Sign in or Join the Community!

Theme Park Insider YouTubeFacebookTwitterInstagramGoogle+Email Newsletter
Home Park guides Hotel reviews Saving money Travel tips Community

Best and worst retrofitted attractions

Which rides/attractions do you think have had the best and worst updates.

From Raul Araoz
Posted May 20, 2011 at 7:16 AM
Seeing all the stories concerning the new Star Tours and Despicable Me replacing Jimmy Neutron, I starting thinking about which rides/attractions have had the best and worst retrofits in the past.

In my mind, the best was the updating of Mission to Mars to Alien Encounter. My expectations for AE were zero. I had no idea what they could possibly do with such an antiquated attraction and limited space. However, I was totally blown away by what Imagineering was able to do. The creativity on display was breathtaking. It took the basic concept and made it better in every conceivable away.

The worst has to be the utter decimation of Journey into Imagination. The most popular attraction at Epcot full of wonderfully colorful scenes and incredibly imaginative vignettes and characters reduced to a science lab. Horrible.

I throw it to you. What are your favorite/hated updated attractions.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Joseph Catlett
Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:14 AM
No contest, Journey into Imagination/Journey into Your Imagination.

From Tim W
Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:25 AM
Theres been quite a few bad ones, but I as well have to go with journey into imagination. I think they desperately need to return to the old version of the ride, or close it indefinately. However, I would deeply miss figment being a part of Epcot.

Other contenders could definately be Stitch's Great Escape and Tiki Rom Under New Management

From Mike Gallagher
Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:26 AM
The re-theming of Superman to Bizarro at Six Flags New England was a downer for me. It took the best steel coaster experience I'd ever had, and turned it into a pedestrian, slower, lackluster ride with blah "special effects." Totally un-necessary. Some folks still rank it very highly, both on polls and personally. But for me, it may not even be a top 50 coaster anymore. Now I'll just hope SF doesn't decide to do the same with its cousin in Maryland.

Oddly, I initially felt the same way about the Bizarro-fication of the floorless Medusa at SF Great Adventure. But that ride is now fun for me again, and has regained its spot in my Top Ten steel coasters.

From Carrie Hood
Posted May 20, 2011 at 9:24 AM
I have to agree completely with you Raul.
Alien Encounter was the best, I still rave on about it randomly as one of the best updates WDW has done yet. Then cringe when I think they took the best ride, added my favorite character (stitch) and made a complete and total disaster of it.

Imagination was also the worst single mistake, to the point "Save Figment" was born and was successful. However it still can't hold a candle to the original ride. With some luck an update will be in it's figure and they can correct the mistake properly this time.

Mr. Toad to Winnie the Pooh. Now I like Winnie the Pooh, he's a favorite of my childhood but really. There is an entire expansion going on, they couldn't save Pooh and keep Mr. Toad? Really Disney?

And via my husband: Oh! 20k leagues into.. a concrete playground that's now gone! Great re-theme there!

Now, onto other parks.

Now, USO did re-theme Back to the Future which was a classic ride however I personally think they did Simpsons very well for what it is.

Kennywood re-themed their classic "Old Mill" ride with Garfield's Nightmare. It's bad to say it mildly but apparently has appealed to small children better then the classic "skeleton" theme did. So sadly we're got an extension on having that sadness kept around but at least they haven't torn it out like they did the Turnpike for a baby coaster. *Anger*

From Andrew Carrieri
Posted May 20, 2011 at 1:33 PM
Am I the only one who thinks that Alien Encounter was totally overrated? I rode it two months before it closed in 2003 (I was 13 at the time) with my father. Both of us were bored to tears. I am not saying that Stitch isn't a horrible attraction, but I found AE boring.

From Terri Pierce
Posted May 20, 2011 at 1:49 PM
Andrew, I haven't riden since 1998 and 1999 (was 8 or 9)but I was scared to tears! My family LOVED! that ride! I wish it were till around so that I could ride it today and decide but back when I was 8 or 9 I thought that was the best thing on the planet... okay maybe not at the time but looking back I had fun!

From Carrie Hood
Posted May 20, 2011 at 5:22 PM
Well you have to also consider which version of Alien Encounter you saw. There are two technically since it was changed when Eisner deemed it "To scary for WDW Audiences". We where lucky and go to see it before this since it was briefly open on preview days, that was the end of '94 if I recall correctly. The next time I saw the attraction it wasn't as good as the first time I'd seen it but still a far cry better then Stitches Great Escape.

This is probably due to the fact it was really the first "Scary" and "Dark" attraction at WDW. Some of us jokingly call the mid-1990's as WDW's "Emo Peorid" since it also gave us Tower of Terror as well as the beginning of additions to Haunted Mansion. Plus it's also the ending year of some classic attractions.

From Andrew Carrieri
Posted May 20, 2011 at 5:50 PM
Carrie,
Eisner did order change to the trial version of Alien Encounter but because it was not scary enough in his mind. The "more scary" version ran from 1995 until late 2003.

From Russell Meyer
Posted May 24, 2011 at 7:08 PM
I'll start with roller coasters

Best: Steel Phantom to Phantom's Revenge--This was a grand slam home run that took some serious chutzpah to pull off. Steel Phantom was already a top 25 roller coaster, but Kennywood saw the popularity and increased accessibility of the hypercoaster, and made a great coaster legendary.
Honorable mentions to Wildcat at Hersheypark with its new Millennium Flier trains (Gwazi would probably be here too, but I haven't ridden since the change) and the 2011 upgrades to Intimidator 305

Worst: The 2010 "upgrades" to Intimidator 305 (trims on 1st drop)--The transition to the softer shoulder straps was a good upgrade, but there's nothing worse than turning a 305' drop into a sub 80 MPH top speed. There's nothing worse on a roller coaster than knowing that you're being slowed down one of the highest and steepest drops in the world.
Honorable mentions to the overhyped X2 (sure it's better, but not millions of dollars better) and Loch Ness Monster (trims before first loop, elimination of interlocking train spacing, and ripping Nessie out of her lair).

From Russell Meyer
Posted May 24, 2011 at 7:09 PM
For non coasters:

Best: World of Motion to Test Track--I do enjoy Mission: Space more than Test Track, but I don't really consider that an upgrade since the new attraction doesn't hold any similarity to Horizons. Test Track is exactly what Walt would have wanted in EPCOT with a perfect mix of education and excitement.
Honorable mentions go to Alien Encounter (R.I.P.) and Finding Nemo: Submarine Voyage.

Worst: Stitch's Great Escape--There's nothing that can top screwing with one of the best upgrades ever done to an attraction by neutering it. Sure A.E. was scary, and probably not appropriate for everyone entering the Magic Kingdom's gates, but the Stitch overlay is simply atrocious.
Honorable mentions go to Tiki Room: Under New Management and R.L. Stine's Haunted Lighthouse (quite possibly the WORST 4-D movie of ALL time).

From Mike Seary
Posted May 24, 2011 at 8:25 PM
Though I never experienced Alien Encounter, having endured Stitch two years ago I have to assume that ANYTHING would have been more entertaining...

That attraction is GODAWEFUL. Sitting in the pitch dark for 5 minutes listen to children scream in horror while you have stinky air blown in your face COULD NOT POSSIBLY have sounded like a good idea when that abomination was first brainstormed...

From Lauren Hayhurst
Posted May 25, 2011 at 1:27 AM
The creation of Alien Encounter was genuis. Changing it into Stitch whatever was abominable. Something so exciting, adrenaline-rushy, jumpy, shocking, into something annoying, half-hearted and half-realised.

Turning Back to the Future into the Simpsons was another mistake. BttF was AMAZING and totally new (in my knowledge) to its time. The only thing they've changed is the film and the plastic theming in the quueing area. For something I was SO excited to ride, it was a big disappointment.

I'm struggling to think of anything anyone's changed for the better...

From Kelly Muggleton
Posted May 25, 2011 at 6:50 AM
I have to agree, BTTF to Simpsons and Alien Encounter to Stitch....just wrong.

From Terri Pierce
Posted May 25, 2011 at 9:59 PM
Haha thats a out of the box suggestion Dominick. Ive said before that I enjoy the Simpsons but I feel as though they were lazy on the remake of the actual ride. I love the rethemeing of all the decor I just hate that its the SAME ride experience. I kept feeling like I could pull the plastic off the walls and ride car and find BTTF still under it.

I also got dizzy, much like I did with BTTF. Wish that would have been covered up with the refurb too.. though that would require brain surgery.

From Bryce Lewis
Posted May 25, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Best - Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland. I was totally hyped when I first heard that the Imagineers have finally come to their senses and brought back the classic Submarine Voyage. With the Nemo theme added to it, I think it stands out as way better than the original version. Plus it's now far more entertaining for the children.

Worst - Astro Orbiter at Disneyland. I'm not really saying that it's the worst ride in the park. It's an OK ride on its own, but it really sucks in comparison to the previous Rocket Jets that once stood on the tower in the center of Tomorrowland. The current version is only on the ground level where it's less exciting. This is one of the two main reasons why I find Disney World's Tomorrowland a million times better than the one here in California, along with the fact that the WDW Tomorrowland still has a version of the PeopleMover running.

From Nick Markham
Posted May 26, 2011 at 8:34 PM
I am surprised nobody has mentioned X2. Sure it may not be the top of the list for upgrades, but when X debuted, it had so much potential that was hidden with its unbearable roughness. In the new upgrade, they mad ethe ride more smooth with brand new vehicles, and as if it wasn't crazy enough, gave it an awesome black-silver-red paint job, on-board rock music, and flame throwers! I know many of you live in the East and might not know much about SFMM, but X2 is one crazy-awesome coaster!

From Raul Araoz
Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:53 PM
The Simpsons is a decent simulator, but it does pale in comparison to Back to the Future. I really wish Universal did what Disney just realized with Star Tours and simply commissioned new films for BTTF and made it 3D.

I'll admit that I'm not crazy about the changes to Pirates of the Caribbean. The additions of Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush feel too forced and take me out of the ride. I would have preferred they simply made a separate ride based on the movies instead and left the original alone.

The update to the Haunted Mansion is what I consider should be the blueprint for every update of a classic attraction.

From Terri Pierce
Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:20 PM
Raul- Maybe I'm just too young to remember the old version of Haunted Mansion correctly but I don't feel as though the update did the ride justice. The queue I hear is pretty cool but the ride itself doesn't seem to have the intensity that it did... Again this may be because I was a lot younger back then and my thought process as a kid was a lot different than it is these days. It could also be because we got stuck at the graveyard scene, oh geez.

Don't get me wrong I still love Haunted Mansion but I feel as though it has lost its bit of fright that it use to have. No it was never intense but still less than before. Oh, and I also miss the room that you used to stand around the table in. What happened to it?

From Raul Araoz
Posted June 6, 2011 at 12:42 AM
I admit that I haven't seen the latest version of The Haunted Mansion with the new queue and Hitchhiking Ghosts, but the ride seems basically unchanged.

THM has never been a frightening experience for me. When I first went to DisneyWorld at 6-years-old, I was absolutely terrified to ride Space Mountain. However, I had zero problems with THM. Fell instantly in love with the evocative, without ever being terrifying, mood of the ride. I was actually more scared of Snow White at that age. I don't want to hear it. ;)

Having been on both the original and renovated versions of The Mansion dozens of times, the basics are essentially the same. There are less of the pop-up ghosts at the end of the ride, for what that is worth, but I find the new bride to be more sinister. The stairs are also much improved from the generic spiderwebs.

I also can't say that I'm aware of the standing table room that you are referring to. Unless you mean the Madame Leota or dining room scenes which are, IMHO, better than ever.

From Tim Odom
Posted June 6, 2011 at 8:04 AM
Hitting on Alien Encounter once again, I remember the last time I rode it pre-Stitchification. I went on it with my stepfather and brother. As we were walking in, I told them to look around the room and to look at all the faces of the way too young (for this ride) kids. Then, when the ride is done, look at them again.

Without fail, they were all crying, all bound to be up that night with nightmares. Having been the third time I saw this particular outcome, I had to chuckle a little bit (I know, it's kinda mean, but seriously, that ride had big 'THIS IS A SCAREY RIDE' signs all over it, why people even thought bringing their young children on it was appropriate is beyond all reason.)

Yes, changing Alien Encounter to Stitch was horrid, and I would bet that even Disney hated to do it. But, as we all know, people sometimes don't read signs that say that certain rides might be inappropriate for children. Alien Encounter ended up being a fun ride at the absolutely wrong park.

As for best retrofit, I might be in the minority and say I like The Simpsons Ride more than Back to the Future. Mind you, I am a huge Back to the Future geek, but that ride did not do it for me. I wish it did, but it kinda fell flat. For me, it was an improvement to go to The Simpsons there.

This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.