Top 5 Boat Rides at Walt Disney World Resort

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Pirates of the Caribbean Barbosa Wicked Wench

I’m checking in with Part 2 of my current Top 5 series: Top 5 Boat Rides at Walt Disney World Resort. It seems four out of five of my favorites are found at Magic Kingdom Park. I must admit it was hard to narrow the list down to just five rides. I mean, in addition to the 10+ boat-oriented park attractions, you’ve also got ferries (or is that fairies?), fireworks cruises, and water craft rentals. In the end, though, it came down to which ones my family rides over and over and over and over…

1. Pirates of the Caribbean – Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean was the last attraction Walt Disney had a hand in designing. It was originally designed to be a walk-through wax museum, but Walt plussed that idea into a boat ride while the attraction was already under construction. A copy of this popular ride was added by popular demand to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1973 and is still one of the park’s most frequented stops. Pirates of the Caribbean has inspired four hit movies; now those movies have, in turn, have inspired Imagineers, as Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbosa, and Davey Jones have been added to the story line.

Did you know? The chess game visible from the queue is stuck in a perpetual check. The only possible move leads to a never-ending repetition of the same series of plays. No wonder the buccaneers died mid-game!

2. Jungle Cruise
– I know Jungle Cruise is scripted, but I’m a punny person and a sucker for a bit of friendly sarcasm, but I get a kick out of playing with words, and the Jungle Cruise skippers always make me snicker.  Board the Leaki Tiki for a trip through the jungle, where the “crocodiles are made of plastic, and the alligators are made with fiberglass.” You’ll pass in front of and behind the beautiful Schweitzer Falls, which is “named after that famous African explorer, Dr. Albert Falls.” Oh, and by the way, “If you feel your feet getting wet as you leave the boat, you’ve probably gone out on the wrong side.”

Did you know?
  Notice the wooden planter boxes in the queue, marked “Evans Exotic Plant Exporters.” In reality, attraction designer Bill Evans likely imported more exotic plants into the U.S.A. than anyone else.

3. Splash Mountain
– Featuring the story line and characters from the 1956 classic Disney film, Song of the South, Splash Mountain is such a hit it received the 2004 Disney Magazine Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite Attraction at Magic Kingdom Park. Follow Br’er Rabbit through a woodland adventure to outsmart Br’er Fox before plunging down the 52-1/2 foot plunge into the briar patch pond. Water canons enhance the ride and ensure a good spray. It’s no wonder where the ride got its name.

Did you know?
 The 52-1/2 foot drop is at a 45-degree angle and gives you a speed of 40 miles per hour. That’s faster than Space Mountain!

4. Friendships
– If you’ve stayed on Walt Disney World property, you’ve likely taken advantage of the complimentary transportation system of buses, boats, and monorails. Well, the Friendships may not be a park attraction, but they are one of my family’s favorite WDW boat rides. Friendships sail Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon and also provide relaxing park-to-park transportation between Epcot’s International Gateway and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. They conveniently stop at the Boardwalk area resorts, as well as the Swan and Dolphin. The Friendship route  my family most often frequents is the one between The Port Orleans resorts and Downtown Disney. It’s a beautiful way to slow down the pace and enjoy a different perspective.

Did you know? 
Friendships run about every 20 minutes. If you’re at DHS and need to get to Epcot for an ADR (or vice versa), the 25-30 minutes journey is often quicker and more convenient than taking a bus.

5. it’s a small world
– The iconic it’s a small world debuted at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair UNICEF pavilion. It was so well-received, it was relocated to Disneyland and has been installed at every subsequent Magic Kingdom Park worldwide. The Walt Disney World version opened in 1971 with 289 dolls representing six continents. Recent upgrades have brought the doll count closer to 300 animated dolls and animals, who represent more than 100 nations. The infamous Sherman brothers’ “it’s a small world” is sung in five different languages.

Did you know? 
The three-dimensional artistry of it’s a small world was styled by animator, Imagineer, and Disney Legend, Mary Blair, who was reportedly Walt’s favorite artist. Links to some of her other work can be seen in Alice in WonderlandPeter Pan, and The Three Caballeros.

Some attractions that just missed the cut were Kali River Rapids, the Liberty Belle Riverboat, and Norway’s Maelstrom. So what do you think? Do you agree with this Top 5? What would you add or delete?

By the way, if you missed the Top 5 Flying Rides at Walt Disney World, take a moment to check it out now!

  • Top 5 Flying Rides at Walt Disney World (
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