Saturday, May 25, 2019

Top 10 Favorite Disney Attractions

In the middle of vacation planning mode and that always gets me excited.  I'm the planner.  I look for all the things to do, all the best places to eat, the regional food that I really want to try, etc.  And when we're visiting theme parks, that means I'm researching all the rides and attractions and creating my priority list of can't miss, want to, and never rides.

With the Disney parks, I can practically create that list from memory.  I know the layout of the stateside parks by hand and know exactly what I have to ride and do.  There's always new food to try, but my favorite attractions are pretty set.

In that vein, I thought I would share today my top 10 favorite Disney attractions.  Most still operational (RIP Great Movie Ride), and most in the best version to experience them (looking at Everest sideways).  I've noted the best park to experience them at, as there are differences in the cloned rides.  Otherwise, this gives a pretty rounded experience of the variety of attractions that Disney offers.

So, without further ado, my list of my Top 10 Favorite Disney Attractions, in order of creation:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean, Disneyland (1967) - Walt's masterpiece.  This contains everything he worked toward.  Extensive audio-animatronics.  Beautiful effects.  Fully transportive environments, especially in the siege of the fort - the simple effect leading to smoke and clouds on the night sky is so amazing.  The Disneyland location is the best stateside with the two drops to get under the train station and the collapsing building section.  
  • The American Adventure, EPCOT (1982) - Disney's best audio-animatronic show.  Disney does Americana better than anyone and this is no exception.  Ben Franklin and Mark Twain telling the story of American history.  This may get bumped up a few notches just for the Voices of Liberty pre-show.
  • Great Movie Ride, Disney Hollywood Studios (1989) - This one is here simply for my love of movies.  A ride through an audio-animatronic extravaganza filled with classic movies is right up my alley.  Yes, the live actors could be kind of hokey and yes, Disney did this ride no service by ignoring maintenance and broken effects.   The Wicked Witch animatronic remains one of the most impressive that Disney has ever created.  And the ride serving as a perfect thesis for the park has not been matched.  While the Mickey ride should be good, this one is missed.
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Disney Hollywood Studios (1994) - Perhaps the best all-around attraction that Disney has ever put together. Especially the Florida version with the 5th Dimension room.  The grounds and decor are so beautifully derelict.  The nods to Twilight Zone episodes are wonderful Easter eggs.  And the experience on the ride with greater than gravity freefall is a lot of fun.
  • Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye, Disneyland (1995) - Another top notch attraction from Disney.  The enhanced motion jeep allowing a vehicle on a flat surface to seem like it's travelling over bumps and dips is incredible.  The effects with fire, projections, set pieces, and the boulder all make this a very thrilling ride.  The music from the films just elevates that experience.  Add in one amazing queue and you have probably the best ride at Disneyland.
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris, Disney Animal Kingdom (1998) - For the signature ride at Animal Kingdom, Disney Imagineers took a different approach. They finally realized Walt Disney's dream for the Jungle Cruise, by creating a ride where the guests would encounter live animals.  And they were able to engineer some pretty close encounters.  Clever rockwork and perspective hides protection gaps between the guests and the animals so you truly feel like you are on a wild safari.
  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Disney Hollywood Studios (1999) - A very simple concept.  A roller coaster timed to classic rock.  And it works so effectively.  My favorite combination is "Love in an Elevator."  That song plays such that when you get to the final stop, the last bars of the song just echo off the walls.  
  • Soarin' Over California, Disney California Adventure (2001) - The functionality of the ride is so simple, it's amazing.  Designed from an erector set, the ride allows you to simulate the feeling of hang gliding over locations from across California, ending at Disneyland at night.  The ride is a gentle and beautiful experience with an incredible score.
  • Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (Yeti - A Mode), Disney Animal Kingdom (2006) - When everything is working, this is the best roller coaster on Disney property.  I was fortunate in my first ride to see the Yeti in A mode.  The largest and most complicated audio-animatronic Disney ever created, the Yeti at 25 feet tall would lunge out at your car and try to grab it as you pass through the final section of the coaster.  It was a terrifying sight.  The Yeti in B Mode, or "Disco Yeti," where movement is simulated through a strobe light, not so much.  It's still a fun coaster, but is excellent when it's all functional.  Hopefully, they will finally crack how to fix the mountain before too long.
  • Radiator Springs Racers, Disney California Adventure (2012) - This is where all of Disney's tricks come together to make one impressive new ride. Part dark ride with large scale impressive animatronics, part thrilling race through imagineered rockwork, the ride is all fun.  Beautiful attention to detail in recreating the Cars universe, combined with the simple thrill of driving with the top down and feeling the wind on your face.  One of Disney's best recent offerings.
That's my list.  For those of you that have visited, what are your favorite attractions?

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