Monday Top 10: The best family rides in America

August 18, 2014, 11:35 AM · Parents who love theme parks often don't want to wait until their children are tall enough for thrill rides to bring their kids to the parks. That's why some of the most beloved theme park attractions are ones that the entire family can enjoy.

This week, we honor the top-rated rides in the United States that do not have a minimum height requirement for all riders, as rated by Theme Park Insider readers. Please note that, although they don't have a minimum height requirement for all riders, some of these rides might require that children under a certain height be accompanied by a responsible adult — so don't plan just to send the kids alone on these attractions. But why would you? Plenty of grown-ups love riding them, too, even without kids.

As always, we present our weekly Top 10 list on one page, and not in one of those annoying slideshows. As the Mickey Mouse Club theme song says, "Why? Because we like you!"

10. Calico Mine Ride
Knott's Berry Farm

Knott's reopened Bud Hurlbut's classic dark ride earlier this year, following a million-dollar-plus refurbishment by Garner Holt Productions. It's not attracted that many votes from Theme Park Insider readers yet, but we're giving it a spot on the list because, once more fans get the opportunity to experience the new Calico Mine Ride, we're confident it will move even further up this list.

9. Bayside Skyride
SeaWorld San Diego

Bayside Skyride

"Skybuckets" used to be a staple at all theme parks. But, these days, SeaWorld San Diego is the last major park in Southern California to offer this classic ride. Once an additional charge, this aerial tour across Mission Bay is now included with your SeaWorld general admission.

8. Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth

Let's "thank the Phoenicians" for our ability to write easily how much we love this trip through Epcot's iconic geosphere, taking a trip through time to learn about our common history.

7. Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

Kids adore this tour above the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland, as it allows them to see above the crowds that so often block their view in the parks. Grown-ups love the ride, too, for its gentle change of pace. Now, if only Disney could see its way to revive the Disneyland original.

6. Toy Story Midway Mania
Disney California Adventure

Toy Story Midway Mania

What's more fun on this wildly popular video game-inspired dark ride — getting the high score in your car on the ride, or watching your child beat you for the high score for the first time? Repeat riders learn to work together cracking the Easter eggs to boost both of your scores, making this one of the great family-bonding experiences in the parks.

5. Kilimanjaro Safaris
Disney's Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Enjoy the thrill of discovery as you and your family look around to find the many animals awaiting you in this Disney's Animal Kingdom habitat. For extra fun, make a bet with your spouse on how long you'll make it through the ride before the kids will grab the iPhone from your hands to take their own wildlife photos.

4. Studio Tour
Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal's Studio Tour

With nostalgia for the grown-ups and plenty of special effects and humor for everyone, Universal Studios Hollywood's signature Studio Tour appeals to fans across generations. And with an often-changing order and line-up, the tour keeps those fans coming back. Expect this ride to become even more popular next year, as Universal adds a new Fast & Furious 3D experience, as well as a special night-time version of tour.

3. Haunted Mansion
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Haunted Mansion

The Disneyland original just celebrated its 45th birthday, but readers give the edge to the slightly longer Magic Kingdom version. Which makes sense, because fans simply can't just enough of the 999 grim, grinning ghosts.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean

A near-perfect blend of music and stagecraft, the Disneyland original launched a multi-billion-dollar entertainment franchise. With many refurbishments over the years, Pirates has retained its appeal and continues to thrill its original fans, their children, and even, now, grandchildren.

1. Hogwarts Express
Universal Studios Florida

Sure, it only been open for six weeks, but that hasn't stopped the Hogwarts Express from attracting enough votes to steam to the top of this list. Universal's first Harry Potter-themed ride without a height restriction, the Hogwarts Express allows even the youngest Muggles to enjoy the trip between London and Hogsmeade.

What's your favorite family ride that didn't make this top 10 list? Remember, please rate and review the theme parks you've visited to help us build an even more helpful collection of attraction and restaurant ratings.

Replies (27)

August 18, 2014 at 12:47 PM · "It's a Small World"

"The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh"

"Peter Pan's Flight"

"Under the Sea - Journey of The Little Mermaid"

August 18, 2014 at 1:24 PM · I rode the Bayside Skyride for the first time in forever last month and it was great. Beforehand, I was trying to explain the ride to my kids and realized they had nothing to compare it to as the Disneyland skybuckets of my youth closed before they were born! And all of the rides on your list are great!
August 18, 2014 at 1:39 PM · Calico Mine is in this list but Seven Dwarfs Mine is not. Disney is losing in family rides!
August 18, 2014 at 1:51 PM · I'm a little sad that Six Flags over Georgia's Monster (Plantation) Mansion didn't make the list. When I was a wee child, a trip through the then Tales of the Okefenokee Swamp was a highlight of my day. Since Mizzy Scarlett and the gang took up residence new generations have fallen in love with this ride. I'll chalk it up to the fact that all the other rides are found in Califlorida parks.

With that in mind, I'd like to challenge Robert to create another version of this list with only non-Califlorida parks. I think this is a great list, but I'd love to see other parks included.

August 18, 2014 at 2:03 PM · It's a Small World is a very polarizing attraction, and is probably not on the list because there are quite a few people out there that truly HATE it, and will give it a "1" rating.

Pooh is an interesting choice, but I think the subject manner is very much geared towards children, which is fine for what it aims to accomplish, but does not appeal very much to adults.

Peter Pan is a very nice ride, and you would think that the lines for it would imply that it is very popular. Instead, those lines are there because the ride has one of the lowest capacities of all Disney dark rides.

Little Mermaid is an interesting omission, but I would say it's probably hurt from its truncated narrative, much in the same way that Snow White's Scary Adventures has never been super popular. If you're going to tell a story, it's got to be a complete story, and not some setup followed almost immediately by the denouement.

I think it's pretty obvious why Seven Dwarfs Mine Train didn't make the list---It doesn't actually meet the requirement of the list since guests have to be 38" to ride, therefore it's not a "family" ride.

I'm a little surprised Great Movie Ride and Shrek 4-D didn't make the list.

August 18, 2014 at 2:01 PM · @Rob - Half the attractions on the list are from California and the other half are from Florida. 2 of the 5 in California have a clone (Toy Story Mania, or close copy (Pirates) in Florida, while only 1 in Florida has a close copy (Haunted Mansion) in California.
August 18, 2014 at 2:32 PM · @Russell: Is "Small World" polarizing? That's the worse criticism of such a beloved ride. The haters do not have veto power.

I was going by the intro paragraph where the criteria was "That's why some of the most beloved theme park attractions are ones that the entire family can enjoy." And I find it ignores the rides that the entire family can enjoy. For most families where kids should not have a height requirement, the rides that I cited are most suitable.

Yes, Pooh, Peter Pan, and Little Mermaid are well loved (beloved).

That's it for Russell.
As for the remaining list...
I didn't take my kid to go on Haunted Mansion until age 5 due to the scary nature of the ride. Pirate was also slightly scary.

My kid cannot ride Toy Story Mania. Not old enough to use the weapon. This ride is best for kids over seven.

Universal Studios tour is actually very long and difficult ride for kids. A bit too intense in some segments. Exposure in the hot or cold weather makes it uncomfortable. Very boring in other areas. That's why I advise them to shorten it or break it up into two tours.

August 18, 2014 at 5:00 PM · Very good list there full of legendary rides!

Honorable Mention:

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
Living with the Land
The Great Movie Ride

August 19, 2014 at 6:35 AM · Fine list. However, for me, one of the best family ride was the WDW monorail in the pilot cabin. Yes, I know, this is not "technically" a ride as it is a transportation system. Also, it it is no longer possible to do it. However, I can tell you that we made it twice and it's still one of our best souvenir as a family.
August 19, 2014 at 6:53 AM · Olivier,

I believe you still can get the front cabin at Disneyland. Not certain, though, so if any readers can confirm, we'd appreciate it. Thanks.

August 19, 2014 at 8:33 AM · "Is "Small World" polarizing? That's the worse criticism of such a beloved ride. The haters do not have veto power."

That's not a criticism, it's a fact. The list was derived from ratings on this site. There are people out there that truly despite the ride for many of the same reasons that so many people love the ride. I probably fall somewhere in between, as one who recognizes the brilliance and history of the attraction, but can't stand that earworm of a song and over-the-top cuteness. I would probably rate it as a 6 or 7, which is where it is right now, and outside the top 10 of US family rides.

I never said that Pan, Pooh, and Mermaid weren't well loved, it's just that their attractions don't quite measure up for the reasons that I stated. Pan is super low capacity with narrative issues, while Pooh appeals a bit too much to small children, and Mermaid has a hugely flawed/broken narrative, particularly for such a new attraction, and one that could have been corrected in the Florida version that didn't need to fit into an existing space.

Every ride can't be the best, but those 4 are probably some of the best of the rest along with The Great Movie Ride and Shrek 4-D, which I mentioned.

I will leave it to your choice as a parent to decide when your child is old enough for any given ride, but in my opinion, Wishes, Fantasmic!, and Illuminations can be more scary/startling to young kids than The Haunted Mansion. As far as a kid under 7 not being able to use the gun on Toy Story Mania, I actually think the design is brilliant in terms of being accessible to smaller kids. The pop-gun design also avoids upsetting the parents who don't want their kids to play with guns, since there's no trigger like on Buzz Lightyear and other dark ride shooters out there. Sure, smaller kids might not be very effective with the gun, but I've seen many little ones come off that ride grinning from ear to ear even if they don't hit a single target.

August 19, 2014 at 11:20 AM · Your reasons and rationalizations do not describe what constitutes a family ride!!! It is especially obvious when you describe Pooh as being for too young kids. If it isn't obvious, the whole family can ride it with their very young kids.

With your other concerns on narrative and the playing of an ear worm song, they are not the concerns of a ride that the entire family can enjoy.

Stick to the criteria of what is a family ride.

August 19, 2014 at 12:15 PM · So are you arguing that Toy Story Mania and the Haunted Mansion (and perhaps Pirates of the Caribbean) are not "family rides", and should be replaced by Small World, Pan, and Pooh (or Mermaid) on this list?

My notes are to simply explain some possible reasons why those rides did not make the top 10. I'm not doubting that those 4 that you offered are not family rides, just providing a rationale for why they did not rate as highly as the 10 that were listed. Now, if I were to make substitutions, the Bayside Skyride and Peoplemover would get the boot in favor of Shrek 4-D and The Great Movie Ride, or perhaps the 4 attractions you offered. However, I don't think there are many people who would substitute The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, or Toy Story Mania on this list with any of those 4 attractions that you suggested.

I don't dispute the notion that Pooh is a family ride, just that the characters appeal to the younger crowd, and does not excite older kids or some adults the way attractions listed in the top 10 do, which probably explains its omission from the list (the DL version is rated a 6, while the MK version is a 7). Just because everyone can ride something, doesn't mean everyone likes to or that everyone will rate it highly. I really like Roger Rabbit's Toontown Spin, but I can understand why many guests may not (rated a 6). This top 10 list seeks to identify the very best examples of attractions that fit the given category, in this case a "family ride" as rated by readers of the site. Certainly the attractions you have mentioned fit the category, but they just don't rank amongst the top 10 as rated by this site. Not everything can be the best and only 10 attractions can be on the top 10 list. Trying to distort the definition of the category to slip some attractions that don't make the cut onto the list really detracts from the concept of these lists. Perhaps if you wanted to do a list of attractions that appeal to kids under 5, Pooh would make the cut, as would Pan, Mermaid, and probably Dumbo in exchange for attractions on this list that have a much stronger appeal to older kids and adults like the Studio Tour, Hogwarts Express, and Spaceship Earth. Again, the criteria for this list was established as "top-rated rides in the United States that do not have a minimum height requirement for all riders".

If you disagree with what Robert has defined as a "family ride", then just say so, because there's no way you can convince me (or anyone else here, as evidenced by the attraction ratings) that Pooh, Pan, Small World, or Mermaid are better attractions that the entire family CAN ride than many of those in this list.

August 19, 2014 at 1:07 PM · "What's your favorite family ride that didn't make this top 10 list?"

This was the question posed by Robert. I merely answered it. I don't have to refer to the ratings that have absolutely nothing with my opinion.

August 19, 2014 at 2:22 PM · ...and I merely commented on why I wouldn't place those rides in the top 10, and provided 2 examples of my own that I think belong.

The Little Mermaid really irks me, because Disney had a great concept with awesome animatronics, but had to cut a few scenes in the DCA version because they were constrained by space. However, instead of doing it the way they originally wanted with the blank canvas that the New Fantasyland project afforded them, they instead built a clone. There's nothing really wrong with the ride, but it doesn't follow through with a complete story. It's not nearly as bad as Snow White's Scary Adventures, but it's pretty darn close.

August 19, 2014 at 2:47 PM · Disney rides don't have narratives. That you're asking for something that never happens does not make sense. Their rides are a series of scenes. Nothing more. I agree they made a mistake with The Little Mermaid. They attempted to stage a 1.5 hour movie as a 15 minute ride by incorporating important scenes as if they are part of the story. Just forget they tell a story. They are mere disconnected scenes. In fact, to fix the assumption of the narrative, they need to remove more scenes like "Ursula" and "Kiss The Girl" and replace them with more sea-scapes and ambience.

HOWEVER, this doesn't mean the ride doesn't succeed as a family attraction. It is quite enjoyable and kids love The Little Mermaid.

August 20, 2014 at 8:07 AM · Many Disney rides do have narratives including the ones you mention. I agree that many Disney dark rides are a series of scenes from books or movies, but they are told in a staged, chronological order, which makes sense in an over-arching narrative. If you're not going to present the ride in a narrative fashion, then why bother presenting the scenes in a chronological order that builds to a climax, and then ultimately gloss right over the climax to the "happy ending" (like in Snow White and the Little Mermaid)? Why have "Kiss the Girl" after "Under the Sea"? Because that's how it happens in the movie and makes sense in the narrative of the ride. So why completely ignore the climactic scenes in the narrative of the movie after presenting the source of tension (Ursula), going from "Kiss the Girl" to the wedding with just a tiny shadow in the background of Ursula dissolving? If you were to just present scenes from The Little Mermaid, "Under the Sea" would most likely be the ending scene as it's the most well-known and exciting number of the movie, but that's not how it's presented on the ride. At least in Peter Pan, the designers cleverly use the sails to stage the before and after climactic scene on the Jolly Roger, it's the setup of the narrative in Pan that creates the disconnect that probably could be solved if the ride could be moved to a better space with a real queue.

Some attractions can exist without a clear narrative because guests are free to create their own. PotC can be approached from the perspective of an observer viewing the events from afar or from the perspective of the guest as a participant in the piratical happenings. The Haunted Mansion can be viewed from the superficial standpoint of a guest on a tour of the mansion or any other number of points of view as former guests or residents of the mansion. Without these layers of narrative and detail (further developed as backstories of individual characters within the attraction), these classic attractions would not have survived the test of time. After all, Disney has been able to create 4 (soon to be 5) feature length films around the narratives presented in PotC.

If you're going to have a ride that shows scenes from a movie, book, or myth, why bother creating conflict and tension if nothing ever happens? Rides tell stories, whether they're a series of scenes pulled from a source material or if it's an adventure the riders are taken on (like many of the Disney coasters and more thrilling attractions). I don't think the disjointed narrative or other attraction flaws I note cause the rides you mention to not qualify as family attractions, it just keeps them from being the best family attractions.

August 20, 2014 at 9:52 AM · There are no narratives, yet you keep saying there are narratives. The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan has no narrative. Whatever story you think exists was from your memory of the movie. Why not just experience the ride with no knowledge from the movie?

You said the scenes are chronological from the movie so that's why a narrative exists in The Little Mermaid. Not really. You turn my example around and say "Under the Sea" should be the only scene and the ending scene.

"it's the most well-known and exciting number of the movie"

Forget you watched the movie. Focus on the ride.

The title is clear. "Under the Sea - Journey of The Little Mermaid"

There is a bit of a Journey. Let's see what she experienced. A very basic outline.

As for PotC, only a few scenes from the ride made it to the first movie. PotC The Movie has nothing much to the original ride. Instead, the movie has invaded the movie with its own intrusion. Jack Sparrow and Barbossa on the pirate ship. The curse was changed to match the movie. Nothing much there in the scenes.

August 20, 2014 at 10:44 AM · "There is a bit of a Journey. Let's see what she experienced. A very basic outline."

Sounds like a narrative to me...

Let's follow this character as we travel through her world.

We're going under the sea as I see her silhouette above us in the water.

Look at all of her friends playing in her undersea world.

What a cool song, and look at the crazy gravity-defying hair.

Oh look, there's an evil-looking character (Usula with Flopsam and Jetsam) with a cackling voice.

I wonder what she's doing there with those eel-looking things?

"Smile" She finds her true love and he kisses her.

Fireworks, celebration, but what is that shaddowy image that looks like the evil-looking character we saw earlier over there in the background? Hmm, I guess I'll have to ride again to figure out what I missed.

Happy ending..Disembark.

As I ride it again, I see the same things I saw before, perhaps some more of the intricate details, a hidden Mickey or 2, but that octopus-looking thing with her pet eels just doesn't make any sense with the rest of the STORY of a red-haired mermaid playing with her friends and finding her true love.

The more you talk, the more clearly you state that attractions have narratives without actually admitting it. Have you ever listened to an interview with an Imagineer discussing a specific attraction, or for that matter any themed attraction developer talking about their creation? Listen to Thierry Coup talk about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and all of the stories that UC is trying to tell through the intricate details of their themed lands and attractions. Listen to Joe Rohde talk about the stories he's trying to convey through the attractions at DAK. He even went so far as to create a story about the Tree of Life. They always talk about the the STORY behind their rides or the narrative they're trying to relay to the guest. Themed attractions are almost always about telling stories, and if not, they're at least about conveying feelings. Why bother theming the queue if you're not trying to tell a story--Look at what they've done with Big Thunder Mountain at DL...It already had a story, but then they created another story on top of it. Even interviews from Walt himself when promoting Disneyland show him talking about telling guests stories through attractions. Virtually every themed ride has some semblance of narrative/story that guides guests through the attraction. Are there some exceptions or those that maybe aren't as narrative-driven as others, sure, but Little Mermaid sure isn't one of them, and the broken narrative in the attraction is one of the predominant flaws of the ride.

Without a unifying narrative or story, a dark ride is just a concocted assemblage of scenes/dioramas, and would ultimately not connect with guests, which is one of my main criticisms of Little Mermaid---there is not enough narrative to drive the attraction. Rename it "An Undersea Adventure", swap out Ariel with a brown-haired generic looking mermaid, and replace the movie's iconic songs with Musak, and there's very little left to carry the attraction, and it would fall flat. Narrative is an essential trait of any successful attraction, and a theme park devoid of stories is just an amusement park.

August 20, 2014 at 11:17 AM · "Sounds like a narrative to me..."

No, and you agree...

"there is not enough narrative to drive the attraction"

You just described the scenes of the ride without the story. Funny how you didn't make your case. A story is the little mermaid wants to have legs, meet the prince, and get married. All you got is going under sea, "under the sea" song, Ursula, kiss the girl, celebration. Essentially, the highlights.

"The more you talk, the more clearly you state that attractions have narratives without actually admitting it."

Huh? Gibberish.

A backstory does not imply a narrative in the ride. There is plenty of backstory to The Little Mermaid, which is the actual movie, which doesn't exist in the ride.

Thierry Coup is not imagineering. Universal's rides DO have narratives. That's why they are different than Disney's rides.

Joe Rohde on DAK. Whatever. They do what they must, but most guest do not hear the backstory because most times, the backstories are not explained in the park.

"Big Thunder Mountain at DL" did not have a backstory originally. They recently added a new backstory with a portrait that looks very much like Tony Baxtor.

"Narrative is an essential trait of any successful attraction, and a theme park devoid of stories is just an amusement park."

This doesn't follow. Disneyland is not a failure and it is a theme park and it doesn't have narratives in their rides.

August 20, 2014 at 11:57 AM · "you just described the scenes of the ride without the story. Funny how you didn't make your case. A story is the little mermaid wants to have legs, meet the prince, and get married. All you got is going under sea, "under the sea" song, Ursula, kiss the girl, celebration. Essentially, the highlights."

You directly quoted me, and then tried to twist it to support your absurd position. I said the ride didn't have "enough" narrative, which is why the attraction is not as strong as some others (particularly the ones on the list), and one of my primary issues with it. If it were more closely patterned after the movie, as you suggest the "story" should be, it would be a far more appealing and successful attraction.

You completely dismiss my examples simply because they don't fit your argument ("Joe Rohde on DAK. Whatever."--that's a convincing retort, and curiously nothing about Walt's comments about early Disneyland, hmmm). Disney rides have narratives. Why are they so intricately detailed if attraction designers didn't have a story to tell? Why bother spending so much money to immerse guests in an environment if there's nothing to do once you get there? Whether the narratives are directly told (through song, words on the wall (like Pinocchio or Mr. Toad), through scenes, or through narration), inferred through character movement and special effects, or just imagined by guests through the inspiration from the attractions themselves (the backstories some guests have come up with for some attractions are quite hilarious), it's all about conveying or inspiring a story to the guest.

Even older attractions are being improved to more succinctly convey a narrative...I provided the earlier example of BTMRR, but the revamp of Dumbo at WDW that more completely conveys the story through the Big Top pre-show and playground is another example. Without the new Big Top (like at DL), it was just another spinning flat ride (with hundreds of clones around the world). Robert's review and criticism of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train discusses the attempt to create a narrative around the Snow White Story that is incomplete with insufficient nods at the end to the hag.

If Disney rides don't have narrative as you suggest, what about Tower of Terror, which has such an intricate backstory that people have practically written dissertations about it? Or how about Mission: Space that has such a clear narrative that guests are told to press buttons on a console to progress the story? Or what about Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye that has three different narratives randomly selected? What about the Carousel of Progress, developed by Walt himself, that clearly tells the story of human technological advancement? No narratives in Disney attractions? You want some more???

Maybe you just let these stories and narratives pass you by as you mindlessly sit in your seat looking at the pretty colors. If that's how you roll, I guess there's nothing wrong with that, but don't try to convince anyone that theme park attractions are not trying to tell stories just because you are too blind to see them.

August 20, 2014 at 12:16 PM · "ride didn't have "enough" narrative"

So a half-baked narrative proves there is a narrative, just not enough.

"Seven Dwarfs Mine Train" also has a narrative that is half-baked.

It seems like people imagined there is a narrative when the FACTS are there isn't any.

Again, Disney rides are a series of scenes/experiences. There is no narrative. Backstories are not narratives.

"how about Mission: Space that has such a clear narrative that guests are told to press buttons on a console to progress the story?"

It's just a launch and return sequence. That's a story?

You still haven't described a story. You gave examples where there is no story.

August 20, 2014 at 1:31 PM · Must be nice to cherry pick and distort instead of admitting that you're off-base...

The queue of Mission: Space lays out the backstory that you're an astronaut selected for a mission to Mars. You're given roles and responsibilities during your pre-show briefing, and the story of your trip, albeit brief, unfolds in front of you as you are subjected to simulated conditions of launch, zero-gravity, and re-entry. You and your co-riders are the protagonists of the story as your rocket encounters a problem, and you have to make an emergency landing. The basic elements of narrative and virtually every story ever told are all there...

1. Introduction/exposition
2. Conflict
3. Climax
4. Resolution/Denoument

Where do you not see the narrative? Sure it's brief, and not as intricate as a feature length movie or novel, but there's only so much you can pack into a 5-minute ride sequence. Perhaps you blacked out due to the intense forces. Maybe you'd actually get the story if you rode the "non-spinning" version.

I haven't personally ridden 7DMT yet, so I will refrain from commenting beyond what Robert and other reviewers have written about the attraction. However, from POVs of the ride, the many criticisms seem accurate that there is a narrative, but it is incomplete.

I will concede that Soarin' is one of the few Disney dark rides that is rather devoid of narrative, and it's overwhelming popularity still confounds me.

However, if you just see Disney rides as a series of scenes with no story or narrative connecting them, I feel sorry for you, because you're missing out on what makes them more than simple, gentle dark rides. After all, why do you think they're so popular? Do you think people ride them over and over again because they're thrilling? Of course not, they ride them over and over because they like the stories that are being told and want to experience them again, or explore them again with greater detail. You seem to be disconnected from what makes some Disney rides better than others (complete, cohesive, immersive narrative and backstory). Without a rich narrative and relatable characters, many Disney rides would just be moving chairs through rooms of pneumatic mannequins.

August 20, 2014 at 3:53 PM · Disney attractions are spectacular without further explanation or exposition. I had plenty of online debates with others about this topic in which I was arguing the other point of view. There is nothing wrong with believing in a storyline. That's the main point of imagination and inspiration that Disney engenders. People can fill in the blanks themselves. The short rides don't allow much opportunity to explain a story. It would stop the flow of the ride.

It was pretty clear to me that the Haunted Mansion did have a narrative. The Ghost Host was the narrative, but it's a unique ride that has a narrative without a storyline. In the stretch room, he says "find a way out, or do it my way with (SCREAMING)". There's a possible backstory on bride in the attic yet the narrator doesn't say a thing about it. Finally, an aberation wants to add an additional guest to the 999 happy ghosts. Which one is the story? It's a series of disjointed one-offs, but you can still enjoy it since the details of the ride are immersive and the music is very addicting. I would argue the artistry wins out despite the weakness or lack of storyline.

Okay, let deconstruct Indiana Jones Adventure. There's the temple. You find the instructional film. Don't look into the eyes of Mara. Then all sorts of things happen. Snakes, insects, skeletons, arrows, rolling ball. What's the story? I conclude it is "things happen."

Splash Mountain: A Bear, A Fox, A Rabbit. Go up, Go down. Beware. Laughing Place. Splash. Celebrate.

Big Thunder Mountain: There's gold. Goat trick, chain link pull-up to top of mountain. Go up, go down. Earthquake. Return to station.

World of Color.

"World of Color doesn't tell a linear story. It's more a hodgepodge of classic scenes loosely grouped around broad themes such as love (the WALL-E scene is a gem), friendship, and danger--and all showcasing a luminous palette of colors."

This is the typical Disney attraction.

August 20, 2014 at 4:05 PM · The Calico Mines ride must have gotten one hell of an update because I've been to every theme park in California and WWoHP, and it's still the worst ride I had ever been on when I went in 2010.
August 20, 2014 at 10:12 PM · Yep, it did.
August 25, 2014 at 8:42 AM · We love the People Mover, with three boys under 10 sometimes it was great to just be able to sit back and enjoy. When the older boys went off with my husband my youngest and I would just continue on the people mover because at least he felt we were on a ride.

This might be an odd one but we loved Journey into Imagination with Figment.
Living with the Land is also another great choice.

*sigh* Sitting at work daydreaming about going back one day.

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