Stitch's Great Escape reviews
Theme Park Insider readers offer their ratings and reviews for Stitch's Great Escape, a animatronic show in Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. (The minimum height to ride is 40 inches.)
Written by Joseph Thomas
It's a wonder why the management at WDW decide The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter was ready to shut down. The attraction was one of the few E-Tickets intended for mature audiences at the Magic Kingdom, a park better known for attractions aimed at a younger audience. While it did receive a fair number of complaints for its scare factor, many teens and adults enjoyed the experience, and it was good to see an original concept in Disney that wasn't based on a movie.
Perhaps management thought it out of place--something that would have been more at home in Epcot or the Disney Studios--but whatever the case may have been, the alien terrorized its last audience on October 11th, 2003. In its place, Disney decided it was high time to introduce guests to an alien encounter of the cute and fluffy kind.
The story behind this attraction takes place before the events in the movie "Lilo & Stitch", so the attraction fits in well with the Tomorrowland theme. Guests enter the Galactic Federation Prisoner Teleport Center, automatically becoming new recruits in a volunteer PTC guard program. After an explanation and demonstration, we're taken to a high security chamber to guard a new arrival--Experiment 626. Naturally, the security systems aren't enough to keep the creature contained and chaos ensues.
Disney faced a challenge in creating an attraction that offered the thrills of Alien Encounter while at the same time catering to a younger audience. The result is a complex compromise: the animatronics are amazing, the themeing is sparse. The animation and sound is fun, the special effects are boring. One gets the impression of teaching a new dog old tricks (or in this case, a new alien).
Although Alien Encounter may be gone and forgotten, there are some nods to the attraction (especially in the third chamber--the teleportation tube has hardly changed, save for a new coat of paint). In the corridor leading up to the show chambers, there are some faux computer equipment built into the walls that still bear the X-S Tech logo (suggesting that the teleportation equipment in use by the Galactic Federation was sold--er, that is, generously donated, by the alien corporation).
AE fans will also be delighted to know that Skippy is present and accounted for, although the former demonstration droid S.I.R. (formerly voiced in a delightfully menacing manner by Tim Curry) has been transformed into a silly, overweight desk sergeant robot.
The third chamber is the main show room where the Stitch encounter takes place. Not surprisingly, it's all very similar to the design and set-up of Alien Encounter--water, light effects and sound from speakers in the equipment above and behind your head. A new show program, audio and video and voilá, you've got the basis for a new attraction. There's also an edition of a scent device, added for a nice, nasty Stitch burp (how quaint).
That's right, folks, they spare no expense.
The Stitch audioanimatronic was the most advanced figure created by Disney Imagineering, until 2006 when they introduced the Yeti in Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park. The Stitch AA actually makes this attraction worthwhile. He walks around on the elevated platform (that is, his figure is designed to appear to step around). His arms move, his ears and spine spikes twitch. He blinks, he laughs, he growls, he turns 360 degrees.
And then he spits.
This brings us to the tracking cannons, the other two additions to the main show chambers. The two guns, inspired by the tracking cannons in the "Lilo & Stitch" film, follow Stitch's DNA signature, their barrels twirling back and forth like that of a camera zooming in and out. They fire on whatever DNA may be outside of the transporter perimeter--including Stitch snot. The pair of cannons are very flexible, with multiple joints, and twist in many different directions--and do so quickly. They almost exude personality as they try to track down the escapee inside the room, firing aimlessly.
While the technology used in making Stitch appear so lifelike is totally spectacular, the sparse themeing seems to be a disappointment. New paint, new logos and a whole lot of the weird Federation Language do not an attraction make. While the sign outside says Prisoner Teleport Center, there's really nothing to suggest that the building has high security as a Galactic Federation structure probably should. Some additional funding for more dynamic props would have shown a greater effort. It's possible Imagineering had some great ideas, but may have been forced to trim them down to meet budget. A faux scanner or detection system at the front door--maybe a high security lock--a small addition can make a world of difference. Often, it's the smaller details that people don't always notice, but do contribute to the overall experience.
There are fresh animated sequences to accompany the attraction, featuring the voice talents Kevin Michael Richardson, Zoe Caldwell and Kevin McDonald. It lends a nice level of freshness that the attraction wouldn't have if recycled movie scenes were used.
There are only one or two minor issues in regards to story continuity. While the scanners do identify him as Experiment 626, but Stitch does refer to himself as 'Stitch', even though he doesn't receive this name until Lilo names him in the movie. Clearly, this is done for the audience's benefit, and is a trivial detail. Stitch's escape from the PTC seems so anti-climactic compared to his arrival. There's also a troubling inconsistency in that Stitch escapes by teleporting to Tomorrowland--suggesting that we are somewhere else OTHER than Tomorrowland, and yet, when you exit, you walk down a very nondescript hall into a Tomorrowland store. A minor detail not many will get or even care about, but it is confusing for those who do notice it.
NOTE TO PARENTS WITH YOUNGER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN: While Stitch's Great Escape is certainly less terrifying than Alien Encounter, it still has some moments that kids might be upset with. There are two extended periods of darkness, accompanied by loud noises and stereo sounds of Stitch behind you. Disney seems to try so hard to strike the balance between thrilling and funny, but darkness is a factor that even a raucous Stitch can't remove the fear from.
NOTE FROM FORMER CAST MEMBER OF THE ATTRACTION: MANY times I have had to escort kids out of the Chamber (theater) that were scared between the ages of 4 and 8. Parents this is not the stitch you see in the movie. This is Experiment 626, meaning, this attraction was meant to be a prequel to the movie and stitch was pretty obnoxious. Like it says in the description 3 of the 8 minutes spent in the chamber are in TOTAL DARKNESS and special effects make it seem like stitch is on top of you and harassing you. SPOILER: for parents with young children, be ready in the second dark scene for air to shoot into the back of your hair startling most young kids. I have yet to figure out the target audience Disney set for stitch because older kids and adults find it cheesy and sometimes boring or dumb and young children get scared half to death!
I hate to give anything related to the Stitch character a poor review, but this attraction doesn't earn anything more. While it has an okay pre-show for fans of the character, the ride is poorly conceived. It's a sensory-style ride/attraction that involves most of your senses. Unfortunately that means you will be smelling an awful Stich burp, and getting your hair uncomfortably ruffled by the character as well. The ride itself is boring and unengaging. The only redeemable factor is Stitch, that is if the attraction doesn't turn you off to the character as well. 3 out of 10. - Joshua Bixler
In an earlier review of mine I stated that the new and "improved" Test Track was the biggest head scratcher the mouse has come up with in the past 15 years. I only stated that because I had forgotten about this piece of dreck. holy cannoli is this juvenile claptrap awful. The fact that it was made years after the Lilo And Stitch hype had died only adds insult to injury. Why oh why did they replace the only adult themed attraction left in the park (Alien Encounter) with this pit of excrement? Why, to sell more Stitch dolls at the gift store exit. If your little rugrat actually wants one of those after going through this landmark of corporate greed then you failed as a parent somewhere down the road. - Eric Zaldivar
Bring back Alien Encounter! - Mike Brilhart
This was our first ride ever at Disney World and if it was up to my 7 year old it would have been the last one. I would not recommend this ride for children because you sit in the dark for most of the show and stitch plays tricks on you. It is loud too. Adults maybe bored with the ride and most children in the room was terrified. However, it was a great idea for a prequel, but when you have a movie aimed for kids the ride should too. - Meg T.
When reading the other reviews (not only on this site) I come to the conclusion I might be the only one who actually enjoys this attraction. Maybe that's because I never had the chance to ride the original version. It consists of two pre-show rooms which get you in the mood for the final show perfectly, the technology and the attention to the details are even outstanding in my opinion. The show itself features an more than outstanding animatronic of Stitch himself and some slight scares as well. If you're unaware of what's about to happen it's even a little bit thrilling. On the other hand, it might have been a lot better in the past, I can't tell. But for me it's a must see every time I visit, it IS a one of a kind experience (Good or bad is for everyone to judge). - Chris W.
0/10! This really is bad! It is so mondane and has no life. I felt something on my feet then some laughs then the show ended! Get rid of it!!! - B Higgins
I just don't understand this attraction. Why does it exist? - Rob Pastor
3/10 - I was hot, It was crowded and I needed a sit down. So I rode this and get out of the sun. The only good thing was that It was air conditioned. - James Wimbury
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