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7 Times When Imagineers REALLY Blew It

5. Primeval Whirl

Image: DisneyThis list includes two current attractions and two (somewhat) recently defunct ones. I’m not trying to pick on Animal Kingdom here, as Pandora – The World of Avatar is the pinnacle of Imagineering. And I’m also not looking to bury Michael Eisner, who I feel gets a bad rap among Disney fans. He did save the company by exponentially increasing the worth of its stock, after all.

Still, a pervasive theme with the oldest attractions at Animal Kingdom is that they’re disappointing. DinoLand U.S.A. is unmistakably the cheapest of all Disney themed lands. Many critics have derided it as a glorified carnival permanently ensconced at Disney. The strongest examples of this complaint are the cheapest attractions, Primeval Whirl and TriceraTop Spin. Since the latter is a knockoff of existing rides, I can’t very well ding it.

Primeval Whirl doesn’t have any excuses. It’s a lazy example of theme park construction. This steel roller coaster employs a wild mouse design, which means that its carts are small and designed to maximize bunny hop sensations.

The style is like Mad Tea Party on a roller coaster, but it just doesn't work well. There's less than 1,380 feet of track, and the top speed is only 29.1 miles per hour. The ride experience is weird, and the track has proven dangerously unsafe to cast members as well. Two have died from injuries while performing maintenance. It's a thoroughly dislikable ride whose flawed design has led to tragedy.

4. Journey into YOUR Imagination

Image: DisneyChange for the sake of change is one of the perils of plussing. When Imagineers plot updates to popular attractions, they must decide whether the alterations lead to a better attraction. In the case of Journey into Imagination, park planners picked wrong.

For no apparent reason, Disney pushed through a plan to modernize the attraction in anticipation of their huge millennial celebration. They closed the original ride after 15 years of operation. Their plan called for a replacement version with an entirely new story. Shockingly, this version wouldn’t showcase the previous stars, Dreamfinder and Figment. Disney introduced a new character, Dr. Nigel Channing, in their place.

Suffice to say that the change didn’t go over well. During the early days of Epcot, the park lacked new intellectual properties. Figment and his friend were the huge exceptions. The fact that the new ride tossed them aside angered diehard Epcot fans. The fact that the new ride sucked didn’t help any, either. Journey into YOUR Imagination lasted two years and one week.

3. Stitch’s Great Escape

Image: DisneyThe similarities between the third and fourth entrants are unmistakable. Stitch’s Great Escape is another example of Disney changing something great, only to substitute in something vastly inferior. The original attraction in this Magic Kingdom space was ExtraTERRORestrial, a genuinely brilliant presentation. Guests found themselves thrust into a dangerous encounter with a murderous alien, only to escape catastrophe at the last moment.

When Disney shuttered this attraction in 2003, Lilo & Stitch had just finished a wildly successful theatrical release. Corporate officials knew that they had a merchandising gold mine in Stitch and tried to capitalize on that opportunity. They re-themed the Tomorrowland attraction to swap out a generic alien for a more lovable but equally dangerous one.

The results were shockingly poor. For whatever reason, Stitch’s Great Escape felt inferior to its predecessor in all ways, and I say that as a Lilo & Stitch superfan. Disney’s park polling perennially placed this presentation at the bottom of all Walt Disney World attractions. It wasn’t just disappointing to park guests; it was extremely annoying, too. The disruptive nature of the Stitch encounter agitated rather than entertained. People just hated this attraction.

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