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5 Rides Worth Protesting For if Disney Ever Tries to Remove Them

Gran Fiesta Tour

Three Caballeros Gran Fiesta Tour Finale

When the Mexico pavilion first opened, it included a small boat ride that many thought was a kind of knock-off version of It’s a Small World called El Rio Del Tiempo – the River of Time. It told the story of Mexico’s history, from ancient Mayan settlements to modern city life. Then, in the 2000s, Disney decide to breathe some new life into the attraction, adding an overlay featuring the Three Caballeros.

Disney managed to pull off an upset – adding the animated characters without removing the exploratory heart of the attraction. The iconic opening to the ride, featuring the great pyramid and the San Angel Inn restaurant, was left largely untouched, and the only added scenes spiced up the incredible set pieces that already existed.

The Mexico pavilion is one of Imagineering’s finest works, evoking a highly-specific sense of place. It is a glorious tribute to one of America’s closest neighbors, and Gran Fiesta Tour is a fun and respectful continuation of that sense of place. It’s the unique ride that never feels like it takes you to a different place, because the ride’s queue and immediate area are so well-themed, you wouldn’t want to escape it anyway.

It’d be hard to remove Gran Fiesta Tour entirely without removing the Mexico pavilion itself. That would be a terrible mistake, and one we’d all need to mobilize on to prevent.

Impressions de France

 harshlight, Flickr

Image: harshlight, Flickr (license)

Before there was Soarin’, there was Impressions de France. A weird 18-minute visual poem dedicated to the natural and cultural beauty of France, this semi-circlevision film looks every bit like it was made in 1982. But despite its obviously dated aesthetic, it is as powerful a piece of art as any Disney has made in its history.

Using a score made up primarily of classical works by famous French composers (arranged by master Imagineering musician Buddy Baker), the film showcases dozens of gorgeous French towns, cities, and natural wonders. It is a towering work, and its finale is as impressive a crescendo as anything you’ll find in the Disney Parks.

But, it’s also something of an aberration. Tucked away in the France pavilion at Epcot, Impressions de France isn’t a ride, nor does it include a reference to some Disney animated movie or character. It exists solely to be beautiful and to inspire guests. Ambitious and artsy works like that generally don’t lend themselves to mass-market theme park experiences, and yet, over 30 years later, Impressions de France is still chugging along.

Disney can’t remove it. Even in the construction of their new Ratatouille ride, they made sure to leave it be. But, if they do, I’d be the first one there to handcuff myself to the seats.



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