The Best New Disney Ride of Every Decade

Disneyland at Night Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disney Parks have been around for over 65 years, and they have had a variety of truly revolutionary attractions over the years that have become timeless classics that make the parks what they are.

We are going to take you through the best Disney attraction from every decade of Disney Parks history. We are not counting clones of existing attractions even when they were significantly changed, only the original version of attractions.

The 1950s

There are so many great options here. All of the opening day Disneyland attractions, and the first few expansions of the park. So many timeless classics began in this decade, from the Fantasyland dark rides to the Jungle Cruise, to lost classics from Rocket to the Moon and Circlevision.

But the ride that defined this decade came a few years later and would permanently change both Disneyland and Disney Parks as a whole, the Matterhorn Bobsleds.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage Disneyland Dock

The Matterhorn would both provide Disneyland with a second visual icon and the first-ever Disney roller coaster, paving the way for future attractions. This ride revolutionized roller coasters, and what a Disney attraction could be, and it has only improved since it initially opened.

This coaster may not be what it once was, growing rough over the years, and being outpaced by more modern thrill rides at the park, but its iconic status can not be forgotten.

The 1960s

This is another incredibly strong decade in Disney history. Significant additions during this decade included New Tomorrowland, the attractions of the 1964 New York World's Fair, and New Orleans Square. During this decade Disneyland started to find its footing and establish its identity that it would hold until the present day. Most of the technologies that define the Disney parks to this day were developed in this decade, from Audio-Animatronics to the Omnimover ride system.

Haunted Mansion Entrance Gates New Orleans Square Disneyland

But the ride that perfectly encapsulates all of these developments is the Haunted Mansion.

This ride is really the crowning achievement of the first generation of Disney Imagineers, taking everything they had learned in both technology and storytelling and applying it to one ride. This ride is one of the best ever built and has reached iconic status of its own independent of the Disney Parks.

There is a reason that this ride has been cloned twice as well as having had two spin-off attractions in Phantom Manor and Mystic Manor.

The 1970s

Another incredibly strong decade that brought with it the opening of Walt Disney World. There are so many wonderful attractions that opened with the Magic Kingdom, from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to the Country Bear Jamboree that have defined the park. But this decade once again goes to Disneyland, mainly due to a majority of Magic Kingdom rides being clones of Disneyland ones.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Final Helix Disneyland

This decade saw Disney starting to build more roller coasters, including the best new ride of this decade, Big Thunder Mountain.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Helix Disneyland

This ride took Disney roller coasters to a whole new level with its immersive western setting and backstory that gave Frontierland a worthy E-Ticket attraction.

This ride represents what this decade did best in the Disney Parks, explore new ideas in a world without Walt Disney. In this attraction, they developed an idea without him that fit perfectly into the park while giving the park a new thrill ride that all can enjoy.

The 1980s

This decade saw a variety of new parks all with their own unique attractions. Epcot, Tokyo Disneyland, Disney MGM Studios all had their own wonderful unique rides. All of the dark rides of Future World in Epcot Center, Meet the World, the Great Movie Ride. But there is only one ride I can reasonably give this to, and it is the only former ride on this entire list.

Horizons Space Ship Epcot Walt Disney World

Horizons was a dark ride in Epcot Center that took you on a time travel journey back to the twenty-first century while imagining possible alternative futures. It was the natural evolution of the Carousel of Progress, looking at the future through the perspective of one American family.

It was an elaborate ride that even allowed you to choose your own finale in which you saw one of three potential futures.

The demise of this attraction is one of the great tragedies of Disney Parks history.

The 1990s

This is a decade of contrast in the Disney Parks. Some amazing rides happened in this decade, but this decade was also filled with failures resulting from the budget struggles of Euro Disneyland. This decade was defined by a few tentpole attractions like the Tower of Terror, in between controversial rides like Alien Encounter.

This decade did see its hits though, with the opening of Disney's Animal Kingdom, and the winner of this decade, Indiana Jones Adventure.

This ride perfectly translated the adventurous spirit of the original trilogy of films into one of the most immersive rides in the Disney Parks that still holds up as one of the best rides of its kind ever made.

Indiana Jones Adventure Temple of the Forbidden Eye Chamber Doors Disneyland

Temple of the Forbidden Eye imagines you living your own Indiana Jones story filled with iconic moments from the films perfectly recreated in a high energy combination of a dark ride and a simulator.

The 2000s

This is probably the weakest decade in Disney Parks history. Following the downfall in tourism after 9/11, Disney was reluctant to spend a lot of money on new attractions. The decade was defined by budget-friendly attractions that created the disasters that were the original version of Disney California Adventure, Walt Disney Studios, and Stitch's Great Escape.

Expedition Everest Lift Hill Disney World

But there were highlights to this decade, from the nearly perfect opening of Tokyo DisneySea, to the ultimate winner of this decade, Expedition Everest.

Disney's Animal Kingdom had not had a perfect opening, with many complaints that there were not enough rides. While this push initially led to the much-maligned Chester and Hester's Dinorama, it eventually led to the ride that would begin to remove these complaints for good, Expedition Everest.

This ride is one of the best coasters Disney has ever designed. Telling an original story about encountering a mythological creature in the Himalayas, it is one of the best rides ever designed, especially if you got a chance to see the ride when the massive yeti animatronic was working. Even without it, this ride is a must-do attraction that massively improved the park.

The 2010s

The 2010s saw a massive amount of expansion in Disney Parks worldwide, from the opening of Shanghai Disneyland to Disney beginning to respond to the first real competitor in their history, Universal. They had to reinvent themselves leading to some amazing new rides. This decade brought amazing attractions from Pandora World of Avatar to Galaxy's Edge, as well as the complete redesign of Disney California Adventure.

Sally and Lightning McQueen Animatronics Radiator Springs Racers Disney California Adventure Disneyland

But one of its early successes would be its best, Radiator Springs Racers.

This ride defined what this decade would be known for, massive immersive lands based on a singular film property. It perfectly captured the best parts of the Cars franchise in a perfect recreation of the iconic hills of the movie. This provided the model that later lands would follow, and it turned its park from an afterthought to Disneyland, to a relatively equal park.

The 2020s

So this decade got off to a rough start. We should be able to judge two new Tokyo Disneyland rides, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, Avengers Campus, and more. But the COVID19 Pandemic delayed many future attractions and theres really only three rides to judge so far in this decade. Those are The Happy Ride With Baymax, Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, and Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway Concept Art Disney World

One of these rides opened pre-pandemic, and two opened after a considerable delay, but the pre pandemic attraction won out with Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway.

This ride beats a flat ride easily, and tells a more complete story than the Beauty and the Beast ride in Tokyo, which while visually impressive, has a few slow points.

The ride takes you through the manic story of a Mickey Mouse short with strong visual stylings and amazing utilization of new technology. It is easily the best new ride so far in the 2020s.