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The Best "Old School" Disney Rides You Can Still Experience Today

8.  Snow White’s Scary Adventures

Image: DisneyOut of all the original attractions at the Happiest Place on Earth, Snow White’s Scary Adventures missed the mark the most. It confused guests due to the absence of Snow White. Simultaneously, kids found the Evil Queen and her apple far too frightening. While most attractions were instantly beloved, this one required a lot of tinkering over the years. It became one of the first examples of the value of plussing, Walt Disney’s belief that every ride is capable of betterment. But it gets docked for being kind of a mess during those early years.

7. Autopia

Image: DisneyYou may question the significance of Autopia today. It’s a reasonable conclusion in a world where cars are ubiquitous. Back in the 1950s, however, automobile fever was still sweeping the country. Small kids loved the idea of driving like a grown-up. Disney couldn’t satisfy the demand for Autopia with a single attraction. They operated three different ones, all of which I’m slotting under the Autopia umbrella. Thus, the impact of Autopia is immeasurable. The simple driving simulator proved that parents will do whatever their kids demand at Disneyland. And for the first quarter-century or so, the mystique of driving mattered a great deal to the original batch of Mouseketeers in training.

6. Mad Tea Party

Image: DisneyWhenever anyone in the world jokes about a ride causing them to vomit, a Mad Tea Party reference inevitably follows. That level of name recognition means something in our industry. The mechanic of the attraction is remarkable, too. In its earliest form, it lacked brakes or a clutch or anything that would give riders any sort of control. People could and did flail about as wildly as they wanted. I’m sure it was pure chaos before park officials chose to add some form of structure. Still, what impresses me the most about Mad Tea Party is the elegance of its simplicity. You merely spin in place as fast as you like. That’s it. The best ideas are oftentimes the purest. 

5. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Image: DisneyNot all dark rides are created equal. I’ve discussed a few already, but the next two somehow tower above them in terms of staying power. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is one of the greatest themed attractions ever. The depth of the story is such that you honestly believe you’re in Mr. Toad’s car, you’re out of control, and you’re on your way to jail or Hell or both. The lavish sets are paper-thin, almost literally, yet they immerse you in the story of a narcissist with a fatal character flaw. Out of all of the opening day attractions at Disneyland, this one was the most fully formed.

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