Monday, July 23, 2012


Obviously, I love Disney, and I love Walt Disney World. It’s my favorite place on Earth.

That is well documented.

I may even go so far as to say that 9 of every 10 choices is the right one, and that they are, for the most part, always going to get the benefit of the doubt from me.

That said, I firmly believe that nothing, and nobody is above a critical eye. There’s no such thing as being perfect all the time, and even my favorite places could use some adjustments on occasion.

So… Today, since I’m feeling a little grumpy, I’m gonna talk about the #1 attraction/ride/whatever from each of the 4 main Walt Disney World parks that I believe needs to be either completely re-thought, or junked altogether to make room for something better.

The Magic Kingdom
There was once a time where I would have said The Swiss Family Tree House needs most to go… In fact, I believe I did,once upon a time. My feelings have changed. Maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten older and wiser, but while I don’t know that I’ll ever like it all that much, I do see why it’s a good thing. It’s one of the few places in the parks where the visitors are asked to use their imaginations some. Also… as a total sucker for nostalgia, how can I possibly criticize an attraction that exists purely due to nostalgia.

No no… the only logical option is Stitch’s Great Escape.

I know I’ve already ripped it up and down, but really it is terrible. It takes up a huge parcel of land in Tomorrowland. It’s not entertaining. People don’t like it. It’s an embarrassingly bad quick-fix for the more interesting ExtraTerrorestrial: Alien Encounter. It’s just… so frustrating. They have this golden location and they have all kinds of great material to source for an attraction in Tomorrowland (What about Wall-E?). I mean, heck… Keep it as a Lilo and Stitch thing, but just make it better for Pete’s sake. Poor Pete.

It’s difficult to really straight-up criticize anything in Epcot. For the most part, I think it’s the most well considered, and strongly imagined park. Some of the most interesting rides are there (Soarin’, Spaceship Earth). Some of the more innovative (Test Track, especially now). Even some of the more nostalgic pieces (Journey into Imagination).

Of course, like I said, there’s always room to get better, and I think there are a couple of candidates that are ripe for an update, revamp, or total replacement.

I could go with Mission: Space. Many people really enjoy this ride. I, personally, don’t get all the fuss. The thing is, though, it’s kind of…sort of… potentially… dangerous. It’s at least a little unpleasant sometimes. Or even most of the time. That ride will straight-up mess you up if you have even the slightest inclination toward motion sickness. Seems so silly to have one of the Weenie rides also be so unsettling.

Still… there’s one culprit bigger than the rest…

Honey I Shrunk the Audience / Captain EO
Shhhhhh. Just hear me out. I like them too, but they’re SO old, and so outdated. Honey I Shrunk the Kids was a great, fun movie for me when I was 10, but the kids nowadays aren’t so up on their Wayne Zalinski references. They just don’t know those movies that well..

Try to explain Captain EO and the totally bizarre thing going on in that movie to a 10 year old who doesn’t know who Michael Jackson is. Go ahead. I’ll give you time...

They just looked at you like you’re insane, right?

I understand that Disney brought it back out of the Vault when MJ died, but it’s time to put it back for good. It’s so freakin’ strange.

And there are just soooooo many movies that could work as inspiration for a new 4D movie. How about one of the Marvel Characters that Disney owns now? I honestly don’t know the kinds of costs we’re talking about to make these movies. Maybe using modern stars in these characters is impossible, because the stars won’t do it. So… maybe do an animated one. I’d love an UP attraction. UP is sort of all about adventure and imagination anyway, so… use it. They have the full physical infrastructure of the building there. They have the mechanics to make the seats do stuff and have water spray and all that. Just give it a new coat of paint already.

Hollywood Studios
Probably of all the parks, this one was the hardest for me, because I honestly feel like I’m killing one of my pets. I better just yank the band-aid and get it over with…

The Great Movie Ride.

Oh man… this is tough.

Alright, so… The Great Movie Ride was at one time my favorite ride. Not just at (MGM) Studios. Not just at Walt Disney World. Anywhere. The actors were good. The scenes were clean. The animatronics were awesome. The movies were… not all that familiar, but I knew about them ENOUGH to pick up the cues and whatnot. That was 19 years ago, and they have barely updated it at all in the entire time since.

I hate to say it, but:
1) MGM’s been out of the picture for several years now, so there’s no reason to be beholden to MGM movies. Not that Singin’ in the Rain isn’t a great flick, in fact.. they all are great (kinda the point), but if you’re not answering to MGM, you have every chance to update the scenes to all kinds of Disney movies too. Think about a scene with Pirates of the Caribbean (from a different perspective than the actual ride). Think Avengers!
2) The Great Movie Ride is in the plumbest, cherriest (why are all the “bests” kinds of fruit?) spot in the whole place. It’s got a huge building. Why even constrain yourselves to updating the pre-existing ride. Maybe make it a ride-through dark ride for Disney Animation History. You could ride through scenes of Snow White, Fantasia (even maybe keep the Fantasia room as it is), Dumbo, Peter Pan… you get the picture. Make it sort of a combo of Great Movie Ride and Spaceship Earth… or maybe more specifically… A Spaceship Earth with Disney Movies as the theme as opposed to “Communication”. Where better to have 20 animatronic Walts doing different things throughout?

Animal Kingdom
The simplest answer would be to trash the entire “Dino-Rama” concept, and start from scratch, but that’s not the game here, and I can’t choose between Primeval Whirl and Triceratop Spin as to which is dumber. So, I’m going off the grid a little, and picking a ride that gets very little attention, which is a shame, because it has so much potential…

Kali River Rapids.

This is literally the only ride that I encourage people to skip when they come to Disney. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s not. It’s… well.. it’s two things.

1) It’s far too short a ride to justify more than a 10 minute wait. It’s barely over a minute if you don’t count the hill. That’s not long enough for a white-water rapids type ride. There’s just not much excitement.

2) On Splash Mountain “getting wet” basically means that you’ll get a little wet, and likely just enough to cool down in the Florida heat. On Kali River Rapids “getting wet” means that you’ll be walking around with wet underpants for the foreseeable future. It means you definitely need to put your wallet in a Ziploc bag. It means that you’ll hear your own feet squishing in your socks for the remainder of the day. You get absolutely, positively drenched.

There’s about a 25% chance you avoid the total drenching, but if I’m being honest, there’s never been a single day in my life I wanted to walk around a theme park with a shirt so wet that I have to wring it out.

It’s just not worth it, in my opinion.

Again.. it’s not a bad ride. It’s just a ride that doesn’t seem like a ride at all. It seems almost entirely like it’s simply dumping 2 buckets of water on you and sending you on your way.

The worst part is that there’s a message on the ride (about deforestation and conservation) that you BARELY get to glimpse as you rush by on your way to the dunk tank. Disney spent a huge amount of time and money planning out this story line and creating a really pretty beautiful looking scene, and the ride almost totally passes it up in about 30 seconds.

I don’t know what you do to fix this ride, but in a park with limited usable space, it just seems like a waste.

So… that’s my list. Like I said… I love this place. I love what it stands for. I love the way it affects people. The only way it can keep it going forever is to Keep Moving Forward.

What stuff would you update? Anyone who LOVES Kali River Rapids?

Next Up – My review of an old Disney animated movie of my choosing.


  1. I'm so pleased that you've come around to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse! Does this mean you now like Tom Sawyer Island, too?

  2. I don't think your GMR replacement idea fits with the theme of the park, though. It would be more at home in MK. Even if you're taking more of a look at Walt and production, I still think it doesn't fit there. I think an update would make a lot of sense. I don't think you can just get rid of Singin' in the Rain....

  3. Well, I was really just randomly throwing out Disney titles. I wasn't saying to revamp it entirely as Disney, but more making the point that you don't need to be constrained to the same 9 MGM movies. I mean... there are even OTHER MGM movies that could fill in, if they wanted to stick to the original conceit.

    I'm also not opposed to Singin' in the Rain staying. It was on my mind exactly because of that article you linked to, so I mentioned it. I just think it needs updating in general.

  4. I was mostly kidding with the SitR link. I don't know, I suddenly feel really staunchly purist about that ride. HS is a weird park for this exercise because it's so light on rides. I mean, does Sounds Dangerous count as a ride? Can I trade Gertie for some magic beans? Can we just get rid of the damn hat instead?