Which Walt Disney World Rides Do We Miss the Most?
Rumors persist that when Walt Disney World reopens, park officials may not operate all the attractions. I understand that this news displeases a lot of folks, but let’s take the idea seriously for now.
If Disney won’t run all its attractions, a sort of triage situation unfolds. Disney executives must decide which ones are integral to park operations. So, which Walt Disney World rides do we miss the most? Read on…
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
I’m going to divide this list into three attractions that each park needs in operation, along with one that might not make sense during the pandemic. The last one is the ride that may not return immediately.
As you’re about to read, the hottest ticket at Animal Kingdom may not return when the park does. So, Disney absolutely must have this thrill ride keeping customers happy.
I expect that Disney will seat guests with as much social distancing as possible. The right seat in row one will have an occupant followed by the left seat in row two, the right seat in row three, and so forth.
How could we call the park Animal Kingdom without this drive through the animal habitats? Now, the attraction will need to make some adjustments.
Guests might sit in every other row, and cast members probably will not allow different parties to sit on the same row. Other than that, it’s business as usual.
Na’Vi River Journey
With Avatar Flight of Passage in doubt, Disney has to host something at Pandora – The World of Avatar. Otherwise, the hottest themed land at the park won’t give guests enough reason to visit.
I’m not delusional enough to argue that Na’Vi River Journey is anywhere near as beloved as the other Pandora attraction. Still, it’s a terrific ride that may benefit from escaping Avatar Flight of Passage comparisons for a while.
Avatar Flight of Passage
I have your attention now, don’t I? Yes, Avatar Flight of Passage qualifies as the most popular ride at the park and one of the top three overall at Walt Disney World.
However, the attraction comes with an unavoidable problem. Imagineers crafted a 3-D attraction that requires unique eyewear. If you haven’t heard, all 3-D attractions may have to operate in 2-D for the foreseeable future. I struggle to imagine Avatar Flight of Passage delivering the same experience in 2-D.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The challenge Disney faces at Hollywood Studios involves its shows. The park exhibits several of them, and the purpose is to siphon traffic on the streets.
The number of rides at Hollywood Studios is still quite small even after opening two new themed lands. So, Disney will face some difficult choices here.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
This one’s pretty simple. Right before the pandemic impacted the Western hemisphere, Disney introduced the first Mickey and Minnie Mouse ride ever.
Once the parks reopen, Disney will need attractions to persuade guests that they should visit. Hollywood Studios features several of them. I worry about ride capacity/throughput issues, but that’s a side topic.
Right now, rides that sell tickets matter more than ever before. And Runaway Railway is definitely one of them.
Slinky Dog Dash
See above re: ticket sales. Even though this attraction is about to turn three-years-old, it hasn’t missed a beat. Lines remain long throughout the day, and guests delight in the Slinky-like sensation.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
When Disney parks return, they’re likely to employ virtual queuing on many/all attractions. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance functions as the prototype for this concept.
Guests must arrive early in the day and schedule a Boarding Group. Then, the only line is the shorter one for your boarding time.
So, Rise of the Resistance combines high customer demand with state-of-the-art line queues. It’s a must.
Toy Story Mania!
The logic here works the same as Avatar Flight of Passage. Toy Story Mania! Requires 3-D glasses in its current incarnation.
Imagineers will do what they can to create a memorable 2-D experience for the attraction. Realistically, it’s easier than with the Pandora ride since Toy Story Mania! is really just a videogame. Still, it needs tweaking.
Disney may not even open all theme parks when it returns. With EPCOT in the middle of a transition, it’s the most logical option to remain closed. I doubt Disney goes that route, but I’d be remiss not to mention the possibility.
Frozen Ever After
Oddly, EPCOT would work about the same if it does return with the rest of Walt Disney World. Other than social distancing practices, its attractions don’t share the same safety concerns as other parks.
Conversely, many of the rides at EPCOT are sublime. So, we’re missing almost all of them right now. Of course, the most significant one is Frozen Ever After, the Arendelle attraction that celebrates the Frozen franchise.
The moment that the World Showcase opens, I’m rushing to the Norway pavilion.
Soarin’ Around the World
Epcot hosts three preeminent rides, two of which I’ve listed here. Test Track doesn’t make the list due to a numbers crunch. I felt one other attraction merited more discussion. However, it’s really a factor, too.
Still, I suspect that the EPCOT ride that people miss the most is Soarin’ Around the World. It’s pure Disney magic in the way that it simulates the experience of hand gliding. And I can’t wait to hear the Soarin’ music again.
When people pass through EPCOT’s front gate, their first instinct is to head to the giant golf ball in the sky. Spaceship Earth works as a kind of homing beacon for Disney fans.
Two months ago, the plan for Spaceship Earth involved its closure. Depending on who you asked, the amount of time could have run from a few months to a couple of years.
Now, the situation is dramatically different. Presuming that EPCOT returns quickly, it’ll need all hands on deck. Spaceship Earth embodies EPCOT in that the physical structure has become synonymous with the park. Disney needs it right now.
If you’ve ever ridden Mission: SPACE, you know why this one can’t return in its current form. Disney sticks four people in an enclosed space for several minutes.
Until Coronavirus has a cure, Disney simply cannot operate this attraction. At most, cast members could place two people in a capsule. Even then, it’s not a proper demonstration of social distancing.
Mission: SPACE is a real problem right now.
Let’s be blunt. Everyone’s favorite park is Magic Kingdom. That’s why its attendance is so much higher than the other Walt Disney World gates.
So, Magic Kingdom needs to run smoothly when Disney returns. Also, we miss so many of the attractions. I could list a dozen at this park alone, but let’s pick three.
The Doom Buggies at Haunted Mansion work perfectly with social distancing rules. You bring a loved one with you to the park, someone I presume you’ve been embedded with during the pandemic.
Then, the two of you sit side by side in a vehicle that’s safely spaced away from all other guests. Oh, and it’s one of the best attractions in Disney history, too.
Pirates of the Caribbean
The same issues with Kilimanjaro Safaris apply to Pirates of the Caribbean. Disney will need to limit traveling parties to one per row. In fact, skipping rows when loading guests is a good idea.
Overall, the concept of Pirates of the Caribbean is fine in a post-pandemic world, though. More importantly, it’s a timeless Disney classic and the final attraction with Walt Disney’s personal stamp on it. We need this ride right now.
At Disneyland, Space Mountain features rows of two. I’d always been jealous of that style since it doubles throughput…until now.
In the wake of Coronavirus, the single passenger aspect of Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom distinguishes it. Now, the ride isn’t just the seminal roller coaster ride of the 20th century. It’s also pandemic-safe!
Enchanted Tales with Belle
I love this attraction, especially when proud parents watch their charismatic kids put on a show.
Alas, most of the story happens in a series of small rooms. Cast members place a bunch of people in these tight spaces and have them play-act for a while. The experience is charming.
Unfortunately, I’m just now sure that Disney can do this while honoring social distancing requirements. However, I’m not as worried about this one as I am about the other three. Imagineers have a better chance of finding a solution here.
Okay, so that’s the rides we miss the most. Depending on how long this goes, I may add a more personal list of the rides I can’t wait to experience again.