Which Disney World ride should get the boot... and why?

July 10, 2019, 6:32 PM · Okay, so if people are so gung-ho to imagine Walt Disney World closing one of its theme park attractions, let's play along. If you had to shut down one Disney World ride or show, which one would it be?

I am not trying to start a rumor here, but I think this question could spark an informative discussion on how parks (should) make decisions about when it is time to retire or replace attractions. But let's ground this discussion with a specific (and entirely made-up) proposal. We already know that Disney is in the process of removing Innoventions at Epcot, and that history shows us that the resort closes and replaces an attraction every few years. So I submit that the next ride or show that Disney should close in Florida is... Tomorrowland Speedway.

Many of us thought the Speedway was a goner when we first heard word that Disney was considering cloning Shanghai Disneyland's hit Tron Lightcycle Power Run in the Magic Kingdom. Building the new Tron coaster atop the Speedway's expansive footprint seemed an obvious decision for efficient use of space within the park. But Disney chose to keep the Speedway and build the Tron coaster behind it, instead.

I'd actually like to defend that choice.

You can't judge the value of a theme park attraction without considering its target audience. As a thrill ride, the Tron coaster appeals to an older audience than the little kids who often end up behind the wheel at the Speedway. Replacing the Speedway for the Tron, therefore, would not provide a straight exchange that better serves a common demographic but would instead slightly shift the overall point of audience focus for the park.

Maybe Disney would like to do that. But I am happy that it did not. Great theme parks are not a collection of attractions that each appeal to everyone, because that's impossible. Instead, they offer attractions that each appeal to a segment of the population so that the whole collection ends up offering plenty for everyone to enjoy.

While Walt Disney World enjoys a popular reputation as a family-oriented destination focused on children's entertainment, I would argue that Disney actually needs to strengthen its attractions aimed at elementary-aged kids. It's not enough to offer IP with a wide range of appeal. The experiences behind that IP must connect with their target audiences, as well.

Children between their toddler and teenage years crave aspirational experiences. And the two things to which young, small kids most aspire are height and control. That's why children love rides like Dumbo and bounce towers. They allow young visitors to see up above their parents' legs and around the rest of the world that they miss being stuck down in the crowd.

The Speedway runs on the ground, but it delivers at least a taste of control, allowing children to pretend that they are an adult, steering and driving a car. But Disney's driving rides — Tomorrowland Speedway and Disneyland's Autopia — have fallen too far behind the competition to retain their valuable space in Disney's market-leading parks.

For many children who have ridden both, Legoland's Driving School annihilates Disney's driving rides as an attraction. At Legoland, you have full control of your vehicle. There's no center rail confining your path. You may turn, pass other cars and navigate as you wish. But it's not a free-for-all (or, at least, it should not be). Legoland instructs its young drivers to follow the rules of the road (this is called Driving "School" after all), which only serves to enhance the credibility of this as an aspirational, "grown up" experience.

So Tomorrowland Speedway fails not because it is misguided, ill-targeted or a poor concept. It fails because it no longer represents a passable execution of its concept. And that's before we consider the argument that fossil fuel-burning vehicles do not appear to be any part of an idealistic Tomorrow, as these lands once were themed to portray.

Still, Disney needs rides that allow kids to feel like they have control of something that only adults get to control in real life outside the park. Tomorrowland's PeopleMover provides on of the best examples of a family-friendly "up in the air" ride, so it well covers the aspiration for height. That leaves something to replace the Speedway that gives Disney's young fans their desired sense of control.

But as much as we might wish that it still did, the Tomorrowland Speedway no longer provides that in a compelling and market-leading way. So it's time for it to go.

Which Walt Disney World attraction would you target for removal, and why?

Replies (32)

July 10, 2019 at 9:55 PM

Stitch's Great Escape.

Personally, still annoyed at how they took out the actually great Alien Encounter for it but it's long past lived out its welcome.

July 11, 2019 at 9:45 AM

I realize that this might be walking the thin edge of blasphemy for some, but my choice for an attraction to remove would be the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. I get it, Classic Attraction and all that. Its like a walkable 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in terms of it's dated IP, and Leagues disappeared (at least from WDW)
many moons ago. I love the aesthetic and craftsmanship of this crowd-eating stairmaster, but when you see how much mileage Disneyland has gotten out of so little space with their Adventureland, the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse seems like its straight up robbing the place of valuable acreage. Last point- I get that Adventureland may or may not sit on delicate infrastructural crossroads concerning their Utilador (sic?) and backstage operations, but I don't care :) They can gut and replace if they so choose.

July 11, 2019 at 3:02 AM

The jungle cruise should be axed. Don't get me it's a classic ride, it's old and tired and with the safari at AK it has no reason to exists or you really need a bad script recited to you by a poor team member on your vacation. There are also 3 slow boat rides in the park with the somewhat better Pirates next door.
The thing is the ride takes up the space of at least 2 pirates rides and than some. This space could be used much better and expand the offerings in an already crowded park.

July 11, 2019 at 4:26 AM

The raft of Peter Pan, Space Mountain, Winnie the Pooh, Pirates Caribbean need to be replaced and upgraded to their Asian versions.

July 11, 2019 at 7:42 AM

Indiana Jones.

July 11, 2019 at 8:32 AM

Fantasmic! at DHS. The arena takes up a HUGE swath of space in what is the smallest park at WDW. While Galaxy's Edge, MMRR, and TSL add attractions to what was barely a half-day park just a couple years ago, the wasted space of a show arena that is at most used for 3-4 hours per day and creates huge mobs of people on the north side of the park at the start and end of performances, could be way better utilized. Yes, the show is great, and continues to be popular, but with the projection show on the Chinese Theater and the potential for evening entertainment that Galaxy's Edge brings, Fantasmic! could easily be scrapped to take better advantage of this prime real estate.

July 11, 2019 at 9:47 AM

Definitely agree with getting rid of Tomorrowland Speedway. If they don't get rid of, we'd love to see them at least give it a significant upgrade to at least fit the theme of Tomorrowland. There's nothing futuristic and modern about those stinky cars belching out gas fumes.

Maybe upgrade them to Electric Cars, with a self driving option? Kids can still drive, or they can just kick them into self-drive mode and let the car do the work. I know that's expensive, but it's just a dream.

July 11, 2019 at 10:23 AM

It's Tough To Be a Bug

Yes, it's a classic. But no one even goes in that ride anymore, it's always a 5 minute wait. And last time I went there, it didn't hold uo to what I remembered.

There are many, infinite possibilities for what could replace the show inside the Tree of Life.

July 11, 2019 at 10:24 AM

Also, if I'm allowed to talk about a non-Disney park...

Everyone agrees Fast and Furious Supercharged at Universal has gotta go, right?

July 11, 2019 at 10:29 AM

My suggestion is not to eliminate an attraction, but to donate and move it to a place that may give it a new life and purpose.
I'd like to see The Carousel of Progress lovingly packed up and moved to The Smithsonian's American History Museum in Washington DC.
I am afraid, it no longer really feels at home in Tomorowland.
If it was something being added NEW for 2020, I think it would be better suited for Main Street USA, not Tomorrowland.
I fear the COP just does not conform to the "Must have IP" marching orders these days. Can you imagine them trying to crowbar one of their characters here? Imagine if they replace the current cast with 'The Simpsons'?
This fear is why I would rather see America's longest running stage show lifted out of WDW and given a place of honor at The American History museum.

July 11, 2019 at 10:58 AM

I second the jungle cruise. Today's audience is much more jaded and aren't into the lame jokes (Could that be why reservations are always available at the Skipper's Canteen?). Also today's audience is more traveled and worldly and most have seen real animals up close. Move it to Animal Kingdom and use some real animals (but don't tell the insurance underwriters ;-) ).

I would like better signage and promotion for Carousel of Progress and Country Bear Jamboree. I can't tell you the number of visitors who have told me they had no idea those attractions were there.

July 11, 2019 at 11:03 AM

I would remove Journey to Imagination. When they changed it from its original form it was never the same experience.

July 11, 2019 at 11:04 AM

Sorry Robert- this suggestion might sting, but I’ll also explain why it shouldn’t happen- the Rivers or America and Tom Sawyer Island take up tons of space and many people come and go without ever visiting them. However, even with minimal traffic, I believe it should ALWAYS stay, especially since they are as iconic as Main Street in many regards. So, from an iconic perspective, it must stay. The Speedway, however, is far from iconic and versions of it exist even in the basest of amusement parks. Tear it out and make something else!

July 11, 2019 at 11:25 AM

Forget about closing a ride ...... how about Rise of the Resistance opening at DHS on Dec 5th and at DL on Jan 17th.

Oh, and Hagrid's has been opening at IOA this week from 9am

Good times in Orlando

July 11, 2019 at 11:34 AM

@Mike W, Stitch's Great Escape is already closed for good. There are photos of the deconstructed animatronics online.

I also agree that the Speedway needs to go. If Disney is so insistent on giving kids a driving experience, then build a go-kart track because what's currently there just doesn't work.

July 11, 2019 at 12:44 PM

James: Ah, I must have missed that. Thank goodness.

Okay, then, I'll go for Primeval Whirl, just seems a bit too "country fair" for that section.

July 11, 2019 at 12:45 PM

For those talking about the Jungle Cruise, the fact Disney has a live-action movie of it coming next year means not only is it not going to close, it'll probably get some new upgrade.

July 11, 2019 at 12:56 PM

First, I can't believe I made it all the way to MikeW's comment before somebody mentioned the Dino Rama rides. Primeval Whirl seems like an easy choice for removal. Would anybody miss it?

Second, I'm glad some of yall aren't in charge of these decisions...especially those suggesting Jungle Cruise be removed.

July 11, 2019 at 1:17 PM

Adventureland needs love as much as Tomorrowland.

This is going to be sacrilege however, I would shutter the current Pirates at WDW and use the real estate to redesign the ride building (while keeping the queue and exterior) and put Shanghai's version of Pirates in. The footprint is undoubtedly larger, however, what better way to extend the park perimeter than through an existing ride?

I would significantly upgrade the animatronics on Jungle Cruise and add some density to the Jungle and perhaps add a little more suspense and perhaps some night time only surprises.

As for Tomorrowland, I am for keeping the speedway (just not in it's present form) Make it more video game-like with electronic vehicles or fold it into a "World of Tron" with immense interior attractions not subject to "rain delays".

July 11, 2019 at 1:47 PM

On Pirates, a key issue is that the water table in Florida is much lower than Shanghai so they really can't do as much with construction (which is why their version of Pirates is different than Disneyland). They'd need to not only basically tear out the entire ride, building and lower levels but rebuild almost from scratch to match Shanghi's version.

I do agree on how they'll probably enhance Jungle Cruise and agree that if not taken out, some sort of upgrade or overlay to the Speedway would be good.

July 11, 2019 at 3:46 PM

As much as I wouldn't mind seeing Dino-Rama go away, Animal Kingdom still needs to add rides and not replace them. Especially since Flight of Passage is still carrying long waits two years later.

July 11, 2019 at 4:03 PM

i've got one for each park: 1) MK, this park definitely has too many flying dumbo type rides but my vote is for the keel boats and tom sawyer island. why does anyone even bother going over there? it's such a waste of time and space. 2) Epcot, Imagination is super tired and dull. 3) Hollywood Studios, indiana jones. 4) AK, okay maybe no removal at this park but fix the damn yeti already!!

July 11, 2019 at 4:07 PM

MikeW.. totally agree. Even though I had been told the ground for the attraction is currently elevated, I assumed the ride building itself would have to go and be supplanted by a larger building with slightly higher elevation. I still would love to see it instead of the current version (do you agree?) Also, their is that matter of the railroad going between the two buildings. (But they've been their before with Tom Sawyer Island at DLR)

As for JC, besides state of the art animatronics thy're would have to be some surprise scares from the animals (Like crocks or the hippos) and maybe a dark or black out seen re-imagined in an intense encounter with an asian tiger (inside the temple).

Yes, before everyone jumps on me, I have though about the kids. They daytime version would have to be a little more tame.

For night time throw in a scare from some animatronic natives on the attack popping up out of the water (with blow darts) (And a good fake darting hammed up by the skipper) and a few more "night time" blackouts on the river and you got a pretty good ride. Maybe multiple scenarios in different parts of the ride so it's not the same experience every time.

Or throw in a great "Single rider" fake cast member for the darting or a skipper in training.

July 11, 2019 at 4:28 PM

>>fattyackin
The think with SRFTH though is that it basically costs nothing to run, and basically has no downtime. That's probably enough reason there for the account department not to consider it.

>>Rob McCullough
Remove the one attraction that probably has Walts actual fingerprints and DNA in it? Over my dead body. That said, I like the move it to main street idea.

If Innoventions is still a thing at EPCOT, it shouldn't be. The sooner something worthwhile is found to put in that space, the better.

July 11, 2019 at 5:19 PM

Chad H - I agree. It is a classic and needs to be preserved, not let to rot or to have some horrible IP poured on top of it. I'm suggesting saving it FROM Disney by moving it to the Smithsonian.

July 11, 2019 at 6:04 PM

Chad H - Very fair point about the Swiss Treehouse. Also in my haste I read this topic as being which attraction would you remove from the Magic Kingdom, and not the whole of WDW. So with that, I will amend my answer to Journey into Imagination at Epcot. I truly loved and miss the original iteration of this ride. But as for the current version, I'd be totally fine if it was given a Inside Out retheming and/or re-tracking. Hell, they could even synergize and say that the emotions in the attraction are those of The Dreamfinder, our host.

July 12, 2019 at 12:18 PM

I... I can't handle this blasphemy! I believe folks voting for the Jungle Cruise's removal simply don't understand the point of the ride. The point isn't the visuals or even the boat itself, but the skipper her over-the-top dad-style jokes. It is, at its core, a comedy show, and the unique spin each skipper puts on the voyage keeps the experience fresh.

I agree with ProfPlum on retiring the Indiana Jones stunt show, which was pretty darn disappointing after years of anticipation prior to my first visit to Orlando.

July 12, 2019 at 12:25 PM

As much as I love the stunt show, I agree that it's aged poorly and since teh Studios stopped being a "real" studio long ago, using the space for a new attraction would be better.

July 12, 2019 at 5:28 PM

A lot of shows at DHS but Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, and Frozen Sing-Along toooooo much in one park. Indiana Jones Balances that out a little bit. If I put one on the chop block it would be Beauty and the Beast. I don't car how many fans are running, when it's hot that tin cover is unbearable. While I know Indian Jones is the same type of conditions it still feels cooler in their. I Believe they plan on shortening that show if I recall.

July 12, 2019 at 5:32 PM

Hey Hey... Clayton.. I said make some upgrades and give it some love. Change the story around and refresh the shtick.

July 13, 2019 at 7:56 PM

Disney Jungle Cruise should be taken out and the space used and combined with current pirates to make pirates of the Caribbean like the one at Shanghai Disneyland but while keeping same storyline...

July 16, 2019 at 6:31 AM

Keep the speedway and make the cars electric. There are far worse attractions that need to be replaced first.

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