Theme Park of the Day: Disney's Animal Kingdom

Vote of the week: Which classic attraction should Disney change next?

February 13, 2009, 11:24 AM · Disney's tinkered with many of its classic attractions over the past decade. This month, Disney debuted its new version of It's a Small World at Disneyland, but in recent years Disney's also tweaked Pirates of the Caribbean, added a pirate overlay to Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island, and rebuilt that park's Space Mountain. Disney also added holiday overlays for Small World and Haunted Mansion in California, as well.

Of course, sometimes the changes don't go over so well. Witness the new Tiki room at Walt Disney World or the ho-hum Tarzan's Treehouse in Anaheim.

Which classic Disney attraction would you like to see refreshed next? That's the question for this week's vote. I selected as candidates classic Disneyland attractions that appear at more than one other Disney theme park and that haven't been changed significantly in years, but that I felt could be tweaked without fundamentally altering the attraction. Let's face it: There's not much else that can be done with the likes of basic flat rides such as Dumbo or the Mad Tea Party.

Tell us in the comments what, specifically, you'd like to see done to the attraction you selected. But be realistic, please. Replacing Thunder with a B&M Flying Coaster isn't an option here. ;-)

Replies (19)

February 13, 2009 at 12:02 PM · A lot depends upon which park is involved. Peter Pan in WDW could benefit from the type of upgrades, fiber optics and such that DL got in 1983. I voted JC, but that is specific to WDW's, which seems much more static than DL's, which appears to be plussed more often. Actually, should have said Star Tours. I'm not particularly a Star Wars fan, yet this is still perhaps the finest simulator ride I've experienced. This explains why whether or not a ride is based on a film doesn't concern me; attractions and films are two different beasts. But, back on point, ST needs a new film. And if the rumours of a 3D presentation and a retractable roof with an I-Max dome above prove true, I would be quite excited to give it a go.
February 13, 2009 at 12:05 PM · I actually think three of them should be updated.

Big Thunder is great as is and don't want to see it changed. I personally think it is superior to Everest in track layout, sights, and story.

Star Tours is already getting an update which I agree with.

The Jungle Cruise is a classic but it could use a new story with some new scenes. I know that WDI already has a plane crash segment designed and I would love to see it.

Peter Pan, IMHO, is a bit overrated. I still can't understand the 2 hour lines for a 90 second ride. I understand the novelty of flying above the ride is unique and exciting, but I would definitely like an update. I actually prefer Snow White. It is not the greatest ride but, the quick moving line mixed with spooky and nostalgic scenes works for me. Nevertheless, Fantasyland, particularly in Florida, could use a fresh coat of paint for all its' attractions including bringing the Japanese version of Pooh.

However, the ride that needs the most updating is Autopia. This is one of those attractions that has not withstood the test of time. When Disneyland opened, it was one of the star attractions. Yet, today it is little more than a incredibly large kiddie ride. It takes up a lot of space and has no theme. I would either raze the whole attraction and build something else or add a significant theme such as Tron light cycles or Cars. Either way, something needs to be done to it.

February 13, 2009 at 12:18 PM · The Snow White at WDW really needs updating. I went on it the other day. Sort of surprised Disney let it go as long as they have.

Peter Pan is still a great ride and I hope they never get rid of the flying clippers. The moving conveyor is very effective and efficient loading and unloading passengers.

I've always wondered why Universal Orlando didn't design the two seater for the ET ride. I never once felt like I was flying over the trees or city on a bike. You and eleven others load a platform and if you are stuck sitting in the middle, not only do you loose any affect of flying, you're unable to see over the sides.

February 13, 2009 at 12:23 PM · I guess I've haven't really liked the Autopia/Tomorrowland Speedway since I was little. I guess once you can drive a car, driving a lawnmower on a track doesn't seem too fun. Also, this is a ride that you can ride in just about every theme park in Amrerica.

From a "green" standpoint, those things must put out tons of exhaust not to mention the noise pollution. The attraction itself takes up a lot of prime real estate within Tomorrowland. Want to make it more "tomorrow"? Turn them into electric cars or hybrids. Make some car company sponsor it.

February 13, 2009 at 12:52 PM · IMHO the Tomorrowland Speedway needs a dramtic facelift or removed altogether. Without a doubt this attraction should evolve into a Cars theme. The revamp would be a costly one and maybe too much for the final product.
February 13, 2009 at 1:03 PM · I've never been big on change with the classics, but Star Tours definitely needs some help. It got my vote all the way without any pause for thought. Peter Pan and Snow White are great for the little ones. Big Thunder is perfect the way it is. But Star Tours (sigh) needs all the help it can get. And I am a huge HUGE Star Wars fan and thus hate to say anything negative about what George Lucas has his hand in.
February 13, 2009 at 1:18 PM · Would have said Star Tours this could def do with some updating including a total replacement of the simulator. The queing area is cool though. I actually went for the Speedway this either needs removing altogether or updating with cars that actually move faster than you can walk and themeing maybe as Cars.Could be replaced by a WALL.E ride as its in Tommorrow Land.
February 13, 2009 at 1:35 PM · I voted for Star Tours since, as long as the idea hasn't been canned, they did announce they would be doing a Star Tours II, which would be in 3D and revolve around the pod racer scene from Episode I and I agree with this

Jungle Cruise already did undergo somewhat of a change at DL by adding the Pirana scene and adding the explosion at the Gorilla Camp

So something among those choices that hasnt been done or announced yet would be to make Snow White and Peter Pan more realistic by changing the characters to actual, fluid Animatronics

February 13, 2009 at 1:53 PM · The whole of Tomorrow land need bringing into the 21st century, but worst of all is Autopia/Tomorrowland Speedway.
The whole thing needs trashing!!! It covers a huge area of the park, they could put a really good ride in there that adults can enjoy as well as children.
Majic Kingdom, Florida has never been the same since they got rid of the cable cars and the Captain Nemo's submarines.
February 13, 2009 at 1:56 PM · Well, the question asked about "tweaking," not "overhaul," so I voted for Snow White. It's already a great, classic dark ride but it needs an ending (specifically for the DL version).

If the question were for an "overhaul," then Autopia gets it. That ride is just awful in so many ways. It has no discernible theme. It smells terrible in and around the attraction. The cars are miserably uncomfortable and require 30 pounds of pressure on the pedal which leaves many kids unable to drive them (and the whole point is for kids to drive the cars, not the driving-weary adults). Driving on the freeway is neither futuristic nor desirable. And to top it all off, you have to drive on a pre-determined track. If Disney wants to see how to do a driving ride right then they should check out Volvo Driving School at Legoland. It's everything that Autopia is not, and the kids love it.

Star Tours is the next that should receive an overhaul. The queue is better than the ride.

The ride environment of JC is fine, but it needs a new script. Drop the jokes and give it a good story. For Halloween, I could imagine a great overlay with an Apocalypse Now theme and a Doors soundtrack. ;-)

February 13, 2009 at 1:59 PM · I voted for the Indy speedway. That ride is in pretty bad shape, goes slow, and takes up too much space. I might be in favor of just tearing it out.
I don't don't think Peter Pan and Snow White should be touched. Maybe a slight touch up with Jungle Cruise.
Thunder mountain railroad could use a little more excitement.
I don't really care what happens to Star tours. I think the outside features of the ride are sweet.
In general, I'm not a big fan of updating classics.
February 13, 2009 at 2:00 PM · W McDougal wins comment of the day, so far, for the first suggestion that made me laugh out loud. Can't ever see Disney doing that (maybe Universal would), but I would love, love, love to go on the "Heart of Darkness" Jungle Cruise sometime.

This just has to end up in a Simpsons episode.

February 13, 2009 at 4:59 PM · I guess I understand why Star Tours is leading this vote as it is the one attraction that could be vastly improved with a pretty straight-forward overhaul. But I enjoy the attraction as is, and don't mind that it is a bit out of date.

So, for me this vote comes down to either Jungle Cruise or Tomorrowland Speedway.

Jungle Cruise: I hate that this attraction is played strictly for laughs (BTW - the Great Movie Ride is sadly becoming the JC of DHS), but without a 21st century update the ride is a joke, so I understand why Disney goes for the corn. Additionally, the advent of Kilimanjaro Safaris pretty much rendered the ride obsolete as an animal safari, so what else can Disney do without a complete make-over? The Jungle Cruise is definitely a good candidate for an overhaul, but at least it is still uniquely Disney, and for that alone I give it a small measure of kudos.

The Tomorrowland Speedway on the other hand is the same car-on-a-rails experience found at every lame amusement park and county fair across the nation. It has no business in a Disney park and should be completely removed. An overhaul is probably not enough, but since the attraction always has lines (inherent to these types of slow-loaders) I am sure Disney still views it as a success. Therefore I would hope the attraction could at least get a futuristic re-theme, as well as some new, environmentally friendly vehicles. Right now it is just an eye-sore and a noise polluter, and something I hurry past on every visit.

Crash and burn, Tomorrowland Speedway....curse your vile fumes!


Peter Pans Flight!

The current ride at WDW CONSTANTLY has a MONSTER LINE!

Some might say that means "leave well enough alone. I say that it proves the popularity of the franchise (especially when it comes to Tink.

Gut the lame, 1970s funhouse effects. Make it state-of-the-art. Market it loud and long and they will CRASH THE GATES.

February 14, 2009 at 6:46 AM · Some really valid comments here, so I hope Disney are listening. Good point regarding Peter Pan, it's good, but they could do so much more with the ride and people would queue around the block, (OK they already do, but you know what I mean.). But yes, I voted for Tomorrowland Speedway Cars.
A bit of honesty would be appreciated and it could be renamed 'Yesterdays Speedway Cars'.
February 14, 2009 at 9:02 AM · Of course almost everyone votes for Star Tours as all of the othr rides are great, but Star Tours is still in the 80's version of Star Wars. Still a great ride though!
February 14, 2009 at 8:07 PM · Robert, since we're spending more time in Epcot these days, I'd like them to "update" Journey to Imagination -- and this time, put it back like it was, please! Figment AND the Dreamfinder, with the old music and soundtrack, along with all the visuals.
February 14, 2009 at 11:37 PM · Agreed Larry! I miss the original Figment ride
February 18, 2009 at 5:29 PM · It's gotta be Peter Pan. Tink is one of the most popular Disney characters right now. If the boost the existing attraction, it will have a notable impact on attendance.

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