Walt Disney World is the de facto capital of the amusement park industry. Last year alone, the four Disney parks in Orlando, Florida, finished among the top eight theme parks in the world in terms of attendance. Between Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, 51.5 million visitors walked through the turnstiles at Walt Disney World. Obviously, none of this would happen without Disney’s storied Imagineers, arguably the finest theme park attraction designers in the world. Still, the maxim that nobody’s perfect applies here. Even the Most Magical Place on Earth has a few clunkers. Here is a list of the five worst attractions at World Disney World.
Editor's Note: David's opinions in no way reflect those of Theme Park Tourist or its staff.
5. Mission: Space
Perhaps no attraction at Walt Disney World is in more desperate need of an update than Mission: Space. That’s amazing considering that it was only added in 2003. While I won’t regurgitate all the issues with the early struggles of the ride, the truth is that Disney badly misjudged the goal for a stylized space travel simulation. At heart, people continue to find excitement in the idea of exploring strange new worlds yet there’s something missing from the ride that offers just that.
Mission: Space is oddly paint by numbers for a Disney offering. Basically, you strap into a motion simulator dressed as the console of a spaceship. Then, you lower a safety harness and wait until it’s your turn to push a button. If you’re especially lucky, you get to push it twice!
Okay, the above is a bit unfair, as the intent of Mission: Space is to mirror the experience of planetary physics with regards to inertia, escape velocity, and gravity. The first time you ride, all of these sensations are exhilarating. That may even continue a couple of times afterward. Once you’ve ridden it more than four times, however, the novelty is completely gone. Unlike, say, Star Tours, there’s no variation to the experience, an unforgivable mistake for an attraction promising such otherworldly majesty as a voyage to Mars. Mission: Space is Exhibit A as to why people view Epcot as consisting of Soarin’ and Test Track and everything else. Then again, Test Track leveled up in 2012, so maybe Disney will address Mission: Space with a long overdue renovation.
4. Astro Orbiter
How little do I enjoy this ride? The crowded elevator trips up and down from the attraction provide about as much entertainment value. The fact that only a few people can stand in line at the top floor adds to the aggravation. Standing in line at the bottom for the opportunity to ride an elevator then stand in line a floor above isn’t especially magical. All of that would be forgivable were the ride better.
In execution, Astro Orbiter is similar to the other circular rides at Walt Disney World such as the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Dumbo the Flying Elephant. The difference is that in order to offer the style of a spaceship, designers created smaller ride carts. Whereas large people don’t have much problem with Aladdin or Dumbo, the narrow space in an Astro Orbiter cart makes the entire ride uncomfortable. If you’re part of a two-person combo, it’s that much worse. Rather than delivering an enjoyable theme park experience, Astro Orbiter instead provides the oddly claustrophobic experience of laundry during a spin cycle, and your knees get mashed the entire time for good measure. The frustrating part is that simply by adding another 20 percent to each ride cart, Astro Orbiter would become a relatively pleasant distraction akin to Aladdin and Dumbo.