Strap yourself in for 10 wild rides... Nobody does theme park rides quite like Disney. PAUL COLE tests the fear factor of th Top 10 at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
WIHEN it comes to thrill rides there's no one quite like Disney. They may not always be the fastest, meanest monsters of the roller coaster world, but they have that sprinkling of fairydust to make them magical. The Disney renowned attention to detail makes each attraction a complete experience, rather than just the 'jump on, jump off' rides that other theme parks tend to offer. Often, it's the pre-ride show that builds atmosphere, racking up the tension before the thrills to come. There's nothing more frightening than fear of the unknown, just before the darkness falls.
Take the Twilight Zone Tower Of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Terror. The build-up to the big event is spooky, with Twilight Zone legend Rod Serling recounting the night that lightning hit the hotel, and something strange happened. Just how strange, you're just about to find out as you walk through the cobwebbed hotel lobby and meet J the gaunt staff who usher you towards the service elevator ... I've just spent a week at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, during which I've dared the top 10 land rides. There's scary stuff in the water parks, too, but I'll leave that until my next visit. Here are the big attractions, in alphabetical order. Most of them operate the FastPass system, meaning that you can pick up a timed admission ticket rather than queuing too long to get on.
>BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN RAILROAD WHERE: Frontierland in Magic Kingdom. WHAT: Careering round the mountain in a runaway mine train is real family fun. Not as dramatic as some of the other coasters, but Disney make up for it with attention to Wild West detail. If you want to add thrills and atmosphere, then ride after dark when everything seems faster and somehow more dangerous. A real classic that is much imitated but never matched by other parks. SPEED: The Big Thunder Mountain train reaches speeds of up to 30 miles an hour and there are three significant dips during the three-minute ride. FEAR FACTOR: >ROCK 'N' ROLLER COASTER STARRING AEROSMITH, left WHERE: Disney Hollywood Studios WHAT: With the rock riffs of Aerosmith pumping from the loudspeakers in your chair, you're shot through a series of loops, corkscrews and twists in the dark, teasingly lit from time to time by road signs. SPEED: Accelerates from 0-60mph in 2.8 seconds at the outset.
FEAR FACTOR: ***** >SOARIN', below left WHERE: Epcot WHAT: It's not a roller coaster, you don't flip upside down, but it's one of the most popular attractions in Disney World. It's an IMAX screen simulator which makes you feel as if you're hang-gliding over California. SPEED: Apart from initial lift-off it doesn't move, other than gently swaying, but as you "fly" through the mountains, it'll feel much faster.
FEAR FACTOR: * SPACE MOUNTAIN WHERE: Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom WHAT: A rollercoaster in the dark which sees riders descend a short drop and then race through a series of turns, sharp climbs, and steep drops in the darkness of the dome. SPEED: The top speed is just 28 miles per hour but the twists, turns and drops make this one of the best-loved Disney World rides. FEAR FACTOR: *** SPLASH MOUNTAIN, inset WHERE: Frontierland in Magic Kingdom Travel file WHERE Paul stayed: Walt Disney World Resort as a guest of Walt Disney Destinations International. How long for: Seven nights in Orlando with Travel City Direct, including flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick direct to Orlando.
Accommodation: At the three-star Disney's Art of Animations on a room-only basis WHAT: Based on The Song Of The South, this seven-minute ride has a couple of dips and drops - one in the dark - before a plunge down the 52ft flume at a crazy 45 degree angle. Wear a waterproof!. SPEED: Reaches 40mph on the final drop. FEAR FACTOR: ** TEST TRACK, bottom left WHERE: Epcot WHAT: Get in the car, fasten your seatbelt and experience what it's like to be a test track dummy.
You go over bumpy roads, screech to a stop with and without anti-lock brakes, go through cold, hot and acid chambers, then burst out onto the banked track. Screams are guaranteed during the final braking test. SPEED: Disney's fastest ride of all, with a top speed of 65mph. But it feels even faster as you hurtle round the 50-degree banked curve in your test car. FEAR FACTOR: ** TWILIGHT ZONE TOWER OF TERROR WHERE: Disney Hollywood Studios WHAT: After an amazing introduction to the haunted hotel, you enter the lift, which stops several times for some stunning special effects. The lift malfunctions, falters, gives you a bird's eye view over the park when a window opens, then hurtles down the shaft. SPEED: Who cares? You're plunging down a 13-storey lift shaft. All you have to know is it's seriously scary. FEAR FACTOR: ***** with car hire included. Prices: From PS1,299 per person, based on two adults travelling and sharing a standard room, including taxes and fuel surcharges. Prices are based on departure date April 24, 2013.
Terms and conditions apply; prices based on mid-week departure - subject to change. To book: Visit www.travelcitydirect.com or call 0844 557 WHERE: Animal Kingdom WHAT: The ride experience is a bit like Big Thunder Mountain until you encounter the Yeti in a high ice cave and realise that he's ripped up the track ahead. Your train rushes ^ backwards through a tunnel, turns around, and heads out into the open, followed by a death-defying drop. SPEED: You'll reach SOmph while going forward, SOmph when careering out of control backwards, and it'll seem even faster when you hit the huge 80ft drop.
FEAR FACTOR: **** KALI RIVER RAPIDS, inset WHERE: Animal Kingdom WHAT: The mother of all theme park raft rides, taking you on a five-minute trip through the rainforest, passing gushing geysers, rushing waterfalls, white water rapids, dripping caves, water cannons, and a close encounter with a logging truck. And that's not to mention the 20ft drop. The guarantee is that you will get soaked to the skin, even wetter than on Splash Mountain! SPEED: Slow, of course, because that's the speed at which you will get very, very wet indeed. FEAR FACTOR: * '-I- >MISSION SPACE WHERE: Epcot WHAT: You blast off on a mission to Mars, experiencing the crushing G forces of lift-off. Disney's cleverest ride is actually a centrifuge like that used by NASA to train astronauts, but the special effects will convince you that you're rocketing skywards rather than whizzing round in circles. SPEED: Unknown, but the ride exposes you to as much as 2.5G - more than twice the force of gravity at the Earth's surface. Motion sickness bags are provided in the cabin. Yes, really. FEAR FACTOR: ***