Spring break is upon us and summer is just around the corner. We all know what that means: time to book our plane tickets and head somewhere sunnier and warmer with a trip to Disney World! Whether you’re going down with your closest friends in college or taking your young kiddos or going with a bunch of coworkers on a retreat from the office, Disney World manages to be a wonderful escape for anyone and everyone.
That doesn’t mean that the experience will be flawlessly perfect, though. First of all, you’ve got to deal with children running rampant through the causeways of the park, scurrying around your legs like mice running from a flood. Then you’ve got to deal with the long lines that demand you pay for a speed-pass, but then everyone gets the speed-pass so it hardly helps. And finally, if you don’t want to wait in line for the most popular and exciting rides, you’ve got to endure some… well, to be honest, sketchy rides.
We mean no disrespect: Disney World is practically a pioneering force in modern theme parks and every ride is precious and beloved. Buuuut maybe they shouldn’t be? There are plenty of rides that are gross, outdated, potentially haunted, poorly conceived, and seem downright dangerous. We know that Disney is really just waiting for great ideas from the Imagineers to replace them but these rides have really got to go. Here are fifteen of the sketchiest rides at Orlando, Florida’s Walt Disney World.
15. Primeval Whirl
This ride, which resides in DinoLand U.S.A. of Animal Kingdom, is hilariously outdated. Even though it was just updated in 2011 after being built in 2002, it feels inherently sketchy. It’s built in the manner of a steel wild mouse coaster: this means that there’s a car that moves along a track but the car itself is able to turn and pivot wildly, which makes you feel like you’re perpetually about to fall off the damn ride or be flung from the safety of your seat. Furthermore, it’s built on such a thin and seemingly rickety frame that it looks like it was thrown up in a day- kind of like the rides you see at state carnivals and tell your kids, “Oh, we’re not going on that. That’s not safe.” Two employees have died working on that ride over its short lifespan and we have no interest in tacking our names on to that list.
14. Frozen Ever After
Obviously, this ride is practically brand new. Opened in Epcot just a short bit ago in 2016, you’d think this ride would be so insanely popular and perfect and amazing, just like everyone’s new favorite Disney princesses, Anna and Elsa. Well… not so much. The exterior of the ride leads riders to believe they’re going to get a dose of worldly culture and learn more about Norway; it is in the Norwegian Pavilion of Epcot after all. Well, guess again- this ride doesn’t have diddly to do with worldly cultures. Second of all, the animation of the projections and the animatronics themselves aren’t exactly like they are in the movies- actually, it’s this reproduction that looks kind of creepy, like a cheap knock-off of the real thing. Same for the voices of the actors- there is no way that the voice actors are all the ones from the real movies. There’s just something about the ride that genuinely creeps us out, like we’re being lured into a Frozen trap.
13. Ellen’s Energy Adventure
Ellen, what are you doing here? This isn’t your show. Get out. Or at least go find the Finding Nemo ride and go hang out there. You have no reason to be here.
This seriously has got to be one of the weirdest rides in the park. It was like Imagineers lazily pieced it together based on what they had lying around and who they could possibly book to record some voice overs! Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ellen DeGeneres teamed up to narrate and lead us through this ride that takes us through the science behind energy sources… as well as through some dinosaur crap. How does this all fit together? Beats us. But you’ll have plenty of time to try to figure it out on this 45 MINUTE RIDE FROM HELL. Seriously, what was anyone thinking when they made this ride? “Let’s make a ride and advertise it as fun- but really, it’s a torture device to lower attendance when the park is too packed.”
12. Journey Into Imagination With Figment
“Who the hell is Figment?” you’re asking yourself. Figment is a figment of your imagination… or, rather, a figment of some really trippy Imagineer who thought it would be fun to terrify small children with a freaking weird purple dragon teaching them about their senses. Is it just a coincidence that this little purple guy looks strangely like Puff the Magic Dragon? We think not…
You don’t have to go far beyond the story behind this ride to realize just how sketchy it is. This trippy dragon interferes with a scientist’s experiments explaining how our senses interact with our subconsciousness and, of course, madness ensues. It’s when we get to Figment’s home, which looks like an acid trip come to life, that things really get wacky. If you’re able to walk off the ride without a migraine or confusion on your face, you may be just as sketchy as Figment.
11. It’s a Small World
Want to hear a fun story? So apparently, one rider noticed while on the ride that there was a live lobster just crawling along beside the track. As she pointed it out to her fellow riders, a ride operator walked up to the lobster, asked “how did you get out?”, then proceeded to fling the lobster back into the waters around the ride. So… we’d like some answers there.
Really, this ride isn’t just sketchy for the apparent wildlife that runs rampant- it’s sketchy for all it attempts to do and kind of fails to do. It is, of course, attempting to communicate with riders that no matter where we’re from, we’re all the same and we should celebrate our differences and our cultures and blah and blah and blaaaah! But what it really does is annoy the living daylights out of everyone. You know why people still go on this ride? Because they feel obligated to or because they heard it’s haunted from the time someone hung themselves from the rafters (which isn’t even true, it’s just an urban legend- but still! Why do you want to go on a ride haunted by a suicidal spirit?).
10. Pirates of the Caribbean
Okay, gross fun fact… apparently the bed in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is actually made of real bones. We don’t know where they got the bones. Some Disney workers say that even the human skull at the top of the headboard (ha) is real. So that’s fun.
Pirates of the Caribbean is sketchy for a whole bunch of reasons. It is an older ride in the park, built and opened back in 1967, so of course there are going to be things wrong with it and weird hiccups… but come on. The water, even with the lights on, is straight up muck. The pirate animatronics look like mannequins that are trying to come to life but need more oil, like the Tin Man in Wizard of Oz. The skeletons look like they were stolen from high school classrooms and thrown in kitschy places. And the mild thrills (if you can even call them that) wouldn’t be enough to wake a sleeping child. Seriously, kids sleep through this ride all the time. Hopefully they don’t fall into the man made mucky lagoon while they sleep…
9. Mission: Space
Mission: Space is actually a relatively recent addition to Disney World’s Epcot park. Residing in Future World, this ride opened in 2003- not too long ago, all things considered. When riding, you sit down in a motion simulator that looks like a mission control console and you get the opportunity to push buttons and “control” the mission unfolding in front of you. But… well, there are a lot of fundamental problems with this ride. First of all, this ride was released in a time where space travel was really no longer futuristic; we were doing it already! It was supposed to open back in the 70s- you know, when this form of space travel was still futuristic. And fun fact, it doesn’t matter if riders operate their controls like the ride mandates at all- the ride will proceed with or without your participation. Not exactly like space travel, and not exactly what the ride advertises…
8. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
There are a whole bunch of reasons this ride is sketchy, and we’re not even going to count the fact that the harnessing system looks practically nonexistent to non-riders (it exists… or so we think). We will, however, count that Imagineers totally phoned this ride in on to the fullest extent: they totally and absolutely copied everything about this ride (except the paint scheme) from the Dumbo the Flying Elephant spinner- it actually has a third copy, as well, in the Astro Orbiter, but we won’t rag on the park designers too much. Look, we don’t want to put the ride down too much. Some people really love Aladdin, and the ride opened up long after it ought to have (in 2001- nine years after the hit movie released). But this wonky, boring, and simple ride is no worthy tribute to the movie and is actually fairly suspicious in its design.
7. Tom Sawyer Island
If you’re a big fan of literature and specifically a fan of Mark Twain’s deep south stories of adventure and coming of age, you may love Tom Sawyer’s Island. If that is the case, we bow to your superior knowledge and submit to you that perhaps Tom Sawyer’s Island is a wonderful attraction that should be maintained in a park filled with fodder for kids that don’t read enough and watch too much television. But for everyone else- it’s time to level this patch of dirt. It is honestly one of the biggest wastes of good real estate in the Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland (space that, honestly, could likely host an amazing Princess and the Frog attraction), and it is so horribly, poorly maintained. It’s like the attraction was built back in the early seventies and no park employees have stepped foot in it since! Every Imagineer should be focused on repurposing this space, no matter how old and “historic” it is.
6. The Land
We bet you don’t even know what ride we’re talking about. This Epcot Future World ride was opened back in the early 1980’s and it’s kind of an attraction all about how we, as humans, interact with the land and the environment. Sounds kind of cool, right? Like a really important attraction that should be drawing lots of attention to human’s grand effect on global climate change and how simple measures taken by individuals could change, nay, save our world? Yeah, sure it sounds like that… but that’s not what’s up.
It’s kind of like Disney and the organizations sponsoring the attraction just wanted all of their adoring fans to know that “hey, we care.” But they obviously don’t care a whole lot. While part of the facility is dedicated to actual horticultural research, when was the last time you heard of ground-breaking research done by Disney? The whole impression they’re lazily trying to give off with this boring ride is shady, at best.
5. Captain EO
Don’t remember Captain EO? That’s okay, you’re probably not alone. It was originally a 1980s short science fiction film starring the one and only Michael Jackson. It was a show that was one of the first 4-D experiences, meaning that viewers wore 3D glasses and watched a movie while there were also live action actors running around the theatre performing. It was actually pretty star studded, with work by Anjelica Huston, George Lucas, James Newton, and Francis Coppola. So what happened?
It disappeared in 1996 after ten years of running. It had run its course, as many Disney rides (obviously) do. What’s sketchy about it is that they brought the ride back right after Michael Jackson died, as a tribute to him. Okay… we get that… but Michael Jackson died in the wake of some incredibly serious allegations made against him. And this ride is all about how much of a family-friendly hero he is. Um… yeah… that was a bit of a sketchy choice, Disney.
4. Space Mountain
“Space Mountain! Why is Space Mountain on the list?! Everyone loves Space Mountain!”
Okay, don’t get your panties in a twist. We know everyone loves Space Mountain, it’s a freaking classic. But Space Mountain was kind of sketchily constructed. Opened back in 1975, rules and restrictions on engineering as well as on roller coasters in general were a bit more lax. Why restrict anything? Engineers ought to be able to figure out how much space they need, no problem. Well… Disney engineers cut things a bit close on this ride.
Space Mountain used to be pitch black dark on the inside… now, it’s fairly illuminated so you can kind of see your surroundings at all times. But occasionally, they’ll leave all the lights on so you can see everything… and it is terrifying. The indoor coaster is built so that you’re always passing close to tracks! If you were abnormally tall with your hands raised, you could break your wrists on this ride!
3. Tomorrowland Speedway
The Tomorrowland Speedway has to be one of the most hilarious and stupid and ridiculous parts of Tomorrowland. It sits on the border between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland and all it is are gas-powered go-karts that reach a whopping five miles per hour. Um… news flash, Disney: that’s not futuristic or fantastic. Even little kids are worn out with the excitement of this ride. And it’s sitting on prime real estate! Think about the possibilities of putting a Big Hero 6 ride here, or even a good Lilo & Stitch ride (because the real one is straight up terrible)! So why keep it here? Imagineers seem pretty damn sketchy and lazy when they don’t move on updating the park in such obvious ways. What are they waiting for? At this point, at least update it to electric cars sponsored by Tesla or change the design of the car at the very minimum. Otherwise, this attraction is unappealing, unimpressive, and… well, unattractive.
2. Haunted Mansion
This ride is sketchy and creepy as hell for so many reasons. First of all, the ride workers are always strangely gung-ho about making the experience as creepy as possible for small kids- even to the point of following them throughout the ride and the lines (yes, this has actually happened. Numerous times). Secondly, people have been known to actually scatter the ashes of their loved ones throughout the ride. WHO WOULD REQUEST THAT IN THEIR WILL?!
It’s also just sketchy because they perpetuate really horrifying rumors and urban legends about the ride. Without them, the ride is kind of boring (and let’s be real, the Eddie Murphy movie didn’t do much to increase the scare factor of it)… but that doesn’t mean you should want your guests believing that the hearse out front has really been used, that a mother dumped her son’s ashes on the ride and he haunts it, or that a man had a heart attack while on the ride and died. That’s some sketchy stuff, Disney.
1. The Tower of Terror
There is an age-old urban legend that the Tower of Terror is haunted. Well, duh- that’s kind of the point of the ride. But we thought we’d actually fill you in on the legend and it’s origins.
The legend actually comes from a video of one of the maintenance men checking up on the ride. The video is taken while he’s sitting alone, hilariously diligent for being on such a fun ride. What’s strange is that towards the end of the ride, a few seats to Mr. Maintenance Man’s right, a white figure appears to be sitting. It looks like it was shot on old film, and it lasted a few frames. Some attribute the white flickering to a damage in the film recreating his image a few places over, but that makes no sense. Besides, the figure seems cloaked in white, not the maintenance guy’s dark clothes.
Look, urban legends are fun… until they’re real. Then they’re crazy sketchy. Rumor has it the Tower of Terror will soon be refurbished into a Guardians of the Galaxy ride, so hopefully reinventing the ride will exorcise the spirits from its old hallows.
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