Here are five examples of Disney attractions that no doubt gave (or continue to give) Imagineers headaches.
Cloaked in secrecy and developed in tandem with NASA, Mission: Space was poised to change the way we experience theme park attractions. It all sounded awesome on paper. Give our guests an experience similar to what an actual astronaut might go through on a trip through space (or at least training camp). When Disney was finally ready to open the doors on its second big-time thrill ride in Epoct (following Test Track), anticipation (as well as expectations) were out of this world.
So did Disney do it? Well that depends on you…
No doubt it’s a killer ride. It’s unlike anything else out there and the experience is completely immersive... but then the barf bags came. Guest complained that the attraction was simply too intense. Additionally, guests were experiencing motion sickness (which can happen when taking your eyes off the screen in-front of you even for a split second) significantly decreasing the number of guests willing to give it a shot.
Did that fix work? Well, I guess. Unfortunately Mission Space fails to attract the crowd levels of next door neighbor Test Track or across the park Soarin’. Add to that intermittent issues with the main set piece of an otherwise unremarkable queue keeps it from making the ‘best of’ Disney lists and did not spawn any clones other Disney parks.
Of all attractions on this list, we had to wait the longest for Test Track. The first attraction to bring real thrills to Epcot sure lived up to its name. Taunting guests for the better part of two years in ‘test’ mode, the technological intricacies of the attraction were giving Imagineers collective ulcers. When it was finally ready to go, the issues got worse. Significant levels of down time, coupled with a less than adequate riders per hour rate, were testing the patience of guests and cast members alike.
Let be honest though, when it worked, man did it work. A one-of-a-kind ride on a ride system that was a first for the industry and thrills not normally associated with Disney Parks gave guests new reasons to explore Epcot.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well all that often for all that long. Technical glitches continue to plague the ride. And in 2012, a reskin and new theme were added, updating the original theme that felt dated way before Disney probably anticipated.
The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
I’ll be honest... I’m still heartbroken over the demise of Alien Encounter. I’m that guy that still watches grainy, pitch-black You Tube videos of the attraction holding on to a sliver of hope that Disney may bring it back. I loved it.
Then CEO Michael Eisner was convinced that Disney could be more than just fairy tales and pixie dust. The story goes that Eisner was talking to his then teen son about Disney. The bottom line: Disney is cool, but where are the thrill rides? So Eisner decided to pump up the volume and interject more thrills into Disney Parks. Tower of Terror, Test Track, Dinosaur, all results of Eisner’s direction to ramp up the thrills in Disney Parks. Also on the list? The ill-fated Alien Encounter.
I won’t go into a dissertation on the ride’s history or person’s involved (even though I could), but let’s just say, the Alien Encounter that opened on Day 1, was not what was originally planned. That being said, I found it to be thrilling, scary, fun, exciting and technologically amazing. Immersive 4D effects never before seen made their debut at Tomorrowland’s Interplanetary Convention Center.
Unfortunately, not everyone shared my same sentiment. Many felt that the complicated story line, bevy of preshows and multiple characters were confusing. Some also felt that the attraction shifted wildly in tone from funny to terrifying to downright gross.
But ultimately, it was crying children who shut down The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. Despite many explicit warnings on the extremeness of the attraction and height restrictions, oblivious parents dragged terrified kids into an attraction that was scary even for some adults. Ask Disney and they’ll say that the attraction was retired due to it not fitting in with the optimistic theme of Tomorrowland and the whimsical nature of the Magic Kingdom. Insiders however, know that a steady stream of verbal, written and in-person complaints to Disney Guest Relations over the years finally closed down Alien Encounter. RIP
Luigi's Flying Tires
A recent addition to the Disney chopping block, is the confusing and boring tale of Luigi’s Flying Tires. Once again, on paper this looked like fun. Giant tires floating on what was essentially a super-sized air-hockey table, zoom around and bump into one another.
Unfortunately, poor flying tires was doomed from the start. First off, the tires did not zoom, in-fact, they barely moved. Add to that, load/unload time was painfully long. Finally, most guests found the tire controls to be extremely confusing, and only toward the end of (what was) a very short ride were they just getting the hang of it.
Disney’s fix? Add some big beach balls, that will amp up the fun! It didn’t. Luigi’s Flying Tires was retired last year to make way for a more traditional flat ride for the kiddies.
Kali River Rapids
While the other attractions on this list look good on paper, I’m still baffled by this one. Nothing is more of a buzzkill on what should have been a rollicking white water rapids ride then a message about deforestation. But hey, at least there is something to think about when you spend half the ride slowly careening through calm and tranquil waters... yep, those ‘rapids’, they aren’t there.
Worst of all, even the small amount of ride effects like fog, mist and fire/smoke broke almost instantly and even today only work on B-mode (or even C). While Disney did better on their next try (the vastly improved Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure), this stinker of an attraction lives on at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.Tweet
Test Track - I've never experienced an issue with breakdowns on Test Track. It is a fine attraction.
Alien Encounter - I never got to experience it, but it had to be better than what's in that location now.
Luigi's Flying Tires - A total "swing and a miss." When we visited DCA we actually rode this attraction a second time just to make sure it was as lame as we thought it was the first time.
Kali River Rapids - Simply too short. It would be a fine ride if it was extended. It is especially lame when compared to Grizzly River Rapids at DCA.
I'll third Everest's Yeti - It is the main narrative element on a highly narrative ride, the exclamation point to the story, and it only worked for about two years (thankfully I was able to experience the yeti in all his glory) then the platform upon which it is built broke. Epic fail.
Thanks for the mention of Rocket Rods! I actually rode it on my honeymoon and it stopped EVERYTIME! We had more "return later" tickets thank I care to count. The ride itself was actually pretty fun (could have used some story added) but it was a pretty good ride.
The new Test Track is a disappointment to me. Although the article said it was dated before it opened, I found the story line to be something I cared about rather than this disconnected story it presents. Do I still ride it? Yes!
Kali I only ride if it is blistering hot. Other than that, it holds no interest to me as I don't come to Disney to be chastised about deforestation.
Mission:Space? Bleh...I get sick too easily. There is something missing there... Alien Encounter? I hated that "non-Disney" experience. My husband freaked out- the first time he rode it and the shoulder harnesses came down he looks at me, panicked and asked if it was a ride! As he gets sick on roller coasters, this made him very nervous. Luckily it wasn't and he enjoyed it!
BTW..I had always thought that the beach balls came with the opening of Luigi's. That ride was way too short for the length of the line and too long to learn how to ride it!
I think this list is pretty accurate!
If this list were expanded, I would definitely nominate Rocket Rods and at least 50% of DCA 1.0's attractions for consideration.
Even my wife, who loves scary movies as well as extreme rides, thought there was something a bit "off" with it.
Meanwhile, loved the concept for the Flying Tires, and always felt if Disney could just tune it to make them move a little faster and steer a bit easier that it would be a great, and very different ride. Sorry to see it go...
Now, here are some attractions I also think should be deemed failures:
Rocket Rods-the result of what happens when you try to make a thrill ride using a track that was built for a gentle, family-friendly ride.
Tarzan's Treehouse-I completely understand if Disney wants to change the Swiss Family Robinson IP with Tarzan, but what's the point if it's the same attraction but with statues of Tarzan characters? Don't you think it would be more effective to put in AAs instead?
Superstar Limo-Need I say why?
All of Bug's Land-In DCA, you will find two lands: Cars Land, which teaches you how to properly do a Pixar-themed land, and Bug's Land, which teaches you how not to do a Pixar-themed land.
The Magic Carpets Of Aladdin-There is no excuse why MK, one of the most well-themed parks out there, ahold have three spinners. I can excuse Dumbo for being an all-time classic and being a lot better thanks to the recent update; and I can excuse Astro Orbiter for giving great views of the park; but Magic Carpets? No excuse.
Stitch's Great Escape-Now, I'm in the minority of people who like this show. I think it's one of MK's best and it boils my blood when people trash-talk this ride but praise the horrendous Country Bears Jamboree. Nevertheless, whether you like or hate Stitch, there is no denying that it failed at what it tried to do; which was to reduce the amount of crying kids that Alien Encounter created (speaking of which, I'm kinda surprised to actually see Alien Encounter being criticized for once!)
The 2nd and 3rd incarnations of Journey Into Imagination-Who honestly thought it was a good idea to take a fan-favorite ride and turn into a worthless disgrace to the EPCOT name? IDK, but if Disney's got a grain of logic, he/she probably doesn't work for them anymore.
Toy Story Playland-So, your mission: save the two weak links in the Disney theme park chain. What do you do? Do you, A, bring over some extremely popular rides from other Disney parks; B, create an all-new, very innovative and very fun E-ticket ride; C,refurbrish or renovate a prexisting ride or land to completely fresh and up-to-date; or D, create a small land with three flat rides with beloved Pixar characters slapped onto them? Did you choose D? Congratulations! You're correct! (Facepalm)
Why is this ride here?
Hey! Them's fightin' words! Backlot Tours was one of my favorite rides in the resort! It, along with Great Movie Ride, Indiana Jones Stunt Show, and Lights Motors Action all had a big hand in turning me into the movie geek I am today. Only reason I allowed Disney to close it is because Star Wars!
It's one time the Imagineers basically openly apologized for messing it up and the new version even points that out with Figment saying you can't treat imagination like a science. Still, remember the classic version and the newer one just so lacking.
And it was a WONDERFUL effect plus it was the narrative resolution of the entire ride, beginning with your entry into the queue and ending with a face to face encounter with the star of the story. Without that narrative resolution the ride is massively diminished. Especially to those who were lucky enough to ride the attraction when it actually worked.
So if Disney is only appealing to the thrill demographic, can you please explain the existence of the Little Mermaid ride at MK, which was built only 3 years ago? Personally, I can't comprehend why anyone would say that about Disney. They have very few thrill rides, and the only ones that are probably too extreme for little kids or anyone who is "young and fit" are Test Track, Mission:Space Orange, Tower of Terror, Rock'n Rollercoaster and Dinosaur.And all of those were built a decade ago. Seriously, go to a Universal, Busch Gardens, Six Flags or Cedar Fair park and you will see how tame Disney really is. And lastly, I go to WDW more often than I wanna admit and on every visit I see many different people from many different demographics having the times of their lives. We took our grandpa to WDW about a year ago. He couldn't go on any thrill rides whatsoever and it was still the most fun he's had in years. So, I'm sorry to burst your Bubble of Negativity, but Walt's dream is still very prominent in WDW.
I actually like the thrilling rides, but I also understand why some family members can't take the thrills. There are plenty of rides to cover the entire family.
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