The tallest mountain range in the sunshine state–well, the only mountain range in Florida–is located smack dab in the middle of the state at Walt Disney World Resort. It’s a rather unique geographic feature, sampling desert outcroppings, snowy peaks, even reaching to the stars.
Today’s Top 5 was an easy list to assemble, seeing as there are only five mountains in the World. Ranking them, however, was a different challenge.
1.) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Built to resemble the rugged redstone of Utah’s Monument Valley, this runaway mine train totes ’49-ers up a 197-foot mountain, then careens down gorges, through caverns, and around hairpin turns at speeds reaching 25-30 mph. No wonder it’s called the wildest ride in the wilderness! My youngest braved Big Thunder last fall. He cried halfway through the first ride, then shouted, “This is awesome!” the rest of the way, and trekked back through the line five more times.
Did you know? Although originally planned for Walt Disney World, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad first debuted at Disneyland in 1979, one year prior to opening at Magic Kingdom.
2.) Space Mountain – The very first of the Disney theme parks’ Space Mountain attractions, this classic ride blasts Guests into outer space. Board a rocket-shaped vehicle, seating three single-file riders, climb the 180-foot mountain past Mission Control, and propel through the dark universe at a top speed of 28 mph. The only things lighting your way are shooting stars and glimmering galaxies. This is usually the first thing my husband and teen son do when we arrive at Magic Kingdom Park.
Did you know? The Disney parks in Anaheim, Paris, and Tokyo all now feature a Space Mountain attraction. However, Walt Disney World’s is the only version that features two separate tracks. On the left is the Alpha; on the right, Omega. Both tracks are nearly identical.
3.) Expedition Everest–Legend of the Forbidden Mountain – Dare to climb the Forbidden Mountain, and you will find yourself facing down a beast so monstrous you’ll never question the legend again. Standing 18-feet tall, the Expedition Everest Yeti is the largest audio-animatronic figure ever created. He does his job well, though, twisting the tracks and rerouting coasters, hurling them through dark twists and turns before allowing their safe return to base camp. My daughter may not be brave enough for this one until she’s, I don’t know, 40! The rest of us love it, though.
Did you know? At 199 feet, Expedition Everest is the highest of the Walt Disney World mountains. One more foot, and it would require a flashing red light atop for airline safety.
4.) Mount Gushmore – The focal point of Walt Disney World’s Blizzard Beach, this 90-foot tall, nine-story mountain features nearly two dozen slides. It’s an avalanche of fun! My favorite slide, the 12-story Summit Plummet, begins high above the mountain’s peak and is built to resemble a ski jump. Though riders do not really fly off the jump, they do catch a bit of air when the slide goes slightly over vertical and then straight down through a short tunnel before reaching the landing zone. The ride is so exhilarating that many “skiers,” myself included, jump right up, adjust their wedgies, and take the chair lift right back up to the top.
Did you know? It takes riders approximately eight seconds to shoot down the 360-foot chute. That’s an average speed of 50-60 mph!
5.) Splash Mountain – Magic Kingdom’s Splash Mountain is only 52-1/2 feet high, but it’s that final plunge down a 45-degree slope that takes Guests’ breath away. The story line of Splash Mountain is that of Br’er Rabbit from the 1946 classic Disney animated/live action film, Song of the South. Riders meander through Br’er Rabbits mischief until they are dropped into the briar patch pond. Water canons ensure a good soaking. My younger two kids have yet to take this adventure, but they like to watch from the bottom and enjoy the spray on a hot day.
Did you know? Disney doesn’t let anything go to waste. Splash Mountain debuted at Disneyland in 1989, making use of nearly all of the soon-to-close attraction, America Sings, effectively recycling the woodland creatures while creating new log flume ride. Now that’s re-imagining!
Be sure to check back next week for the Top 5 Train Rides at Walt Disney World. In the mean time, if you missed my Top 5 Flying Rides or Top 5 Boat Rides, be sure to check them out, and let me know if your faves made the cut.
Jodi Whisenhunt’s MAGICAL MOUSE SCHOOLHOUSE: Learn While You Play at Walt Disney World Resort is now available in print and can be purchased at CreateSpace and Amazon. (Kindle version coming soon!) Come, think outside the textbook and stretch the walls of your home classroom with Walt Disney entertainment!
- Top 5 Boat Rides at Walt Disney World Resort (chipandco.com)
- The Neverland Pirates Band Will Perform at Walt Disney World Resort August 3-12 (chipandco.com)