Skip to Content

The Many Types of Rides you will Find at Disney World

The Many Types of Rides you will Find at Disney World

Walt Disney World is home to 160 well-known and beloved rides and attractions. What you may not have known though, is that there are different kinds of ride categories. For first timers, it is important to know which category a ride belongs to. This can definitely save some time wondering or even worse; have your day ruined by that virtual reality ride you blindly went on. WDW has a few categories and some rides left astray, but like others, Walt Disney World has its main category. These include dark rides, flat rides, virtual reality, and 4D. In my favorite order, let’s begin!

Dark Rides at Disney World

I know what you are thinking. Dark ride…sounds scary. The first ride you will probably pin to this category is Haunted Mansion and you are 100% correct. What is a dark ride though? A dark ride is a ride that uses vehicles to bring passengers from one scene to another. Dark rides are mainly located indoors.

They first made their appearance in the late 19th century and came from haunted houses. The main objective was to be spooky and scary. A dark ride isn’t just a Haunted Mansion. It is actually an Everest, also. How do you ask? Dark rides have five categories. Interactive, track, trackless, boat, and enclosed coaster. Some of these categories speak for themselves. Enclosed coasters such as Rock-n-Roller coaster and Expedition Everest are dark rides that are full of thrill but also tell a story.

Dark rides are not directed towards spookiness anymore. They are more friendly and bright much like “it’s a small world” or Grand Fiesta Tour. Dark rides have definitely evolved over the years bringing joy and songs that you will sing until next week. Some dark rides around Disney are:

  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Buzz Lightyear
  • Dinosaur
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Spaceship Earth
  • and so much more!

Disney Flat Rides

Primeval Whirl

Our next category is Flat rides. A flat ride typically spins around in a circular motion. Flat rides rise from a platform located on the ground and are slow moving. These rides are mainly directed towards kids and are themed. Flat rides also include those nauseating fast spinning rides, but Disney has the perfect ones. Dumbo, Aladdin, Astro Orbiter and Tricera Top Spin are all flat rides that one can quickly point out.

Unlike dark rides, there is one main point of flat rides; to rise and spin. I tend to stay away from flat rides because personally, I do not think there is a reason to wait 45 minutes for a ride that does no justice. But hey, I’m 20 years old Dumbo is not meant for me.

4D Rides

4D sounds so technological, doesn’t it? Andy can explain it to you. 4D rides are rides that have 3D capabilities with “real life” effects. I would consider that small part of Pirates when you pass through Davey Jones fog 4D. Toy Story Mania is the epitome of a 4-dimensional ride because passengers will wear 3D glasses, shoot targets, get blasted with air, spin and move throughout the ride.

Another 4D ride that I absolutely hated was Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. Yes, folks, I was petrified. If you do not remember that attraction in MGM, it was almost like Philarmagic. You sat with 3D glasses in a theater while smells and all the fun stuff came out at you. Even mice running across the floor. It was just a little terrible. 4D rides are super fun and interactive. They can be found a lot across the parks.

Virtual Reality

The Many Types of Rides you will Find at Disney World 2

Last but certainly not least (in my opinion sorry fans) virtual reality. If you have never heard of virtual reality or been on a VR ride, it is a simulation synced with movement. Disney barely has virtual reality rides, but since technology is rapidly increasing, we may see more of it. Mission: Space and Star Tours are considered virtual reality rides. This is when you sit in a vehicle or machine and feel as if you are living what you see on the screen in front of you. Sounds fun right? I’d insert my green face emoji here if I could.

The newest virtual reality ride Disney, added in May of 2018, is a ride located in Pandora. This ride is Flight of Passage. Although I have never been on it, I have heard incredible things. Guests sit on a banshee and fly through the world of Pandora. There are rides like Soarin’ that do not technically fall in the virtual reality or 4D category, just the insanely awesome category.


There are so many rides and attractions to discover while visiting the Walt Disney World parks. Knowing what kind of treat you are in for helps, especially when you may be easily frightened, hate drops, or limited on things you can do. My suggestion is to get on every single dark ride you possibly could and compare the differences. Let us know in the comment section below what your favorite ride is at Disney World. I hope you enjoyed learning about the different categories of rides found in WDW!

Need More Help Planning Your Vacation?

A travel agent is an essential resource when planning a vacation. Reach out to Magical Travel and they will make sure your vacation is pure magic and no stress! Their services are 100% FREE to you!