Monday, June 30, 2008

My 10 Favorite WDW Attractions

I love lists! I like making them, and I like reading them. I want to do more lists on this blog and I encourage you to post your own list, either in my comments section or on your own blog. Here's a list I've been wanting to do since my last trip to Walt Disney World. After much soul searching I present my new list of the top attractions at the Walt Disney World resort that I love the most.

#10 - The Enchanted Tiki Room - Under New Management Yes, I wish the new management would sell it back to the original owners. The WDW refurb of this Disneyland classic is not even half as charming as the original. However, I loved the old show so much that even screaming Iago and his rap music can't make me stop loving this birdbrained show. I love how the show is literally all around you and there is nothing standing between you and putting your fingers in a Tiki guys mouth.

#9 - Splash Mountain - To me, the 52-foot drop isn't the coolest part of the ride. I love the way the boat meanders around the exterior of the mountain, taking it's sweet time before you get inside the mountain. Once inside, the ride still takes it's time floating through scene after scene of audio-animatronics. It really sucks you into the story. And I really like the way the set pieces are bright and colorful and cartoony - such a contrast from some of the other AA based epic attractions in the Magic Kingdom.

#8 - Pirates of the Caribbean - I remember riding this when I was little and just totally feeling like you were in another world. I mean, before you even got to the ride the queue just completely separated you from the theme park outside. And I really thought we were outside once we started sailing in our boat. Nowadays, I appreciate the grandness of the set pieces and how everything is all around you. Unlike Haunted Mansion, where your line of sight is controlled, there's all kinds of stuff to look at all over the place in this masterpiece. I think the new characters added to the ride recently bring a little something extra for younger generations to connect with, without taking away from the ride as a whole. This is one of my sons favorite attractions too and they just love spotting Jack Sparrow along the way.

#7 - Living With the Land - I gotta admit, I never really thought much of this ride until recent years. I'm all about simplicity and this ride couldn't be more simple. Plus, it's one of the last remaining attractions that hasn't changed much at all since Epcot opened 25 years ago. When I was younger, this ride couldn't have been more boring. When I ride it now I'm amazed at how fascinating growing plants can be. You can't go wrong with Mickey shaped pumpkins. Not to mention, you've got the tunnel with the live animals in it at the end to look forward to.

#6 - Space Mountain - Just simply one of the best thrill rides built anywhere!

#5 - Muppet Vision 4-D - I've been a huge Muppets fan all my life. In fact, in my younger days I was probably more into Muppets than Disney! Naturally I was excited when they announced this attraction. Even after all these years, and having seen this film dozens of times, it's still funny! It's very funny!

#4 - Test Track - Here's where I'll geek-out on ya and tell you the reasons I love this ride. I love the pre-show and how they tried to make it look like it's live. I love any ride where the vehicles start and stop or change speeds during the show. I love going up the curvy mountain road in the beginning. I love the way you twist and turn and make your way through that massive building. I love how that truck off to the side gets me every single time!

#3 - Gran Fiesta Tour - This one is a little hard for me because El Rio del Tiempo was my absolute most favorite ride in all of WDW for many, many years. I loved it's simplicity and mild incoherence. It also featured my favorite gag in any Disney ride - the film of the merchants as they followed your boat while you floated by three windows. While Gran Fiesta Tour carries over many similar elements from the previous attraction it just isn't the same for this El Rio fan. I like the addition of the characters and now the ride has a story and it's funny. But I'll always miss the random clips of people cliff diving and having drinks in a hot tub.

#2 - Mickey's PhilharMagic - This is just one of the coolest things in the world! Swimming with Ariel, flying with Peter Pan & Aladdin, and I love the kaleidoscope effect during the Lion King number. The effects are awesome and the whole thing is simply jaw dropping every time! This is now home to my NEW favorite gag in all of WDW. When Donald Duck gets shot out of the movie screen and crashes through the wall in the back of the theatre, his little feet hanging out of the wall brings a huge smile to my face every visit!!

#1 - Tomorrowland Transit Authority - I was disappointed when they replaced the more serious narration with the silly space-themed voice over but this is still a cool ride. I love the way the trains quietly glide alone the track, slowing down and speeding up and zipping through all the different attractions in Tomorrowland. Alot of rides end at a gift shop, but TTA takes you through a gift shop - how cool is that? Plus you've got the EPCOT model and that alien chick getting her hair done...what's not to love!? With the demotion of the Mexico ride, TTA (or WEDway Peoplemover as I still call it) is my new #1 favorite ride in Walt Disney World!


FoxxFur said...

For sanity's sake, I'll limit this to attractions currently in operation.

10 - EPCOT Club Cool - I don't consider this an attraction, but a store, but Disney disagrees and I've got the EPCOT guide map to prove it. Remarkably, this is the only attraction I do every time I come to EPCOT. One balmy October 1st following the EPCOT Re-Dedication it felt just like home, the first day of Food & Wine and with NFFC in town, the real convention floor was Club Cool, where I could personally identify half the people in the room and what website they ran. Also, it features Beverley, and Beverley is great.

09 - Liberty Square Riverboat - is a Fordian pastorale of the American west, and the views its bottom deck permits of the Magic Kingdom's wonderful river district are among the best in any Disney park. It also features the sharpest script ever recorded for any of Disney's riverboat attractions.

08 - Swiss Family Treehouse - is a beautiful sculpture, located dead center of Adventureland yet feeling a million miles away from everything. The gushing waterfalls that cascade down the sides of Swiss Family Island are some of WDW's most beautiful creations.

07 - Jungle Cruise - people who are looking for event over atmosphere are in for a short ride down the wrong river, because if people were to calm down about the comedy / camp aspect of the show and look at it from a pure environment perspective, the jungle is one of Disney's most romantic and well realized attractions. It's sometimes hard to stop and see the jungle for the trees when you're in a boat with a lousy skipper puttering along at full throttle, but once you find the heart of the attraction you'll know no jokes about the limited animation can dilute the spirit there at the center. It is an enriching attraction to stop and see and sense and feel, just like the Riverboat and Treehouse.

06 - Living With the Land - When it comes to educational didacticism it's hard to do better than Living With the Land, which is doubly remarkable when one considers that a haphazard design has yielded a fascinating attraction. I once rode to see the cool atmospheric scenes in the first half, but now I think the plants need no excuse - it's a ride for grown ups and thankfully its' usefulness to the company means it has long outlived its' EPCOT breatheren.

05 - WEDWAY People Mover - I don't much like Tomorrowland anymore but this blissful ten minutes makes me think everything's okay in the world. Close your eyes and you can even pretend that Mission to Mars, Dreamflight and America the Beautiful are still running.

04 - Pirates of the Caribbean - I'm usually sharp tounged about the Florida Pirates but that's because the California version is the best ride ever built and the Florida version is not. Geoff Carter at Your Souvenir Guide was right when he said that original Pirates is better than food, sex, and most other things in the universe. But Florida has some design graces which its' status as being the amputee version disguises, mild improvement in the pacing and built of scenes and sets. The film additions only help the Florida show while they harm the California show, which also balances the scales a bit. But I still wouldn't trade this version, with its' beautifully murky queue and the one all my childhood memories are lodged in, for any sum.

The rest are all a tie.

01 - The Haunted Mansion - What can be said? This ride does everything Disney rides have ever done or ever wanted to do, and its' mysteries often seem tome as unquantifiable as its' influences. If Disney ever came close to building a equation which is impossible to decode, it's Mansion, and its' musty beauty is pointless to try to explain further.

01 - Country Bear Jamboree - a recent love of mine, and a show that gets a bad rep by people who haven't seen it in years or only seen the unfortunate Vacation and Christmas installments. The original show is brilliantly funny and esoteric, but moreover culturally important as a full-scale revival of vaudeville, from the wiseasses in the galley, the comic banter, the house pianist and even the Asbestos curtain. It's all here and it's all done right under everyone's nose without them knowing it. One of the best things about the show is that it didn't need to be folk / country tunes to work, that's just what was funniest. No, it's not content, but execution we should value here. This is the finest executed attraction at Walt Disney World.

01 - Impressions de France - not just a travelogue, a metrically brilliant film poem which washes down quite nicely trussed up as theme park picture show. This film has more beautiful images per square inch than any Disney has ever made, and Buddy Baker's arrangement of French classical pieces turns a remarkably shot film into one with at least three moments entering the sublime. It is an elevating film - one feels enriched by it. That's just about what these attractions in my list do - they enrich your life in quiet ways that linger and last.

Kevin Kidney said...

Hmm, let's see now...

On my recent Florida trip, these were on my not-to-miss list:

1) Swiss Family Treehouse -It just can't ever be re-themed to Pirates or Tarzan. It just CAN'T!

2) Country Bear Jamboree - Still so good.

3) Hall of Presidents - Yep, I like it!

4) Haunted Mansion - The new crazy staircase room is cool.

5) American Adventure - Always a stunner.

6) Space Mountain - The Classic.

7) Spaceship Earth - I'll never get over my grief for the loss of Horizons - the best attraction Epcot ever had. But Spaceship Earth still reminds me of how awesome Epcot used to be.

8) The France Pavilion film - The music sweeps me away.

9) Expedition Everest

10) The entire Asia section of Animal Kingdom - the whole thing. So wonderful.

Honorable mention goes to the Water Sprites on the lagoon!

(As for the two attractions that I used to adore but now avoid at all costs: Tiki Room Under New Management and the current Epcot Imagination Pavilion. Both have been so brutally changed as to be downright offensive, in my opinion. Time for WDI to restore these to their original wonderfulness!)

Anonymous said...

I love the title of your site. I am a huge Dexter Riley fan. I own all the movies. But on to the topic at hand.

10. Peter Pan's Flight. As a small child it felt so magical seing the miniature London and pirate ship as I flew in a boat, plus Peter Pan is my favorite movie next to Littel Mermaid and Aristocats.

9. Moster's Inc Laugh floor. I really like this so much better than Turtle Talk with Crush. Jokes are funnier and more geared to adults.

8. Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin. So fun, but I have not been on Toy Story Mainia yet, I just visited WDW at the end of April before it was open, darn.

7. American Experience. I love the Hall of Presidents in both WDW and DL so this is just up my alley. The film and animatronics tie in so well. Great music, I bought the CD after last time if visited.

6. Big Thunder Moutain Railroad. A very mild rollercoaster but always so fun and themed as all disney rides go because this here's the wildest ride in the west.

5. Malestrom in Norway. Just love the crisp air and polar bears. Our family still says frequently in a very troll like way to each other for fun "Disappear, Disappear".

4. Haunted Mansion. I love the new scenes without changing any of the old. We love looking for the hidden M's.

3. Pirates of the Carabean. So absolutley wonderful. I just cannot get enough of this ride. We usually start and end our day with this ride.

2. Test Track. Just so fun!

All ties for 1

1. Expedition Everest, Splash Moutain, Tower of Terror, Rock and Roll Rollercoaster, Soarin, Mission Space (spinning version). All these rides are just too cool for words.

Huge Disney Fan

Anonymous said...

Arg.... I forgot Mickey's Philharmagic (another tie for #1). This attraction ROCKS! It is like a muti sensory Fantasia but much better.

Huge Disney Fan

Pokey said...

TIki Room is now back to its original state for the last few years.:) Steve