11 Disneyland Rides From Terrible To Awesome

Our man jack is King of the Pumpkin Patch, Everyone hail to the Pumpkin King now!

11. It’s A Small World: Burn it down when it’s full of church youth groups.

10. Splash Mountain: Some kind of offensive/idiotic Old South/Slavery thing going on here, very loosely based on the disappeared Disney cartoon feature Song of the South. The set pieces only serve to remind you that this supposed thrill ride is a long, lame experience that’s never worth the wait.

9. Autopia: The charming idea of a miniaturized Pasadena freeway from the brief golden age of California car culture is ruined by the gasoline industry propaganda and cancer-spewing go-karts that consistently die on the track. Why aren’t the little cars powered by batteries or hybrid systems, the way so many cars in the Disneyland parking lots are powered by batteries and hybrid systems? Because then Chevron couldn’t use the ride to brand pre-schoolers’ minds with the need for endless war to procure oil supplies in Central Asia and the Middle East.

8. The entirety of the California Adventure park: Not even the elaborate new Cars ride can help California Adventure. Raze the whole thing and put the new Star Wars theme park (maybe an entire Tatooine?) here instead. (The Cars desert backdrop could hold the new pod-race ride.)

7. Anything branded with Koch Brothers’ nature-raping corporate signage: All of the unloved “Critter Country” seems to be covered in Koch Brothers’ branding, including the Bounty paper towels and Dixie paper cups advertisements on every surface. It’s supposed to replicate the pristine nature of early America, this “Critter Country,” and yet everything is sponsored by the opera-loving high-rise dandies who plunder the nation’s resources from public lands so that landfills can be stuffed with paper cups and paper towels.

6. Frontierland canoes: This is not really a “ride,” because you actually row the canoes. It’s the only Disneyland attraction powered by the humans who pay money to go to Disneyland—as such, it is rarely crowded even on very busy days at the park. The guides will complain the whole time because nobody knows how to row a boat, but it’s still fun and relatively quiet and you get to slip between the Huck Finn rafts and the Mark Twain riverboat and that pirate ship. Like the rafts to Tom Sawyer’s island, the canoes aren’t attached to any kind of underwater track or pulley. You’re on your own, and could actually fall out and drown in the dyed-green five-feet-deep water!

5. Jungle Cruise: The Indiana Jones ride is right next door, but this old attraction does the 1930s colonial adventure even better. The dock terminal is a perfect set of rope and wood and old junk, and the swamp boats look and feel as old as they are—the ride opened when Disneyland opened, in 1955.

4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Even the Jack Sparrow/Johnny Depp add-ons haven’t harmed this eerie classic boat ride from New Orleans to the pirate isles. It was the last ride that Walt himself oversaw, and despite being 45 years old it’s still the richest and most immersive world in the whole theme park.

3. Star Tours: It re-opened a year ago with various new features, with the biggest improvements in the line. Now everyone gets to laugh as moronic TSA robots mistake blasters for hair dryers and insult the children. Just like a real airport, but funny instead of tragic, and the TSA robots don’t rectally probe you like at JFK or LAX. The flight-simulator 3D ride itself is a near-perfect parody of flying on Southwest Airlines.

2. Haunted Mansion: The holiday version based on The Nightmare Before Christmas is fun, but it’s the classic Disney Haunted Mansion that remains amazingly creepy and satisfying. If, like me, you grew up coveting the mysterious and majestic mansions of New Orleans’ Garden District, the exterior is as good as the ride itself. And the ride itself—which actually happens in a separate, hidden building—is a wonderfully sinister occult experience that would’ve never been green-lit in the Moral Majority/Christian Right hysteria of the 1980s or Fox News world that has existed since the late 1990s. Good thing this ride’s “doom buggies” first took passengers in 1969, the age of America’s insane and too-brief Occult Revival.

1. Space Mountain: If you want to see what the future looked like to people of the late 1970s, this is your portal back in time. Beyond the hokey Star Wars ripoff space-station environment with its crumbling stucco rooftop waiting area and faded plastic spaceship model hanging over the boarding room, this is also a frantic indoor roller coaster where “outer space” means a lot of cold-air fans and no lights.


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Ken Layne has small children and a Disneyland “SoCal Select” annual pass, so he is right about all of this.