This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Attractions at Walt Disney World. Hot off the heels of our All Star Panel getting together and voting for the Six Best Attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort, it was only natural to take a look across the street and get to the bottom, once and for all, of what the six best attractions at Walt Disney World were. But this is The World after all. The Vacation Kingdom. The most popular theme park resort on Earth. So naturally we had to go big. We contacted 25 experts for Universal? Well we’re getting 50 for Disney! And after negotiations that took so long that Disney could have taken down two Sorcerer’s Hats in the same time, we finally heard back from some of the most well known names in the Disney Universe. An all star, blue ribbon panel made up of members from some of the best Disney podcasts (Disney Hipsters, WDW Today, Radio Harambe, and the Mighty Men of Mouse), the most amazing Disney photographers (including Tom Bricker, Morgan Crutchfield, Brandon Glover, and Dirk Wallen), the greatest Disney bloggers/authors (Epcot Explorer, Sam Gennaway, FoxxFur, and Jim Hill), the nicest Disney fans we know (Scarlett Litton, Daisy Lauren, and Drunk At Disney), the meanest Disney fans we know (Tom Corless and Josh Humphrey), legitimate members of the Theme Park Media Elite (Orlando Sentinel’s Dewayne Bevil, Attraction Magazine‘s Banks Lee and Matt Roseboom), and the only guy in the entire world who admits to liking Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Matt Hochberg).
SATURDAY SIX staff tabulating votes.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Maureen Deal of Autism at the Parks? Here. Gary Bruckner, creator of the Frost Bitten Rum Cider at the Dolphin’s Todd English bluezoo? Here. Fan Favorite Disney Twitter accounts? How about Mearn, Mark Diba, and Adam Roth. Not to mention both Jenn and Tim Tracker! They’re ALL HERE, and many more.
The Criteria: Each of the 50 experts voted on what they consider to be the six best attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort. These attractions could be any ride, show, nighttime spectacular, or parade currently in Walt Disney World (including the water parks.) Anything that was holiday exclusive – such as the Boo to You! parade, Happy HalloWishes, or the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – were not eligible. Each attraction listed would be awarded ONE point, except for the attraction that the voter ranked in his #1 spot – that received TWO points. The votes were then sent to a top secret location in Florida and counted no less than 22 times. (We’ve had some problems in the past. We can’t apologize enough, Mr. Gore.) The results are in, and we now proudly present….
The DEFINITIVE GUIDE to the SIX BEST ATTRACTIONS at Walt Disney World.
# 6 – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (12 points)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. (photo by Tom Bricker)
Laurel Stewart (TouringPlans Disney Cruise Queen) – Opening Date – 1980: Big Thunder has it all – story, visual puns, theming, great effects… a bluegrass soundtrack. It’s not as great a coaster from a technical standpoint as Expedition Everest (Yeti aside, which it turns out, was a mechanical overreach on Disney’s part) or Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster. And it’s not a thrill ride by any means – there are more intense coasters all over Orlando. But this one is Disney at its best. It anchors Frontierland in a way that I don’t think Disney has come close to in years with the exception of Everest in Animal Kingdom’s Asia, which I think is its successor (and my would-have-been number one pick except that the ride is way too short). Because it opened in 1980, I never had to worry about the height requirement and was able to ride it from the start. Which I did, because I LOVE ROLLER COASTERS. On the other hand, my younger brother may have been tricked onto it when I told him it was “just a train ride, like the one at Main Street.” Suffice it to say, I have plenty of nostalgia for Big Thunder and love it just as much today as 35 years ago. And if you don’t take my word for it, take it from the French. Big Thunder Mountain is by far the most popular attraction at Disneyland Paris. And the French are never wrong. Just ask Jerry Lewis.
Edit 9/10/14: Well, it’s the day after this was supposed to have launched and nary a peep from Disney. In fact, the special website that I was previously able to access that included a video of how the game worked has been re-linked to the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party page. Not sure what caused Disney to pull this game, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a part of this year’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween parties now.
Edit 9/3/14 4:30 p.m.: Odd…while I have the game app from the Apple Store, which I downloaded onto my iPad a few days ago, I cannot find it anymore in the Apple App Store. Also, more curious is that it seems that the Disney Parks Blog post about this is missing now too. Not sure if a re-launch is going to take place on September 9, the first party the app was slated to be active or if it has been pulled all-together. The experience was noted on the map for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
The app is called Mayhem at the Mansion. The story behind the app is that The Haunted Mansion’s Hitchhiking Ghosts have escaped and are causing mayhem at the Magic Kingdom during the party. Your goal is to use the “Specter Collector,” found inside the app, to take photos of the ghosts, and return them to The Haunted Mansion. Guests can find the location of the ghosts by aiming the “Specter Collector” at a park map.
Once all three ghosts have been collected and returned, you will be able to unlock exclusive Mayhem rewards.
I recently downloaded it and started playing with it. The app is very simple. There is an introduction video, an link to purchase Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party via Disney’s website, a video explaining how the process of collecting works, and the “Specter Collector” camera. I am not sure if more will be updated once the app officially is unveiled for park use on September 9, but the basics are already there.
From 11 am – 3 pm, guests are invited to join hostess Miss Betty Blue, as she presents some hauntingly good entertainment including the barbershop quartet, The Cadaver Dans, the piano playing Dearly Departed Stan, and magician Abner Cadaver. Guests will be able to grab a Halloween inspired treat, including a special cupcake.
A minor but impressive updated: The singing busts in the graveyard of the haunted Mansion have had their projections altered to improve the effect. Attractions Magazine brings us this videos via Youtube.
First reports coming back from the refurbished Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom park are all positive. The wait time has been relatively bearable, somewhat in part to a newly installed awning that actually covers the width of the queue.
Other improvements include fully renewed sound systems (who knew Haunted Mansion had bass?) new lighting and some great new special FX. A warning for the folks with little ones: The new stretching room has loud thunder and the hanging body is blatantly clear. It scared some of the small fries on our recent visits, more then the old version did.
The Haunted Mansion ride at the Magic Kingdom is getting its final touches to reopen later this week at the Magic Kingdom.
A fresh coat of paint gives the Mansion a umm.. freshly worn look? Regardless, it looks the way it’s supposed to.
The canopy for the exterior queue should be reinstalled soon and the final signing-off of the attraction for occupancy should go as scheduled. We’re looking forward to riding the refurbished Haunted Mansion and bringing you all the ghastly details ASAP.
Details are beginning to emerge about the Haunted Mansion’s refurbishment at the Magic Kingdom.
When the ride reopens in September, guests will be able to experience a whole new scene based on the idea of endless staircases sort of like the artwork of M.C. Escher. Additionally, the floating head of Madame Leota as well as the new bride from California’s Disneyland Resort will debut but in technologically updated forms. The whole ride system audio is being overhauled in this bi-coastal effort involving Imagineers from both Florida and California. As always, a thorough dusting of the attraction will occur prior to reopening.