When Walt Disney created Disneyland he probably had some idea that certain attractions would become iconic for guests over the years. When Walt put his stamp on something, it was significant. Not to say that he wasn’t aware that some attractions don’t last forever because of one reason or another. I was recently thinking about this and wondered, “What makes a classic Disney attraction a classic?” I think that an iconic, forever memorable Disney attraction has to have certain criteria in order to stand the test of time.
- Bring something new to the table. Repeating an old attraction with a generic or already done theme tends to be lame and won’t gain you any brownie points with guests.
- Draw in guests of all ages. In general, family rides tend to be more popular than non-family rides. Luckily for guests, most Disney attractions are aimed at virtually every age group. Even those long standing classic attractions that require kiddos to be a little taller seem to give children something to reach for in the future.
- Warm fuzzy tingles. I know that I don’t have to explain myself much on this one but nevertheless I’m going to do my best at describing it. You know that feeling when you see the Cinderella Castle for the first time as you turn the corner onto Main Street U.S.A.? You know the little butterflies that you feel on Spaceship Earth when your ride vehicle comes out of the tunnel, turns, and gives you a full view of Earth? It’s sort of that WOW feeling that we all expect from Disney attractions.
It’s become apparent to me that not all Disney Park enthusiasts feel strongly about every vintage attraction. I, for one, miss Horizons more than any other attraction that Disney ever created and then discarded like old garbage. That attraction in itself just said, “EPCOT” to me. My mom looks at “it’s a small world” as quintessential Disney and if they ever got rid of it she’d feel like the entire resort would be off balance. I know of many folks that could care less about either of those but the seemingly would still classify them as Disney classics.When choosing my list of “new” classics, I had to keep in mind that Disney doesn’t build brand new E-ticket attractions every single year. That being said, what I think of as “new” is based on the overall age of the park and how that attraction fits into the timeline. Many of my choices are debatable and I’m excited to hear what you all think.
- Expedition Everest - It’s gonna be hard to argue this one so I’d like to see you try. Expedition Everest is this generation’s Matterhorn.
- Kilimanjaro Safaris - Nothing says “Animal Kingdom” quite like this attraction. It’s good fun for the whole family and has great re-rideability (another important factor when naming classics).
- Finding Nemo – The Musical - Folks, our first debate is here. Many of you probably choose Festival of the Lion King over this broadway-quality show. For me, Finding Nemo: The Musical has the ability to be enjoyed for years and years by different generations. With Finding Nemo, you have a story wrapped into a very impressive production package.
- Toy Story Midway Mania - As soon as I added this to my list I sort of questioned it. My gut knew that this ride would be labeled as infamous but I wasn’t fully sold on if we could call it a classic just yet. One thing we do know, Toy Story (the franchise) isn’t going anywhere and it really started the Pixar empire. While Toy Story Midway Mania sort of borrowed the similar interactive concept that was used in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, it amped it up in a whole new way and improved re-rideability.
- Soarin’ - I don’t care if it’s borrowed from another Disney park. I absolutely adore it and find it well worthy of the insanely long queue lines that it creates. It’s got the family factor, the wow factor, and with updates sometime in the future, the re-rideability factor that I won’t shut up about.
- Test Track - Some guests see this attraction as old hat and a little dated. For me, I still get just as excited to experience it each and every trip. Yeah, I know what’s going to happen and I’m in on all of the surprises but it’s still a pretty big thrill. Plus, watching my mom throw her arms up toward the sky and scream when we’re racing around the track puts a smile on my face that never comes off.
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin - Dear Disney… update this. We’re looking at something that was pretty revolutionary and still can pull in a decent amount of guests. That being said, it can use a paint job and some new ride vehicles but I’ll save my ranting about this topic for another post.
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic – I realized that I couldn’t come up with one attraction that defined the entire Magic Kingdom… something that the majority of guests could agree that they love. Then the thought of Mickey’s PhilharMagic entered my mind and it just fit. It’s so fantastic at using classic Disney characters for the older audience, modern Disney characters for the younger crowd, a fantastic score, and brilliant timed comedy to make for a memorable show.
- Fantasmic! - I put this on my list because I believe it’s the best nighttime show in all of Walt Disney World. I would also throw Wishes and Illuminations on here but there’s only room for one nighttime show and Fantasmic! rocks my world harder than the rest.
So, there you have it. My list of what I believe to be classic Disney attractions for the new generation. I can’t wait to hear what you all think and hopefully some of you have your own ideas of what to add to or remove from the list. I have to leave you with one question, though. When does an iconic Disney attraction lose it’s luster? Is it the right time for us to say goodbye to Snow White’s Scary Adventures? Let me know in the comments!