Walt Disney World is the perfect place for young riders to cultivate a lifelong love of thrill rides. With attractions appropriate for all levels of adventurers, it can be tempting to jump into the first short line you encounter at one of the parks. It’s important to consider the experience level of new riders, especially when it comes to roller coasters. If a first experience is too thrilling, new riders may be hesitant to ride again. With honest expectations and a plan, you can easily advance the ride experience from mild to wild. In the right order, a good plan can help turn novices into roller coaster aficionados.

Step 1. Goofy’s Barnstormer

This introductory ride puts the “coast” in rollercoaster. This is an extremely basic ride tucked in the back of the Magic Kingdom. It won’t scare your little ones. The coaster features very mild banks and is just fast enough to put loose-fitting sunglasses at risk. The curves and dips are very mild so even the least experienced riders will feel comfortable lifting their hands in the air. It’s a very short adventure so new riders won’t have enough time to get nervous. Riders must be 35” / 89cm or taller.

Step 2. Seven Dwarves Mine Train

This coaster takes us into the Seven Dwarves' story and through their diamond mine. As one of the newer coasters at the Magic Kingdom, it offers an amazingly smooth journey. The cars tilt slightly when banking high curves. It speeds up and slows down. It’s fast but feels safe. Despite the darkness of the mine, it's more whimsical than scary. Even the rather creepy witch at the end might be missed if you aren’t paying attention. Riders must be 38” / 97cm or taller.

Step 3. Primeval Whirl

Set in the carnival-like atmosphere of the Animal Kingdom’s DinoLand,  this ride might not appear to be too intimidating. It is a great testing ground to teach riders to expect the unexpected. Warn young riders of its many turns and dips before riding. The cars spin and the direction of the rotation changes. It can be disorienting. The dips are fun but short-lived. Be sure to note the height restrictions as it has one of the highest height requirements at any Disney park due to the restraint system and hard turns. Riders must be 48” / 122cm or taller.

Step 4. Slinky Dog Dash

This is a real roller coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park is set amongst the familiar and comfortable imagery of Toy Story. The ride is speedy, with a few steep turns that take you higher than you might expect. The tracks are very smooth. You get to catch your breath when the ride slows to a halt, but the reprieve doesn’t last long. You are quickly launched through a “power up” station and zoom through the rest of the ride. It’s fast but not too scary. After all, how intimidating can a roller coaster be with Slinky Dog’s head smiling from the front car? Riders must be 38” / 97cm or taller.

Step 5. Big Thunder Mountain

Big Thunder is a Magic Kingdom classic designed to immerse riders into another world. This coaster is themed as a  run-away mining train, so it’s designed with a rickety appearance. At times it is very loud. It features a shaky ascent up the mountain and also through a mine shaft. There are moments with less light. It roars around moderately steep bends. The scenery is great so most younger riders will enjoy the views and won’t have time to get too intimidated. Riders must be 40” / 102cm or taller.

Step 6.  Splash Mountain

This is a long, log flume water ride in the Magic Kingdom. It’s not a coaster, but worth the mention if you’re training your kids to embrace the thrills. Themed with a catchy, endless soundtrack from Song of the South, most of the ride is a fairly mild trip through different areas with animatronics. There are a few dips and dark moments. The biggest thrill comes during the final drop. Menacing vultures mock you during a slow crawl up a ramp. From the top, you get a view of the park and the realization of how high you’ve climbed before being hurdled down the mountain. If your kids can handle that drop, they can handle anything at the park. Some will get a bit wet, if not soaked. Riders must be 40” / 102 cm or taller.

Step 7. Space Mountain

Space Mountain is a perennial Magic Kingdom favourite that has withstood the test of time. Entering the ride requires a long walk down the darkened corridors of a space station to the loading platform. After a loud launch process with colourful lights, riders ascend through the space station. The lights disappear and the coaster shoots into the dark void of space. The ride itself isn’t actually that fast, but the many sharp turns and dips are amplified by the darkness. This coaster is inherently bumpy because you don’t know what is coming next. The drops feel steeper and the turns feel more extreme. For most of the ride, the only light is from the distant stars and comets passing above. Riders must be 44” / 112  cm or taller.

Step 8. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

This ride takes you on a mad dash in rock band Aerosmith’s super stretch limousine. Located in Disney’s Hollywood Studio, it’s dark, it’s fast, it’s loud, and you go upside-down several times. This noisy and wild coaster is wildly popular for good reason. The line proceeds through a themed back alley where the coaster launches. The anticipation is a little scary for some first-time riders. Waiting guests get to see the ride go through a countdown and then blast off, instantly disappearing down a dark tunnel. That alone has scared many a kid out of line. Once in the ride itself, the music blares and you are launched like a rocket directly into an inversion. The ride blazes through a Hollywood-themed land with lighted signs and landmarks. It’s fast but short. Riders must be 44” / 112cm or taller.

Step 9. Expedition Everest –Legend of the Forbidden Mountain.

You’ve made it to the summit. Expedition Everest is an intense ride through the Himalayan mountains. The mountain’s presence looms over the Animal Kingdom park and it can seem scary from the bottom. The ride takes guests through a train trek up the famed mountain, into a region where the legendary Yeti is claimed to live. You’ll discover that the claims are true! The ride is very fast and has periods of darkness. At one point the tracks appear to be damaged and the cars grind to a halt. Younger riders may be confused by the twisted tracks ahead. Before they can panic the cars roll backwards down the hill, in the dark. The direction change is disorienting for some riders.  The coaster picks up speed as it hurtles through dark caves, passing by the angered Yeti himself. Riders must be 44” / 112cm or taller.

Each step is a reward unto itself. Taken in order, you may find your younger riders begging to get back in line to ride again.