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5 Reasons Disney's "Worst Ever" Attraction is Better Than You Think

3. Its faults are largely a product of their time

Image: Disney

Art's a difficult thing in that it is always seen within the context it is being viewed within, rather than the context in which it was created. We can attempt to do the latter when analyzing a work, but ultimately, our most honest reaction to something is based on how we perceive it now.

Why do I bring that up? Well, Disney's art (of which attractions are part) is among the most sincere and heartfelt works out there. And so, when society values snark, cynicism, and irony, Disney's attractions tend not to play as well.

Disney has, in the past, recognized this and, misguidedly, attempted to stay with the trends. That's what happened with Stitch's Great Escape.

Rather than using Stitch to tell a compelling story about family and friendship, Disney opted instead to use him for some mischievous audience pranks and snarky jokes. There are chili dog-scented burps, there are references to Beverly Hills 90210, there are post-modern jokes about Walt Disney World and Cinderella. In all, there's a sarcasm inherent in Stitch's Great Escape that seems to come from Disney trying to capture how young people spoke and acted in the early 2000s. Seen within that context, the experience feels more at home.

4. It often gets unfairly compared to Alien Encounter

Feel free to disagree with me on this one, but part of the hostility toward Stitch's Great Escape comes from the fact that it replaced the truly unique and ahead-of-its-time Alien Encounter. For all its faults, Alien Encounter was extraordinarily ambitious and unlike anything else on Disney property. It was legitimately frightening and it used effects in ways we hadn't seen before. Stitch's Great Escape replaced that ride, and I think for a lot of people, a family-friendly version was always going to be less good.

But here's the thing: While Alien Encounter was ahead of its time, it was wildly out of place at the Magic Kingdom. And, now that it's gone, it's important not to look at Stitch's Great Escape as a simplified version of a more complex attraction.

Every attraction deserves the right to be judged on its own merits, and given that Stitch's Great Escape replaced something that has developed a cult following, I don't think it ever really got that opportunity.

5. It's some people's favorite Disney attraction – and that's a good thing

Image: Disney


FoxxFur, over at her blog Passport to Dreams Old and New, often talks about her fondness for Delta Dreamflight – a flight-themed attraction that was formerly housed in the Buzz Lightyear: Space Ranger Spin show building. She acknowledges that, while she loves the ride, there are other Disney fans who say it was lesser version of If You Had Wings, the attraction that held that space before it.

But, ultimately, that doesn't matter. She was so inspired by Dreamflight that she's written hundred of thousands of words about Walt Disney World – some of which form into some of the best essays you'll find on the topic of Disney. What does it matter which attraction was better? What matters is that she felt inspired by it, and turned that inspiration into a lasting connection to this place we all know and love.

Half of what makes Disney great is the artistry, but the other half is nostalgia. The attractions we enjoyed as kids will always seem better than the ones that kids are enjoying now.

But, right now, there's someone out there for whom Stitch's Great Escape is their favorite ride. And who knows: maybe they'll be inspired to design rides of their own. Maybe they'll make great films, or write great novels. Maybe they'll do something even greater.

The point is, it's easy for people like me to say an attraction isn't very good. But there are people out there who love it, and if we can try to see it through their eyes, maybe we'll feel inspired too.

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There are 5 comments.

Finally a article which shows Stitch's great escape in a positive light. I have been on both Alien encounter and Stitch and I say I prefer Stitch!

This is on my list of "must rides" during a day in the park because a. It normally doesn't have a line and b. its got Stitch.

Thanks for a great article!

You have finally met the person who says that this ride is their favorite. Being only 18 years old currently, I grew up with Stitch. I can remeber going to see the Original Lilo and Stitch at five years old in theaters and my life had changed that day. Stitch is my all time favorite Disney movie and this ride bring him to life. Sure he's in the parks at meet and greets, but what if I'm busy and can't meet him? What do I do then? I go ride my favorite ride happily and I'm so happy that you wrote this article. The first time I heard someone rip on Stitch's Great Escape, I started crying. It's my favorite. I rode the ride when I was 10 years old and my parents specifically made a trip to Disney World clear from PA so I could ride it. I will never forget these days or how much Stitch means to me. So yet again, thank you so much for posting this!

I couldn't agree more! Being 18, I remember the ride being advertised on Disney 411 or Disney 365 back in the day. I remember thinking "Wow that looks like fun!" and I also love Stitch. I bought a Stitch on my last Disney trip and almost bought Angel as well.

I have been to Disney World several times and i don't see how anyone could hate the ride. It's fun and maybe a bit uncomfortable at times, but it's Disney to the max. i heard that before it was super scary. This makes the ride fun for just about everyone by turning it into stitch. I love this one and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot.

I grew up in the 90s and early 2000s and Alien Encounter felt right at home in the edgier redesigned Tomorrowland. Tomorrowland to a young me was intimidating, it was dark, dangerous, and didn't have any licensed characters attached to the rides. It was like wandering into Mos Eisley. I imagine that a lot of folks who grew up with that Tomorrowland were sad to see that change.

Also, I LOVED Delta Dreamflight. It is one of the attractions that I most miss in the Magic Kingdom.


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