Walt Disney World Attractions to Skip?!

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Through the Desolate Streets; Through the Magical Castle

I love efficiency. I love Disney theme parks. Logic would dictate that using a Touring Plan would perfectly combine these two interests of mine, right? Up until we began testing Optimized Touring Plans, I didn’t really use the plans much at Walt Disney World. This is because I find myself liking a somewhat odd selection of attractions, the full cross-section of which isn’t available in the Unofficial Guide or in TouringPlans.com’s Premium Touring Plans. This is why I’ve become fond of the Optimized Touring Plans. I can input all of my peculiar preferences and have it spit out the best order for visiting these attractions. Since the optimization is being done by some satellite in outer space (or something like that, I think), I don’t have to worry about being judged for liking a “bad” attraction.

Perhaps “unpopular” is a better word choice than “bad.” In my mind, every single attraction is worth experiencing at least once, and I don’t want to skip any unpopular attractions because I’ve found that my opinion of a lot of attractions often differs from popular sentiment.

Skippy and S.I.R.

To be sure, vacation time is finite, and it’s unrealistic to visit every single attraction on every single trip. Walt Disney World is simply too vast for this to be feasible, unless you’re on one of those 13-week long European Walt Disney World vacations. It thus becomes important to have a list of attractions to efficiently visit so you can experience as many attractions as possible on each trip.

How do you arrive at such a list? I think there are attractions that are just plain bad, and it seems to me that a lot of people in the fan community feel the same way. Stitch’s Great Escape, Journey into Imagination (3.0), and the Magic Carpets of Aladdin all immediately come to mind. However, I’ve met people who absolutely love each one of these attractions.

Therein lies the problem. While popular sentiment may suggest that the Haunted Mansion is an exquisite attraction and Jungle Cruise shouldn’t be missed for its dry humor and wit, some people prefer attractions I’d consider duds over these. In fact, in perusing the first edition of The Color Companion to Walt Disney World, I discovered that a now defunct attraction, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, scored higher than the Haunted Mansion and the Jungle Cruise.¬† Likewise, another defunct attraction, The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management, scored higher than Jungle Cruise. I’d rather be stuck on “it’s a small world” for twenty-four consecutive hours (hmmm…that sounds like a challenge!) than have to sit through Honey, I Shrunk The Audience even once more! Then again, “it’s a small world” is one of my favorite attractions. Some people hate “it’s a small world.”

America, Spread Your Golden Wings

Browse through a few “worst attraction” or “rides to skip” threads over on a couple popular Disney message boards, and you’ll find many cautionary tales about atrocious attractions such as Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, Hall of Presidents, and even the American Adventure. If I didn’t know better, given the last two attractions on that list, I’d suggest these message boards had been infiltrated and subverted for some sort of radical¬† communist agenda. However, I realize that the greater likelihood is that everyone has different attraction preferences and many people don’t enjoy long Audio-Animatronics based stage shows.

This is not to disparage those whose opinion of attractions is contrary to my opinion, but rather, to illustrate why I’m hesitant to give much weight to anyone else’s opinion of an attraction. Were my first visit to Walt Disney World today and I were to listen to others on message boards, I would have skipped these four attractions. If you regularly read my posts, you know that I love Carousel of Progress and I think that Country Bear Jamboree is brilliant. I’m also the second most patriotic person in North America (to Sam the Eagle), so I love Hall of Presidents and American Adventure. In fact, each one of these four attractions is in my Walt Disney World Top 10 “Must Sees.” I can’t imagine one of our Walt Disney World trips not including these attractions. Yet, if my first visit were tomorrow and I followed the advice I’ve read numerous times in message boards, I might end up skipping them all.

Brer Critters

Is the solution to this for others to stop rating attractions? Most certainly not. Ratings and accompanying descriptions provide a great baseline for creating a Touring Plan. For many people, attraction ratings, especially those derived from guest consensus, are accurate. Similarly, there are certain qualities that attraction critics, much like film critics, can use to logically arrive at their score. Still, attraction reviews, much like film reviews, are subjective. Film critics fairly unanimously rate Beauty and the Beast higher than Mars Needs Moms. Most people will probably prefer the former to the latter, so movie reviews offer solid advice to many people. However, that does not to invalidate your opinion if you prefer Mars Needs Moms to Beauty and the Beast. Likewise, you might find that you prefer Stitch’s Great Escape to the Haunted Mansion.

Spaceship Earth Dwarfs the Moon

Ratings and descriptions can help you determine what type of attraction you’re more inclined to like, but they should always be used merely as a starting point. If you’re passionate about irreverent singing bears, don’t skip Country Bear Jamboree just because you read some blog post calling it the worst and most outdated attraction ever. Read between the lines in descriptions and decide for yourself what attractions you think would most appeal to you, personally. By reading descriptions while keeping in mind attraction scores, you can come up with your own list of “Must See” attractions to enter into your Optimized Touring Plan and experience during your finite vacation time. You might find yourself often going against the grain, but the payoff will be worth it!

I’m certain I’m not the only one who loves some attractions that many people don’t like. Which unpopular attractions do you love? Do you have any “guilty pleasure” attractions? I know we have at least ONE Stitch’s Great Escape fan out there; do you like it? No judgment here, so speak up in the comments and share your favorite attractions that others don’t seem to like!

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Posted on January 27, 2012

63 Responses to “Walt Disney World Attractions to Skip?!”

  • My husband is a HUGE Country Bears fan – we actually wind up seeing it at least twice on our visits (and he usually goes for a third time while I’m running off to Big Thunder Mountain).

    • I think we see it 2-3 time per trip, too! I know that someday it’ll be gone since it doesn’t appeal to today’s generation. Given that, I treat every trip like it might be my last time to see the Country Bears!

      • That’s how I approach a lot of attractions at WDW also – I know I’ve missed out on so much from not visiting the parks between 1990-2008, so I want to be sure to hit everything else while it’s still around.

  • I couldn’t have said it better if I’d written it myself. In fact it sounds exactly like the thoughts in my head. Are you in my head? Get outta my head! :D

  • Carousel of Progress, Country Bear Jamboree, and it’s a small world are a few of my favorites!!! Skip them?? NEVER! I also like the new old Enchanted Tiki Room. I prefer the Magic Carpets to Dumbo, purely for the line/wait time issue. I don’t want to waste a rope drop morning on Dumbo, ya know? Nor do I want to spend 45 minutes waiting for a ride that I can ride repeatedly at Animal Kingdom without a wait at all (TriceraTop Spin).

    • I know what you mean about Dumbo, but I think once we have kids we’ll become “do or die” Dumbo people. It might be comparable to the other spinners to us adults, but there’s something about it that makes it a rite of passage for kids more-so than the other spinners!

  • i loved Country bear Jamboree as a kid, saw it multiple times. i took my kids (6/9) and DH to see it last month excitedly. i tried to keep up a good attitude throughout, but it was apparent that we all felt the same by the end: “it was not my favorite” (this is how we taught our kids to described foods they hate, instead of hollaring out “yuck!”) i am curious about the ages of the people who enjoy this attraction? i am 42…
    and for the record, we did enjoy the other animitronics, Hall of Presidents. of course my son’s room is decorated in Abraham Lincoln theme… :)

    • I’m 27 and (as noted above) I love it.

      I think you remarks sort of go to my point that you never know what you will or won’t like until you try it. Given the other attractions you like, I would have expected that you’d like CBJ, too. But you don’t! You can only predict what people will like to a certain extent. I’d rather try 10 attractions and hate them all than dismiss one out-of-hand that I would have loved!

    • I didn’t have any strong feelings about Country Bears when I was a kid, but when I became an adult, I liked it less and less. We finally took our kids to see it when they were maybe 7 and 5, because who knows, maybe they’d enjoy it, but they pretty much felt the way your kids felt. Maybe even worse, because I think they were a little creeped out by it.

  • My 4 year old’s favorite attraction is the boat ride at The Land in Epcot – she prefers this ride to everything at MK. Who would have thunk it? We are all different but there is something for everyone!

  • I usually skip Splash Mt, which I know a lot of people love. It doesn’t do it for me though. I don’t care for the theme and I dislike getting wet. That said, I can see how others love it and good for them because it takes people away from other attractions! I also think Peter Pan’s flight is overrated. I ride it once a trip and can’t imagine waiting 45+ mins for it.

    Like you, I also love CoP and the Patriot Shows. And I love TTA and Philharmagic. I can spend my whole day in those two attractions and be perfectly happy!

  • I actualy love the bears!!!!! And don’t get me started on the carousel, I think it is fantastic! however, I completely understand why a person on its first trip to WDW would hate them or should actualy skip them. I think that kind of atractions exceed the ussual blowminded effect that most WDW attractions have, and actualy more appreciated when sitted through with a very wondering eye.

    On the other hand, I can’t understand how anyone who saw the original alien attraction, can see stitch’s without wondering who made such horrible change in the attraction. Not only is not nearly as good as the first one, but also, is not even funny, which is exactly what you should expect from a stitch’s attraction!

    • I think you’re assuming people on their first trip to WDW are more likely to enjoy more superficial attractions. I think this is probably true for most people, but it’s not true for everyone. Country Bear Jamboree is the first attraction I’d recommend to any of my non-Disney friends, just because it’s so irreverent and witty. That’s something I know they’d appreciate, whereas they feel that most of Disney is fake and unnatural. (Obviously I disagree with them!)

      • And I actualy agree with you, I went there in May and told everyone to see the jamboree cause I think it is awesome, and it gets me everytime.
        But I can’t help to notice everyone’s a little bit cold towards this attraction when they just did the Space Mountain.
        I always have to skip something, specialy on MK, where no Magic hours will help you through the whole park, and it’s not really related to what type of attractions I like.
        For example, I never miss a chance to walk the robinsons tree house, but I can’t do another walk in tom sawyer’s Island. I think of the first as something marvellous, and the second one, is just a movie set, the kind of things you walk by on Universal Studios!

  • My son loves Stitch, and he enjoys Stich’s Great Escape. I don’t know that I would have appreciated it if I hadn’t seen it through his eyes first. Plus, you have to admit the Stitch animatronic is pretty cool.

    • Okay, now TWO people like Stitch’s Great Escape…can we get a third?!

      (Yes, the AA is very cool; I actually enjoy experiencing SGE for the pre-show as it reminds me of Alien Encounter.)

    • Ok, I can see why children would love this ride, but, as an adult, I can’t help but miss a good script on this ride. Is not just about missing the fright and terror I was put through on Alien Encounter, is just that this isn’t even a Stictch Attraction for me.

      And yes, the stich’s Animatronic is amazing, but, the one in Alien Encounter has the same perfection, but it was bigger and it actualy did something.

      I would never EVER understand why they shut down that version.

  • We call Carousel of Progress “The Wheel of Boredom.” That being said, I still think its worth seeing.

    Stitch’s Great Escape is terrible. The whole time we were wondering when it was going to start. It’s like a pre-show with no attraction.

  • I myself LOVE, I say LOVE “Ellen’s Energy Ride or the Universe of Energy”… though I am obsessed with dinosaurs and absolutely adore Ellen, my mom says she is on the band wagon as well.

    I am sure my friend Jenn (kwitcherkicken99) would have others things to say about this ride, like perhaps “What a great place for a nap!”

    • My wife and I also love EEE/Universe of Energy. Mostly for the dinosaurs.

    • My entire family loves this ride…and while we love the upgrade with Ellen, Bill Nye, etc, and think the current background music is great, we always find ourselves singing “feel the flow” when we are in the vicinity. Brings back good memories of Epcot Center and all of its 80′s music glory. I think having and making memories in certain attractions helps maintain their status as old favorites.

  • We’re adults and only travel with only have ever travelled with other adults. The stuff we’ve skipped tend to be the “kiddie” rides: the Tomorrowland Speedway, Dumbo (and all other derivatives of Dumbo including Aladdin’s Carpets and the Triceratops), the Barnstormer. We’re from New Jersey, so we also skip the “carnie” rides that we can find at the Boardwalk (in Ocean City or Wildwood): the tea cups and the Primeval Whirl (also PW is kind of painful since the thing only spins in one direction so SOMEONE is going to get squished by the end of the ride). We’ve not bothered with the “backstage tour” since the backlot was torn down. The only other attraction that I regularly skip (because it causes lower back pain) is Space Mountain.

    • I think it’s easier to skip a lot of the attractions on your list because they’re “what you see is what you get” type rides. For example, I don’t know what the show scenes in Haunted Mansion will be without riding it. I have a pretty good idea of what the Teacups entail just by waiting in line for it or even passing it.

  • I, for one, LOVED “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience”, and miss it. I also love the attractions that tug at my “Disney Nostalgia” heartstrings, like “Country Bears”, “Carousel” and “small world”.

    I can’t stand “The Land”, though. BOOOOOOORRRRRRING! Well, at least to me. That’s what’s so great about this post, Tom: It’s great to acknowledge that everyone has different “must-sees”, and different “must-never-see-agains”. Look at it this way: Thanks to me, all you fans of “The Land” will have one less person in line in front of you! :^D

  • I agree with the try anything once mantra. As an adult I went back to ride Autopia and realized that those memories of driving on the speedway should have been firmly left in my youth. Now its just uncontrollable cars with a large helping of gasoline fumes. But that being said, I’m still glad that I went on it because otherwise, I’d be wondering what I was missing. I also looked down my nose at Aladdin’s Carpets, but when it was approaching the final hour on EMH on our first evening of our trip, on a day where we had ridden over 30 rides in both Epcot and MK, it was magical (and no wait!).

    So while not every ride will enthrall you in every situation, I definitely think everyone should try out every ride for themselves. You never know what will strike your fancy.

    And apologies to Tom, but I find American Adventure a great place to nap. Can’t help it. Happens every time!

  • I’ll break mine down my “skips” by Park:

    MK: Tiki Room. We sat through the show in September to see what had changed. I spent most of the time thinking that we could be on the way to a more entertaining attraction. The only way I’d hit this again would be to find a cool place to take a break on a hot afternoon.

    AK: Kali River Rapids. I’ve been to AK twice, and both times was turned off of this ride by the drenched survivors. I’ve got no interest in spending the remainder of my Disney day with wet everything (especially shoes).

    HS: American Idol Experience. Don’t watch the show on TV, and not going to burn my Disney time watching some version of it live.

    EC: Probably get blasted for this, but on my family’s most recent trip in September, we completely skipped the World Showcase at Epcot. This is actually my least favorite “Land” among all the WDW parks. It’s a lot of sit-down restaurants, not a lot of rides or attractions, and once you start down the path, you’re stuck making the full loop around the Lagoon.

    • With regard to American Idol Experience, I’d consider giving it a chance. I can’t stand the TV show, but I found the Experience very entertaining.

      My list of must-do World Showcase attractions:

      Impressions de France
      American Adventure
      Reflections of China
      O Canada
      Maelstrom
      Gran Fiesta Tour

      Plus eating, drinking, and wandering around looking at detail. But, as I’ve said throughout, to each his own!

  • Don’t hate but I love Figment and have to do it by myself unless we have newbies traveling with us. My husband isn’t fooled anymore :) and like Gus we skip the world showcase on our trips unless we have newbies with us. I am terrified of birds so of course tiki room is out. But like you Tom I love CoP and “it’s a small world.” Haven’t been on bears since I was little and hubby has no interest so we don’t do it either. May check it out when our 18 month old can sit through a show :) thanks for the fun blog!

  • I completely agree with you. Never have used a Touring Plan, but am excited to try the new Optimized Touring Plans in June.

  • I haven’t been to WDW in 6+ years, but after a recent trip to DLR I’d have to go with the Tiki Room at DL. All I could think was, “Too bad RIO wasn’t a Disney movie, cuz that would be a great re-vamp!” The Dole Whip almost makes it worth it, though. ;)
    At CA, the obvious choice is pretty much any carnival ride, but I was especially disappointed by Monsters Inc. What a waste of a dark ride, Disney!

  • Ok… here it goes- My girls and I LOVE Stitch’s Great Escape. There. I said it :0 Love everything about it.
    Also, our 10yr old loves CoP which desperately needs refurb- always smells funky. My favorite Epcot ride is Figment (I’d kill to get the original back, but I’ll settle for 3.0) & when our youngest was 4 we had to ride EVERY time we passed- good thing there’s never a wait! I loved Living with the Land as a kid & still do- gotta do the tour.
    As for CBJ, my Dad was nuts over it- esp. Big Al & liked to sing “blood on the saddle,” so we have a real soft spot there too. Another of my favorites is the TTA and the whole family wouldn’t miss Tom Sawyer’s Island :) Guess what? Can’t stand Space Mountain!

  • Totally have to agree with Brittney on Monsters, inc in DCA. It was deserted the day we rode and deservedly so. Very sub par!

  • Love Carousel of Progress and Hall of Presidents. Can’t believe you didn’t give a shout-out to my all-time favorite, Tomorrowland Transit Peoplemover Authority (or whatever they’re calling it now).

    My hubby’s favorite attraction at the MK is Country Bears. The kids are kind of over it now, but they still indulge him because it makes him so happy.

    Tiki Birds and Stitch are meh. But what I really don’t like are movie-type attractions in Epcot. Dull, dull, dull.

    • My husband and I ride TTA at least twice each trip. Sometimes as many as 5 or 6 times. Often, I’ll ask if we can just go around again without exiting. I love it that much.

  • And now that I think about it, it’s pretty ironic that I hate the WS movies so much, since the World Showcase is the very best thing in all of Walt Disney World.

    • Sarah feels the same way about the World Showcase films (“I can watch movies at home”). I love them, especially the CircleVision 360 films, which we CANNOT actually watch at home. I also enjoy Impressions de France, as the score is brilliant.

  • I’ve seen some comments on American Idol and I completely agree. Is like a very boring and overacted version of a very dated tv show.

    BUT

    I think Hollywwod Studios are the worst park at the moment. YES, it has 3 of the best attractions/shows (TOT, muppets and TSM for me) and two VERY good ones (Aerosmith’s and Star Tours) but the rest of the park has the same lack of commitment that Epcot used to show.

    Indiana? oh my… somebody create a new show… it is the same one I saw hundred of years ago! LMA? it is the most boring car show I’ve ever wittness. Backlot tour? where are all the props we used to recognize? And what’s the deal with the great movie ride’s new slow speed?

    Now that they moved to DHS the person responsable for the GREAT improvment Epcot had in the last 8 years, I hope he can actualy make this park, the edging park it was before!

  • Gotta skip the tea cups…..never goes very well…

    And the Land boat tour absolutely rocks.

    I haven’t taken the kids into the Cuntry Bears yet, I always thought it was kind of loud and scary when I was a kid, but perhaps I need to reevaluate.

    • I don’t have kids, so perhaps I’m not the best judge, but I wouldn’t consider CBJ loud or scary. The music can be loud, but not in a “startling noises” type of way.

  • I loved the Tiki Room from the first time I saw it with my Grandmother. I was 6 years old – 40 years ago at Disneyland. I still see the show every time I visit because it reminds me of happy times with her. I don’t really like Living with the Land, maybe because I saw it at age 17 when Epcot first opened. I love Epcot now, but back then I thought Future World was dull, dull, dull!

  • I love It’s a Small World – guess you can tell by my name. :-) I love how it gives you the most optimistic view imaginable of the people of the world coming together not just with toleration but with joy. I know that makes me crazy in today’s world. :-) Plus I love the sweetness of Mary Blair’s artwork and especially her appreciation of color.

    I also like Aladdin — it’s like Dumbo, but with no line!

  • Stitch’s Great Escape is one of my favourite attractions. I preferred Alien Encounter but still really enjoy it with Stitch, who is one of my fave ever Disney characters (along with Donald Duck, Piglet, Wall-e & Rex)

    As a Brit I find American Adventure positively nauseating but enjoy the Hall of Presidents which I actually enjoy.

    I wish Journey into Imagination would return to the version I saw on my first trip in 1987, but maybe my memory does it too much credit!

    My most hated and avoided attractions are the kiddy spinning (vomit inducing) ones. Dumbo, Astro Orbiter, Triceratop Spin and worst of the bunch Flying Carpets of Aladdin which really finished me off. It’s odd really because I’m happy on Rock n Roller & other coasters, but the spinny ones are pure evil!

  • I adore CoP. I never miss it and inevitably end up singing “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” every night before we go to sleep, which doesn’t drive my husband crazy at all (wink wink). I also love American Adventure, which hubby falls asleep during every single time. I take that one personally for some reason. I also think Swiss Family Tree House is great. And Living with the Land is poetry in a greenhouse. I could ride it 100 times a trip. This is what makes the parks so much fun. Something for everyone.

  • No amount of groupthink will separate me from my love of COP and Country Bear Jamboree. My whole family loves those two attractions. When it comes to American Adventure I am pretty much on an island. On most trips my wife and kids leave me alone for a while so I can go enjoy the Voices of Liberty and a showing of American Adventure all by my lonesome… well, along with hundreds of other guests.

  • I love Living With The Land! Maybe it’s because I enjoy plants, gardening, etc but I think it is really interesting. And I don’t hate Figment. However, I never saw the original. And I love CoP and sing along with it during the performance, much to the humiliation of my chidren. :) I think TSI is greatly themed and a nice “break” during the day yet still “doing” something.

    We try and experience every attraction and most shows/films each trip. The only 2 I don’t care for at all are American Idol (we have karaoke bars at home!) and Stitch. Didn’t ride Stitch because of the bad reviews and finally broke down and experienced it. That was a mistake!

  • I absolutely love all of the classic Magic Kingdom Disney rides: Carousel of Progress, Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, Small World, Pirates, Swiss Family Robinson, and yes, even Country Bear Jamboree (’cause mamma don’t whoop little Bufford!). I could also ride the TTA (fondly known in our family as the W.E.D. Way People mover) all day, occasionally breaking it up with some Big Thunder Mountain. I don’t skip much when I’m in WDW, but there are definitely a handful of attractions that I don’t like to spend time on. Picking and choosing your attractions leaves more time for eating and drinking, which are two attractions you should never pass up in WDW!

    For anyone who, like me, loved the original Figment, you can get a series of videos on youtube that document the entire original ride. Watch them. I promise your fond memories are not lying to you regarding the supreme awesomeness of the original ride.