Just like you eat first with your eyes, Disney understands that you “ride” an attraction in your mind before you ever board the ride cart. The building that houses the attraction is as important as what’s inside. When you see something majestic off in the distance, you get in the right mood for your upcoming experience. It’s why Imagineers have constructed some of the most spectacular architectural structures in the world. Here are the nine coolest Disney show buildings in the United States.

Indiana Jones Adventure

Image: DisneyThe newer attractions at Disney theme parks have an advantage over older ones. The explanation for why is that Imagineers can draw on the history of previous projects. They also know what’s been done before and feel the need to top everything that came before.

I’m baking this knowledge into the rankings, giving more deference to the older structures. They’ve had a deeper impact in most instances. As such, you won’t see anything from Pandora – The World of Avatar or Toy Story Land here. I also didn’t credit Radiator Springs Racers for the mountain visage surrounding it, which is why it narrowly misses nomination. And I’m primarily evaluating exteriors, the parts of the ride that you can see from across the park.

Indiana Jones Adventure merits selection due to its brilliantly thematic style. In the world of Indiana Jones, any ominous pyramid is the likely home to some dangerous curse and some long-forgotten treasure, too. Imagineers get this one right. The show building is an ominous structure, with a pair of snake statues posing in permanent hisses.

Despite the fact that the attraction is at Disneyland, Imagineers have disguised the facility by surrounding it with lush forest elements. You’ll feel the urge to swing a machete at the overgrowths. Then, you walk toward the dilapidated facility, one that wouldn’t pass Walt Disney’s standards due to its authenticity. He famously didn’t want Haunted Mansion to look ugly from a distance. Indiana Jones Adventure gets to slide since it adds to the mystique. All in all, it’s thematically perfect for one of Indy’s swashbuckling adventures.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Image: DisneySometimes, a show building doesn’t need size or scope to sell a premise. At Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Disney mimicked something familiar to set the appropriate tone for the ride. The exterior of this building looks a lot like a university, the stateliest of American architectural facilities.

The colorful brick walls and the family crest exemplify that sort of heritage mixed with privilege. The grandiose display of a three-dimensional Mr. Toad deftly sets the tone for the wild ride inside. The entire area is a stately manor, but Imagineers really only needed the space directly above the entrance to paint a perfect picture for theme park tourists.


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