Best Recent Disney Ride Changes…and a Terrible One
Recent Disney news set the internet ablaze, as a decision caused a schism within the community.
Some fans believe that it’s a terrific idea, while others lament that a beloved attraction will change.
This argument has caused MickeyBlog to wonder. How would we grade some of the recent ride changes? Let’s take a look.
California Screamin’ => The Incredicoaster
When Disney California Adventure opened, only two of its attractions wowed guests. The rest fell somewhere between good and disappointing.
California Screamin’ was obviously one of the two greats, and it satisfied guests for more than 15 years with its thrilling ride mechanics.
In particular, the 360-degree loop through the Paradise Pier sign delighted everybody.
However, Disney changed Paradise Pier into Pixar Pier, which meant that this roller coaster required a movie theme.
Park officials wisely chose The Incredibles as the source of inspiration, and the new version does more than provide an excellent thrill ride.
The Incredicoaster also tells a story, one wherein a baby is seemingly in peril. Of course, that baby is Jack-Jack Parr, who has umpteen superpowers.
So, the people in danger are really everyone else in the vicinity. This attraction’s a charmer with the perfect finish.
Imagineers earned an A- for this re-theming.
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter => Stitch’s Great Escape
I’m a very positive person by nature. As an optimist, I’m inclined to focus on the things that people do well.
That’s a challenging perspective with Stitch’s Great Escape. Imagineers constructed a devilish scare ride with its initial Alien Encounter.
That attraction generally stressed people. In truth, it proved too successful in doing so, which caused a blemish in Tomorrowland.
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter simply didn’t fit the theme. A Stitch attraction would have…if it hadn’t sucked.
I say this as a Lilo & Stitch superfan, which tells the whole story about how disappointing this attraction reboot was.
This one deservedly receives a D, and the proof’s in the fact that Disney has shuttered Stitch’s Great Escape for good.
The Great Movie Ride => Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
A couple of the changes we’ll discuss here – well, three – fall under the heading of started great, ended great.
That maxim’s never more appropriate than with The Great Movie Ride, the iconic attraction that once anchored Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
From the park’s opening, guests clamored for and received a loving exploration of classic Hollywood film lore.
Alas, Disney wanted to modernize the entire park, which meant that The Great Movie Ride stuck out like a sore thumb. It signified the park’s past.
Disney wanted something to represent the future of Hollywood Studios. As such, Imagineers developed Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Anyone who has ridden this attraction will acknowledge its greatness. Terms like instant classic and masterpiece definitely apply.
So, everyone gets an A+ for the new ride. Still, I give the decision to make the change an A overall.
I think we all agree that it would have been better if Disney could have kept The Great Movie Ride. It didn’t have to be one or the other. We’d all prefer both.
The Living Seas => The Seas with Nemo & Friends
EPCOT fanatics like me will happily tell you all the ways that The Living Seas was just plain cool.
Unfortunately, like so much of Future World, this pavilion grew dated over the years. At least, that was the consensus opinion backed up by short lines.
With several attractions struggling to draw crowds, park officials gradually overhauled/replaced some of the earliest EPCOT standouts.
Cynics and Disney critics maintain that The Seas with Nemo & Friends embody everything wrong with modern Imagineering.
The focus resides on intellectual properties that will draw attention rather than innovation.
I’ve never understood those complaints, as theme parks need to sell tickets. And rides need to entice customers. Otherwise, they’re pointless.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends has always struck me as a very good dark ride that provides impeccable family entertainment.
Kids can experience this Disney ride with their parents, and everyone will have a great time thanks to the impeccable theming.
I regret that The Living Seas didn’t stand the test of time, but this conversion gets an A- from me.
Maelstrom => Frozen Ever After
My feelings here mirror the ones regarding The Great Movie Ride.
When the Norway pavilion opened at EPCOT, it came with a special bonus. This place featured a ride, a rarity for the World Showcase.
Maelstrom championed Norse mythology while delivering a terrific dark ride experience. Alas, it fell out of favor over the years.
Of course, Disney fanatics don’t mind this.
We treasure attractions like The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros for their high quality and low wait-times.
Alas, park officials need more traffic than Maelstrom was attaining. So, Disney cleverly switched to the hottest IP of the past 10 years.
Frozen Ever After transports guests to Arendelle, where they interact with Anna and Elsa. The latter even sings a song. You know the one.
For some reason, a few critics dismiss Frozen Ever After as lacking, but I think that’s insane. This ride gets an A+.
I drop the letter grade down an A for having to ditch Maelstrom, though. That was one of the most underrated rides in theme park history.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride => The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Are you someone who feels rage over the idea of Splash Mountain changing? If so, you understand my frustration regarding Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Magic Kingdom took one of Walt Disney’s original creations and dumped it without a second thought.
In its place, Fantasyland received a satisfying ride, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
I still hate this decision, and I’ll explain why. First of all, Walt Disney’s rides should never get canceled. Period.
Second, Magic Kingdom received the inferior version of the Winnie the Pooh concept.
The following year, Tokyo Disneyland introduced Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, the world’s first trackless ride.
It employs the same general story as Magic Kingdom’s ride. The trackless technology elevates it into a vastly superior experience.
I very much like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – we rode it three times last trip – and it gets a B+ as an attraction.
My problem stems from the decision to switch from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and not employ trackless technology. Disney gets a C for that.
Superstar Limo => Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue
You may not have even heard of Superstar Limo. It’s more for Disney historians and longtime park fans.
This attraction opened with Disney California Adventure…and closed 11 months later.
You can imagine how much people hated it for park officials to cut their losses that quickly.
Superstar Limo exemplified the ill-considered nature of Disneyland Resort’s second gate. The ride appealed to no one and had zero reason to exist.
Disney moved to replace it with another IP-based attraction.
Monsters, Inc. opened the same year that Superstar Limo closed, although the ride wouldn’t arrive until 2005.
Once again, Tokyo Disneyland operates a superior version of the same ride concept. Still, it’s a fun kiddie ride that enhances any park visit.
I’d give the ride a B- and the decision to replace Superstar Limo an A+++. And yes, Superstar Limo as a ride gets an F.
It rightfully makes all Worst of Disney lists.
Tower of Terror => Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission: BREAKOUT!
Before Splash Mountain, this decision proved the most controversial. Disney California Adventure passholders despised the idea of losing this ride.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror rightfully stakes a claim as one of the most outstanding themed attractions ever.
However, Imagineers felt that it connected more to Hollywood Studios, the place where it originated. The Anaheim clone struck them as a placeholder.
So, Disney once again added an IP, this time picking the ascending Guardians of the Galaxy.
Their movie’s blockbuster status caused company executives to find a place for that franchise. They picked the former Hollywood Tower Hotel.
This decision gets a C because there are just as many pros as cons.
To Disney’s credit, Imagineers absolutely crushed on the new attraction.
Mission: BREAKOUT! exemplifies the best of Disney. You experience a modern take on theming.
When Uncle Walt made rides, he tried to show the guest an attraction from the protagonist’s perspective.
With Mission: BREAKOUT!, people can watch what happens on a digital screen. The premise remains the same, though.
You enter the world where the movie exists. And that’s what Disney magic is all about. This ride gets an A due to its outrageous entertainment value.
Overall, the switch gets a B+. That falls in line with many of the grades here while proving a point.
Few Disney changes from one attraction to another prove universally popular. Guests feel too strong a connection to all rides to like losing any.
Sometimes, change is necessary, though. Maelstrom, Tower of Terror, and The Great Movie Ride are perfect examples of this.
They’re all terrific attractions that had reached a point where their popularity had diminished.
Imagineers reinvigorated those ride buildings with new ideas. And that’s precisely what Walt Disney intended when he invented the concept of plussing.
Please remember that as you vent about Splash Mountain.