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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!