Quick reviews of the 14 rides I went on at Disney World

September 8th, 2016

I’m on holiday at the moment, so a good chance to do something a bit unusual for this blog and do reviews of the rides I went on at Disney World.

Epcot

Frozen Ever After – Epcot’s current ‘line around the block’ big ride. The only thing this ride has going for it is the Frozen tie in, otherwise it’s a fairly dull water ride. There are some exceptional animatronics, especially Olaf, but it’s not enough. C

Soarin’ – a ‘hang gliding’ ride, now upgraded to include images from around the world rather than only California. The sensation of flight is quite good, although the illusion is broken by the appearance of buildings on the curved screen. The Eiffel tower ended up with a pronounced ‘lean’. B

Test Track – basically a fast coaster (peak speed of around 100km/h) with a car theme. The ‘going fast’ bits worked well, but the ‘swerving around’ bits didn’t. B+

Mission: SPACE – ‘journey to Mars’ simulator, using a centrifuge to generate around 3g forces. The feeling is weird, and made me feel a bit unsettled for 10 minutes or so after the ride. There’s also a weird mix of ‘real’ and ‘science fiction’ in the ride story. B-

Hollywood Studios

Star Tours – The Adventure Continues – one of the only ‘repeat’ rides from my trip to Disneyland a few years ago. There has been some new sequences added to reflect the new movie, one of which I was lucky enough to get. Still an impressive ride with strong story telling and good use of the simulator ride vehicle. A-

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – not long for this life, with the theming being replaced in California (although the ride will remain essentially the same mechanically). That’s a pity, as there is some excellent theming, particularly in the queue. And the ride itself is a nice mix of story telling and thrill. The freefall feeling during the drops is particularly nice. A+

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith – good coaster, but why did it need the Aerosmith tie in? It’s a well done dark coaster, a bit wilder than Space Mountain. A-

The Great Movie Ride – very slow ride through animatronic scenes of famous movies, together with some terrible commentary from the driver. The ride vehicle is also very uncomfortable – think ‘pews on wheels’ and you have a good idea. There’s a germ of a good ride here, with some good scenes, but the writing and packaging is terrible. It’s all wrapped up with a two minute add for Turner Movies as well. D-

Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris – a first for Disney, a ride that is really more of a zoo experience than anything else. The Disney innovation and technical excellence is interesting to see in the context of a ride that is really a drive past several zoo enclosures. The commentary from the driver, while annoying, did manage to not ruin the ride as well. B

Expedition Everest – coaster themed around encountering a Yeti. Reasonable coaster, although not the best Disney has. But the theming is terrible – why rely on a Yeti when there’s the fantastic story of climbing Everest to use. C-

Kali River Rapids – a river rapids ride, with basically one real drop and that’s it. Not exciting, and you don’t even get that wet (did I mention it was low 30s in Orlando during this visit?). C+

Magic Kingdom

Splash Mountain – log flume ride themed around Brer Rabbit tales. One of Disney’s absolute classics, with a great mix of story, theme and thrill. My main complaint is that the audio mixing is a bit erratic, so it was hard to hear the story develop. I’m also unclear how ‘being thrown into the briar patch’ corresponds to the big plunge. You will get wet, which was still welcome. A

Haunted Mansion – another classic. When I saw this at Disneyland it had the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay on it, so I was keen to see the original. It’s a lot better, better told story and better special effects. But slow, and not much thrill. B

Under The Sea – The Journey of the Little Mermaid – same basic ride vehicle as Haunted Mansion, this time telling the story of The Little Mermaid movie. Technically well done, with some nice animatronics, but really just a bit flat overall. C+