The five worst attractions at Walt Disney World

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Out of the dozens of rides and shows that make up the attraction mix at Walt Disney World resort, there are bound to be some that are least favored among park guests. These attractions might be passed their prime, uninspired, or just plain bad. But they’ve made our list of shows and rides that must-go to make way for something better.

We asked The Disney Blog readers which rides they avoid when vising Walt Disney World and came up with our own list of the five attractions people just don’t like:

5) Captain EO. I guess Michael Jackson is an acquired taste. Either you believe the moonwalking, high pitched, milquetoast space captain can change the world or you don’t. The 17-minute 4D sci-fi show screams “The 80s” with its costumes, choreography, and stop-motion claymation. At the time this stuff was cool, but it had its run and was justifiably retired. However, when Michael Jackson tragically passed away, Captain EO was brought back as a tribute to the pop super-star and now occupies the theater in the Imagination Pavilion simple because Disney doesn’t have anything better to put there. It’s time for Disney to step up to the plate with a new vision for the Imagination Pavilion and we can say goodbye the MJ for the final time.

4) O Canada! with Martin Short. Frankly this could have been either of the EPCOT 360 films, but China gets the lifeline simply by the virtue that its update was slightly better done. When Martin Short was added I saw the film a couple times, but I haven’t felt the desire to go back and see it since. Technology has left these films behind. Disney tried to solve the problem by editing the films to be shorter, but really they needed to plus the experience somehow. A great country like our neighbor to the north deserves better.

3) Journey into Imagination with Figment. Even when all the attractions at EPCOT have long lines, you can count on Journey into Imagination to be a walk-on. Figment has gained a bit of a cult status as the only mascot created expressly for a Disney theme park. But cult status does not an attraction make. Long time fans pine for the original version of the ride, more recent guests are just left wondering what made Disney think this concept work. Just more evidence that Disney needs a new direction for EPCOT’s Imagination Pavilion.

2) Ellen’s Energy Adventure. Where to start here? From out-date and biased facts, to a version of a host that just doesn’t exist any more, to it’s seemingly interminable 35 minute length, the Universe of Energy’s one attraction needs to go. The attraction’s saving grace are the dinosaur audio-animatronics, but the only time I bother riding now is with guests who have never been to the park before, and then, only if they’ve done everything else in the park. The sad thing is there is so much exciting work going on in the field of energy these days, having an attraction tied to fossil fuels is completely backward for a company like Disney. It really is embarrassing.

1) Stitch’s Great Escape. Need I say more. This attraction’s story was shoe-horned into the space of Alien Encounter when Disney decided they wanted to quickly capitalize on the popularity of the small dog-like alien from Lilo & Stitch. Rather than do something based on the movie’s message of Ohana, they reverted Stitch to his alien prisoner status (who some how knows English even though he hasn’t yet been through the events of the movie). The attraction goes completely dark for an extended period of time causing much consternation among Stitch’s youngest fans, many of whom still sleep with a night light. I will go on any other attraction in the Magic Kingdom before I even consider Stitch. The whole concept has to go, the character deserves better and so do the guests.

So that’s my list of the five worst attractions at Walt Disney World. It’s clear that EPCOT really needs some help with its attraction mix. Did your least favorite ride make the list? What do you think I’m overlooking on the the must-go list.

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25 thoughts on “The five worst attractions at Walt Disney World

  1. Beks

    I always kind of liked Ellen’s Energy Adventure, but I can see how it’s a bit dated now. Isn’t it like 20 years old? If they wanted to redo it, I’m sure Ellen and Bill Nye would both be up for it.

  2. Patricia

    Ugh, stitch. That ride was so much better when it was the Alien Encounter. I always assumed they changed it because it was way too frightening for children…. But it was such a great ride. Now with stitch it’s just a mediocre attraction.

    Also, great points about Epcots pavilions. I remember back in the 80s and early 90s when that stuff was ahead of its time, but now it hasn’t been updated and it’s all relics and outdated material. I would like to see them use Figment in a better way and bring Futureworld and the pavilions in Epcot back up to the level of quality and innovation it had long ago.

    PS – I may be in the minority, but I can’t stand that Swiss Family Robinson treehouse either.

      1. ***Dave

        Is it just in California that it got rebranded as Tarzan’s Treehouse? That, at least, is a relatively recent Disney production.

        I like “Stitch’s Great Escape” only because I love Stitch and the general dress of the attraction is nice (plus, short lines). I would love to see something done better with it.

        EPCOT’s Future World is in desperate need of … something. Looking to the future has somehow gotten passe, or frightening, or controversial. Too much of it is either shuttered or outdated or only tangential to the whole “Future World” concept.

  3. Omar

    I wish they never messed with the original Imagination attraction, and as much as I enjoy MJ now that I remembered that they scrapped the ‘Honey I shrunk the Audience’ attraction in favor for ‘Captiain EO’ I realize they shouldn’t have done that.

    Stich’s ride as well feels weak and unnecessary, it’s indeed time for the WDW management to reconsider the rides listed on this article with fresh new attractions that preserves the legacy of Walt and appeals to today’s generation.

    Just my $.02

  4. Pat

    John, you are certainly correct about Stitch. We checked it out once years ago, and our reaction was, ‘that’s it?’

  5. Chris

    What does it say about Epcot that 4 out of 5 attractions on this list are there? I think it needs more than Frozen to breathe new life into the park.

  6. Carol

    Oh, I don’t know. Ellen’s Energy Adventure is a great way to fit in a nap in the middle of the day without having to go back to your resort. But Stitch’s Great Escape really needs to go. Actually, it needed to go the day before it opened. And sorry, but the Alien Encounter was just as lame.

  7. Mark Hickson

    Epcot

    Energy is excruciatingly long.
    Imagination Pavilion needs to be gutted and re-done
    Test Track’s exterior run needs to be enclosed.
    France needs “Rat tat touille” ride from Euro Disneyland.
    The old Odyssey restaurant needs to become a full service, restaurant featuring international food.
    The old “Wonders of Life” pavilion needs a new theme. Any ideas?

    Magic Kingdom

    Agree, get rid of Stitch.
    Also get rid of the Autopia
    Change the Parade route from west to the north east, exiting by the Fantasyland train station.

    WD Studio’s

    Re-do The Great Movie Ride!
    Remove the Shrunk the Kids movie set. No-one likes the movie!

    Animal Kingdom

    Finish the dam rockwork on Everest… it looks bad!
    Put more fans in the park!
    Expand Kali river Rafts to two circuits

    Elsewhere

    Extend the Monorail and add a second transportation center!

  8. Another Geoff

    I like Stitch. I also like Imagination.
    When I voted, I totally forgot about the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse even existed, and I saw it there this past weekend (avoided it for the hundredth time). It’s so boring and pointless and well past its prime.

  9. Jim Robinson

    You missed the number one worst attraction, Swiss Family Island Treehouse in the Magic Kingdom. No one under the age of 40 has even heard of that movie, and it’s not like that was a popular one. The space could easily be used as a que area for an Indian Jones attraction like they have a Disney Land, where the actual attraction takes up the space used as a parking lot between Jungle Cruise and Mainstreet. I almost thing it’s a no-brainer.

    I do agree about the Stitch. It needs to go back to mission to Mars again, but with updated footage and effects. When i was a kid, I imagined it really did blast off into space.

    The rest of your list, all of those are in need of an update for sure. Imagination with modern tech could be an incredible attraction, with very little change to the ride itself.

  10. Phil

    I can’t really argue with anything you wrote, AT ALL! I was praying Disney wouldn’t bring Captain EO back when it went down for a while! Wouldn’t that theater be a great spot for an “Inside Out” 3D show? It’s already in the Imagination Pavilion. I think that could really work!

    These are all ones we usually skip on our family trips, except for Journey Into Your Imagination with Figment. My kids absolutely love it and even though it isn’t my favorite, it’s much better than that second incarnation of the attraction that was there in the early 2000s. That was just terrible!

  11. Ben Power

    The problem is that Disney needs and wants sponsors for the attractions at EPCOT. Some companies need to have an idea and present it to Disney for a new theme’d ride or show. If the money is there from an outside source, I am sure they would make the updates. Otherwise, until Hollywood studios is done with the massive updates and Avatarland is completed, don’t expect much more than Frozen to be coming to EPCOT.

    Things on my list for EPCOT (and other parks)
    – New videos for Oh! Canada and China (should be relatively cheap and wouldn’t even close the ride)
    – New paint on the outside of all of Future World. Everything feels very out of date
    – Remove Captain EO and Figment, and bring a new Figment Rollercoaster/E-Ticket ride into that area, with an expanded area for the imagination games and interactive areas.
    – Get a new sponsor for the Energy Adventure (tesla?) to completely revamp this
    – Add a few new experiences to World Showcase, 1 of which based on IP (Ratatouille or Mulan or something) and 1 that is cultural and learning based.
    – New Body Wars as told by Inside Out characters

    Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom
    – New paint for everything to make it feel more futuristic
    – Refurb on Buzz Lightyear, as I am still not convinced the guns work half the time
    – Remove Stitch and Monsters Inc laugh Floor (doesn’t belong in Tomorrowland) to make way for TRON.
    – Move Monsters Inc Laugh Floor to Hollywood Studios.
    – Refurb on the animatronics in Carousel of Progress as a lot of them don’t work as they used to
    – Close Space mountain for 2-3 weeks to fix lighting and sound on the ride.
    – Add a TRON or Wreck it Ralph arcade (with no prizes as this is not allowed)

    1. Belinda

      Your idea for Bodyworks using Inside Out characters is a really good one. You should patent that, or something, or get it in front of someone at Disney. Also like you ideas for TRON or Wreck it Ralph themed arcade and moving Monster Inc to the Studios Park. I would love to see the Busby Berkely dancers in the Great Movie Ride, get a bit of TLC and update machinery so that it works. All of the changes suggested would cost Disney a lot of money and time. Guess we’ll all have to be patient.

  12. Dan

    What? Two of my favourite attractions made your list! The new O Canada with Martin Short is awesome and funny at the same time! I guess you’re not a Canadian or don’t find Martin Short funny.

    Ellen’s Energy Adventure is also awesome, but it was even more awesome before when it was Universe of Energy without Ellen. Still a great way to cool off in the hot weather. I also like Ellen which makes it that much better. Sure it’s a bit dated but much of everything at Disney World is a little dated.

    One of THE worst attractions was Soundsations with Drew Carey. That was a waste of precious Disney real estate!!!!

  13. Mark

    Let me toss in Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom. Never enjoyed that one at all. In terms of EPCOT, which I visit about 20 times a year, the real problem is so much of the technology is now decades out of date. Pretty hard to get excited about low def films now that we all have better in our family rooms. Make that much better. Great to hear about Soarin’ going hi def, but what about the rest?

    We do still love Captain EO. We loved the effects of the Tomorrowland preview. They should use the theater for more of those.

    My wife wants to chime in. The movie ride needs an update big time. She also can’t believe you left off the boat ride in Mexico. She’d take the 360 degree movies over that any time. In fact we do. Haven’t been in those boats for many years.

    1. Patricia

      Fair enough, but I still enjoy Mexico’s boat ride for the relaxing, air conditioned trip it is….. Particularly after a full day running around the WS and spending one drink too many in La Cava de Tequila!

  14. Jim

    Great article John. You saved me from having to write a similar letter to the company with the same comments.

    Leave the Tree House alone. Watch the movie. It’s a classic. Last week my 7 and 3 year old grandchildren sat glued to the TV as the were thoroughly engaged with this film. Monday we went to the MK and toured the Tree House. They loved the attraction as well.

    1. Michael

      Agree with Jim. My kids loved the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse as my oldest (7) read the book and then loved the movie when we all sat down to watch it. It harkens back to a time when Disney made quality live-action family movies. Everything in WDW doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest thing or whatever the current hit movie is. Some stuff can actually be a continuation of what made the place special when we were younger. Next thing some of you will say is to ditch the Carousel of Progress. That was another one I thought my kids would not like which they loved.

      I do agree that Epcot needs help. Journey Into Imagination (which I hadn’t been on since 1991) was a pale shadow of its former self. Most of the imagination part, save Figment’s home, was stripped away from the ride for the cheap Flubber knockoff Disney made it into. The Pavilion itself looks like no one cares for it any more.

  15. Chris Reardon

    I have to chime in here. I’m 32 and have really started to come into a deep appreciation for all the parks recently. Just visited Disneyland for the first time with my wife for our 10 year anniversary and was blown away by the balance of nostalgia and modern park. Disneyland and DCA were really amazing.
    Comparing Disney World while over there I really looked at so many things that do need to be improved in Florida and all 5 things above really need to be worked on. I’m a little on the fence about Stitch. I loved Alien Encounter for the scare ride it was, but it didn’t have any “Disney” in it. And having Stitch there, which is a favorite character for me is great for me to experience. Even though it’s not as scary, it is still a fun experience. I’d love to see more Ohana love with Stitch as well though. But it’s not the worst on this list.
    I can’t imagine some of the other things people mentioned above being gone.
    The Swiss Family Treehouse is such an amazing story and the movie still holds up. I’d love to see Disney put more emphasis on these older Classic movies to remember how great they were, because to see the tree go, would be terrible. I loved Tarzan in Disneyland and hearing the Tarzan turntable play “Swisspolka” from Swiss was just so great and made me can’t wait to see the tree in Florida again. I just showed my 5 year old son about this movie and took him to the tree and he just loved it.
    I went to Epcot for the first time when I was 10 or so, and longed to go experience everything in future world. Nowadays I only go for Soarin’ and Test Track (I’ve now experienced Radiator Springs Racers which blows it so far away though), so I long for this park to be revitalized!
    I had to write in though, to share my growing love for Disney, and hope we can talk about the things we love more than we hate. ;)

  16. Den

    I agree with most the comments here, and was genuinely surprised the Three Caballeros boat ride didn’t make the cut of the five worst. To me it’s boring and the soundtrack excruciatingly annoying. A shame as the interior of the Mexico pavilion is lovely.

    I do have a massive soft spot for Captain EO, and love the nostalgia factor of it, but agree it’s time for it to go – or at least have its presence reduced. At DLP Captain EO is only shown on weekends. The same could be done at Epcot, or even have it shown daily but only at specific times for the die-hard fans, freeing up the theatre for other shows played more frequently.

    The only attraction on your list I really disagree with is Figment, although I do crave the original version of the ride. Again, my only true reason is nostalgia, and I agree that people who don’t know who Figment is might not enjoy it as much as rides based around more established characters. I’d prefer to see Figment’s presence at Epcot increased (someone suggested a Figment coaster) to give the character more kudos than have the Journey Into Imagination removed completely.

    I’ll just add one more thought, which may be controversial. I truly madly deeply love the Muppets but to me Muppet Vision 3D is in desperate need of an update. The pre-show was updated a couple of years ago and I now find that more enjoyable than the show itself – I guess simply because it’s so damn old! With the Muppets returning to TV this year, I think it’s time to film a new version of Muppet Vision 3D to bring it in line with the current franchise.

  17. Bryan Irrera

    re: The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

    If the argument against the treehouse is that it’s a movie that the kids haven’t heard of (sidebar: it’s a BOOK, too), that’s an EASY fix. Remake the movie.

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