Caveat: this list does not include Fantasyland. Why? Because CHALLENGE! Because if it did everything in the Top 5 would be in Fantasyland! Because EVERYTHING IN FANTASYLAND IS GREAT FOR CHILDREN YOUNG AND OLD ALIKE.
Is that enough caps for you? Probably more than enough, no? Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of my Top 5 Attractions for Young Kids, so here’s a refresher of the criteria I make my lists by: I’m listing things that aren’t necessarily just made for children, so much as things that families can enjoy. So I’m not looking at things like play areas, designed with young children in mind, because I can’t participate with my kids there. But I’m also ruling out rides with strict height requirements that would rule out a child of 2, or things that have a high scare factor. So this is not a “Top 5 Best Rides”, or that, sort of thing, but rather my list of rides I consider really great for kids in, let’s say, a 2- to 6-year age range. It’s based partly on my own experience with my kids a few years ago, partly on my own judgment, and partly on… uh… well, that covers it, actually. 🙂 As with anything there is room for lots of variation, as all kids are individuals and have their own tastes. This is just a general guideline!
So here we go!
#5: All of Main Street, USA
Is this cheating? Well, I make my own rules, so I say NO! 🙂 Granted, in WDW, there aren’t really any attractions on Main Street (aside from the train station that is!). But the land itself is the attraction here. The shops are classic – the Emporium, the Bakery, the Barbershop – but even without that, this area is just such a great introduction to the Magic Kingdom, or Walt Disney World in general. Take some time with the kids and let them soak in the atmosphere. You walk in and you’re immersed in a completely different place! You’re surrounded already by characters, balloons, vintage vehicles, the train, the classic music… take your time here, and don’t just rush through on your way in and out of the park. Really enjoy all that Main Street has to offer! Remember, just around the corner is a Fantasyland… and it’s not going anywhere. 🙂
#4: Tie between the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland, and the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.
Both are classics, both are somewhat “secondary” attractions in their areas, but both have lots of story appeal. (Note, I don’t equate “secondary” with “overlooked” – nobody could call the Jungle Cruise overlooked! But in WDW, it IS secondary to Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland!) The Jungle Cruise is just plain fun, with the corny jokes and the great décor. Although the animals aren’t live, that certainly has its appeal, because you’re guaranteed to see them doing just what you want them to do! Since there’s no possibility of disappointment, this is a great option for kids who are just INTENT on seeing some hippos wiggle their ears today. Carousel of Progress, meanwhile… I refuse to believe that anyone, especially kids, could dislike this attraction. What does it have in its favour? Let’s just say everything. Excellent animatronic design, a room that rotates, a catchy song, and mercy me, Jean Shepard! Yeah, okay, the kids aren’t going to care about that one. 😉 But between the song, and following the family through the years along with appliances that seem to come alive at times, this one is silly and goofy and sweetly nostalgic, even the ending. My daughter requested to watch movies of it when we came back from our trip, she enjoyed it that much.
#3: Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Adventureland
OK, if you have kids and you’re going to go on a spinning ride, you’re probably going on Dumbo. Right? Well, don’t overlook Aladdin. Essentially the same ride, but typically with less of a line (I can’t speak to how it is now with the new dual Dumbo, plus they’ve really improved the queue on that ride now; but PREVIOUSLY in the Magic Kingdom…), this one also has… spitting camels! DadadaDAAAAHHHH! No, but seriously, it is equally fun and an equally big hit. If you find you just can’t make it over to the elephants, go see Aladdin. He’s got seventy-five golden camels.
#2: Pirates of the Caribbean, Adventureland
This was a tough choice, and I realize I’ve heavily loaded this list with Adventureland choices and not as many choices from the other lands. Well, believe me, a lot of thought really did go into this list and I’ll first defend my Adventureland choices with the fact that they meet more of my height requirement requirements (all the Mountains are out), and my daughter had no interest at all in the Country Bears which she found a little freaky. She did like the Hall of Presidents but my son would not have sat through it. And although the Haunted Mansion was a fave of my daughter’s at age 5, and my son was too young to find it scary, AND it’s my absolute treasure of all WDW rides, still, I left it off this list because it is just spooky enough that it might be too much for some kids so I leave it to your discretion as parents. ‘Pirates’, though – it has a couple of skeletons and dark moments, but once you get through those, most kids are swept away by the pirates pillaging the town and singing their hearts out. No children can resist that song! I can’t resist that song! 😉 For the record, my daughter loved it and my son slept through it 2 out of the 3 times we went on. The time I took him on SO THAT he would go to sleep though, OH no. Wide awake and wiggling around so he could see EVERYTHING.
#1: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Tomorrowland
You might be asking – Why??? Even if you love this ride you might still be asking that. You might be saying “Hey, I love this ride, but Rebecca – you put this HIGHER than Pirates?” Yep! And I have Reasons. Remember, I’m not saying this is the Best Ride. I’m not even saying it was my daughter’s favourite, or my son’s, but it has no height restrictions, it’s not scary, it’s fast, it’s fun, and you can enjoy yourself on it even if you’re too young to shoot that gun. It may not be anyone’s literally #1 favourite (and then again it may be! That’s not my point), but it’s a safe bet that most kids will enjoy it. I tend to go on it twice in a row every time I’m there!
And remember: you really can’t go wrong with Fantasyland, either old or New. There’s no ranking it!