Which Kind of Disney Rides Do You Prefer?
Avengers Assemble: Flight Force recently opened at Disneyland Paris. Imagineers re-themed Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster to bring this creation to life.
The ride has thrilled fans with its Avengers-centric plot, but it’s undeniably short. Your entire time in the ride cart could be three minutes or less.
That brings up a good question. Which sort of Disney rides are your favorite: the short, the medium, or the long ones?
Let’s talk about the pros and cons of each one.
The Short Rides
Let’s start with the basics. First, I’d define a short Disney ride as anything that lasts less than three minutes.
The qualifier is that the timer doesn’t start until the ride cart zooms into motion, not the moment you sit down.
Here are a few Disney rides that qualify as short:
- Astro Orbiter
- The Barnstormer
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Slinky Dog Dash
Let’s examine an example of a short ride, Astro Orbiter:
I started the video at a time stamp moments before the motion began. A generous assessment clocks this ride at 90 seconds.
However, Astro Orbiter works a bit differently in that the cast member operating the ride determines how many laps you do.
Let’s look at one that has more of a hard out, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster:
Technically, this roller coaster includes two segments, but the first part only involves a few feet of movement.
Once Steven Tyler counts down to 1, the ride starts for real around the 1:30 mark of the video. Then, it hits the brakes at 2:36 and comes to the first complete stop at 2:44.
Overall, we’re talking about 66 seconds of actual ride time plus the little bits at the start and finish. I won’t underrate those, though.
They add to the anticipation at first and then allow for decompression afterward.
Pros and Cons
Many of the short Disney rides are roller coasters, which makes sense. After all, you’re going faster, which carries you to your destination more quickly.
So, while the obvious con is duration, it comes with a positive. You gain that immediate burst of adrenaline when you explode down the tracks.
Obviously, roller coasters earn much of the hype at theme parks and amusement parks because of the thrills they provide.
Still, we should acknowledge the other massive con here. The bang for the buck isn’t great.
This summer, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has required an average wait of 60+ minutes on most days. That’s a LOT of time in exchange for 90 seconds of fun.
Coincidentally or not, I tend to like Disney’s short rides the least. Specifically, I find Astro Orbiter’s line aggravating.
You spend 30 minutes in line just to board the elevator. Then, once you reach the top floor, you still must wait for another ride or two for your turn.
That second wait on the top floor surpasses the amount of time you’ll spend on the ride. That really annoys me.
Rides like The Barnstormer and Dumbo the Flying Elephant aren’t as problematic since their lines are often short.
The Medium Rides
I consider anything in the range of three to five minutes a medium-length attraction. Examples include:
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Frozen Ever After
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Test Track
I just listed several E-ticket attractions, the kind that people happily wait hours in line to experience.
Let’s evaluate a couple of them. Here’s Ratatouille:
What you’ll notice about this attraction is that, unlike the short rides, a sense of story emerges.
Please don’t get me wrong. Imagineers tell stories in any number of ways, even on what seem like generic rides like Dumbo the Flying Elephant and TriceraTop Spin.
Unfortunately, ride planners face genuine limitations on truncated attractions. In 90 seconds, you gotta get in and get out!
Conversely, on Ratatouille, Imagineers embrace the additional storytelling opportunities.
The ride begins with a conversation between an omelet and a ghost, then somehow grows weirder from there. That’s Imagineering magic!
Similarly, here’s Avatar Flight of Passage:
This ride transports you to another planet, wherein you engage with the local flora and fauna. It’s shiny and exhilarating.
More importantly, this ride does everything you could need. It introduces you to Pandora, shows you the greatest hits, and then gets you out of there while you’re still in one piece!
Pros and Cons
The pro of most three-to-five-minute rides is that the rides usually offer a strong selling point, a pinnacle moment, if you will.
For example, Test Track builds to that spectacular sensation of bursting into daylight at nearly 65 miles per hour.
Frozen Ever After features the centerpiece performance of Let It Go, followed by a journey backward to a final splashdown.
That sort of ride structure feels measured but also wildly satisfying.
In fact, I struggle to list many cons for medium-length attractions. Yes, you’re still waiting a while for a ride that’s finished in five minutes or less.
Even so, Imagineers can tell an entire story during that time frame. You’ll never get bored or look at your watch in the process.
Plus, you’ll have plenty of time to ride stuff since you can fit several medium-length rides into two or three hours, at least on slower park days.
The Long Rides
You’ll find many more rides in this category than you might expect at Disney theme parks. Here are a few examples:
- Haunted Mansion
- It’s the Small World
- Living with the Land
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Na’vi River Journey
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Splash Mountain
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
I’ve listed several iconic and/or wildly popular attractions to make a point.
Many of your favorite rides take at least five minutes to complete. And all that occurs when you’re in motion, not just in the ride cart.
So, the long rides can tell a more complete story…or several!
Also, I threw in Living with the Land to emphasize a second aspect. For whatever reason, boat rides often take several minutes more than landlocked attractions.
Here, let’s watch Pirates of the Caribbean to verify:
How many scenes did you count? Okay, I’m sure you didn’t keep a running tally, but it was a lot, right? Splash Mountain works the same way:
You cross through any number of set pieces before you reach the Laughin’ Place, and the ride’s not even done after that!
With longer attractions, you can kick back, relax, and admire all the Imagineering on display.
Pros and Cons
Let’s start with the cons. First, when you take a long ride, you’re limiting how much you can do during your park visit.
When an attraction takes at least six minutes and often twice that length, you’re spending a lot of your time there.
I mean, you could probably ride Peter Pan’s Flight five times before you finish a single Splash Mountain sailing…presuming there are no lines. It’s a theoretical example, not a practical one.
My point is that long rides come at the opportunity cost of experiencing more during your visit.
Also, you may have a shorter attention span. If so, you WILL check your phone a time or two during the longest rides…which isn’t great since many of them are on boats.
Presuming you cannot resist looking at your phone, hold on tight! You never know when a bump might happen!
Beyond these largely superficial cons, the pros are considerable. One is that you’ll catch your breath during a long ride.
You’ll be out of the sun a lot and sitting down for a change during your park visit. It’s a welcome respite.
Also, these rides include so much storytelling that you may develop several favorite parts during repeat visits.
In fact, you’ll likely discover something new each ride. Longer rides reward the patient, attentive, and curious.
So, where do you stand? Which kind of Disney Rides Do You Prefer?
In my head, I favor medium rides. However, several of the long rides I listed are among my favorites.
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Feature Photo: Disney