom, Guests must be 40″ tall to ride, Fastpass+ is available, Guests must transfer from wheelchair/ECV
The home of Brer Rabbit is the best place in Walt Disney World to beat the heat! This ride was designed to cool you off on those hot summer days and it delivers in the most fun way. Even without the 5-story splashdown, this ride is a great way to relax and cool off. The pleasant log flume introduces riders to a host of audio-animatronic critters while they float through Chickapin Hill. Of course, the big splash at the bottom is the highlight of the ride and you can be sure you will get wet! Hot days makes this one of the most popular rides in the park, but the wait is worth it. My oh my what a wonderful way to beat the heat!
Essential Facts: Magic Kingdom, No height requirement, Fastpass+ is available, Guests must transfer to a wheelchair
You beat the heat here by spending time under the big top! Seriously, this ride has one of the best interactive queues for little ones, oh and yes it is inside. The ride itself is located outside and for that reason it didn’t make the Top 5.
Essential Facts: Disney’s Hollywood Studios, No height requirement, Fastpass+ is available, Guests must transfer to a wheelchair, 8 minutes long
This ride ranked high on Tim’s fun factor, but didn’t make the list due to the long wait times. The addition of a 3rd track has helped bring this down, but you would still be wise to grab a Fastpass+ for this one!
Essential Facts: Magic Kingdom, No height requirement, Fastpass+ is available, Guests must transfer to a wheelchair, 10 minutes long
Set sail for the happiest cruise on Earth and enjoy a relaxing boat ride in the a/c. Small children would most likely love this ride and it provides a nice place for the adults to sit down for a few minutes. Just be warned, the ride’s infamous theme song may have some wishing they stayed outside in the heat. For that reason it finishes just outside the Top 5.
Ben’s Top 5 Rides to Beat the Heat
5. Ellen’s Energy Adventure
Essential Facts: Epcot, No height requirement, Fastpass+ is NOT available, Guests must transfer to a wheelchair, 45 minutes long
This ride is a 45 minute slow moving science lesson. In reality it is more of a pre-taped show, but takes place on a moving ride vehicle so it qualifies for our list. Ellen and Bill Nye the science guy take you on a journey to see where our energy comes from. The film is 20 years old, making the ride far overdue for an update. Of course, that also puts it low on the priority list for most visitors, giving way to instant access. The ability to stretch out and even take a nap is what puts this snoozer of a ride in my Top 5.
Essential Facts: Disney’s Hollywood Studios, No height requirement, Fastpass+ is available, Guests may remain in a wheelchair/ECV, 22 minutes long
This is another long ride that gives you a needed indoor break. It is also another ride that is far overdue for an update. You will be lucky to recognize more than half of the movies featured in the ride, but at least you get to sit down while passing the carefully crafted recreations. Your live guide for this ride will heavily influence how much you enjoy the experience, but even the worst cast member leaves the a/c running!
Essential Facts: Epcot, No height requirement, Fastpass+ is available, Guests must transfer to a wheelchair, 14 minutes long
The sound of water, smell of plants, and feel of a climate controlled greenhouse makes this a nostalgic Disney fan favorite. If waiting in line for Soarin’ doesn’t sound like fun, then just walk over to this relaxing educational boat ride in the Land pavilion. You can even grab a bite to eat at the Garden Grill or Sunshine Seasons food court to extend your time in the a/c.
2. Pirates of the Caribbean
Essential Facts: Magic Kingdom, No height requirement, Fastpass+ is available, Guests must transfer to a standard wheelchair and then ride vehicle, 8 minutes long
A pirate’s life is just what the captain ordered, especially when it takes you on a ride through dark caverns filled with mysterious mist. Waterfalls rush over cave walls and winds blow across the bow of broken ships. The special effects of this ride elicit a chill in your bones, both real and imagined, making it #2 on my list!
Finally, something Tim and I agree on! How appropriate that Splash Mountain comes just ahead of Pirates of the Caribbean on my list with my family all decked out in their pirate gear for this plunge down the mountain! Doesn’t this look like fun? If you want to get really soaked, sit in the back of the log, otherwise stay close the front and duck down at the opportune time.
Essential Facts: Magic Kingdom, No height requirement, Fastpass+ is NOT available, Guests must be ambulatory, 10 minutes long
During cooler months this ride would at the top of my list for most relaxing rides. During the summer it can still be a good way to cool down as you go in and out of Tomorrowland’s buildings on an elevated track. However, the lack of an indoor queue and brief periods spent outside between buildings kept it just off the list.
Next time you find yourself wanting to throw in the towel due to the heat, just head over to one of these 13 rides. Hopefully you will come through refreshed and ready to keep your magical day going! If that doesn’t work, grab a Dole Whip or Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar and head for the swimming pool back at the resort. Either way, make your day a ride worth taking!