My friends consider me a Disney superfan. I’m a grown man without children who willingly spends his vacations at Disney theme parks rather than beaches or Las Vegas. I do this because I admire the Disney brand a great deal. I also happen to be an adrenaline junkie, which is why I love many other theme parks. I simply consider Walt Disney World the best of them.
Even the best of them stands room for improvement, though. Every ride can get better. Every attraction can benefit from a boost. Walt Disney himself believed this, noting that his theme parks will never finish “as long as there is imagination left in the world.” That’s the basis of plussing as a concept.
Imagineers take an attraction and work to enhance, thereby embracing the vision of Uncle Walt, their founder and spirit guide. Everything is fair game for the practice. To wit, the two most popular rides at Epcot, Soarin’ and Test Track, are ones they’ve reinvigorated over the past few years. A fresh coat of paint and a new randomizer system fundamentally changed the overall quality of Star Tours.
Plussing embodies the best part of Disney as the ruler of the theme park industry. If they’re not willing to rest on their laurels, who can? So, let’s take this opportunity to think about all the rides at Walt Disney World and identify the ones that could use an update. Here are three attractions Disney should plus.
1. Kali River Rapids
This attraction represents the genesis of the article. I was spending the day at Animal Kingdom, and my friends and I approached our final FastPass+ selection. To our surprise, the ride was closed, and this was the reason. We adapted quickly to the changing circumstances by leaving the park and spending the rest of the day at Jambo House. While I rested in their majestic lobby, my curiosity got the best of me.
I started googling about Kali River Rapids, and I was shocked to discover several open secrets about the attraction I’d never known. The original intention for the area was a riding safari entitled Tiger Rapids Run, and the plan for it was familiar to people who understand the history of Jungle Cruise. Rather than have fictional animals on the journey, it was supposed to have real ones.
Unfortunately, the 1990s were a tumultuous time for The Walt Disney Company, and penny pinching occurred with rides. The grand vision for an Animal Kingdom water ride diminished into an unremarkable raft experience that’s derivative by any standard but especially for Disney. There was also a second reason. Park designers worried that the noise from people splashing on the rapids would scare away skittish animals.
The fix for Kali River Rapids is obvious. That’s to restore it to the original premise. It’s the same logic employed for the impending nightly safaris that were once considered impractical at Animal Kingdom. Now that the park is established and animals feel at home, some of the vision of Tiger Rapids Run is possible. Imagineers could easily update the path of its natural residents and change the landscape views enough that people on Kali River Rapids can witness their adventures while sloshing down the watery path.
There are also some technical issues that need fixing on Kali River Rapids. Like the famous Yeti on Expedition Everest, some of the features on the water ride are broken but impossible to fix while it functions. There are also a few fire elements that were disabled, partially due to impracticality. It’s already scorching hot at Animal Kingdom, so fire isn’t optimal. It’s fun, though, and Disney needs to include this stuff while coming up with a satisfactory ventilation solution.
Kali River Rapids is one of the most enigmatic attractions at Walt Disney World, because it has never approached its original scope. Disney should prioritize plussing it. Unfortunately, with Pandora: The World of Avatar in the offing, all their hands are already on deck with other upcoming rides.