My Favourite Disney Dark Rides

Ten days. In ten days guys I will be on a plane shooting back across the Atlantic to the best place in the world. I'm talking OF COURSE about sunny Orlando, Florida. The place is like mecca to me, and it's hilarious to me to think that our upcoming visit will our fourth visit to a Disney Resort this year. Like that is actually obscene. I haven't been to Orlando since July 2016, and as such am mega basic and haven't done Pandora or any of the Avatar dark rides just yet, toted by many as Disney's best work. Which got me thinking, what IS my favourite Disney dark ride? I thought I'd put together a little list of my favourites so I can see where Flight of Passage slots into the line-up (if at all!) In no particular order, here's my favourite Disney dark rides.

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If you want to sum up what it feels like to go on an actual adventure, look no further than Indiana Jones Adventure. And YES, of course the California version is VERY FUCKING GOOD. It is, I take nothing away from the Cali version. But something about the Tokyo version pips it for me. From all the general Indy goodness like the soundtrack and the catchphrases and the general blockbuster vibe that gets your motor running, it also has these incredible special effects, one after the other all piled into one awesome warehouse based ride. You come off the thing with your jaw dragging on the ground and want nothing more than to run straight back around for another go. I'm not even that big an Indy fan and I love it - the minute that theme tune kicks in I'm 1000% on board for snakes and giant boulders and whatever other craziness Imagineers want to throw at me. Love.

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OK, so on further reriding this ride isn't as fab as it was the first time I rode it, but let me clear something up. My first ever trackless dark ride was the penguin bollocks thing at Sea World. Which is DREADFUL. The actual worst. So I wasn't really expecting much from Rat, hence it absolutely blew me away. The effects felt SO realistic, the sense of movement so believable, the storyline cute and fast paced and adventurous. It's even scary in some places - GIANT HAND TRYING TO GRAB YOU ANYONE? The use of scale is extremely impressive, the little mousey ride vehicles are absolutely adorable and the blend of screens and sets and the transitions from screen to scene is absolutely flawless. 

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Take about coming out of left field! Sure, I like me a Buzz Lightyear shooty dark ride as much as the next Disney fan, so I was pretty pumped to complete the set and shoot some bad guys and have my fun with it. So imagine my surprise when what Shanghai Disney served me instead was an insanely detailed, holographic, futuristic, energetic masterpiece. My god this ride is good. It caught me so off guard that I ended up pretty much not shooting on our first go round because I just wanted to take in what was being thrust upon my senses. Every INCH of the scenes are packed with detail, from holograms to physical theming to screens to the most reactive targets I've ever played on in a shooty dark ride. And the colour scheme, urgh, SO GOOD! The rest of the Buzz rides have this lime-green glow that makes everything feel kind of tacky, but Shanghai's version opts for a coppery-bronzey-orange tone instead, elevating the whole attraction to the next level. It's incredible.

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Disney's most beautiful facade for a dark ride? Absolutely. Everything about Mystic Manor, and Mystic Point for that manor, is just me in ride form. It's like somebody stalked my Pinterest dream house interior boards and translated it into a spooky house attraction - it couldn't be more perfect. The colour scheme is subtle yet original and gorgeous, the storyline is whimsical and magical and entirely Disney without feeling like a Haunted Mansion rip off which it so easily could have done. My mind still boggles at how some of the effects are achieved, and the use of technology to make these enchanted household items truly feel like they've come to life is phenomenal. It really is real life magic in front of your eyes. This attraction has so many layers, you have to ride it over and over again to even scratch the surface of what you're seeing. It's just wonderful.

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In my humble (lol) opinion, the Tower of Terror is the greatest attraction Disney have ever created. I know I said this list was in no particular order, but I lied, ToT is my ultimate favourite. For an attraction to have such an impact, for it to have an effect of you before you're EVEN IN THE DAMN PARK is a testament to how good this ride is. The design of the entire facade is both beautiful and utterly haunting, the way it looms out at you from the moment you catch a glimpse of it, the way it grows bigger and more imposing as you wander gingerly down Hollywood Boulevard to your doom. The way the entire attraction swallows you up and engulfs you in its storyline the second you join the queue. It is utter genius. And then there's the ride itself. It's an absolute blast - like it's actually a thrilling ride ON TOP OF all the clever special effects and all that other great Imagineering shit. Urgh, even writing about the thing is getting me all worked up. It's perfect. Utterly, terrifyingly perfect.

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If you want a lesson in immersive theming, look no further than Tokyo DisneySea, more specifically Mysterious Island where Journey to the Center of the Earth lives. It's an absolute Jules Verne-gasm in the best way possible. It's all bare rock and steam and water and copper and metal and urgh, just awesomeness as far as the eye can see. And, every so often, a burst of screams as the stylised vehicles of this dark ride burst from the top of the volcano before plummeting back down inside. A dark ride with airtime? Hell. Yes. Journey just looks like one of those many awesome Disney designs that get dreamt up by Imagineers when they're blue-skying but never gets the go-ahead due to budget or whatever, but IT ACTUALLY EXISTS. How can a ride be that good that you have to pinch yourself that it's even real when you're standing in the damn queueline? And my god, the theming and detail is so immensely rich that I doubt you'd ever actually have the chance to see it all and take it all in. The ride itself is an absolute riot too - the speed and agility of Test Track with the wealth of a Jules Verne based storyline plus GIANT ANIMATRONIC LAVA WORM MONSTER. Yes.

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And what would my Disney dark ride list be without this infamous piece of Imagineering marvellousness? I know I've given Shanghai's Pirates a hard time, but I've never once suggested it's not absolutely world class. It is utterly, utterly incredible how amazing this ride is. The theming as you enter the queueline immerses you deep in the narrative from the get go and it doesn't let up. The way the vehicles move differently through different scenes depending on if you're above or below water - I still to this day have no idea how they managed to emulate the slowness you get when moving through water with a damn ride vehicle and I don't want to know. It's witchcraft, and I love it. The animatronics are huge and detailed and move so smoothly you'd be forgiven for mistaking them for actors in costumes. The sets are stunning and massive and detailed and the way the screens blend and work with the physical sets and special effects is just layer upon layer of genius. It's an absolute work of art, and a thrilling ride to boot.

Damn, Disney make some good shit don't they? I know Flight of Passage is meant to be incredible, but having just written this it definitely has its work cut out for it to make my list! And I truly hope it sits me down and shuts me up - I know Disney have it in them to create something incredible and I am fully ready to have my socks blown clean off. Bring it on.

What's your favourite Disney dark ride? Let me know in the comments!

Talk later xoxo,

CONVERSATION

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