On the 13th of June I turned 30, I’m not dealing with this so instead I decided to both ignore and celebrate me lasting so long by writing a whole bunch of top 30 countdown lists. I returned to Orlando, Florida and its theme parks and attractions after 20 years for a holiday. Going to Florida on holiday is a big thing for Britons and requires much saving and lots of effort (and lots of sitting watching whatever Virgin Atlantic put on their little screens). Letter From America is the blog-based fallout from this, we left the day before Hurricane Matthew hit and these posts are not meant in any way as a middle finger to those were killed, injured or even inconvenienced by the hurricane, we at AFB send our deepest sympathies to you all.
Still in Orlando, still counting down rides you should go on
< Part 1
15. Roa’s Rapids
Why? Oooh no one else is going to put this on their lists and that means you’re all WRONG, hate fun and are unappreciative bastards. Lazy rivers don’t get enough appreciation because we’re all so damned used to them and because they offer a fairly tame ride experience but think about how relaxing and enjoyable it is to be on a lazy river, think about how much you – at home in the rain or at work in the rain or at work/home in the boiling hot - wish you were floating around in a lazy river. Now imagine that someone sped this lazy river up, said you didn’t have to be confined to a rubber ring and now imagine splashing ‘round this ‘grown up’ lazy river with your mates until you got too hungry to continue because that’s what Roa’s Rapids is and that’s why it’s in my top 20 and above things like Hulk and the Jungle River. This is so much fun and I wish I was in it right now.
Worth the Queue? There isn’t one! Well unless you need to wait a minute for a vest thing but you’re not required to use ‘em so fuck it, just go on without ‘em and be brave.
14. Splash Mountain
Why? Actually ‘why’ sums up Splash Mountain pretty well, why did they decide to make their log flume based on the most racially troublesome of Disney’s films? Why did no one say ‘hold on, maybe you should base it on Bedknobs and Broomsticks instead’? Why is it still Songs of the South themed in a time when Tumblr exists, the Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo exists and more so when the film isn’t available to buy just in case everyone thinks it’s racist? Why has it not been re-themed when other classics like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Swiss Family Treehouse, far less morally troublesome rides, have been and fucking Tower of Terror is being re-themed in Anaheim? With all that out the way Splash Mountain has the exact same good qualities as Big Thunder but with less ghosts and dinosaurs and more singing animals and racism, it’s Disney doing the best log flume they can and that’s a really good log flume right there, as for why it’s above Big Thunder well more people can go on it, generally log flumes are the thrill ride that people who don’t like roller coasters go on and that means that a lot more people will get a lot more enjoyment out of this mountain, it’s queue area and general surroundings are also much better aaaaaand it has a load of leftovers from America Sings in it and while I may be the only person, and certainly the only Briton, who loves that ride as much as I do, I am and this is still my list and I can still bump a ride up and down it based on such small, petty and biased reasons if I want, bite me.
Worth the Queue? No. Other than the racism it’s Splash Mountain’s biggest problem that the ride doesn’t feel equal to the guaranteed long-ass queues you will have to wait in, at least never to me, the ride is very long, I think it’s 12 minutes but somehow the queues always feel prohibitively long for the experience you get. Another and perhaps the worst of the Disney Longqueues the only reason we didn’t have to queue for the standard 40-75 minutes is because a thunder storm shut it and then we got on just after it reopened (our wait time was 10-15 minutes I think) but that’s an anomaly so in theory it IS worth the wait but in practice it never seems to be, and anyway very little is worth an hour and half’s queuing, especially if the bloody thing seems to shut once a day, minimum.
13. Rock ‘n Roller Coaster Featuring Aerosmith
Disney Hollywood Studios
Why? I like Aerosmith’s music ok, certainly more than anyone else I went on holiday with, this doesn’t mean I think Steve Tyler isn’t a massive douchnozzle it just means I like a lot of their songs but that’s not really a factor in why this is here. I’d honestly far prefer the ride to be based on other bands of equal stature like Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath or The Rolling Stones but none of them are very likely to work with Disney are they? Maybe Metallica. It’s here because it may well be the nicest ride, roller coaster wise, in Orlando and one of the nicest rides you can have on a ‘coaster – it has all the good feelings you get from a thrill ride without any of the bad, it’s a really nice ride. It has other positives – the music is very well synched to what you’re experiencing and it doesn’t have the standard climb thanks to its ‘thrilling from the start’ design but really yeah it’s just here because it’s riding it is so pleasant.
Worth the Queue? You know I think it is, it’s a long ‘coaster and like the Hulk it’s something that I noticed while riding it – I felt, wow this is long for a roller coaster, I may have evens aid it aloud - and coupled with it’s nice ride experience it doesn’t feel too long, just long enough to justify queuing for over half an hour for. The queue area though suffers from having a really nice 10 minutes near boarding but a really shitty overspill queue area in what feels like a metal barn that relies on huge fans rather than air con, quite disappointing for Disney and uncomfortably warm.
Why? So remember back when we were all much younger and you were reading my number 30 pick and I was going on about how attractions that offer a nice sit down in the cool have worth and are in fact essential for parks the size, temperature and busyness of the Magic Kingdom? Well welcome to the nicest nice sit down attraction in Orlando in the park where you need a nice sit down in the cool more than any other. Even though Soarin’ is a simulator it’s movement is that of gently soaring over things and is tame enough to offer a nice sit down while still offering a captivating ride experience for people who want their nice sit downs to be more interesting than watching Donald Duck try to make out with Ariel. I could spend hours on Soarin’, just checking me emails, having me lunch, I wish they had a Soarin’ room open for use as a park bench basically. If it does have a down side it’s that you can just see the edges of the screen in your peripheral vision and that can ruin the immersion if you focus on it (which you probably won’t because there’s a lot of look at in the footage) and a bit of a shame as Soarin’ is about flying over things in nothing but a seat, completely unencumbered by wind, weather or the feeling/possibility that you’re going to die, it’s experiencing a dream in reality while awake and again I wish I was on it right now, with a Dagwood sandwich.
Worth the Queue? Re-theming Maelstrom into Frozen Ever After might be heresy but it’s done wonders for Soarin’ queue times and with it how equal Soarin’ feels to said queue times. Frozen is now the ride at EPCOT that gets the stupidly long queues and has allowed Soarin’ to settle down into having a standard Future World queue time, now all Future World queue times are a little too long for what you eventually experience because EPCOT is STILL after all these years short on decent rides and pretty much all of them are clumped in Future World right by the entrance so I suppose just by being at EPCOT, Soarin’ will never truly be Worth the Queue but it’s a lot closer to it now. Actually let’s digress for a minute – Disney you really need to stick some rides in World Showcase because it is fucking boring – still – after decades World Showcase is not worth going round unless you want to get pissed. Once you’re done with the Star Wars Land upgrade to MGM (really interested to see how that comes out by the way) you need to get going putting in some stuff at EPCOT – I want a Studio Ghibli ride in Japan please but less specifically you have enough properties set in the countries with pavilions at World Showcase to give them all a decent dark ride if nothing else – 101 Dalmatians, Robin Hood, Basil the Great Mouse Detective, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks: these are just for the England pavilion, nearly all of the classic Disney fairy tale movies are set in Germany or France and frankly this is the perfect place to put a new attraction for Moana, even if is Hawaii doesn’t have a pavilion yet, give it one and give it a Moana ride, just make World Showcase worth visiting, having a brilliant shop in Japan is not enough! (EPCOT is surprisingly good if you’re shopping for souvenirs, it has a lot of park and pavilion exclusive stuff as well).
11. Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savoury Kitchen
Universal City Walk
Why? Does a restaurant count as an attraction? It does when it’s this bloody good and anyway it’s my list so shut up. I’ve already gone into why this is amazing in the Nummy Treats Letter From America but just to reiterate – it’s amazing, it’s so well themed it really is like going on an attraction, every little detail is perfectly themed from the waiters and walk around characters to the toilets and guest lifts - and the food is fucking delicious. I thought that the milk shakes and deserts seemed over priced at first but then we had ‘em and they’re so big they’re actually as filling as a standard Disney park lunch (which they’re roughly the same price as, between 10 and 12 dollars) and probably better value than the manky pizzas and uninspiring burgers. Speaking of which there is nothing uninspiring at the Emporium’s burgers – one of them has mashed potatoes in it and it is glorious. I’m also completely in love with their main walk around, the emporium’s ‘owner’ Professor Doctor Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome, hell I’m in love with just her name.
Worth the Queue? We got seated within half an hour and that was at dinner time but this was during an off-peak weekend, I imagine the wait time for dining goes up to well over an hour but the food is so good I don’t think that’s not too terrible. You can spend the time waiting in the shop (which is excellent), in the malt shop/beer garden parts or just looking around the place and interacting with the two characters and the staff, who are all really nice, so time certainly goes quickly, although money might also go quickly, it’s hard to resist what they’re selling and you might spoil your appetite, but y’know, it’s better than being bored while you wait.
10. Halloween Horror Nights
Universal Studios Florida
Why? This comes with a big IF attached to it, it’s only number 10 IF you upgrade your tickets or get entry to the Horror Nights included in your park hopper deals like we did, otherwise it’s far too expensive for what it is. I’ve decided that I don’t like these sort of things, or rather than these sort of tings don’t suit me, I’m too easily immersed and I get really tense and scared and even though you are completely safe in these sort of things, especially at Universal (the Scareactors cannot touch you), I don’t feel safe or at ease and I don’t like paying for those feelings. I also tend to react to fear with…well hitting the thing that scares me, it’s an involuntary reaction and I am very ashamed and uneasy with it but it’s a thing and I don’t want to knock out some poor bastard whose only crime was being good at their job. But all this does not affect the fact that Universal’s horror nights are fucking brilliantly done and they’re only getting bigger and better with each year, you need to do this if you’re in Orlando in October or later September because they put so much effort in and it really shows. Even if you don’t do many mazes (like me) the scare zones – parts of the park dressed up with costumed characters roaming around – make it seem worthwhile and give you enough scares. The queues for all the regular attractions are non-existent, even Escape From Gringott’s didn’t have a queue time worth mentioning. The licenced mazes are all great if you’re a fan, I went on this year’s Halloween maze because I’m a John Carpenter nut and it completely satisfied the annoying nit-picky geek in me but there’s also so much put into the back stories and lore of the original mazes and the ‘icon’ walk around character that hosts each year, it’s so impressive and immersing and interesting and other words beginning with ‘i’. Actually go on the Halloween Horror Nights Wiki, it’s not even that good a wiki (it’s a work in progress) but you can still loose hours and rack up a lot of tabs, and YouTube searches.
Worth the Queue? This is the downside, the queues for the horror mazes or ‘houses’ as they call them are ridiculous, especially for each year’s ‘big’ houses tied into big licences and that year’s Horror Icon; this year it was American Horror Story and The Walking Dead and 150 minutes to go on a scare maze, even one as good Universal’s, is taking the piss. Universal needs to take a cue from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary-Halloween (which we also did and it was also really good, though they do a lot less to the park) and offer a limited number of tickets per night.
9. Pirates of the Caribbean
Why? Orlando’s Pirates gets way too unfairly bashed by the Disney parks fans, I’ve always thought this but having been on it more than once in a fortnight I can say this with completely certainty. The opening cavern trip isn’t nearly as short as they’ll have you believe and does just as good a job putting you in a dreamlike state (though this is harder when one of your friends insists on riffing the skeletons, but that was quite funny and the crab is now comedy gold to me). It does lack for the waterfall ending, the ending is really abrupt actually and that does need something done with it, but the fort queuing area (I can’t remember how to spell it, sorry) is great and I didn’t actually find the Jack Sparrow re-theming that jarring, they could do with cutting the new ‘where’s Jack Sparrow’ dialogue and just having him be an amusing Where’s Wally/Loo-Kee type of thing with his scene at the end as the pay-off but I think that’s getting close to nit-picking. The additions don’t affect the auction scene, drunken scene or the prison scene featuring the dog (who has kind of become the ride’s Hitchhiking Ghosts now it seems, Disney even made the dog for their new line of Disney babies in blankets when we didn’t get a single Haunted Mansion character for that, I’m pleased for the woof-woof) and as for me they’re the most iconic and best scenes I’m ok.
Worth the Queue? Hell yes, it’s another Disney Longqueue but it’s a long and rewarding ride experience with a clear beginning, middle and end and a great payoff with seeing a popular and recognisable Disney icon (now), the queue area is lovely to be in and very air conditioned so waiting isn’t a hassle and it’s ride system keeps the queue flowing pretty constantly (well unless there’s someone in a wheel chair, inconsiderate fucks).
8. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Universal Studios Florida
Why? One of the two saving graces of Universal Studios, the best thing they’ve added to the park since the millennium and the only newer ride to feel on par with the likes of Konfrontation, Terminator 2 3D or Jaws: The Ride – this ride is fucking awesome. Universal have taken their ‘screens and semi-simulator’ formula (Transformers, Spider-Man etc) and combined it with an indoor roller coaster and they meshed this near perfectly, I think you really have to go on it to really get how well done it is but trust me it’s well done. It also meets pretty much all my criteria for a good film tie-in ride – it’s not a new story but rather takes place at the same time as Harry, Hermoine and Ron are breaking into and out of Gringott’s bank (you see them from time to time) from Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows - but that’s nearly as good and all the original cast are back including Helen Bonham-Carter and Bellatrix who’s appearance pushed the ride over into ‘unbelievably good’ for me (Voldey also shows up). I will admit to being surprised about how good this ride was, not because I doubted Universal’s ability to make good ride experiences but because the escape from Gringott’s isn’t really a scene that I consider that iconic or the best fit for a ride to be based around – surely if you’re going to pick a scene from Death Hallows it should be the battle of Hogwarts I thought – and I kind of felt like this scene was chosen just because it’s set on Diagon Alley and that’s what Universal wanted to build. I was wrong.
Worth the Queue? A lot happens in his roller coaster and it feels a really good length but at the moment it’s a very new, very popular and very publicised ride and thus queue time can get to 100 minutes and over and while the queue area is nice in places it’s not that good in others and there’s not a lot to occupy you as you wait, which is inexcusable when you consider that you could be queuing through wizard shops which are more than a little interesting to look at. So at the moment it’s a maybe but after a year or so when it stops being the current new big ride I think it will be.
7. Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Why? Yes I miss the original elements that have been taken out, especially Rex (though a lot of these are still in Paris) but that doesn’t mean that Star Tours isn’t still…I can’t think of a word I haven’t overused but any mix of brilliant, awesome, superb and great will be appropriate. The big thing now is you get a different ride experience each time (except for the new section they’ve put in to pimp The Force Awakens of course, got to sell the merchandise and DVDs, but it does include a 3D BB8 and that goes a long way to making it acceptable, he’s so cute!) by the computer randomly choosing a set of scenes for you to fly through and the level of awesomeity DOES heavily depend on what you get – the first time we rode it was just good, but the second time (when we got stopped by Darth Vader) it was amazing – so there is that and I do think the experience is worse off without the guarantee of seeing Endor but given how…hmm… divisive the Ewoks and Endor remain I can see why that opinion might not be shared and some people will be very pleased that you don’t end up in a particularly jungle-y Muppets Show episode.
Worth the Queue? I was surprised at how short the queue for Star Tours remained all day, we went it twice in one visit and didn’t queue for more than 10 minutes a time, granted it was off-peak but it was still a weekend and still Star Wars so if this trend continues all year ‘round and Stat Tours always has a much shorter queue than you’d expect, then yes.
6. Skull Island: Reign of Kong
Universal’s Island of Adventure
Why? Ooh was I anticipating going on this, Kongfrontation is one of my favourite rides of all time and I was very unhappy with them removing it - so this new Kong ride had a lot to live up to and while I was cautiously enthusiastic and cautiously confident I wasn’t wholly convinced that Universal’s screens and semi-simulator style of ride could match up to an entirely physical effects based experience that included a life-size Kong animatronic (well two actually). Firstly they still have a life size Kong animatronic that you actually get closer to, I didn’t know this because I refused to watch a ride-through and spoil the ride for myself (because I’m a nutty King Kong fan) and that made the ride for me, that made me say ‘ok, this is a suitable replacement for Kongfrontation, it’s NOT Konfrontation but it’s an acceptable successor’ by giving me that part of the experience I enjoyed the most. Secondly the screens and semi-simulator stuff is very well done, at one point Kong jumps onto your vehicle and off it again to fight Dinosaurs that are attacking on both sides and I actually made the noise ‘squee’ – I am a grown fucking man. It does fail the original cast part of my criteria but that’s kind of excusable as the story is a prequel to the Peter Jackson remake and that film is very clear that most if not all of the main characters are going to the island for the first time. Carl Denham is mentioned on the radio broadcasts played over the first part of the queue area (which is a point, that radio station really should have been called Radio RKO).
Worth the Queue? This I something that I don’t think I can be objective about because while we were queuing the ride went down and then was operating at limited capacity afterwards so we queued for over two hours and no ride, not even one with King Kong in it, is worth standing up for 2 hours for. This queue is a major factor in the damaged pair of feet I’m currently nursing back to health and there’s a bar of pain across my whole left foot (just above the toes) that I know is directly the fault of it. So me and the queue for Kong are not on friendly terms, plus the ride is the big new ride at Island of Adventure so at the moment no, it’s not equal to the queue time because the queue time is unusually high. Will it be soon? I don’t know, the queue areas feels never ending but it is very good, it’s very well themed, has some great sections and is all air conditioned once you get out of the very first part (which has a nice amount of big fans to help keep you down to at least just very warm rather than unbearably hot, take note Aerosmith) but with this being a big ride and being the new incarnation of one of the old ‘lost’ Universal Studios rides that everyone misses so much I can’t see queue times getting under an hour any time soon.
5. Terminator 2 3-D
Universal Studios Florida
Why? It’s still one of the best theme park attractions of all time. I actually thought this was closed in Orlando (it’s closed in Hollywood) and was so excited to see it open I immediately dragged my whole party on it (I don’t do that sort of thing very often, I’m quite happy to wait to ride something so long as I know we’re definitely going to do it, of course that doesn’t mean I won’t bang on about it, but I will wait), T2 3-D is so worth being selfish for. This is the ultimate example of a good film tie-in ride, all the original cast are in it, the original director directed it and oversaw the whole thing (that’d be James Cameron, back before he made shit films when he was a film god), it tells an original story unique to the ride that not only builds on the lore but helps you better understand the films (in this case showing the prototypes of what would become the classic Terminator ‘skeleton’ design) and gives you an exclusive Terminator that you can’t see anywhere else – the T-1000,000 is such a good design I want toys and figures of but they didn’t have any, I’m guessing they have made them at some point, oh hello eBay. It’s also aged so well; they’ve even made little updates to the pre-show video to keep it a little more up to date to current technology, at least I think they did. The only negative thing I have to say is that it wasn’t open for the Halloween Horror Nights, why? Are you telling me that Decepticons are scarier than metal skeleton robots and a giant liquid metal spider that attacks you from three 3-D screens at once? Bollocks3
Worth the Queue? Again it’s a show so it depends but the queues for it ain’t long anymore despite it being a classic Universal attraction and one of the best attractions you can visit in any theme park anywhere so I can’t see how it isn’t.
4. Expedition Everest
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Why? Orlando doesn’t need Matterhorn Mountain, it has its own mountain and it’s awesome. THIS is how you make a roller coaster an ‘experience’ beyond simply a thrill ride, of course so is ‘Gringotts so why is this higher? Honestly I don’t know, it could just be because I personally like yetis more than dragons (does that make me bad?) but I think it might be because Gringott’s blows it’s load fairly early with Bellatrix and then Bellatrix and Voldemort appearing almost throughout the whole ride while ‘Everest is more about building up suspense and then building up to a climax and that climax is a life-size yeti. It would appear I prefer less is more then (you wouldn’t think of me as being subtle) and Expedition Everest is a fucking schooling in less is more, so much so that if I were to describe it would sound crap, here I’ll try: You ride around in short bursts of roller coaster just missing a yeti until bam he’s there, except he’s kind of broken these days so he doesn’t really move and instead they use flashes of light of make it look like he does. That doesn’t sound like something you’d put at number 4 on a countdown list does it? But when you’re riding it, when you’re experiencing it, it is so well built up, so well done and so immersive that it’s one of the best thrills you can have in Orlando. And you really don’t get a chance to go ‘hey, is that Yeti moving?’ I’m not even sure if it he was broken the day we rode it or not (there was a lot of flashes of light so I’m assuming it was) because you’re going ‘oh god there he is is this thing going to miss that bloody big hairy thing!?!’
Worth the Queue? Well as it’s one of Animal Kingdom’s only two rides of any note there’s a good chance you’ll be queuing for a while, we didn’t queue a ridiculous amount but even off-peak it was a good half an hour. You do need to queue for a little while to get the full experience though so always having a queue is no bad thing in this case and it IS a complete experience and you’ll probably just be grateful to be on any ride at Animal Kingdom so… it could be?
3. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Why? If you’re asking why then you haven’t rode it, that sounds really snobby doesn’t it? But it’s kind of true, everything about Tower of Terror is top notch from the actual ride itself (an elevator from hell) to the backstory to having possibly the best and most complete feeling queue experience in terms of theming and immersion (seriously there isn’t a second where you don’t believe you’re not in a hotel) to the fact that they spent hours actually splicing together old Rod Sterling dialogue and video to make the intro video. I will however admit it does have one weird part to it that actually makes me prefer the Paris version and that is the strange choice to have you move from the back to the front of the show building via what is really a 3D realisation of the Twilight Zone intro, the lift becomes a cart for a few seconds and while it’s really cool to move through this all it momentarily makes you realise you’re not in a giant elevator but a ride cart and that’s a bit sad, of course that feeling goes away the second you reach the other side and start going up and down like a whore’s knickers but that momentary break in immersion, or I guess switch to a different immersion, was enough to get it voted below Space Mountain.
Worth the Queue? Honestly the queue’s worth doing by itself (it’s a great queue area) but is the ride equal to the queue length? Well it’s easily the longest experience you’ll have on a drop tower like ride so for the type of ride it is, yes, in general, maybe.
2. Space Mountain
Why? a paraphrased conversation between me and a friend about Space Mountain:
Friend: so what’s it like?
Me: it’s an indoor rollercoaster, in the dark, with stars
Friend: has it got any big drops?
Me: not really, there are drops but mostly its curves
Friend: so it’s not that bad then?
Me: well it did paralyse someone
Me: but they’ve tweaked it loads since then
Friend: yeah and it’s not like killed anyone
Me: funny you should mention that
Me: but that was ages ago and it was heart attacks
Friend: I think I’ll give it a miss
Hopefully I will do a better job of selling this to you. But I suppose the real question is why have I voted this above bigger, badder, more thrilling roller coasters like Hulk or Rock ‘n Rollercoaster or that one at Universal I can’t ever remember the name of but it has rocket in there somewhere? Because it’s a roller coaster through space, that’s why – to expand on my earlier description for those who haven’t heard of/rode Space Mountain, I guess they exist, it’s an entirely indoor roller coaster in the dark but with the show building (the place where the roller coaster is inside of) decorated with lit up stars and planets and shit to simulate the filling of flying through outer space. It does this well, occasionally you’ll get a glimpse of the silhouette of some track or maybe a support beam of some kind but for the most part it feels like you’re in space, or I guess a kid’s idea of what space is. This leads to the appeal of Space Mountain to me, and it’s also the appeal of Tower of Terror, Soarin’, Star Tours and a bunch of others on this list but with Space Mountain and Soarin’ in particular it’s one of the main appeals and that is that the ride gives you an experience that you can only have simulated, no matter how good technology is you won’t be able to zip through the air or space unprotected like you’re Superman (well, Superman in a small cart in Space Mountain’s case), or like you’re flying in a dream or childhood fantasy/drawing.
Worth the Queue? The problem with Space Mountain is that it’s not a thrill-coaster like Hulk or Oblivion or whatever and it’s while fast, certainly faster than anything else in the Magic Kingdom except maybe Big Thunder, it might leave the straight up thrill junkies amongst roller coaster enthusiasts a little disappointed that they waited the guaranteed lengthy wait times that a Disney Longqueue always has for someone relatively tame. The most I waited was 35 minutes and unbiased I felt that was about right, it’s not a short ‘coaster and it offers a really good experience even if that experience isn’t stomach turning ultra-extreme, but I dunno if it’s worth it’s top queue times which I think reach about 75 minutes.
1. The Haunted Mansion
Why? There was never going to be any other number 1 pick, the Haunted Mansion is the best dark ride and best haunted house in the world. Remember the whole ‘Disney makes standard rides to the best of their ability and their abilities are very impressive’ thing I’ve gone on about a few times in this list? This is the ultimate expression of that, haunted houses ain’t uncommon but one done to Disney Imagineer levels of quality becomes something very special, not bad when you consider how much of a confused mess the ride actually ended up with scenes taken from multiple designers, some of whom weren’t working on the ride anymore, shuffled together without Walt Disney’s guidance. So the end result of a bunch of brilliant scenes tied together with a great narration from a likable character that actually tells a linear story is nothing short of miraculous. This was the first time I’ve been on the ride since the ‘re-haunting’ tart up it had and I was surprised with how little of it sucked, Leota looks great, the Bride looks so much better in person than she does in photos, the new CGI Hitchhiking Ghosts skits are joyous, in fact the only thing that isn’t good is Little Leota, who looks exactly like she has a screen for a head, because she does. They do need to put the Hatbox Ghost back in like they have at Anaheim and clear some of the clutter out of the attic, all that shit distracts from The Bride and I think an emptier room just seems eerier. They could also do with putting the heartbeat further up in the sound mix but I am very picky about my favourite scene from my favourite ride as you can clearly see.
Worth the Queue? YES. Ok I’m biased, but the omni-mover system the ride employs does keep the wait time down a lot better than the other big Disney attractions, and it’s the only one of the big signature attraction at the park that doesn’t fall into the Disney Longqueue category for me because the line is constantly moving (unless there’s a wheelchair, inconsiderate fucks) due to that omni-mover system so unbiased, yeah it is. Ok I was being biased, just go on the ride.
And I am spent. There are a lot of great ride experiences in Orlando, I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to fill 30 slots but I could easily have done a top 50 and that’s without having visited Blizzard Beach. I thank you for reading two pages of what are essentially my holiday snaps ordered into a countdown list and if you’re off to Florida over the next 12 months take in everything I have said because I am Jesus an always correct and your holiday will 121 times better for knowing and accepting this. Nite all.