The “New” Classics of Walt Disney World

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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!

 

 

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Posted on December 16, 2011

63 Responses to “The “New” Classics of Walt Disney World”

  • Stacey, the first ones that came to mind for me were Soarin’ and Test Track, so it’s good to see those on there. I agree with Expedition Everest, especially in the brief window when the Yeti worked. The only one that might not put on my list would be Kilimanjaro Safaris. While it’s one of the big attractions at the Animal Kingdom, I don’t find myself getting that excited to ride it anymore. There are usually a few cool animal sightings, but I don’t feel like it lives up to its potential. I think Toy Story Midway Mania deserves to be there. My only hesitation is that I’ve only ridden it twice in two trips because it’s always so crowded. So I can’t say if it works as a long-term classic.

    • by Marc Ricketts on December 16, 2011, at 6:33 pm EST

      Can’t put EE on until it works, & I do think the ToT belongs. Not that it matters, but Fantasmic & Midway Mania are also from other parks originally (although they ultimately built both, Midway Mania was originally conceived for Paradise Pier at DCA, hence the midway theme).

    • You make a good point about Kilimanjaro Safaris. I think that if they did some editing to the storyline it would have more longevity. I think what pushed me to put it on the list is the fact that it simply “is” the park. Thanks so much for your response!

  • No to Soarin’
    …just nothing all that special about it. To me it’s just another IMAX movie.

    EE and TSM… yeah, I could see those being ‘classics’

    • I’m curious. How would you feel if Soarin’ is updated at some point? Maybe not just California. Maybe the entire United States? Thank you for commenting!

      • by Andrew Carrieri on December 17, 2011, at 5:26 pm EST

        Busch Gardens Virginia came out with a European version of Soarin’ called “Europe in the Air” two years ago. Apparently, the film was not properly synchronized with the ride though causing many guests to suffer motion sickness. Needless to say, I avoided it when I was in Williamsburg last April.

    • by Kevin Crossman on December 16, 2011, at 9:52 pm EST

      The gigantic lines each day would indicate that a lot of people do feel it is special. As a native Californian, this is a must-do for every visit to DCA. I know there has been talk about updating this for Epcot (where Soarin over the World would have a nice tie-in to World Showcase), I hope they never lose the California theme in DCA.

      I agree with all those choices except Philharmagic.

  • One line stuck out to me. “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.” Why would this ride be considered infamous?

    The only one you listed that I disagree with would be Mickey’s Philharmagic because to me it just seems like another 3D show like It’s Tough to Be a Bug and Captain EO (definitely a classic.)

    • I’m sorry. I used the word infamous and I did not mean it that way at all. I meant the opposite. Haha. Oy.

      I agree that Captain EO is a classic and that’s why it was brought back. I already have Muppet Vision 3-D claimed as a classic and for me, Mickey’s PhilharMagic would be the next in line of the 3-D shows to get the label.

      Thank you for writing!

  • I soundly agree with Everest, Toy Story, Soarin, Philharmagic, and Test Track.

    For me, the Safaris were a one and done. Just didn’t give me any desire to go on it again. Buzz I would agree with, but I would go with the Disneyland version purely based on the fact that the shooters are detachable. I would pick the Osborne Lights over Fantasmic, even though they’re seasonal.

    I would love to see this same list for Disneyland. I could imagine quite a few: Roger Rabbit, Buzz, Monsters Inc, and once Carsland opens who knows!?

    Great topic!

    • You know, I’ve never experienced the Disneyland version of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin but from what I hear it’s amazing. I think that Disney World’s version needs a good hard update to improve re-rideability and overall maintenance.

      Maybe one of my fellow bloggers that is more of an expert on Disneyland can borrow the idea and run with it for a really cool Disneyland “classics” post!

      • Yes! One of the Disneyland bloggers definitely needs to run with this idea!

        I can’t wait until you make it to Disneyland some day. I’d love to hear your thoughts on everything there. And yes, Buzz is way better at DLR since you can remove the guns. I think the one at WDW is okay but my score is way too low on it…haha.

  • I rode Soarin’ for the first time this year and it’s definitely one of my favorites! Other rides that top my list are Test Track and Toy Story Mania.

  • Interestingly, the only one of those that I think is *not* potentially debatable is Finding Nemo: the Musical. Here are my quick hits with the rest.

    Everest – Amazing, but its main selling point is broken.
    Kilimanjaro Safaris – Contrived story.
    TSM – Only has a long line because of the park in which it’s located.
    Soarin’ – Nothing like a dirty IMAX film to give the feel of flying.
    Test Track – Dated; too little going on during the first part (especially compared to World of Motion).
    Buzz – poorly maintained; doesn’t compare well to Disneyland’s.
    PhilharMagic – sorely needs a digital transfer.

    So those first ones were only to play devil’s advocate–I really like them all. I just think they’re all debatable.

    Now, as for the last item…Fantasmic…REALLY?! We watched this (not by choice, it was part of an event) over the weekend, and it was sad to see. No Sorcerer Mickey (I hear he’s back now), broken effects, and way too much Pocahontas. By any reasonable criterion, Pocahontas is *not* a Disney classic (or, at least, not in the monetary or measurable ways that matter). It’s pretty clear that Fantasmic! was made around the time Pocahontas was released, and no one has bothered to update the attraction at Walt Disney World.

    By contrast, Fantasmic at Disneyland is amazing. We won’t watch it at WDW anymore. Not that Wishes is much better, but Illuminations certainly is.

    • Thank you so much for playing devil’s advocate, Tom! I love it! I think that’s why I was so interested in this topic is how everyone can view each attraction differently. Your comments on each attraction are absolutely true and hopefully Disney can see where they are slipping on some potentially wonderful attractions.

      After reading your comments I got to thinking about something. If we look at each attraction so meticulously, not the new but the old, would we consider ANY of them perfect classics? I could find flaws in virtually every old attraction from 1971 yet overall repeat guests still see certain ones as iconic.

      I hope that Fantasmic! gets the needed improvements. I LOVE Pocahontas so I can’t complain about that but I do agree that the overuse of the film’s characters is a little dated.

  • Pretty good looking list. The one that jumps out at me as missing, though, is Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I’m not sure there are many attractions that are themed better, and it’s popular notwithstanding that it’s not associated with a franchise that is current or even recent, which suggests it’s got staying power. No trip to WDW is complete for me without a ride on ToT or two (or three, or four).

    The only one that made me shrug was Test Track. It’s a fun ride and all, but it’s not something that I’m champing on the bit to ride when I get there. I’m actually surprised to see so many other people chiming in in support of Test Track, though, so perhaps I’m the oddball. :)

    • Thanks, James! Actually, the reason that Tower of Terror isn’t on my list is because my list sort of originated around 1997/1998. Anything before that I purposely left off of the list. Without a doubt Tower of Terror is a classic and probably my favorite attraction in all of Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

  • Tom hit the nail on the head with most of his comments. I don’t really care for any of the nighttime shows that I’ve seen. The only nighttime show that I think will be considered a real classic is Remember…Dreams Come True at Disneyland. And the Electrical Parade, although that isn’t new at all.

    • Hey, Jill! Tom tends to hit the nail on the head most of the time. After seeing the Electrical Parade all the way through back in October and having seen Spectro many times… I find that I like Main Street Electrical Parade but I love Spectro. Kind of surprised me!

      • For me, the Electrical Parade is probably more of a nostalgia kind of thing. I remember seeing it in 1987. Then I didn’t see it again until a few years ago at DCA. It’s kind of dorky and cheesy but I love it. I still laugh when I see the turtle. I’m even laughing now as my wonderful husband attempts to recreate the sound of it…haha!

  • Of all the live shows at WDW, Finding Nemo is our favorite too! We’ve seen it 10 times in 7 visits. We only wish it could be made longer and come to Broadway (we live in NYC and go to lots of Broadway shows). I like it better than Mary Poppins on Broadway – the story, the music, the puppets, the lighting, the singing, all of it!!!! Festival of the Lion King is ok, and it’s exciting, but I’m kind of tired of it. But Nemo, I’ll never get tired of – it’s the whole package.

    And we like all the others too. And add Tower of Terror!

    • Hooray for Finding Nemo fans! I’m a Broadway junky and I’d absolutely flip out if they expanded the show and brought it to NYC.

      I didn’t add Tower of Terror because it opened in 1994. My list was sort of 1998 and newer.

  • What a great entry. I’m a ride nut (snob) so I figured I’d weigh in.

    Like my wife, I couldn’t care less for the nighttime shows unless it’s either Disneyland’s Remember… or their Fantasmic. The way they both utilize elements of the park quite literally ruins every other show for me except maybe Illuminations which is similar in execution.

    Expedition Everest could be a future classic if they could just fix the poor yeti. Kilimanjaro Safari is far more indicative of Animal Kingdom though it could do without the whole baby elephant story line.

    The Nemo musical, like Aladdin, is destined for a short run. Disney likes to keep things fresh and Nemo, while cute, doesn’t quite have the cache to keep it afloat. (See what I did there?) Midway Mania and Buzz are kind of in the same boat. While both are exceptional rides but don’t appear to be designed with long term use in mind. I think Midway Mania could see a renaissance as 3D tech advances. The fact that Disney has doubled down on Pixar pretty much solidifies the presence of those characters.

    Soarin’ is one of those attractions that just screams Disney theme park. You’re not going to find anything like it at a lesser theme park. The fact that it climaxes across Los Angeles then into Anaheim for a Disneyland finale is a wonderful homage to the heart of the Disney theme park empire. I’m glad it made it to Florida so other people can enjoy what Disneyland vets have been enjoying. Easy classic.

    Test Track is definitely a classic. It’s tailor made for EPCOT and with a little updating here and there (a la Star Tours) it’s guaranteed a long life.

    I really liked Philharmagic. It’s not just a good way to get out of the rain. Definite classic.

    When most people think classic they lean to stalwarts like It’s A Small World, The Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, and the Jungle Cruise. Ithink the next inductees should be, Star Tours, Splash Mountain, The Tower of Terror, Fantasmic, and The Great Movie Ride. They’ve all solidified their place by displaying longevity. Future classics are easily Test Track, Innoventions, Soarin’, Philharmagic, Kilimanjaro Safari, Dinosaur, and Expedition Everest.

    Again, great blog. I loved it.

    PS: Now you’ve got me all excited about our upcoming trip.
    PSS: Infamous doesn’t mean what you think it means. Toy Story is anything but nefarious. Zurg, maybe. ;)

    • Graham! Thank you for writing your thoughts!

      I want the yeti fixed as well! And, yes, Kilimanjaro is in need of a new storyline something fierce.

      Your comment about Finding Nemo is my biggest fear. I would hate to see them get rid of it but they did it with Tarzan Rocks and I know that show had a good handful of people that absolutely adored it. Nemo may see it’s fate at some point. I will shed many tears.

      The section of attractions that you listed, Star Tours, Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror, and The Great Movie Ride, all missed my list because I feel that they are all classics already. They’ve paid their dues. I started my list at around 1998.

      Also, I learned that infamous isn’t what I thought it was. I love having my stupid moments pointed out. I learn for next time. Haha! Thanks, Graham!

      • We were pretty sad about Aladdin coming to a close but I think Disney likes to do it Broadway style which could mean a revival at some point.

        This was such a stellar topic. Look at all the comments!

        • Looks like Aladdin got a stay of execution. It’s probably because they don’t have anything to replace it. Jill thinks there was a Toy Story show in the works but I think the revamp of California Adventure took precedence.

  • I love this topic but disagree with many of your suggestions! Only been to AK once, so can’t really comment on any of those rides (but EE was fantastic). Totally agree with Toy Story, everything about it is fantastic. It’s a keeper and a classic. Philharmagic is one of my fav attractions in all of WDW, so BIG agree there. I think Buzz has potential, but I hope they refurb it a little bit more here and there, it’s starting to show it’s age. F! is good, but not sure if it’s “classic” and has the same pull as Wishes! or Illuminations.

    Soarin’ and Test Track are both really overrated imo. They are OK attractions, but if I don’t do Soarin’ first thing in the AM I’m not waiting 45+ mins for an IMax movie. And thank god Test Track has a single rider line, otherwise I’d never go on it. Wait 45+ mins for a bumpy ride and then 30 seconds of going a whopping 65 mph? No thanks, my mother and sister drive faster.

    Some others I think are new classics:

    Mission: Space. Not sure how this didn’t make anyone’s list. The second best ride in Epcot (after Spaceship Earth). So realistic and comes as close to anything as being one of the only true “trill” rides at WDW.

    Tower of Terror: outstanding attraction that incorporates another popular franchise. I don’t even need the drop to enjoy the theming of this attraction.

    I think the new Star Tours may have potential, but we’ll see how it holds up in the years to come.

    Oh, and since Captain EO was just rereleased in 2009, can that count? Classic!

    • I can see how people find Soarin’ and Test Track overrated. Poor Epcot. I think Epcot needs something big here in the next couple of years.

      For me, Mission: Space replaced my beloved Horizons so I’m a little jaded. Nevertheless, it is a brilliant concept for an attraction and the execution was decent.

      Tower of Terror opened in 1994 and my list started around ’97/’98 otherwise, yes, it most definitely would have made that list. Same goes for Star Tours and Captain EO… already classics in my book.

      • Mission Space is a tricky one for me. I enjoyed the theme and thought the ride experience was first rate. I believe it belongs in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom. I’m not sure why but I don’t think it belongs at EPCOT. Perhaps if it was more demonstrative and less of a thrill ride like the other attractions at EPCOT.

        • The first time I went to WDW was 2004, so I’m not even sure what Horizons is, but I’ve heard of it. I think one of the reasons Test Track and Soarin have such long waits is that there are really only 4 major attractions in Epcot. I like them both just fine, but I don’t think they’re worth the normal wait times. And I had no idea ToT was so “old” — 1994!

  • GREAT idea for a blog!!!! I agree with a lot of yours – especially Philharmagic and Finding Nemo!! Those two are classics for sure. The only ones I don’t really agree with are Buzz and Fantasmic – I prefer Illuminations or Wishes.

    As for a classic I think should definitely be on the list as well – Tower of Terror! Some of the best theming in all of WDW in my opinion.

    • Thank you for commenting, Ellen! I’m just a Fantasmic! junky. What can I say?

      Tower of Terror didn’t make the list because I think it’s older than most people think. My list started in 1997/1998 and Tower of Terror opened in 1994 believe it or not.

  • You lost me at Finding Nemo. I checked out at Fantasmic.

  • Tower of Terror is a glaring omission, for sure. Can’t get behind Buzz or Fantasmic. Interesting read.

    • Hi, Kristina! Tower of Terror wasn’t added to the list because it opened in 1994. I made sure the list started around 1997/1998. I think Tower of Terror has already paid it’s dues and qualified as a classic a long time ago. If I’d added Tower of Terror, I would have also had to add Splash Mountain, which opened just 2 years prior. I had to make my cutoff somewhere. For me, attractions after 1997 seemed to still have a new feeling to them more so than others.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • I don’t usually respond to blogs, but I’m really enjoying reading the array of reactions to Disney attractions.

    For me:

    Fantasmic!: Never seen it. Waiting with that amount of crowd is the exact thing I’m trying to avoid by having an annual pass and living an hour away.

    Expedition Everest: Hard for me to ride, since I’m not the biggest roller coaster nut. Good embodiment of the adventure side of Animal Kingdom.

    Kilimanjaro Safaris: the opposite from Expedition Everest — it’s the animal preservation side of AK

    Finding Nemo: I don’t care for it. Festival of the Lion King resonates with me 10x more than Nemo. Nemo doesn’t have anything that can match the bird flight dance segment of Lion King.

    Test Track: Love it. If Epcot didn’t have it, Epcot would be without an honest thrill ride. This one also gives me a chance to relive my fraternity days, since one of my fraternity brothers was a cost accountant for this ride.

    Buzz Lightyear: A smart adaptation of space and existing construction, but not a major wow. I’d love to see this space better used while keeping in mind that the WEDway (or whatever it’s called now) looks into the ride.

    Mickey’s PhilharMagic: I always tell myself I’m not going to spend any time here when I go to Magic Kingdom, yet I do nearly every time. It’s a really good show, but not beyond the reach of an update.

    Saving the best two for last:
    These two have long waits not just for their ride capacity, but because they offer something unmatched anywhere else. As far as them having duplicates in California, I’m ok with that. The list of people who go to parks on both coasts is pretty short, so the audiences for Disneyland vs Walt Disney World are distinct (even though it might not seem that way in these circles).

    Toy Story Midway Mania: A great choice. It’s super popular, has a unique rider experience, and can easily be updated (and has been) to appeal to new audiences. This one is a long-term keeper. [I'd gladly sacrifice all of the Backlot Tour territory to gain an expanded Pixar area in Hollywood Studios. I've always found it a mediocre attempt to convince tourists they could be just as please spending an extra day at Disney over Universal. How about a blog on attractions we would not miss if they were gone? -- even if they don't give up much space for new things]

    Soarin’: I’m sad to say I’ve actually made trips to Epcot and not gone on Soarin’. This is a must-do for me. As someone else commented, it’s the kind of thing you won’t find at lesser parks. That said, close it down for a week and clean the film. The dirty film takes away from an otherwise amazing experience.

    • I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to respond to my post!

      I knew I’d hear from someone that loved Festival of the Lion King more than Nemo. Most of my family feels that way as well. I think both shows are quite different which means that Disney is suiting all audiences.

      WOW! What a great idea for a blog topic! I’m going to add that to my list and give you credit! Thank you so much!

  • I so miss World of Motion and Horizons. My forever favorites!

    • I wish I could have seen World of Motion! It was closed when I made my first trip to Walt Disney World. I remember Horizons distinctly, though. It was my favorite ride as a child.

  • Stacey….does Maelstrom qualify as an old classic to you? I freaking love that ride! Probably more than I should. :)

  • Finally made it to Animal Kingdom this past trip and fell in love with Nemo. My 2 and 4 yr olds loved it and so did I. When we got home I had to download the music and play it all the time in the car. My 2 yr old will shout “memo!” if I try to put something else on the radio. We saw Lion King on our way out of the park our last morning and I wasn’t that thrilled with it. I guess I just didn’t get the presentation.

    I also love Mickey’s Philharmagic, Toy Story Mania (rode it three times in one hour in early September), Soarin scares me when it takes that one dip forward, Test Track (my son still talks about this ride), and have never seen Fantasmic and probably won’t. Hated Mission Space because it made me sick and ruined the rest of my day, Buzz Lightyear was good until i rode TSM.

  • by Andrew Carrieri on December 17, 2011, at 3:46 pm EST

    Everest: Agree- My favorite coaster in Orlando although it would be better with the Yeti. I spend more time at AK than any other WDW park because of this one ride.
    Safari:Agree-One of the most innovative rides ever
    Nemo: Agree-It’s a show but one of the best in Orlando
    Toy Story:Disagree-I find this overrated. I think Men in Black at USF is a better attraction (better sets and theming) despite being 8 years older.
    Soarin: Disagree-I don’t find this as exciting as many do.
    Test Track: Meh-I am a fan of this attraction but don’t think it is anything overly special.
    Buzz: Agree-this was innovative in that it was the start of shoot em’ rides at theme parks.
    Phillarmagic: Disagree-I find this overrated. It’s a greatest hits piece-It’s Tough to be a Bug and Muppetvision are more creative.
    Fantasmic: Agree
    I’d add: It’s Tough to be a Bug, Muppetvision, and Tower of Terror.

    • Interesting thoughts on It’s Tough to be a Bug! I’m not a big fan of the film itself but I love the theater. Muppet-Vision 3D and Tower of Terror are already classics in my book. They’ve been around a little longer than the rest of the attractions on my list. Thanks for your response!

  • Your list was a great idea, and I agree for the most part with your nominations (and I fully understand the timeline of your “new” classics concept).

    On a trip earlier this year where we were visiting AK twice but my parents were joining us for just the first visit, I hadn’t seen either show before but chose Finding Nemo over Lion King for the day they were going to be with us, and I think it was a good choice (though we later enjoyed Lion King as well). Finding Nemo is a superb short version of the movie story, and with the original music written for the show, it’s exceptional. It will be sad if/when it’s replaced.

    I think Kilimanjaro Safaris is great for seeing the animals (I agree – AK is embodied by the Safaris!). I have a different take on the need for a new “storyline” – how much better would it be if it simply didn’t HAVE a specific storyline (meaning the whole poacher pursuit to save the baby elephant sequence)? What if that part of the ride was simply dedicated to seeing a little more of the REAL animals, instead of a high-speed bumpy ride to see a brief glimpse of an animatronic baby elephant in the back of a truck? I would submit that the only “storyline” needed for Kilimanjaro is along the lines of how most of the ride already goes – you’re on a photo safari, you don’t know exactly what animals you’ll get to see or what they’ll be doing, and so on. The dramatic storyline at the end works exactly ONCE per customer. In this case, repeatability is provided not by a “storyline” but by the real, live animals that don’t do exactly the same thing twice.

    I liked Soarin’ – but in retrospect would say it was a nice IMAX movie with unusual seating arrangements ;-)

  • You mention how much you miss “Horizons” at Epcot – the one whose absence I lament is “Cranium Command” at Epcot’s Wonders of Life Pavilion. That was such a unique and clever attraction, and I miss that far more than the rest of Wonders of Life (including its more “headlining” BodyWars simulator).

    • Hi, Brad! I wish I could remember Cranium Command! I do remember going into the Wonders of Life pavillion as a kid but the only thing I can recall in my mind are those bikes. I’d LOVE it if they’d revive Cranium Command in some way so I could finally experience it!

  • A recurring theme appears to be that Soarin’ (Over California) is just a glorified “IMAX” film. That’s exactly what it is. It’s an incredible IMAX film combined with other stimulants that make it a very unique experience. It does require a little bit of suspended disbelief from the rider like EVERY OTHER RIDE at the parks.

    I’m not sure why people single this ride out.

    Admittedly, my wife and I don’t wait in line for this at EPCOT but that’s only because we’ve ridden it at least 100 times at California Adventure. If the line is short we give it a go and I’m always impressed.

    • As someone who lamented Soarin’ as a glorified Imax film, let me clarify. I think it’s a great attraction and I can see why lots of people like it and it’s popular. It just doesn’t really do it for me. Maybe because I’ve been on it so many times in WDW and DL?

      The one thing that really turns me off about it is it’s low ride capacity. Even if you get there at rope drop, first you wait in that long line. Then they move you into that second line waiting area. Then they hold you up in that cage where you watch the video. Then, FINALLY, you go one the 5 min ride. Sorry, but this attraction isn’t worth the minimum 30 mins it takes to get on it, even with a FP. I ride it once a trip, and that’s enough.

    • I see your point, Graham. “Suspended disbelief” is truly the way to put it. You’re very right that virtually every other attraction requires guests to allow themselves to be immersed.

  • Absolutely love this blog! I figured I would put my opinion in as well.
    1. Agree with all your thoughts on EE. I am not sure I have ever seen the yeti work though. I cover my eyes when he’s not working to his potential. Can’t imagine how terrified I would if he was working :)
    2. As some have stated with Kilimanjaro safari, let it just be a safari. No need for the poacher story. Still a classic though.
    3. 100% without a doubt agree with Finding Nemo. Can’t beat it IMO. I tear up every time and would be devastated if Disney changes it and/or removes it.
    4. I do love TSM. I do HATE the lines and the race to get there in the mornings. It definitely has staying power though.
    5. Oh Soarin’ my first disagreement with you. Don’t get me wrong it is a good ride and probably will be a classic, but I find it overrated. If it weren’t for everyone else in my family, I would probably skip it after experiencing it 100 times :)
    6. Love Test Track. Like you I have all the lines memorized but still go back again and again.
    7. Buzz needs updating like you said but kids and adults alike love it. Like another previous comment. The Toy Story franchise has staying power for sure.
    8. Philarmagic will be a classic too. How can you not agree when you mix in all the classic Disney characters into one show?! We love Donald in our family so of course it’s a favorite of ours.
    9. Eh, Fantasmic. Disagree here too. Nothing can beat Wishes IMO. And I find it hard to waste my precious TOT time and Rockin Rollercoaster time by waiting to see the show. It needs updating and new seating. Maybe that will change my mind.

    I totally miss Horizons as well and thank goodness you didn’t add Mission Space. And though many will probably disagree, I am NOT ready to say goodbye to Snow White’s Scary Adventures. I cried through it my last trip thinking it will probably be the last time I ride it :) thumbs up on your blog! A great read!

    • Thanks for your input, Erica! You have a lot of great thoughts on these attractions. I think it’s really interesting on how everyone’s opinion is totally different on some things. It’s all about perspective.

      I know what you mean about Snow White! In October, they had a PhotoPass Photographer taking pictures right at the end and I thought, “Well, this is weird but at least I’ll remember my last ride!”

  • Stacey, we are obviously largely thinking alike. Love, love, love Nemo musical. So much more of an artistic achievement than Lion King. Love Soarin and Fantasmic as well. Expedition Everest, safari, and Mickey’s Philharmagic also great choices. Loke but dont love Test Track.

  • Hi, Ben! Wooo hooo! Another Nemo fan! I think finding out that I’m not the only one who is obsessed with this show is one of my greatest findings from reading responses. Thanks!

  • I judge if a ride will be a classic by how excited my family and I are to ride it when we first get to the world, how many times we ride it, and if it is something I will put a wallpaper or listen to the audio when I am not in the world and need a bit of Disney when I am not there.

    * Soar’en – Already a classic and look forward to a new movie
    * Expedition Everest – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this ride. Its the Splash Mountain of AK.
    * Kilimanjaro Safaris – You know, my family is not that big into this ride. Maybe its just us. We will do it when there but no big deal if we miss it.
    * Toy Story Midway Mania – I just see this ride technology getting dated very soon. And I really don’t understand why you are ride around anyway, you could just have you parked in front of the same screen and just change the video. Just did not do anything for me and I am so over the whole 3D thing (other then Muppet Vision but they have a lot of reasons be be in the theater other then just the movie).
    * Test Track – Love this ride. Not sure if it will become a classic like Horizons but a must ride and multiple ride attraction.
    * Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – I think this is already a classic in the way of Mr. Toad or the future Snow White will be. If they closed it tomorrow, my family and I would miss it.
    * Mickey’s PhilharMagic – Never have seen it and we have been to the world about 10 times since its been there. Just not into it but I am not a judge of its timelessness.
    * Fantasmic! – Saw it once and that was enough. My problem with this show is that you are so far away from the action. One of the reasons I like the current fireworks at MK or Epcot, the action seems to be all around you.

    Some of the things that make a classic are just personal like I miss If You Had Wings (my Eastern) for no other reasons then it was free when you had to spend tickets and so as a kid we rode it a lot so I remember it so well.

  • On my last visit to Hollywood Studios, I got a Toy Story Midway Mania FastPass, then got in the standby line when the wait was only 30 minutes, rode again with a 90-minute standby wait, and finished up with the Fast-Pass ride. And I would’ve ridden it a lot more if I could’ve done it without spending the whole day in line. IMO this is the best ride in all of Disney World. So classic? Heck yes!