Two hundred and fourty five. That’s how many days from today we have to prepare for our Disney Cruise and Park vacation and I’m going to start offering up my opinion about The World and all that makes me love/hate it.
Let me get the glaring joke about the title out of the way first: I am sure that postbear will look at the title and say “ALL OF THEM”. Okay that’s done.
Here’s my list of rides that are of no value at all to guest experience. This doesn’t mean I don’t like them or that they’re not fun, I’m suggesting that maybe over time, they’ve lost their spark or that they were last minute ideas implemented without thought of how time would treat their existence. Here we go, in order of Meh to Wah!
5. Rafiki’s Planet Watch. If you’ve never been to this pavilion, I would recommend you sit it out. The train ride alone was created by someone in the Disney Imagineering department who has way more patience than your average person. First, you wait for a train to bring you to the pavilion. And wait. And after what seems like a lifetime of waiting, you wait some more. When the train does arrive, you and a few hundred strollers jam their way onto the small train. The seats are similar to Disneyland in that you’re sitting looking “inward” to the park and parts of the service roads that supply the Animal Kingdom’s vast veterinary areas. You’d think that would be interesting to see, but they’re basically parking lots and square buildings. Once at the station, you have a good 5 minute walk to the pavilion, which admittedly is a nice trek, but the payoff is a let-down. The building is interesting – full of animal facts and real veterinary bays where doctors actually work on poorly animals, but you can scoot through all this in 20 minutes. If your child is fully engulfed in RCS (Restless Child Syndrome) then that means another 20 min wait for the train to get back.
4. Studio Back Lot Tour. This Tour should be an exciting lesson in how movies are made, yet the inclusion of Michael Bay talking up Pearl Harbor makes my lunch come burbling back up. Example: In describing the Tram part of the tour, Wikipedia states without any sense of irony: “A highlight in the building is the room full of tires used for the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.” A. Room. Full. Of. Tires. There are gems you get to see while on the ride, like the vehicle boneyard (The skip from Return of the Jedi!! The sun-faded ship from Flight of the Navigator!!) and they do take you through the costuming department of the park which is a glimmer of how “Studio-esque” Disney use to be in Florida. But then you’re shuttled through a part of the ride where you’re scalded and wetted, much like the Universal/old Earthquake ride, sans The Rock. I know you’re going to say that this ride is integral to the whole “studio” theming of DHS and taking it away would make the park less “Hollywood”. To which I agree and realize this whole point could have been avoided if Disney just got rid of the Michael Bay video at the beginning.
3. Streets of America. Once part of The Studio Backlot Tour, it’s now just a round-about way of getting to The Muppet/Phineas and Ferb attractions stuck in behind Star Tours. Don’t get me wrong here, I like this area – the “set” is amazing, but it seems rather underused. They could fill it with a small parade or street performers or more character greets, instead of being a lengthy, mood killing transition between two arms of the park. Occasionally you’ll see characters along these empty fake streets, but they’re transitioning with you – on their way to their stations, which does add to a feeling of discovery but there’s usually nothing back there. Mimes would certainly jazz up the place.
2. The Great Movie Ride. This has to be the weirdest ride in all of Disney World. And I mean this across all it’s parks. Originally it was going to be a pavilion at Epcot but Michael Esiner thought that it would make a great basis for an entire theme park and thus, Disney Hollywood Studios (nee Disney/MGM Studios) was created. The ride that spawned a park has guests sitting on long church-like benches as a narrator gushes about how terrific movies are, while slowly being dragged past recreated movie scenes with animatronics: think “It’s a Small World” ride infused with “Jungle Cruise” but with utterly unfunny jokes. Some of the animatronics were freshened up 10 years ago and the rest are still running well 23 years on, but depending on where you sit and how late in their shift the ride narrators are, you will always have a different ride. If you’re in the back rows of whatever ride vehicle you get, the Narrator will always sound like “Rrrarrrarlovemooorrvviesrarrarrra…” Past the be-horsed John Wayne, past the robotic Clint Eastwood, I always shake my head when the Narrator, now replaced with (spoiler!) a 30s Gangster or a cornball Cowboy, has to drive us through the set of Alien. The two genres slammed together are so incongruent my brain crawls into the furthest reaches of my skull. The ride remains a tomb to how movies will never be made ever again. It’s also the perfect example how Hollywood licensing will screw everything that is cool and fun into a ball of incomprehensible garbage. On the upside – It’s one of the very few high volume rides that doesn’t exit into a gift shop!
1. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin. Know that this is the ONLY ride in all of Magic Kingdom I have a beef with. First of all, it’s stuck within an area that without the ride, use to blend seamlessly from British colony structures, to Caribbean flair. Disney stuck an “Arabian” gift shop smack dab inbetween the Indiana Jones merch (Where… is… Oh right, the Jungle Cruise is pretty Indiana Jones) and the Tiki Room to try to transition the surrounding structures but it’s still a big old eyesore. I think I hate it because it’s a regular ride you’d find with any travelling toothless carney caravan. Okay Dumbo is exactly the same, but wait until you see the new Dumbo opening now in the Fantasyland expansion. Mind blowing opulence. Even though Disney plussed the ride with a spitting camel and brightly coloured theming, you can’t disguise that it’s a regular, fairground ride.