Walt Disney Imagineering sure has managed to make a lot of classics over the last 70 years. From Pirates of the Caribbean to Mystic Manor; Cars Land to Haunted Mansion; Indiana Jones Adventure to Tokyo DisneySea, you can see why fans tend to trust that Imagineers to get the job done.
But once in a while, there's no question that Disney Parks simply get things wrong... disastrously wrong. And when a Disney attraction doesn't stick, Imagineering fans don't let it get swept under the rug. Today we've collected five infamous attractions that Imagineering fans hated. Whether they lasted a single year or decades, fans just never came around to accept these rides... and in fact, when these not-so-beloved rides finally closed, fans cheered! Were we right to root against these rides? Or were they better than Imagineering fans tend to remember? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...
1. Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management
In the late '90s and early 2000s, a whole lot changed very quickly at Disney Parks. The blockbuster, big-budget "Ride the Movies" era that had created The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Indiana Jones Adventure, Star Tours, and Splash Mountain was over. Now cost-conscious and eager to use the characters of the Disney Renaissance with as little budget as possible, Disney entered an era of rides equivalent to "straight-to-DVD" movies.
One of the most divisive was the Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management, retrofitting Walt Disney's classic Tropical Serenade with wise-cracking Iago (from Aladdin) and the persnickety Zazu (from The Lion King). Immediately interrupting the classic "Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room" song, Iago now ridiculed the old-fashioned Tiki Birds, parodied songs from Aladdin, and generally infused slapstick, fart-joke humor into the attraction before being blasted to kingdom come by an angry, scary Tiki goddess.
Don't misunderstand – for a generation of young Millennials, the cartoon-ified Tiki Room was the Tiki Room. Our in-depth history of the comical overlay saw "Under New Management" fans descend with comments about how much better the Iago & Zazu version was than the "boring, slow, old fashioned" original. But many Disney fans were relieved when the Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management caught on fire in January 2011, prompting Disney to at last retire the 13 year reimagining and restore the classic, Walt-approved show.
2. Rocket Rods
One of the surest ways to turn Disney fans against a project is to have it replace something they already love. And when that replacement turns out to be a major dud, it's sure to draw some "we told you so" feedback.
That's never been more true than in the case of the Rocket Rods. In theory, it was an interesting idea; that, in the midst of creating a New Tomorrowland for the 21st century, Disneyland would shutter its doting, leisurely, Space Age Lost Legend: The PeopleMover and repurpose its tracks for a high-speed, nimble, launched, aerodynamic thrill ride, weaving through the revitalized land.
Unfortunately, the Declassified Disaster: The Rocket Rods were a colossal failure. Unlike the massive capacity of the PeopleMover and its all-ages appeal, the five-passenger Rocket Rods were dismally low-capacity. To make matters worse, they hardly ever worked. Multi-hour queues would build for the ride as it constantly shut down and re-opened. Once on board, riders discovered that the free-wheeling thrill ride also had a major drawback: since the old PeopleMover's turns weren't banked, the cars needed to slow to a crawl for every turn in the track, wearing out tires, frazzling ride control systems, and generally cooling reception.
Schadenfreude flowed when the ride closed after just two years of operation, in September 2000. Signs promised that an extensive refurbishment would see the Rocket Rods return the following spring... but they never did. Problem is, neither did the PeopleMover. To this day, the old PeopleMover tracks winding through Tomorrowland are abandoned in plain sight... The lesson? Be careful what you wish for.
3. Superstar Limo
To take a tour through Disney's California Adventure as it appeared in 2001 would leave most of us shocked... The brand new theme park across from Disneyland was supposed to turn the California park into an international, multi-day destination. Instead, the underbuilt, under-funded, and creatively starved California Adventure left locals avoiding the place altogether, and left Disney scrambling to figure out what to do next.
Though there wasn't much to love about California Adventure, there was something that fans particularly hated. Located in the park's barren Hollywood Pictures Backlot behind a flat facade resided the Declassified Disaster: Superstar Limo – a dark ride more fit for a beach boardwalk than for Disneyland. Riders boarded cartoon limousines where (via in-cab monitors) a cigar-smoking puppet agent instructed them to hit the road if they wanted to make it to the Hollywood premier of their own new starring picture.
What followed was a flat, blacklight tour of cartoon-style spoofs of L.A. neighborhoods populated by miniature, comic-stylized mechanical figures of Disney and ABC celebrities like Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, Cher, and Whoopi Goldberg. Filled with in-jokes about Southern California's hoity toity neighborhoods, the glow-in-the-dark ride was something of an embarrassment, embodying exactly what fans hated about the new park.
Believe it or not, Superstar Limo closed before the park's first birthday. In other words, Disney's own internal surveys must've found that California Adventure was stronger with no dark ride at all than with Superstar Limo. It wasn't until 2006 that the resort-wide correction of Disneyland's 50th finally repurposed the existing vehicles and track layout as Monsters Inc.: Mike & Sulley to the Rescue.
Fans may have hated Superstar Limo in life, but nowadays, saying you rode the short-lived failure is a real badge of honor. Even so, the biggest rides fans rallied against await on the last page...