Do You Like These Divisive Rides?
During the age of the internet, people have learned to express their view online…whether we want them to do so or not.
Yes, some folks possess strong opinions and really, REALLY want you to hear them. That intense negativity can cause something of an echo chamber.
For this reason, much of what we hear about certain Disney attractions skews negative, whether that’s fair or not.
So, let’s keep it simple today. Do you like these divisive Disney attractions? Let’s talk about why you should or shouldn’t.
Alien Swirling Saucers
Pros: Lots of fun, childishly silly in the best possible way, well-themed
Cons: Basic, un-Disney, 90 seconds long
Imagineers evaluate park additions differently than you and me. They focus on different tiers of attractions, thereby ensuring a steady stream of happy guests.
Realistically, not every attraction falls into the E-ticket bucket. In fact, not every attraction should. Rides slot into tiers, some of which target children.
I always think of this Simpsons joke:
Four Simpsons family members hate the ride…but it’s the best thing that ever happened to Maggie! Alien Swirling Saucers works the same way.
In other words, if you don’t like this one, you may be too old for it.
Verdict: I really like this one, but I often feel outvoted.
Pros: Visually stunning, unique structure, terrific view
Cons: tight space, carnival ride, claustrophobic line queue
I’m specifically referencing Astro Orbiter at Magic Kingdom, which comes in an odd package.
You wait on the grounds of Tomorrowland until you reach an elevator. Then, you ride to the second level, where you wait again to board a rocket ship.
Those rocket ships are tight, especially since cast members try to seat two per ride cart.
The attraction is basically a carnival spinner, akin to The Magic Carpets of Aladdin or Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
However, Disney dresses this one up in a tidier package. Also, its height turns into a better ride experience.
You can gaze across Magic Kingdom from a unique perspective.
Verdict: This one has never done much for me, but it’s always quite popular.
Country Bear Jamboree
Pros: Retro in a charming way, genteel and well-intended, oddly relaxing
Cons: Almost proudly outdated, not for haters of country music, Hee-Haw with robotic bears
Yeah, so the division here is completely understandable. Even I find Country Bear Jamboree comically redneck…and I’m from Tennessee.
So, those of you who dislike country and western not-at-all classics will look at your watch a lot and probably cover your ears even more.
Verdict: Diehard Disney fans know that Walt Disney once planned an entire ski resort around this attraction concept. He loved it, which means probably should, too.
Kali River Rapids
Pros: The ride’s exactly what you’d expect, positive environmental message
Cons: Nothing special as far as raft rides go, lines are longest when you need it most
Disney’s river raft rides don’t differentiate themselves much from ones at other theme parks. That’s the harsh reality here.
Also, you’ll think about riding Kali River Rapids the most when the temperature’s hot. Sadly, everyone else does, too.
For this reason, the lines swell disproportionately, which just makes everybody in the queue hotter.
Verdict: I admire what Disney has done with the messaging on this attraction. But it’s probably my least favorite wet ride at Walt Disney World.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Pros: State of the art, terrific for groups of six, atmospheric line queue
Cons: Same thing as Star Tours in a glossier package, long lines
You enter the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit and participate in a legitimate Star Wars adventure. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Well, that answer depends on some other circumstances. You’ll likely wait an hour or more for a ride that’s a repackaged version of Star Tours.
Meanwhile, Star Tours comes with one-third of the wait time and twice the ride length. So, the math here works in favor of the older attraction.
Verdict: Did I mention you get to sit in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit? Anyone who doesn’t love this one is in need of therapy.
Pros: Remarkably lifelike simulation of weightless travel
Cons: Vomit comet
I feel like people have litigated Mission: SPACE enough over the years. So, you know the deal here.
Disney built a realistic imitation of the sensation of escaping Earth’s gravity and entering orbit.
Depending on how aggressive a ride you want, you can either circle the planet or proceed on a mission to Mars.
When you travel to Mars, you’ll experience the challenges of g-force in a way that’s otherwise largely impossible for laypersons.
Then again, there’s a reason why. You may find Mission: SPACE’s aggression overwhelming.
Verdict: I’m not a fan, but I still tend to ride Mission: SPACE during each visit anyway. I guess I’m a glutton…and a NASA fanatic since childhood.
Na’vi River Journey
Pros: Quite possibly the shiniest thing at Walt Disney World, mesmerizing scenery
Cons: People find the whole thing fake and underwhelming
I understand the rationale for virtually all the criticisms on this list…except for this one.
Honestly, if I were an Imagineer and had built an attraction this brilliant, I’d want to tear my hair out in frustration when people call it fake.
OF COURSE, Na’vi River Journey is fake. Pandora isn’t a real place! So, I really don’t follow the logic.
Verdict: There’s a caveat to what I just said, though. The whole point of immersion is to make people forget.
For whatever reason, Na’vi River Journey fails for most people. So, the verdict here favors the majority vote, even though I think it’s monumentally wrong.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
Pros: Brimming with history, one of Walt Disney’s crown jewels, relaxing
Cons: Takes forever to “ride”, seems quaint and borderline dated, kinda dull
Walt Disney once conquered the 1964 New York World’s Fair thanks to this and three other attractions.
The version you ride today is structurally the same one from that event. Nearly 60 years later, it’s still in operation at Magic Kingdom!
Disney only updates the final scene to maintain authenticity, and I love that reverence toward park history.
However, Carousel of Progress comes with a 20-minute time commitment. That’s a lot for an attraction that’s just as likely to put you to sleep as dazzle you.
Verdict: I think of this one as a “once every five park visits” kind of ride.
Other annual passholders can go months if not years between rides. So, it’s definitely losing the perception battle.
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Feature Photo: Disney