Upgraded Points surveyed over 5,000 Americans in March 2021, of mixed genders and ages 18 years and older, to determine which rides at Walt Disney World were the most popular.
By Emily Ryan
Respondents were asked to name their favorite ride of all four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), in addition to their favorite ride at each specific park.
The data was then broken down by residence and gender to show possible gender-based preferences. The margin of error is estimated to be less than 2.5% with a confidence level of 90%.
Overall Winner: Magic Kingdom
|Magic Kingdom – Top 2||# States Where #1||% of Resp.|
The results clearly show that when asked to rate their favorite ride, regardless of location, the leader is that of the oldest and most-recognized Walt Disney World park, Magic Kingdom. That being said, of the top 10 most popular Walt Disney World rides, only one was not in that specific park.
|Popularity Overall||# States Where #1||% of Resp.|
|Big Thunder Mountain||5||5.30%|
|It’s a Small World||5||4.90%|
|Pirates of the Caribbean||3||5.50%|
When examined in more detail, the results show that, over time, theme park rides can build popularity with a compound-interest effect: In the case of Magic Kingdom, the only ride that made the top 10 that was built within the last 30 years was “Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin,” which opened in 1998; all the others are older.
|Epcot||# States Where #1||% of Resp.|
|Frozen Ever After||4||7.60%|
At Epcot, the clear favorite is Mission: SPACE, being the most popular in 19 different states, or 40% of the total; almost double that of the runner-up.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
|Disney’s Hollywood Studios||# States Where #1||$ of Resp.|
|Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster||19||15.90%|
|Twilight Zone Tower of Terror||12||17.80%|
|Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run||6||9.10%|
|Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance||5||10.40%|
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, thrill rides took the lead (Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror). The influence of the Star Wars franchise was also unmistakable. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance were highly-favored — however, it’s important to note that many respondents most likely have not ridden the latter, as it had only been open for three months pre-COVID and another eight months at the time this survey was conducted.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
|Disney’s Animal Kingdom||# States Where #1||% of Resp.|
|Avatar Flight of Passage||17||17.40%|
|Kali River Rapids||3||9.90%|
Avatar Flight of Passage lead the pack in the popularity contest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, being the most liked in 17 states, followed by Expedition Everest, the favorite in 13 states.
Alex Miller, CEO of Upgraded Points and travel and leisure industry expert, says that these survey results demonstrate the critical importance of customer/visitor loyalty to these businesses.
“Our data clearly show that when people develop a liking or loyalty to some aspect of their theme park experience, that becomes a strong trigger to send them back again-and-again. Kids who come to love a certain theme park ride will, in time, return with their children and experience it again through the joy and delight of their own children.”
Miller also notes that, “The marketing implementations are crucial: If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Don’t retire a popular ride unless it is absolutely necessary. Over time, popular rides at theme parks become more and more popular, not less. People build up a personal history with them, and are sorry to see them go. Keeping them going year after year is a crucial aspect of keeping people loyal as repeat customers.”
What is your favorite ride at Walt Disney World? Did your favorite rides top the list? Let us know in the comments.