Sometimes, when you’re on a Disney ride, you buy into the illusion completely. You forgot about the rest of the world for a time, escaping into this detailed alternate reality. It’s an escapist fantasy come to life. Which ones are the bests at making you suspend disbelief? I have some thoughts. Here are the nine most immersive Disney attractions.
Avatar Flight of Passage
When Pandora – The World of Avatar debuted in 2017, it recalibrated expectations for immersion. This ride causes guests to buy into the idea that they’re tourists exploring the mystical clouds of Pandora. For a moment, it’s perfectly plausible that you’re someone who can tame a Banshee and fly around the world. Disney prefers the term “augmented reality” to “virtual reality.” Still, Flight of Passage demonstrates world-building at its finest.
A key to immersion is persuading the theme park tourist to buy into an illusion. With Expedition Everest, Imagineers accomplish this trick by setting up a smooth journey on a railed path, just like everyone has seen before. Then, guests realize that the tracks up ahead are broken, the situation is dire, and something wants to get rid of them.
At that point, the ride reverses course, a giant Audio-Animatronic tries to grab you, and a lot of what happens is dizzying in its kinetic fury. While you’re on Expedition Everest, you WILL believe in the legend of the Forbidden Mountain, something that only exists in an imaginary world crafted by Imagineers.
The genius of the dark ride premise is that Disney controls your line of vision. Your eyes watch exactly what the ride's designers want. This premise holds true on most of the selections, but it works exceptionally well with Haunted Mansion.
The conceit of this ride is that you’re the invited guest of 999 Happy Haunts, all of whom want you to take up residence within their home. You become a voyeur to their shenanigans almost the moment you board the Doom Buggy. And while you’re here, you totally forget about reality.
In these moments, all you know is a weird combination of joy and fear, an intoxicating mix that will keep you distracted until you finally depart. And even then, you’ll think about those Hitchhiking Ghosts while you walk away from the mansion.