All Aboard! A Celebration of Our Favorite Disney Parks Vehicles – Part Two

June 10, 2023

Written by: Jim Smith

Welcome back to our list of favorite Disney Parks vehicles. Disney Parks are known for their immersive storytelling, putting guests in the middle of the story through the use of art, design, and…well…Imagineering. But it all starts with the place we the guest are standing, or in this case, the vehicle we are riding.

In part one of this two-part series, we celebrated our favorite railway-based and waterway-based vehicles in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Here in part two, let’s look at the rest of our list. We’ll fly through the sky, slip through the dark, and drive through yesteryear.

As always, please remain seated with your seatbelt fastened, keeping your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the vehicle at all times. Enjoy!

Main Street’s Antique Vehicles

When walking into either Disneyland or Magic Kingdom, guests are first greeted with a healthy dose of turn-of-the-20th-century America. The smell of popcorn and freshly baked cookies, the klip-klop of horse hooves, and the harmonic vibes of the Dapper Dans fill the air. So do the sounds of trolley car bells and goose honking horns of those precious antique vehicles. Disney Legend Bob Gurr helped create the antique vehicles to travel along Main Street U.S.A.

Image: Disney

Gurr knew that authentic turn-of-the-century vehicles wouldn’t be able to handle the stresses of daily use in Disneyland, so instead of sourcing and refurbishing antiques, he designed new vehicles that looked authentic, but actually used modern (1950s era) parts which could better stand the test of time and be easily replaced when needed.

The original Main Street vehicles include a red horseless carriage, a two-story omnibus, and  the Carnation truck, which didn’t operate, but stayed put for guest viewing. Two years after Disneyland opened, an additional horseless carriage and a second omnibus were added to the collection. At Walt Disney’s request, a fire truck was also added to the collection.

Magic Kingdom’s Main Street maintains a similar collection of vehicles, sure to make both the whimsical child and the auto enthusiast both grin with delight.

Haunted Mansion Doom Buggies

Speaking of grinning – when Grim Grinning Ghosts come out to socialize, they are best observed from the safe haven of a Doom Buggy. These remarkably simple yet unmistakably iconic cars carry guests through hallowed halls of the Haunted Mansion, completing their end-of-life journey into the celebration of the afterlife.

The Doom Buggies are perhaps the most famous example of Disney’s Omnimover system, developed by Disney Legend Roger Broggie, along with fellow Imagineer Bert Brundage.  The Omnimover – a term coined by Bob Gurr as a portmanteau of OmniRange and PeopleMover – allows the ride vehicles to swivel in a prescribed direction, giving the ride designers the ability to guide the guests’ view of the attraction experience. 

As our Ghost Host creepily warns “The carriage that will carry you into the moldering sanctum of the spirit world, will accommodate you, and one or two…loved ones…” Nothing to worry about, right?

Peter Pan’s Flight Pirate Ships


Most dark ride attractions travel along the floor surface, where guests can look up and around at the scene around them. In Peter Pan’s Flight, guests board their own private Pirate Ships for a trip to Neverland. The unique ride system hangs guest vehicles from a track along the ceiling to simulate flying through the attraction. While aloft in the sky, guests look DOWN at the scenes of J.M. Barrie’s whimsical story of Peter Pan. This opening day Disneyland attraction is just as popular now, as it was when it first opened (and the same goes for Magic Kingdom’s version).


This entry into the list needs no introduction. Dumbo the Flying Elephant is an iconic Disney character, and riding Dumbo at least once is a checklist item for almost every Disney Parks fan. The demand for Dumbo at Magic Kingdom is so great that a second carousel of the attraction opened in 2012 to keep up with guest demand. Dumbo also holds the distinction of being the only attraction to reside in every Disney Park worldwide.

Skyliner Gondolas

Image: Disney

The newest way to travel around Walt Disney World is through the sky. In 2019, WDW opened the Disney Skyliner to guests. The popularity of this airborne conveyance immediately soared, and like the Monorail, is an attraction unto itself. The individual gondolas are colorful, and many come wrapped in fun character designs. While aboard, guests have a birds-eye view of much of the WDW property. While the Skyliner doesn’t traverse the entire WDW resort, it helps connect EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to several resorts in the EPCOT neighborhood and beyond. It’s certainly a more relaxing alternative to cramming onto those buses!

The Millennium Falcon

Image: WDW Magazine

“Chewie, we’re home.” Smuggler’s Run gives Star Wars fans the opportunity they’ve always dreamed of – piloting the legendary Millennium Falcon. This ultimate Star Wars experience puts guests in the cockpit of one of the most famous spacecraft of all time. Each guest is tasked with the role of pilot, gunner, or engineer, to assemble a true team effort in achieving the mission at hand. As thrilling as it is to sit in the cockpit of the Falcon, don’t overlook the chance to sit at the famous Dejarik table (Star Wars chess) on the way to the cockpit. Because if you didn’t take a picture at the Dejarik table, did you even fly the Falcon?

Mountain Banshees

When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened Pandora in 2017, it pushed the envelope on immersive themed lands. The nighttime bioluminescence of the land instantly made Pandora a favorite location for photographers.

Image: Disney

Within Pandora, the attraction Avatar: Flight of Passage upped the ante for unique ride experiences. In developing the attraction, Imagineers took the concept of Soarin’s flight motion simulator, and “plussed” it with the experience of mounting and flying a banshee dragon. Textures and elements were added to the ride vehicles to make guests feel like they were riding a living, breathing dragon. Flight of Passage is a breathtaking experience, and has been a fan favorite since it opened.

TRON Lightcycles

Image: Travel Weekly

As of this article’s initial publication, the hottest ticket in Orlando is Disney’s newest attraction, TRON Lightcycle / Run. Based on the TRON film franchise (primarily TRON: Legacy) the roller coaster attraction features a motorbike seat design themed as lightcycles from the films. Similar to Avatar: Flight of Passage, guests mount the ride vehicle and lean forward against the front console. Once safety harnesses in, the lightcycles reach a maximum speed of nearly 60 mph, taking riders on a series of twists and turns reminiscent of the video-game grid depicted in the films. This ride is a rush, thanks in large part to the forward-leaning lightcycles.

The Hollywood Tower of Terror Elevator


“Hollywood, 1939. Amid the glitz and the glitter of a bustling young movie town at the height of its golden age, the Hollywood Tower Hotel was a star in its own right. A beacon for the show business elite. Now, something is about to happen that will change all that.” 

On a fateful Halloween night in 1939, lightning struck the Hollywood Tower Hotel, sending an unsuspecting family into an unknown realm, and paralyzing the hotel from that day forward. Brave, thrill-seeking guests brace themselves for the likelihood of what lies ahead – an elevator slowly ascends, then travels forward into another dimension, before finally bouncing out of control, taking every guest along for the ride.

In this fan-favorite attraction, the individual elevator cabs travel horizontally along an interior corridor to get to the fateful shaft, giving guests the feeling they are truly floating towards another dimension. The illusion of fantasy created by Imagineers makes this elevator a top choice ride vehicle.

Cars Land Cars

Welcome to Radiator Springs, deep in the heart of Disney California Adventure! My absolute favorite of Disney’s immersive lands features three adorably themed attractions – two of which make this list of favorite attraction vehicles.

Image: Disney Dreamer

Radiator Springs Racers lets guests cruise through town in their very own car (complete with those unmistakable eyes), then put the pedal to the metal for an outdoor race around the canyon against another car-full of guests. The thrill of the race is invigorating, and doubly so because of how it is balanced with the charm of riding in a character with a personality all its own. Across the country at EPCOT’s Test Track, guests can experience similar thrills on a similar ride track, but without any of the charm of Radiator Springs.

Image: Disney Tourist Blog

Compared to Radiator Springs Racers, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters is a gentle walk in the park. Guests in these cheerfully colorful cars sway, swirl, and twirl their way through one of a number of different classic Italian tunes. This attraction won’t break any thrill records, but it provides for cute moments and adorable photos. 

Matterhorn Bobsleds

Image: Amusement Today

Disneyland’s Matterhorn Mountain is *almost* as iconic as the original in Switzerland. But would you ever be able to ride a bobsled down (and through) the actual Matterhorn Mountain? I think not. In Disneyland, the only limit is imagination, and back in the early days of the park, Walk and his designers brought lots of it to the table. In this case, Bob Gurr stepped up to the plate again to lend his talents to this classic attraction. After Gurr successfully completed the design of the bobsleds, he was tapped to design the roller coaster’s track layout inside the mountain structure. For this, Gurr actually taught himself trigonometry.

While the bobsleds are a blast, they are also infamous for their jarring twists and turns, leaving more than a few guests stepping out gingerly after completing their journey.

Mr. Toad’s Roadster

Image: TripSavvy

One of the most popular ride vehicles in all of Disney Parks recently inspired a popcorn bucket design. The 1900s turn-of-the-century roadster driven by J. Thaddeus Toad across the British countryside to “nowhere in particular” also takes guests on a madcap journey through the trials and tribulations of Mr. Toad himself.

The cars come in many colors, and are inscribed with the names of many different characters from The Wind in the Willows, including Mr. Toad, Toady, Ratty, Moley, MacBadger, Cyril, Winky, or Weasel.

Honorable Mentions – Stretch Limos and Long Dogs

A couple of excellent attractions which also feature nicely themed ride vehicles include two roller coasters located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Image: The News Wheel

The super stretch limos featured in Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith shuttle guests off as honored guests at an Aerosmith show. The limos come in a variety of sleek colors, and each feature their own unique license plate and soundtrack, so the guest experience can change with each ride. A few of my favorite license plate IDs include UGOBABE, BUHBYE, and 2FAST4U.

Image: Philadelphia Inquirer

On the other side of the park in Toy Story Land, Slinky Dog takes guests for a ride around Andy’s backyard in this family friendly coaster. Slinky chats a bit with guests while getting ready to spring forward in the coaster’s second launch. But the real charm is the visual of Slinky himself. How could you not love riding behind that adorable puppy head?

Hope you enjoyed your trip – thanks for riding with us! Please remove your seatbelt and exit safely to the left. And if you haven’t already, please check out part one in this series, which celebrates our favorite railway-based and waterway-based vehicles in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Let us know your favorite Disney ride vehicle with a comment on social at: Instagram Facebook Twitter

Are you interested in visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland anytime soon? If so, hop over to Facts and Figment Vacation Planning to reach out to me and start the process. I am a travel planner certified in Disney and Universal destinations, as well as cruises, all-inclusive resorts, and group trips. 

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