The 10 Most Overrated Things at Walt Disney World
Since 1999, I have been inviting readers to rate and review attractions and restaurants at the Disney and Universal theme parks. During the nearly 17 years that I have been writing about theme parks, we have expanded Theme Park Insider to cover dozens of other parks around the world, as well. But the most popular parks on the site, understandably, remain the parks that attract the most visitors in the world — the parks of the Walt Disney World Resort.
And over the years, some clear patterns have emerged as to which rides, shows, and restaurants at Disney World are the most popular one with our readers. You (collectively) know what you like and you (collectively) have let other Theme Park Insider readers know, through your ratings.
But what is true for the group is not always true for each individual within it. As the editor of Theme Park Insider, I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit not just Disney World, but many other parks around the world, on a regular basis. And as much I as try to defer to the community's judgment in leading conversations on the site, that hasn't kept me from wondering... just what in the heck y'all has been thinking now and then. ??
I mean, I love all of you, but that doesn't mean we have to agree on everything. Here are 10 examples of attractions and restaurants that Theme Park Insider readers love as a group that I, as an individual, think are overrated. Keep in mind that these are not what I consider the 10 worst things at Disney. Far from that. Some of these are wonderful, delightful experiences. I just don't think that they are nearly as wonderful or delightful as everyone else seems to believe.
Let's count down my top 10 overrated locations at the Walt Disney World Resort, from the mildly overrated to the wildly overrated:
10. Toy Story Midway Mania
Okay, Toy Story's a good ride. But it's not special enough to be worth the hassle of experiencing it at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Midway Mania's Fastpass+ times disappear as soon as the become available and the stand-by wait times for this interactive dark ride routinely exceed an hour... and often last much longer. When considering my including Midway Mania on an "overrated" list, keep in mind that I live in Southern California, where I can ride Midway Mania at Disney California Adventure and wait far less time for it than I ever do when I ride it at Disney World.
9. Le Cellier Steakhouse
Again, here's another example of a good location that just isn't as good as the ridiculous hassle of getting in would suggest that it should be. If you really want a steak while visiting Epcot with less hassle getting a table, just walk over to the Yacht Club and eat at the Yachtsman Steakhouse.
8. Rock n' Roller Coaster
The in-queue puns make me smile, but RnRC is a pretty basic Vekoma launch and loop, without any particularly compelling elements beyond that. And as for the show? Well, RnRC fell on to my overrated list the moment that I realized that it rests on the same device as DCA's late, very unlamented Superstar Limo ride.
7. Specialty Mac and Cheese
A bit of a twist here: Theme Park Insider readers aren't especially enthusiastic about the various topped mac and cheese dishes that Disney serves in places such as the The Friar's Nook in the Magic Kingdom, either. But I'm putting them on the overrated list simply because you haven't downvoted these things into oblivion. Mac and cheese ought to be a can't-miss comfort food — rich, creamy and fulfilling. But WDW's mac and cheese is too often greasy, slimy and tasteless — and made worse by the fatty toppings that leave you wondering why you bothered eating this mess.
6. IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
I sense a disturbance in the Force as I now really start to tick off readers. So allow me to qualify this one, too. The current IllumiNations show is fine. But it's just not as good (in my too-rarely humble opinion) as the original IllumiNations show, which played from 1988-1996 and featured a "greatest hits" collection of classical music, including the goosebump-raising moment when all spotlights converged on the American Adventure pavilion as Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" began to play.
5. Mickey's Philharmagic
If Universal produced a Disney World show, this is what it would be: computer-animated characters on a screen, breezing through one highlight after another, chasing more laughs than feels. Check that. Let's try again. This is what would result if Disney re-imagined Mickey and the gang as Looney Tunes characters. It's an interesting experiment, but I want to see Disney when I visit Disney. Not Universal. Not Warner Bros.
4. Whispering Canyon Cafe
My problem with this restaurant is the same that I have with the 50's Prime Time Cafe at Disney's Hollywood Studios. I just can't stand restaurants where rudeness is played for laughs. Whispering Canyon gets the place on this list, though, because of an incident when our server couldn't break out of his "rude" character to acknowledge that we had an actual, real problem with the food served us. At least at Prime Time, the servers I've had have known when to kick the schtick.
3. Sunshine Seasons
I will concede that I might just be the unluckiest guest when ordering at The Land pavilion's food court, but even meal I've gotten here has been nearly inedible. Gristly meat, bland flavors, and of course, the ubiquitous cheap paper and plastic service found at quick service eateries throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. Maybe I'm spoiled by Disneyland's QS restaurants, but, to me, Sunshine Seasons just tastes, well, spoiled.
2. Be Our Guest
Yeah, it's a nice place to sit down and eat. The decor is wonderful, and the food generally better than average for Disney. (Though I don't think it is as good as it was when the restaurant debuted.) But c'mon. It feels like it's easier to win the freakin' Powerball than to get a reservation at this New Fantasyland restaurant. Maybe if we Insiders begin a campaign to downvote BoG, the casual visitors will stop wanting to book it — and then maybe we actually could get a seating in here once in a while.
Technically, Soarin' has flown away forever, as it is being replaced by the new Soarin' Over the Horizon show, which will debut this summer. But it's hard to imagine that Soarin' Over the Horizon, even with an additional theater, will alleviate the ridiculous wait times that propelled Soarin' to the top spot on my list. Again, my California bias shows here, as Soarin' Over California at Disney California Adventure rarely hits even a third of the wait time that the Epcot version routinely posted. Overshadowed as a travelogue by the far superior Impressions de France, Soarin's gimmick — watching the show from "hang gliders" suspended in front of the screen — would impress more if the seats did anything during the actual show beyond tilt so gently as to be imperceptible. Save this one for your next trip to California, instead.
Tomorrow: The 10 Most Underrated Things at Walt Disney World
All right, I'll bite.
Honestly I disagree about soarin. I think soarin is a great ride and deserves the hype that surrounds it. However, I think "Rock n Roller Coaster" deserves to be number 1 because it literally is no different than a six flags or cedar fair coaster. It doesn't feel magical and it doesn't feel remotely Disney. I hope that Disney eother re-themes it in the future or builds something more thematic there. Also, I think Toy Story Midway Mania should be number 2 on the list, as its truthfully just not that fun. There are no physical sets, the ride is short, and it's basically like playing a video game at home with moving seats. Honestly, TSMM belongs at Legoland at best. It does not belong at Disney and if Disney really wanted to make an interactive toy story ride, than they could have made one with much more detail. Also, the capacity is extremely low.
You nailed quite a few overrated ones - particularly Illuminations. I can tick everyone off further and throw The Animal Kingdom in the pile of hype. Having lived many years in San Diego with the zoo and animal park, AK is entirely skippable.
Soarin' isn't really fair because its long wait times are mostly due to the lack of headliners at EPCOT. You could say the same about Toy Story Mania (a better candidate in my mind), but I believe Soarin' deserves to be considered a top-flight attraction. It has a grand scale and still has the spirit of EPCOT, and that's saying a lot considering where that park is gone.
By the way, everyone is invited to submit their 10 Most Overrated list in the comments, as well!
Totally agree on Soarin. It just gave me motion sickness and I never felt engaged with it. I cannot understand why it always has insane queues at Epcot when it at max is a one and done ride for me.
I could not agree more with you about Toy Story Midway Mania. There is no game play during the ride and there is no ride during the game play. Men In Black Alien Attack is a much better grown-up shooter.
Going on the basis that -Must Do- and -Recommended- on the parks' ratings list gives it potential for being "overrated", I have to go with the following (in no particular order):
Robet, agree with most, great article, here's my ten.
Robet, agree with most, great article, here's my ten.
You make excellent points, but the cheap shot at Universal was unnecessary. It's possible to love both and I really wish there could be less negativity and way less rivalry in tbeme park coverage.
"Robet" thank you for another exercise in subjectivity.
Oh my goodness yes to almost everything on this list, particularly TSMM and Soarin'. I'll admit I was quite taken by Le Cellier when we finally managed to get a table on my last visit. But the price tag is so hefty, I'll accept its inclusion here. I'll try to temper my expectations visiting BOG this year.
I'm not sure what my whole "Top Ten" would look like, but #1 would be Main Street/Castle live entertainment in the Magic Kingdom.
I love Philharmagic. Where do we send the hate mail too again?.... lol.
I don't think that the comment about Universal was a "cheap shot." They *do* use a lot of screens and go for laughs over Disney-style "feels." Disney is earnest and Universal sarcastic. I love that about both.
Wow, that was a hard list to read. Although, after I finished it, I have to say I agree with some of it, specially BoG, which definitely is great, but not worth the agony of trying to book it.
I prefer we talk about 10 Walt Disney things that are obvious cheap choices and filler.
peter pans flight is pure nostalgia ,up up and away! classic ride
You know now at Whispering Canyon they put these coasters on your table with a green side and a red side. If you don't want to be "part of the show" you put the disk on the red side. I wonder how many complaints they got before they finally decided to put that in place.
Interesting concept. My personal list would add Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise & Peter Pan, though Disney did improve Peter Pan with that new excellent queue. Except you can only experience Peter Pan's new queue by standing in an overly long stand by line, unless you hit it when it opens first thing after rope drop. But I would omit BOG, Mickey's Philharmagic, & Rock n Roller Coaster.
Sorry Robert, but I can't agree about many of these. Toy Story suffers from a low capacity and I think everyone knows that, hence why it is too popular for its own good. Not really a fault of the ride itself, moreso the park it's in. I absolutely love the theming in Rock n Roller coaster, the ride itself is a hoot, and comparing it to Superstar Limo is like saying Revenge of the Mummy is a ripoff of Indiana Jones for both being about archaeological trips gone wrong. I have no problems with Philharmagic since it's more of a filler attraction to do when the lines are long and you're waiting for a Fastpass. I know you were joking about downvoting Be Our Guest (or at least I hope you were), but the public, who we serve to educate, deserves to know about it's quality. It's not a Disney problem and if they took the time to make a restaurant that people are booking six months in advance, more power to them I say. Lastly, my mother is in no way, shape, or form a theme park person. She'd prefer to spend her vacations reading on her tablet beside the pool. However, she absolutely loves Soarin (it's her favorite ride in the world) and it is a must-do anytime we visit. I concur.
I would remove Le Cellier and replace it with Yachtsman... The last couple of times I've eaten at Yachtsman, it has only been OK, but for me, Le Cellier has been much more consistently delicious.
(1) Illuminations burns too much propane, and does NOT have to be done EVERY darn night.
I disagree with everything on the list except the 2 that I have not experienced, which are the mac and cheese and Be Our guest restaurant. I take exception to the one who said that the American Adventure is painfully boring. I can't see any possible way that it would be boring, except maybe to a 5 year old. But each to his own.
I listed my thoughts about overrating previously, before I signed in. Don't know if to repeat, or wait for the Anonymous posting.
If we could fly around the country as you seem to do, maybe we common people could compare Disneyland and Disney World too. Unfortunately since most of us cannot do like you do, we have to take one or the other.
I gave up WDW 16 years ago, when I found that, for a chunk o change more, I could get a VIP tour of Universal and Islands of Adventure... backstage viewing, front of the line, special seating... all in a half a day. Back at WDW, I was waiting half a day just to find out that the fastpass option for Soarin was already gone for the day. WDW always touted that it would not provide VIP options because they treated everyone the same. Not so, many celebrities get the VIP treatment there. Until they figure out a way to cut wait times, lower park maximum guests, or provide bonus front of the line access for Disney Hotel guests... I'm pretty happy with seeing ALL of Universal in two days.
Spot on, I like to add buzz lightyear. Cardboard cutouts in a worldclass theme park is not only disapointing but cheap and ugly. If the ride had full sets with aa's it would be better.
I like RnRC because of it being an enjoyable Vekoma. I'll take Kingda Ka at my home park over it any day, but its easily in DHS's top 5 attractions (wait...). As with Midway Mania, I enjoy MiB over at Universal because of the physical sets and higher capacity. And Soarin'... ugh. One of the best things in Epcot, but thats not saying much. I know its getting the update and more theaters, but its a SCREEN. Its not Spider-Man, Gringotts, or Transformers were there is a physical element, its a screen.
Rob you are a brave man. I commend your courage in the face of internet wrath.
Most Overrated thing at Disney is well, Disney, Most underrated thing in Florida is Busch Gardens...
I agree on Philharmagic. It's nice but once and done. I couldn't put my finger on why it didn't impress me, but you nailed it by labeling it as a Universal/Warner Bros. type show that lacks the Disney heartstring pull.
Soarin': We got Fast Passes and still waited 45 minutes to get on, and I was seated on the very bottom row in the very last seat on the left side. Thus I got lifted up about 5 feet and had to stare up and to the right to watch the film. I hated it and I've never understood its popularity.
I have a problem with deciding whether or not an attraction is overrated becuase it doesn't seem to justify the wait times. IMO that's not how an attraction should really be judged. But then again I will judge my experience at a park or on a ride by how much time I wasted in line so I understand why people do it. But judging the attraction soely on the attraction I have to say the most overrated ride is Space Mountain followed by Rock N Roller coaster. Both are fun but neither are really great coasters and the Aerosmith preshow is cheesy and annoying. After that, and I know people are going hate me, but I'd say Tower of Terror. It's a fine attraction but it's not as great as people make it out to be. It's more queue than ride and even the storyline (if you follow it) is weak.
"It's Tough to be a Bug" is my vote for overrated. I always feel as though I'm trapped in my chair whilst being gassed, poked, jounced tickled and subjected repeatedly to sudden loud noises. It's not an unamusing attraction, but it verges on the sadistic. That's just me though.
What's the single most overrated thing about Disneyworld? Bob Iger. Iger has systematically under-invested in the Orlando parks for the last 10 years. Soarin' and Toy Story Midway Mania are great attractions, but not worth waiting in line for hours. And there is no reason why restaurants that charge top-dollar should sell sub-par food. If Iger had invested enough money in the parks, half of the items on this overrated list would become pleasurable experiences. Bob Iger: "go cheap or go home".
YES! Move It - Shake It needs to be replaced!!! I feel bad for those performers STILL doing a performance that is reminiscent of High School Musical.
I almost fogot - Illuminations........Why, people, why?
I disagree about Philharmagic. What's wrong with a little gentle (not sarcastic) humor in a Disney park? Not everything has to be tugging at your heartstrings. Besides, I love the 3D.
I think we all agree on Move It! Shake It! You hate it. I hate it. Therefore it is not overrated. Just poorly rated! (Gratuitous exclamation point added just because it seemed appropriate, given the event in question.) :^)
I hold passes to all of the Florida parks as well as a Cedar Fair Platinum Pass. I am an avid theme park enthusiast, and in recent years have become less interested in Florida parks all together. Walt Disney World once felt like an escape from reality, and a total dream trip. I could barely sleep the night before a visit. Nowadays I can barely stand to last a few hours in one of the parks. The crowds are epic, and not in a good way. Its a cash cow, this kills the quality of the experience. Cramming a bunch of tourist into a tight space to make more money takes away from the Magic.. Here are my top 10 overhyped attractions at WDW; In no particular order. I understand this is just my opinion, and not yours, and I respect that.
I would say Fantasmic! at DHS is far more overrated than Illuminations, and would be pretty close to the top of my list of overrated things at WDW (along with Soarin', Cinderella's Royal Table, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train). Yeah, it's cool, but if you've seen the Disneyland version, you can save oodles of time by skipping Florida's cheap facsimile. The thing that bugs me more than anything about Fantasmic! is the amount of time it takes to watch it. Aside from nearly dead crowd days, you need to arrive between 15-30 minutes before the show starts (an hour or more on busy days) to be seated anywhere in the middle 3 sections of the arena. Then the show itself is 20+ minutes long and it takes another 20+ minutes to get out of the place, meaning that you're sinking over an hour (2 hours or more on busy days) to see a show that frankly isn't nearly as impressive as it was when it started at DHS in 1998 (free outdoor shows on the Vegas Strip are far more impressive and entertaining). Sure, they have places to sit down, which I'm sure many people appreciate after a long day of walking around, but the arena is so isolated from the rest of the park and the overall experience such a letdown compared to California's version, yet people still line up an hour or more in advance to watch this thing (personally I think lining up more than 15 minutes in advance for fireworks or a parade is a waste of valuable time). Not only that, but Fantasmic! has barely changed since it debuted over 17 years ago. IMHO, Illuminations is superior because it transforms EPCOT and can be enjoyed even if you don't want to sit in one spot and watch it, and is still enjoyable on repeated viewings because of the numerous angles the show can be seen.
The only one I will disagree with is Illumination, especially during the holidays when they add the "Holiday Tag". If you are not into fireworks, i can see why you might think it's overrated.
I'm sorry but I'm gonna have to disagree with you on some of these Mr. Niles.
I think you made some really good points, but I think you are also looking at Disney World through Disneyland lenses. However, I find that I must agree with Midway Mania as the DCA version of the same ride seems to fit and still have a much shorter line.
Reflections of Earth? I probably would stop going to WDW if they ever cancelled that show...
I extremely agree with Soarin' but I do have a bias because the pine spray they use made me extremely ill (and ultimately led to the realization that I needed nasal surgery.) Disney needs to be more proactive in warning about their use of scents in case of allergies, not all allergies are food based!
As somebody who goes to WDW nearly every weekend, but has never been to Disneyland:
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