Disneyland’s Dark Rides

I’m going to begin my Disneyland attraction reviews with some of the classic Disney rides, found at many Disney parks around the land.

“it’s a small world”
Perhaps the most well known of all Disney rides, “it’s a small world” was originally designed by Walt Disney as a ride at the New York World’s Fair. Often dismissed by many as being silly, boring (or even creepy), this rides is a classic “dark ride”. I have always found the message behind the ride positive and uplifting (if you get past the stereotypes), and it is the ride I remember most from when I was a young child. The simple ride mechanics (moving water propelling the boats) have been used for decades, and the colors and simplicity of the animatronics hold up well, despite the corniness. It is interesting to note that the Disneyland version of the ride starts outdoors, with the riders boarding amid animal-shaped bushes, before proceeding indoors, which is different than the other versions of the ride around the world. On the past 5 or so trips to Disney parks, my parents and I have said that we do not need to ride it, but in the end we always do. Maybe that alone shows its quality.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
My dad and I were thrilled to discover that Disneyland has a version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (which was closed at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World to make room for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh). Based on characters from the classic Disney film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, this ride takes you on an out of control journey through London to “nowhere in particular”, ending up in Hell oddly enough. Known for its sudden turns and wild nature, it was nostalgic for my dad and I to ride this classic once more.

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
The film Pinocchio always scared me when I was little, and so I avoided watching it. So the ride, for me, was like a refresher on the story. We rode it simply because we could not remember it very well, and the line was ridiculously short. One of the original “dark rides” like the other two I have reviewed so far, it basically follows the story of Pinocchio exactly.

Peter Pan’s Flight
My personal favorite of the “dark rides” is Peter Pan’s Flight, due to my personal connections with the Peter Pan stories. You board a miniature pirate ship (yeah, maybe I like it because of that too) and you fly through the famous scenes from the atrocious Disney movie version (don’t get me started). Thankfully, the ride is such that you can imagine the real story fitting into the scenes you see, without having to relive the Disney movie. The sets in the ride are wonderful, especially when flying over London and Captain Hook’s ship, the Jolly Roger. I will ride this every time I get a chance.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
For those of you who don’t know, I absolutely adore Winnie the Pooh and all the characters in the stories (especially Eeyore). The ride is a new addition to the collection of Disney rides, built in the classic “dark ride” style, but with more modern sets and effects. You board a giant honey pot and embark through the three stories that make up The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh movie. One of the neatest effects is the simulation of raindrops during the flood sequence, using fiber optics. The highlight, though, is going through the Heffalumps and Woozles dream sequence, one of the most creative moments in all of Disney animation. The odd thing about the Disneyland version is that it is tucked back behind Splash Mountain in the “Critter Country” land, instead of in “Fantasyland” where it belongs.

Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
I’m a huge fan of the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and I was very excited to go on this ride. We actually had to get a fastpass for it, and return after riding “it’s a small world”. The ride did a great job of combining a typical “dark ride” with the ability to spin your cars like in the famous “Tea Cups” style ride. The story for this ride was rather nonexistent, unfortunately, and failed to use any of the humor of the movie. There were only really a couple of scenes shown in the ride (none of which came from the movie, I believe) and the focus seemed to be more on spinning your cars (which, admittedly, was very fun). I was disappointed in the ride however, the only highlights being the quality of the animatronics (especially Jessica Rabbit) and the design of the ride cars (taxi cabs with light up headlights). A few moments were reminiscent of the movie, usually involving single shots or bits of music, but overall I would have preferred something more interesting and creative.

Well, if you actually read all that and got to this point, you can look forward to more of my ride reviews soon. And if you didn’t read it all, and just skipped to the end, I don’t blame you, because that probably wasn’t very interesting to anyone other than myself. Sorry.

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