Ian Thomas Malone

disney Archive



December 2023



The Small One

Written by , Posted in Podcast

We are continuing our holiday coverage with the 1978 Disney special The Small One, a quietly powerful short little film. A favorite of Ian’s from an early age, she gets a little emotional talking about the narrative toward the end of the episode. For all the fun we have joking about all the cringe that often goes into holiday specials, The Small One is among the genre’s finest offerings.

The Small One is streaming on Disney Plus


Our full holiday slate: https://ianthomasmalone.com/2023/12/holiday-podcast-rankin-bass-muppets/ 



January 2021



WandaVision isn’t designed to meet expectations

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture, Star Wars, TV Reviews

WandaVision ushers in a new era for the MCU on the small screen. While Marvel Television only delivered peanuts on its promises of a shared continuity, Marvel Studios has brought the gravitas required to create a real sense of connectivity to its storytelling, largely in the form of its two leads. The Scarlet Witch and Vision hardly got much of a chance to shine across a handful of films that had many other heroes to entertain itself with.

The series largely succeeds on the chemistry of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, perpetually eager to act out WandaVision’s many tributes to classic American sitcoms. There are smiles to be had on everyone’s faces, though the audience knows the idyllic suburb is hardly what it seems. Sparking nodes of Marvel Comics, “House of M” and “Decimation” arcs, the show offers a slow burn that gradually hints at what lies ahead in the MCU’s post-Avengers: Endgame world.

WandaVision embraces MCU mastermind Kevin Feige’s key strategy of gradual plotting, having fun in the present while rarely losing sight of what’s eventually to come. Supporting players Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Harris and David Payton help paint the portrait of a world that sparks curiosity that its twenty-two minute episode runtimes can hardly satisfy.

To some extent, it’s a good thing that WandaVision leaves the audience wanting more by the time the credits roll. There is also the reality that this is the first meaningful new piece of MCU content since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home (not counting Marvel Television’s Helstrom, which served as an uninspired curtain call for the company), the longest stretch in franchise history. It’s a burden that shouldn’t be WandaVision’s to bear, the first glimpse of how the future will look for Marvel on Disney+.

The reliance on humor based in nostalgia for sitcoms that aired more than fifty years ago is bound to rub some people the wrong way. As a company, Disney has increasingly relied on nostalgia as a selling point for much of its cinematic portfolio, including their live action remakes and the Star Wars sequels, which often felt like remakes themselves. People are starved for new Marvel content, only to be presented with references to pieces of Americana that their grandparents grew up with.

Television is a medium that tends to save its biggest bangs for its premieres and finales. WandaVision is presented as event television, only to mostly spend its time mirroring more conventional entries in the form. This formula would almost certainly play better if the audience was treated to a traditional twenty-two episode season that used to be the norm. The fact that most of the audience has waited years to learn the fate of Vision after his Avengers: Infinity War demise doesn’t exactly do much to temper expectations.

WandaVision is solid television, albeit not the kind of fare that’s well designed to live up to unsustainable hype. The Mandalorian is really, really good at producing cinematic-quality storytelling in practically every episode. WandaVision sits in the same category as a standard-bearer for a top-tier streaming service, lacking the sense of mandate to be the MCU’s flagship television offering.

Whether that’s fair or not is kind of beside the point. Olsen and Bettany are fun to watch no matter the circumstances or the state of the MCU’s broader portfolio. There’s a natural sense of urgency to want something to happen, but it’s hard to dwell on that too long when the present put in front us manages to put a smile on one’s face each and every week. Maybe WandaVision will overstay its welcome down the road, but for now, the show is still a delight.



December 2019



The Mandalorian Season One Review: Chapter 8

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture, Star Wars, TV Reviews

Chapter 8 came with plenty of high expectations, even if there probably isn’t a single soul out there who thought that Disney would kill off Baby Yoda after his capture at the end of last week’s episode. Director Taika Waititi, who also voices nurse droid IG-11, is one of the most imaginative filmmakers currently working, a perfect choice for the finale. Unsurprisingly, he delivered a spectacular episode of television.

The opening scene with the Scout Troopers was an emotional roller coaster. Jason Sudekis and Adam Pally were pretty funny, mocking their profession’s well-known reputation for being horrible marksman. They also repeatedly hit one of the cutest characters in television history. Hard to laugh when such an adorable baby is in pain.

For a show with relatively few characters, The Mandalorian managed to deliver satisfying arcs for practically everyone who appeared in more than one scene. IG-11 is not exactly a character who needed to return after chapter one, but the show gave the reformed assassin a redemptive narrative that ended up working quite well. The scene where he rode into town guns-blazing was an absolute treat.

Does Moff Gideon seem like the kind of guy to give people until nightfall, presumably several hours away, to turn themselves in? The whole sequence felt a little arbitrary, especially with the blaster-resistant sewer grate. The revelation of Mando’s name, Din Djarin, was almost as exciting as the sight of his face after all these episodes.

The flashback sequence was also well-executed, though hopefully we’ve seen the last of Mando’s droid bigotry. Baby Yoda’s use of the Force has been handled well, deployed sparingly in a believable manner. The way this episode handled IG-11’s death makes Kuiil’s quicker demise seem a little shortchanged by comparison.

The Armorer ended up being a more emotionally powerful character than I would have expected following her last appearance. Her support of Mando’s mission feels genuine, though the embrace of Baby Yoda by the Mandalorians in general makes you wonder why Mando didn’t just bring him to Mandalore in the first place. Her action sequence battling the Stormtroopers was well-handled. A death by those incompetent fools would have been a bummer.

Hopefully next season will feature more of the backstory behind what happened on Navarro after chapter 3. The Mandalorians paid a heavy price for helping Baby Yoda, especially when you consider how that whole mission went against The Guild, hurting their credibility as bounty hunters. We know little of their broader belief system, but they do seem like genuinely good people.

Carl Weathers did a fabulous job as Greef throughout the season. This episode saw the character deliver his best line, “Come on baby, do the magic hand thing!” His case for the planet of Navarro also felt quite genuine for something that was clearly intended to be comedic relief.

Moff Gideon was well-deployed this episode. The Tie Fighter sequence was great, and the Darksaber revelation was absolutely wild for fans of the Expanded Universe. I’m glad that he survived the season, as Giancarlo Esposito is too good of a villainous actor to only use in two episodes.

I do wonder why it seems that only important characters seem capable of surviving ship crashes in this saga. Luke took several shots to his X-Wing in the Battle of Yavin while practically everyone else not named Wedge Antilles saw their ships destroyed with a single blast. Maybe Moff Gideon had a great airbag.

As much sense as it makes that the group would go their separate ways at the end of the episode, part of me wishes that Cara Dune had stuck with Mando. That whole dynamic would have clashed with the show’s gunslinger vibe, but the episodes where Mando has an ally have worked better than the ones where he’s alone in taking care of Baby Yoda. It’s hard to imagine she won’t be back next season though.

This episode was easily the best of the season, one of the most exciting chapters in the entire Star Wars saga. The storylines came full circle in a very satisfying manner, while leaving plenty to be excited about for next year. The bar was set pretty high for Taika Waititi, who made the perfect case for why he should be given his own trilogy.

Quick programming note: my full season review will be posted later this week. Thank you to everyone who’s followed along with our recaps this season. I hope you had as much fun as we did.



December 2019



The Mandalorian Season One Review: Chapter 5

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture, Star Wars, TV Reviews

Part of what made last week’s Chapter 4 such a great episode was the simple fact that the show had finally left its initial planet, which we now know is called Navarro. Plenty of recaps, including this one, wondered if that planet was Tatooine, owing to the desert climate and presence of Jawas. “Chapter 5” features the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda arriving on Star Wars’ most iconic planet, a moment that felt weirdly robbed of its potential impact.

There’s a running joke in the Star Trek fandom that revolves around how there’s seemingly endless planets in the universe, but they all look like the same pile of rocks. Obviously there’s a reason for this. Sets are expensive and deserts are easy to create. The Mandalorian is an expensive show, with episodes costing upwards of 15 million dollars apiece to make.

From an audience perspective, cost is a difficult thing to gauge. Shows like Game of Thrones and The Crown clearly look expensive due to their lavish sets and costumes, something that certainly holds true for The Mandalorian. With episode runtimes that barely go beyond a half hour and a palette of monotonous desert landscapes, it can be sometimes hard to be all that impressed with the scale of this show.

Chapter 5 – The Gunslinger further solidifies The Mandalorian as “The Baby Yoda Show.” Each episode feels fairly self-contained in nature, focusing on either protecting the adorable baby or fixing Mando’s ship. For now, that formula has generally produced satisfying television.

This episode felt fairly small in nature. Perhaps some of that has to do with the empty Mos Eisely Cantina, which now allows droids. We see a cute R5 unit inside, along with a bartender who looks like EV-9D9, who worked in Jabba’s palace overseeing the torture of other droids.

The pit droids that worked for Peli Motto were a nice throwback to The Phantom Menace, though it’s unclear why The Mandalorian wouldn’t let them work on his ship. Similarly implausible is the idea that he’d leave Baby Yoda on the ship alone.

There had to be some level of trust toward Amy Sedaris’ Peli Motto in order to leave him there in her general vicinity, but it doesn’t make a ton of sense. This situation does lead to Peli asking her droids to fetch Baby Yoda something to eat, an adorable sequence. A spinoff where Peli simply babysits Baby Yoda would totally work.

Toro Calican is a strong contender for worst character of the season. Jake Cannavale does a decent job with the arrogant wannabe bounty hunter, but he’s an annoying character. That might explain why Mando decided to toss over his binoculars to the Tusken Raiders instead of simply shooting them, an approach he took with the Jawas back in Chapter 2. Thankfully we won’t have to see any more of Toro moving forward.

Fennec Shand is a character who will likely be quite important to The Mandalorian moving forward. For now, this was a fairly weak introduction. Mando and she clearly have a lot of history, but Toro’s presence in the narrative hindered any exploration of this dynamic. Ming-Na Wen was fun to watch, but this episode didn’t really give her any time to shine.

Does anybody on Tatooine need water? It’s a desert planet with two suns, yet Mando and Toro were all too content to sit outside all day in the sun with no shade, and no Camelback. Maybe Mando’s helmet has air conditioning.

This episode had a lot of fan service. From the mention of Coreillian-quality ships to Mando’s “no good to us dead” line, a throwback to Boba Fett in Empire Strikes Back, some were quite easy to pick up on. Most impressive was when Toro remarked, “Who wouldn’t want to be a legend?” to Shand, quite likely a reference to Ming-Na Wen’s status as a Disney Legend.

Chapter 5 was easily the weakest of the show, an episode mostly salvaged by Amy Sedaris’ lively performance. Her relationship with Mando felt oddly organic for the small amount of time they’d spent together, and her affection for Baby Yoda was palpable. It’s too bad she couldn’t join Mando for the rest of the season.

The end of the episode hinted at what’s in store for the remaining three episodes, with an unknown figure approaching Shand out in the desert. It seems likely that this person is Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon, who was announced for the season but hasn’t appeared yet. After a collection of mostly self-contained episodes, hopefully we’ll see a villain who sticks around for a while. This show can’t rest on Baby Yoda’s laurels forever.




November 2019



The Mandalorian Season One Review: Chapter 3

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture, Star Wars, TV Reviews

Note: this review contains spoilers

The breakout sensation that is Baby Yoda does not need much of an explanation. The audience knows absolutely nothing about this character, no name, no species, and certainly no backstory. None of that really matters since the character is one of the most adorable creatures in Star Wars history. There is perhaps another reason why this character has won over the hearts of so many in such a short period of time.

As a franchise, Star Wars evokes a lot of emotion from its fans. People passionately dissect every new minute of content entered into this canon for a very simple reason. They care.

The Mandalorian doesn’t give its viewers many outlets to channel that intense emotion. Its title character has yet to show his face. This isn’t a particularly dialogue-heavy show, dispensing character development in incredibly small doses. Baby Yoda captures the audience’s attention through its sheer cuteness, but also because there hasn’t been anything else presented to care about.

Chapter 3: The Sin was a very effective episode, delivering subtle nodes of character development while also establishing the clear arc of the narrative. Wisely, the show is doubling down on Baby Yoda, who won over the Mandalorian while playfully tampering with his ship’s controls. Every scene featuring Baby Yoda is like an instant endorphin rush.

The whole Mandalorian guild is a little silly, a bit too reminiscent of the Jedi Order. Why do all of these people wear their masks at all times? Don’t the insides start to smell?

At least we finally got a female character with a speaking role. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was the first Star Wars live action installment directed by a woman. Deborah Chow did a great job with the episode, particularly with the framing of the action sequences.

Similarly silly was the idea that asking about the bounty is against the Mandalorian “code,” something that was brought up by both The Client and Greef Karga. It’s hardly outside the norm for a bounty hunter to be expected not to care about what happens after payday. There isn’t really a need to mythologize the taboo nature of his line of questioning.

There’s still five more episodes for the Mandalorian to show his face, but it would be a misstep for the show to go the whole season without this reveal. Boba Fett may not have taken off his helmet in the original trilogy, but his father did in Attack of the Clones. The difference between those two roles is that Boba Fett was barely even a character in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, on screen for barely more than five minutes. Here, the Mandalorian is a lead character.

This episode featured a couple fun Star Wars throwbacks. A super battle droid appeared in a flashback sequence from the Mandalorian’s childhood. Best of all was when a patron of the cantina uttered “echuta” at the Mandalorian in response to his success with the bounty, a line first spoken to C-3PO by a fellow protocol droid in Empire Strikes Back. “Echuta” is probably the closest we’ll ever get to Star Wars profanity.

Thankfully, the show looks poised to head to a new planet. The dynamic on the planet that’s probably Tatooine was getting a little old, exacerbated by the lack of compelling characters for the Mandalorian to interact with. Carl Weathers is perfectly serviceable as Karga, but the character simply isn’t that interesting.

The action sequences were a lot of fun. We finally got to see a Mandalorian with a jet pack. It’ll be interesting to see how much the Mandalorian mythology comes into play now that the show is heading off planet, but there’s certainly a lot of unfinished business with regard to the fallout of the Baby Yoda jailbreak. Is the credibility of their whole group shot? Who knows, but the mystery is quite compelling.

This episode was hands down the best of the three so far. A lot of the cast has yet to be introduced, leaving plenty of plot for the remaining five episodes. This episode also put the previous one in context as a standalone adventure rather than simply stalling. As long as there’s plenty of Baby Yoda, it seems safe to say this show will continue to be a hit.



November 2019



The Mandalorian Season One Review: Chapter One

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture, Star Wars, TV Reviews

Note: This review contains spoilers

The Mandalorian carries a lot of weight that most television series don’t really deserve. After more than a decade of waiting, the first live action Star Wars show is finally here, a drama that also happens to be the flagship offering of a new streaming service. The kind of hype that comes with this terrain would be enough to destroy a planet the size of Alderaan.

To its credit, episode one never feels like it’s trying to juggle all this weight. Instead, it’s mostly an introductory narrative, one that isn’t particularly full of answers or compelling reasons to care about the characters. With regard to the latter, it doesn’t exactly need to give a reason. Star Wars already has plenty of fans.

As a lead, The Mandalorian is a challenging character to get behind. The helmet doesn’t help, limiting Pedro Pascal’s range. As far as this episode goes, how you feel about the title character could largely boil down to how cool you find his costume.

The breakout character in episode one is perhaps unsurprisingly Werner Herzog’s Client. There’s some obvious joy to be had in seeing such an iconic director amidst a group of Stormtroopers, but Herzog plays the role with complexity that makes you wish he were in more scenes.

The first half of the episode relies a bit too much on Mythrol (Horatio Sanz) to carry the narrative. He’s funny and the perspective is helpful as a means to introduce the show, but he’s also a guest character who isn’t going to be around for the long haul. At times, it felt like the episode was kicking its feet, waiting for the big action to begin.

The sight of The Mandalorian and IG-11 fending off countless foes on Arvala-7 was spectacular. The whole sequence brings out the best in Disney+, merging high quality production values with the comfort of one’s own home. The sets are all lavishly designed, but it wasn’t until the blaster fire picked up that everything really started to feel like Star Wars.

The end reveal of a baby from the same species as Yoda, the name of which remains a mystery to this day, felt like a bit of an unnecessary big finish, like the episode wanted to end on a note that would get everyone talking. It worked. We’ve never seen a baby Yoda before, unsurprising for a species that lives for hundreds of years.

While there’s no established norm for runtime on a streaming service, at 39 minutes, episode one feels a bit on the short side for a show meant to be the premier offering for the whole streaming service. That’s not to say that the episode should’ve padded itself with extra filler, but the delivery felt a bit underwhelming. Worst of all, at times, it felt a little long. Not exactly a great sign for an episode shorter than most network TV dramas.

Chapter one was a passable episode of television that never felt like it was trying to win over viewers who weren’t bound to tune in already. Star Wars is a big deal. This episode felt small. That’s not the worst thing in the world, especially since it accomplished some world-building, but Star Wars deserves better.



November 2019



Lady and the Tramp Is Visually Pleasing Lifeless Slog

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

For a company known for its princesses, it’s rather remarkable that the original Lady and the Tramp remains one of Disney’s finest love stories more than half a century after its release. The film presents complex themes in a manner that can be understood by children but perhaps resonate more with their parents. After a year of highly disappointing live-action remakes that transformed their source material into bloated jumbled messes, failing to recapture the original magic, an adaptation made for Disney+ seemed like a good way to lower the stakes.

As far as aesthetics go, the 2019 Lady and the Tramp is a finely crafted film. The sets are spectacular, capturing the feel of the early 20th century in a way that feels suited for the big screen. Similarly, the acting is top notch. In particular, Yvette Nicole Brown and F. Murray Abraham look absolutely delighted to be there, giving performances that radiate their vibrant energy through the screen.

The voice cast finds itself in a puzzling position. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Tessa Thompson or Justin Theroux as Lady and Tramp. The trouble lies more with the nature of what they’re being asked to do.

The canine leads are convincing, but not particularly compelling. Using actual dogs carries a degree of authenticity that CGI can’t provide, but that also boxes the voices into a bit of a corner. Some degree of disconnect between the dogs and their human voices is to be expected, but this comes at a cost to the film’s emotional core. It’s hard to find the romance convincing when the actors aren’t capable of playing along.

Animation doesn’t really have this problem since the artists have plenty of leeway to impose human characteristics onto their subjects. With the 2019, Lady and the Tramp, the special effects department is perfectly capable of making the dogs talk, but they struggle to convey emotion in the process.

As fun as many of the human actors are, the nature of the film’s plot doesn’t give them much to do. Brown’s Aunt Sarah is a delightful villain, but she isn’t on screen very much. It’s almost as if the 2019 film expects its audience to be familiar enough with the 1955 version to superimpose their own nostalgic memories in the absence of strong character development.

The human leads aren’t really leads. Thomas Mann and Kiersey Clemons don’t do anything wrong, but there comes a point in time where the audience is supposed to care about this family. The film forgot to supply a reason.

Lady and the Tramp might be Disney’s best live-action remake of 2019. That’s not saying much. What’s most unfortunate is the idea that this is such a near miss. There’s so much to like about the way this film was constructed, from its beautiful scenery to the actors who so clearly love being a part of this timeless narrative. If only there was a heart at the center, beating life into the anemic presentation of the story.



May 2019



Strong Lead Performances Can’t Redeem Aladdin’s Empty Existence

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

The frequency with which Disney live-action remakes are hitting the theatre can make it easy to forget that the process of creating them requires vastly different individual mandates for each film. A film like the original animated Dumbo only ran for a little over an hour, leaving plenty of room for a live-action adaptation to make its own mark on the material. The animated Aladdin however clocks in at ninety-minutes, a feature-length film in its own right. Guy Ritchie’s live-action adaptation had the tall order of capturing all the key plot moments from its animated predecessor while also giving its own cast enough time to shine.

Ritchie’s Aladdin is bolstered by three very strong performances from its lead actors. Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott are eminently charming in the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine. The two have a lot of natural chemistry and give welcoming performances that have the audience rooting for their characters by the end of the first musical number. So far Maleficient is the only live-action adaptation to receive a sequel, but I’d actually really like to revisit Massoud and Scott’s interpretations of the characters in a follow-up.

As the Genie, Will Smith had an impossible task in following the late great Robin Williams, whose take on the character remains one of the most iconic voice acting performances of all time. Smith does a great job in differentiating the two, crafting a character completely different from his animated predecessor. Smith’s Genie is less zany and far less in your face, but he’s still an empathetic figure capable of delivering plenty of laughs.

While Massoud, Scott, and Smith all do an admirable job bringing classic characters to life, the film moves far too quickly to give any of them a chance to breathe. Despite the fast pacing, the film feels like quite a slog with a two-hour runtime. The performances bring their own magic to the table, but there’s only so much Ritchie can do with his film’s organic moments while also serving the narrative of its predecessor.

Jafar might be one of the most memorable villains in Disney history, but Ritchie, unfortunately, diminishes his larger-than-life presence in the live-action film. Marwan Kenzari does a serviceable job playing the character, but he never gets a moment to shine. We learn nothing new about Jafar’s motives and there’s no song featuring the character. He’s the only character who feels smaller in the real world, reduced to merely a narrative obligation.

Ritchie’s Aladdin struggles to find its own voice while constantly serving the narrative of its source material. Like Smith’s Genie, Scott’s Jasmine is a totally different character than her animated counterpart, but the scenes that highlight her personality often feel clunky when mashed together in between recreations of iconic scenes from the original. As a result, the film feels far more derivative than it should, stifling its own sense of originality while trying to juggle too much.

The musical numbers are often entertaining, but perhaps predictably fail to recreate the sense of awe and wonder put forth in the original. The audience knows what’s coming. Ritchie should know that, but he doesn’t do much to trying and recapture any luster. The film is at times far too content to pale in comparison to the original.

Making matters worse is the fact that the strict adherence to the plot of the animated original constantly reminds the audience of how much time is left in the film. The two-hour runtime is far too long for something that predictable. It’s rarely outright boring, but the slower scenes aren’t helped at all by the familiarity of it all.

Aladdin is occasionally entertaining, but the film fails to stand out in any meaningful way. The actors put forth an admirable effort, but they’re not allowed enough opportunities to truly stand out. There are times when the film feels like it’s trying to do too much, but the result is that it feels like it accomplished nothing at all by the time the credits start to roll. Young children might be wowed by the impressive scenery, but the overall experience is regrettably empty.




April 2019



A Ranking of Every Ride at Disneyland

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture

Disneyland knows how to give people a good time. You don’t earn the moniker, “the happiest place on earth” without doing at least a few things right. From the parades to the costumed characters to the delectable desserts, there’s so much to do in Disneyland, but one element of the park experience reigns supreme above all others: the rides.

There are many great rides at Disneyland. While it’s pretty hard to fit them all in a day, perhaps even harder was the effort to rank them all in a cohesive manner. This list attempts to do so, providing a complete ranking of every ride Disneyland has to offer.

While any list like this one carries with it a fair degree of subjectivity, it was compiled with every attempt made to use a consistent rubric for each ride. A roller coaster, of course, differs in experience from a traditional dark ride, but each attraction leaves visitors with a certain sense of satisfaction for having ridden it. However quantifiable a concept like “wonder and awe” is remains to be seen, but this list represents an effort to gauge the satisfaction garnered from each ride, irrespective of ride type.

This list does not take external factors such as average wait time, Fastpass availability, or sentimental value into consideration. I encourage to share your thoughts on the ranking in the comments section. We’ve also recorded a three-part companion series on my podcast, Estradiol Illusions, to break down each selection. A separate ranking for the rides in California Adventure will be released next month.

Note: This list will not be updated to include either ride from Galaxy’s Edge until at least a year after their opening. Given that most Disneyland rides are well over a decade old, it seems fair to give both Smuggler’s Run and Rise of the Resistance time to have their merits properly evaluated.

All pictures taken by Ian Thomas Malone

Honorable Mentions

The Enchanted Tiki Room

As someone who loves visiting The Enchanted Tiki Room, I thought long and hard trying to come up with a reasonable rationale to justify including it in the official ranking. Of all the shows throughout Disneyland, it feels the most like an actual ride, possessing a wait time rather than a set show time. Dancing along to the numerous catchy songs is an experience that closely mirrors Star Tours, with the only substantive difference being the absence of any mechanical force propelling the motion.

Trouble is, any case you could make for The Enchanted Tiki Room’s inclusion on the list essentially also holds true for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, which decidedly feels more like a show than a ride. For that reason, The Enchanted Tiki Room has been kept off the official ranking, though the singing birds of Adventureland are always worth a visit, preferably with a Dole Whip in hand.

Main Street Vehicles

The inclusion of the Disneyland Railroad and Monorail set the pretext for the inclusion of the Main Street Vehicles on the official rankings, but a few issues precluded the Jitney, Omnibus, Fire Engine, and Horse-Drawn Street Car from truly qualifying for the list.

If we accept the definition of an amusement park ride as a mechanical device that carries passengers along a fixed route or course for the purposes of enjoyment, all four Main Street vehicles are essentially disqualified. The only one to explicitly follow a fixed route is the Horse-Drawn Street Car, pulled by an animal rather than a machine. The other three follow the same loop, but not on rail. The Fire Engine, for example, could make a turn and drive down Adventureland if it wanted to, which it obviously doesn’t, but the mere ability to do so sets it apart from the attractions listed in the official ranking.

The Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island

The question of whether the Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island should be classified similar to the Main Street Vehicles or their fellow inhabitants of the Rivers of America boiled down to authenticity. Unlike the Mark Twain Riverboat and the Sailing Ship Colombia, the Rafts do not follow an underwater rail. Instead, they’re manually operated by their operators. As such, they better qualify as transportation than as actual rides.

Tom Sawyer Island has its fans, especially young children who are the appropriate size to venture into the caves. The 2007 remodeling, which added Pirate’s Lair based on Pirates of the Caribbean, gave the island a broader connection to the Disney lore. For first-time park-goers, it’s hard to recommend visiting Tom Sawyer Island with so much else to do, but on an especially crowded day, it’s not a bad way to spend an hour.

Dishonorable Mentions

Davy Crockett‘s Explorer Canoes

You won’t see the canoes in the picture because you probably won’t see them in the park either. Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes are almost never open. The attraction is also powered by human labor, disqualifying it from the list even if it was open.

Unless you want to be splash by someone’s oar, or disappointed by the people who won’t row their paddles, Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes should be avoided at all costs. The real Davy Crockett would assuredly have been disappointed by the state of his attraction. A Disneyland original, Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes has been intermittently open since 1955, providing a mediocre experience to generations of park visitors.

Tarzan’s Treehouse

Guaranteed to leave your knees feeling creakier than if you took a ride down Matterhorn Mountain, Tarzan’s Treehouse is among the most skippable attractions in the park. While some Disneyland purists might still lament the loss of its predecessor, The Swiss Family Treehouse, my personal ill feelings are typically reserved for days when the park is so crowded I feel compelled to make the trek up all those stairs.

The treehouse itself is a pretty good recreation of the one from the film, complete with a few throwbacks to its Swiss Family predecessor. While the attraction does a decent job trying to tie itself to its source material, it’s hard to recommend for any reason other than needing to kill time before an Indiana Jones Adventure Fastpass starts. The Hong Kong Disneyland version is situated on its own island, quite cooler than the California setting.

The Disneyland Ride Ranking

31. Sailing Ship Colombia

If you get a chance to ride it, Sailing Ship Colombia provides a very pleasant journey around Tom Sawyer Island. Trouble is, it’s almost never open, usually anchored in its spot near The Haunted Mansion. Originally opened in 1958, the Colombia’s biggest role nowadays seems to be as part of the Fantasmic! Show. The Colombia isn’t a bad way to explore the Rivers of America, but don’t expect to be able to actually go aboard.

30. Disneyland Monorail

The first monorail system to operate on a daily basis in the entire Western Hemisphere, the Disneyland Monorail has been in operation since 1959. The monorail gives visitors a ton of great views of the park, but it has limited usefulness as a transportation vehicle. Unlike the elaborate monorail tracks throughout Walt Disney World, Disneyland’s version only has stops in Tomorrowland and Downtown Disney.

29. Autopia

Young children who grew up going to Disneyland may have a special place in their hearts for Autopia, which offered many their first chance to get behind the wheel. For just about anyone else, the whole ordeal is a tedious slog through an unremarkable section of the park while the smell of gasoline fills the air.

Autopia offers multiple tracks, giving passengers plenty of theoretical reasons to return that diminish once you’re freed from the slow-moving hell. The ride doesn’t offer the driver enough control or excitement to be an improvement on the standard carnival bumper-cars. As such, it’s best value likely comes from the photo-opportunity at the beginning of the ride, perfect for an Instagram picture that no one will ever be jealous of.

Though the signs say to not bump the car in front of you, the prospect of a slow speed collision is about the only thrill Autopia has to offer. A Disneyland original, Autopia certainly holds some nostalgic value to longtime super-fans, but longevity is hardly enough to save it from the bottom of the list.

28. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Nemo-aficionados will surely be angry by the low ranking, but the Submarine Voyage is among the most unpleasant experiences Disneyland has to offer that doesn’t involve a turkey leg. The dank smell of the submarines is enough to make one nauseous without the prospect of a nearby passenger who forgot deodorant. The ride covers an extensive amount of Nemo lore, but there’s something wrong about the idea of viewing cartoon fish underwater. The viewing windows are small and often dirty, giving riders a view of various algae-riddled sculptures underwater.

Submarine Voyage is the rare ride that is ill-served by its long length, as the air inside grows stale quite quickly with 40 passengers a vessel. While the submarines have been a fixture at Disneyland since 1959, Nemo enjoys far superior attractions at Epcot, which includes real fish, and at Tokyo Disneyland. Young children may enjoy the sight of Nemo, but the claustrophobic submarines offer little joy to just about anyone else.

27. King Arthur Carrousel

Carrousels occupy a special place in Disney lore, as the Griffith Park merry-go-round in Los Angeles served as inspiration for Walt Disney to create Disneyland itself. It seems only natural that the King Arthur Carrousel would occupy a place of prominence in Fantasyland when the park opened in 1955.

As far as rides go, it’s easy to dismiss the King Arthur Carrousel in a park full of attractions you can’t find anywhere else. The carrousel’s central location and fast-moving line make it a quick enjoy experience, especially if you’re lucky enough to have the Pearly Band on board playing live music. On an especially crowded day, it also gives one a great view of all the slow-moving lines, full of people who probably wish they were also riding the carrousel.

26. Gadget’s Go Coaster

For those of us who grew up with The Disney Afternoon, there’s something special about the idea that Disneyland still possesses a ride based off a television show from that era. Many of Disneyland’s youngest attendees may not have a clue who Gadget is, but the inventor extraordinaire from Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers still has a place in the park with her junior roller coaster. How much longer it stays open remains to be seen, as it’s hard not to look around the dilapidated grounds it sits on and think the ride is part of the park’s long term plans.

Clocking in at 44 seconds, Gadget’s Go Coaster is the shortest ride at Disneyland. As far as rides geared toward young children go, it provides a great introductory experience to roller coasters, with a couple sharp turns that will get young thrill seekers in the mood for Big Thunder Mountain. The long lines it tends to accumulate diminish its value as a nostalgia ride for older fans who grew up with The Disney Channel, but the chance to take one’s children on adventure originally geared to them is an experience Toontown is able to deliver in abundance for millennial parents.

25. Disneyland Railroad

Rather appropriately, the Disneyland Railroad is the definitive rail experience the park has to offer. In a park full of trains, this is the only one that can be used to provide practical transport, with four stops conveniently located around the park. Beyond just merely being a good way to get around, the Disneyland Railroad also features several dioramas, including the Audio-Animatronic dinosaurs from the 1964 New York’s World Fair. My personal favorite part of the trip is when the train passes through Splash Mountain, offering passengers a great view of the critters singing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

Tip: If you’re looking to ride the railroad at night, the Toontown and Tomorrowland stops are the way to go as they’re far less crowded than Main Street and New Orleans Square.

24. Mark Twain Riverboat

Unlike the Sailing Ship Colombia, the Mark Twain Riverboat makes voyages around the Rivers of America on a consistent basis. A Disneyland original, the Riverboat is a great way to get some spectacular views of the park while enjoying a relaxing boat ride. The narration can be a bit annoying, praising the beauty of nature while sailing around an artificial river, but there’s a good chance you’ll see some real-life ducks swimming around.

23. Astro Orbiter

Essentially a faster version of Dumbo the Flying Elephant, one could argue that the Astro Orbiter is the better ride. The Astro Orbiter does take passengers higher up in the air than Dumbo, but there’s something decidedly not as fun about spinning around in a vessel that isn’t a cute elephant. The view from the Astro Orbiter certainly isn’t as good, offering a glimpse at Main Street and the section of Tomorrowland in between Star Tours and Buzz Light Year Astro Blasters. Unless there’s a parade going on, there simply isn’t as much to look at as Dumbo’s Fantasyland perspective.

Astro Orbiter occupies a unique place in Disney-park lore, with six separate versions built around the world, though Tokyo Disneyland’s closed in 2017. Disneyland’s version is actually the fourth oldest, only built in 1998, giving it a far less important place in the park’s history than its Magic Kingdom counterpart. It might do a better job spinning you around in a circle than Dumbo, but that doesn’t necessarily make for a more worthwhile experience.

22. Mad Tea Party

A staple of practically every Disney park, the Mad Tea Party is one of Fantasyland’s definitive experiences. For many, the magic of Disneyland is best encapsulated in the ability to spin around in teacups as fast as you possibly can.

While not as thrilling as many other rides, the Disneyland original remains a classic that must be enjoyed at least once. Disneyland’s version differs from its successors in not having a roof, which renders the ride inoperable in the rain. My heart goes out to all the nausea-prone parents who have had to ride aboard a cup piloted by their adventurous children, determined to spin the cup to its max.

21. Dumbo the Flying Elephant

A Disneyland original, Dumbo is as iconic as it is unremarkable. Countless parents have waited upwards of an hour to spin around in a circle for a few minutes. The ride does offer a spectacular view of Fantasyland, but Dumbo is only worth riding for either nostalgic purposes, or because you have a young child who wants a ride in the adorable elephant.

20. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster

Call me lazy, but part of the joy of a ride is not having to do anything for your thrills. With Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, the experience is largely decided by one’s ability to shoot a laser at the ride’s many targets. The attraction is actually a pretty good dark ride, capturing the spirit of the underrated if not largely forgotten Buzz Lightyear of Star Command TV series that aired in the wake of Toy Story 2.

It’s hard to criticize the accuracy of the blaster without inviting claims of mere incompetence, but regardless, the ride is hardly worth the long lines it often accumulates. Disneyland’s version debuted in 2004, six years after the Magic Kingdom’s original. The California take is vastly superior, with a lot more dialogue and blasters that can be removed from their mount, but Astro Blaster is one of the more skippable rides in the park and easily its weakest attraction to offer a Fastpass.

19. Casey Jr. Circus Train

Right out of Dumbo, Casey Jr. Circus Trains comes roaring down the track to take visitors on an enchanted journey through Storybook Land. For those who want to experience the miniatures from a more vertical angle, or simply don’t want to wait in the Canal Boat line, Casey Jr. offers a great alternative perspective of all the scenery. The first half of the ride is hands-down the best as you can sing along to the title song while taking in all the views.

There are a few choices of seating to pick from. The monkey cages tend to go first, a favorite for young children. My personal favorite spot is the back of the caboose, which gives you a completely unobstructed view of Storybookland as well as the broader Fantasyland. Most certainly not just a children’s ride, grab your lemonade and cracker jacks, because Casey Jr.’s back!

18. Pinocchio’s Daring Journey

Fantasyland’s youngest dark ride, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey was added in 1983 as part of a larger overhaul of the area. It’s a pretty cute ride that covers an extensive chunk of the Disney classic. Pinocchio’s Daring Journey also has some of the park’s best Audio-Animatronics, including Lampick’s transformation into an adorable sad donkey.

Sadly, unlike Snow White’s Scary Adventures or Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey doesn’t include a needlessly terrifying scene in a forest or an idiosyncratic trip through Hell. The ride is a Disneyland exclusive in North America, with additional versions in Disneyland Paris and Disneyland Tokyo. The line rarely gets too long, making it a worthwhile experience through one of Disney’s most iconic films.

17. Storybook Land Canal Boats

On the purely adorable scale, Storybook Land Canal Boats rivals it’s a small world for cutest ride in the whole park. The boat voyage through miniature recreations of many of Disney’s beloved classics is always a magical experience. Covering an eighty-year stretch of Disney history from The Three Little Pigs to Frozen, the Storybook Land Canal Boats has something for fans of all ages to enjoy. My personal favorite is the Toad Hall, complete with Mr. Toad’s famous motorcar.

Unlike the Jungle Cruise, the Storybook Land guides rarely ad-lib, reciting a relentlessly upbeat script that starts to sound eerily similar to state-run propaganda the more you hear it. The ride queue is a strong contender for worst in the park, an overly cramped slow-moving slog made much worse by unavoidable eavesdropping and nearby body odor.

Despite the peripheral issues, Storybook Land Canal Boats is an adorable ride that shouldn’t be missed, especially since its only other version resides in Disneyland Paris. The Paris version includes its own eclectic mix of miniatures from a wide spread of the Disney canon and doesn’t include guides, leaving the question of which is better up for debate.

Tip: If you ride at night, the audio from the guides is a bit harder to hear and you’ll also see plenty of sleeping ducks lining the sides of the canal.

16. Jungle Cruise

If you appreciate the humor, the Jungle Cruise is a pretty pun-derful experience. A Disneyland original, the Jungle Cruise has been taking passengers on voyagers through Asia, Africa, and South America since 1955, though the jokes were only added in 1962. The journey itself remains largely the same despite numerous changes, most notably in 1994 to accommodate the construction of Indiana Jones Adventure.

Moreso than any other ride, The Jungle Cruise experience is largely determined by the human touch, with each guide delivering their own take on the standard script. The scenery is quite well maintained, with quite believable animatronics. The Jungle Cruise is a relaxing ride that often doesn’t have too bad of a line, making it a great opportunity to squeeze a quick rest in. The puns might grow stale after a little while, but the experience is not one to miss if you haven’t yet gotten a chance to board the world-famous Jungle Cruise.

15. Snow White’s Scary Adventures

A Disneyland original, Snow White’s Scary Adventures is so terrifying that the Magic Kingdom actually toned down its version. Combined with Mr. Toad’s Hell segment, the haunting forest in Snow White are more than enough to give any child nightmares, rather surprising for the part of Fantasyland most geared toward young visitors.

Disneyland’s version received some renovations in 1983, adding Snow White to her titular ride, though the Evil Queen remains the focus of the journey. I often wonder how many children were turned off to apples because of the ride, intertwining its scariest parts with frequent suggestions to consume the fruit. The ride possesses perhaps the most abrupt ending of any attraction in the park, forcing passengers to invert their heads in order to catch a glimpse of the lightning bolt that sends the Witch to her death. The line rarely gets too long, making Snow White’s Scary Adventures an easy attraction to check off one’s list.

14. Star Tours – The Adventure Continues

Disneyland’s only motion simulator ride, the original Star Tours also possesses the distinction of being the park’s first attraction to be licensed off a non-Disney owned intellectual property, though the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm brought both Star Wars and Indiana Jones officially into the Disney family.

Star Tours’ major 2011 renovation officially added “The Adventure Continues” to its title, bringing with it a bunch of changes that significantly enhanced its value as an attraction to visit multiple times. With 384 possible ride variations, it’s unlikely passengers will experience the same sequence twice. New segments based on The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi include original footage recorded by the cast members themselves, a rarity for Disneyland.

The ride itself can be a little nauseating as you’re jerked back and forth, but the segments are pretty spectacular. My favorites are the podracing sequence, the battle over Coruscant, and the journey through Naboo, the latter of which features a cameo from everyone’s favorite gungan Jar Jar Binks. Meesa thinks Star Tours is muay muay fun.

13. Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye

Few rides successfully immerse their passengers in the lore of their franchise better than Indiana Jones Adventure. The journey through the Temple of the Forbidden Eye could’ve easily ended up being the subject of its own film, an idea that’s almost certainly crossed someone’s mind as the ride is often one of the park’s most popular attractions. Consistent with the other rides built in the 1990s, Indiana Jones Adventure possesses an elaborately impressive queue, taking visitors through numerous eerie passageways on their way to the ride.

The adventure itself is a bit more of a mixed bag. The scenery inside the temple is spectacular and the journey across the bridge is always a delight, but the ride under-delivers on the thrills you’d expect from an Indiana Jones attraction. The military vehicle journey tends to fall more under the category of unpleasant than exciting, jerking passengers back and forth without a ton of thrills. The middle row, in particular, is decidedly mild, almost like a slightly bumpier version of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Of the three rows, the third is the most exciting, though those riding on the corners seats can expect to be jerked all over the place.

Indiana Jones Adventure certainly has its fans and is usually one of the park’s busiest attractions. As a Disneyland exclusive, it’s certainly worth visiting, but as a thrill ride it leaves too much to be desired to earn a spot in the top ten.

12. Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin

Though the Disney Renaissance produced far more lucrative films, Toontown owes its origin to the film that jumpstarted the era. It seems unlikely that we’d have a ride based on Who Framed Roger Rabbit if Disney waited even a couple of years to develop an entire land based off the film, considering the sheer amount of blockbuster hits that followed in its wake. Though Toontown closed in the Magic Kingdom back in 2011, never possessing a Car Toon Spin of its own, Roger Rabbit lives on in Disneyland and its Tokyo counterpart.

Car Toon Spin is among the most elaborate and impressive dark rides in either California park. Taking passengers on a journey through Toontown, the experience can be tailored to the individual rider’s preferences through the ability to control the steering wheel, allowing the cab to be spun around as fast as your arms can spin. While the ride doesn’t follow the film very much, the trip through the power plant is quite exciting.

Car Toon spin also possesses one of the best ride queues in the park, immersing standby passengers in the lore of the film. The ride is available for Fastpass, so I’d only recommend waiting if the line is short, something that’s hardly a guarantee as standby frequently runs close to an hour. While many of Disneyland’s young visitors likely have no idea who Roger Rabbit is, it’s great to see his legacy live on in Toontown through this spectacular ride.

11. Peter Pan’s Flight

For a ride that’s been in operation since Disneyland opened in 1955, Peter Pan’s Flight still attracts hordes of crowds, almost always possessing the longest wait time of any ride without a Fastpass. It’s not hard to see why. Even after decades of technological improvements, few rides can top the joy of sailing through London on a flying ship.

Peter Pan’s Flight features numerous elaborate scenes, including a marvelous replica of Neverland in all its detail. The rail the boats follow moves in a way that really gives each passenger a full view of everything, while Peter Pan’s timeless score plays in the background. The animatronics are also quite impressive, though the ride only covers a brief portion of the story. The sight of Peter Pan battling Captain Hook is always a treat, even if you have to endure a long line to experience it.

Tip: While you can expect to always wait at least twenty minutes to ride Peter Pan’s Flight, the best case scenario for the line is to jump in when the queue is only one or two rows past the indoor section.

10. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

The perfect way to unwind after a drop into the briar patch, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh gives park visitors another great reason to make the journey to Critter Country. The motion-enhanced dark ride takes passengers on a journey through A.A. Milne’s iconic novel. It’s practically impossible to ride through the Hundred Acre Wood without a smile on your face as that silly old bear tries to find some hunny.

Some people may never forgive The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh for replacing the Country Bears Jamboree, but at least it didn’t take the spot of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride like its Magic Kingdom counterpart. Though not as elaborate as the Florida version, Pooh offers plenty of delights, especially the trippy recreation of Heffalumps and Woozles.

The Many of Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ends on an immensely fitting note, with the silly old bear proclaiming, “Well, that was fun” just before the beehive transport returns outside. I find myself consistently agreeing with him.

9. Haunted Mansion

With lines like, “Your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding,” The Haunted Mansion represents the pinnacle of fun one can have in a ride queue at Disneyland. Scaring visitors to New Orleans Square since 1969, The Haunted Mansion offers passengers a chilling challenge through an antebellum-style manor. The slow-moving dark ride covers every nook and cranny of the ghost-infested estate, with plenty of songs and incantations guaranteed to become stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

In terms of narrative, the ride provides one of the best experiences in the park, presenting a complete story from the moment the floor starts to stretch all the way to the sight of a hitchhiking ghost in your “Doom Buggy.” My personal favorite section is the balcony over the Great Hall, where passengers can enjoy a great view of the dancing ghosts. The ride undergoes an extensive overhaul each Halloween modeled after The Nightmare Before Christmas, telling a story of Jack Skellington’s visit to the mansion. One of Disneyland’s most iconic rides, The Haunted Mansion thankfully offers a Fastpass to skip the lines that tend to accumulate by midday.

8. it’s a small world

Never go to Disneyland with a scrooge who hates on it’s a small world. The happiest cruise that ever sailed ‘round the world is a must do no matter what Disney park you visit, a nonstop parade of joy. There are those who hate on the repetitive nature of the titular song, failing to appreciate the achievements of its easily translatable verses.

Originally constructed for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the ride has called Disneyland home since 1966. A 2008 refurbishment saw the additional of 29 Disney characters spread throughout the ride, a feature that distinguishes it from the Magic Kingdom version. One of the most relaxing rides the park has to offer, it’s a small world is a great way to rest your legs while still being able to take in the wonder of the ride. The ride receives a holiday overhaul each year, swapping out its main theme for “Jingle Bells,” and “Deck the Halls,” to give passengers some new songs to have stuck in their heads.

Hating on it’s a small world does not make you cool, it just makes you a bad person.

7. Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland consistently possesses one of the worst lines in the park without a Fastpass, but it’s not very hard to see why. Among the most technically impressive dark rides in the park, Alice is also one of its longest. After taking passengers through Wonderland, the ride moves outside onto the building’s roof, giving riders a great glimpse of all the people waiting in the queue.

The ride has undergone many renovations since its opening in 1958, updated to include animations from the film itself. The animatronics are elaborate and colorful, guaranteed to put a smile on your face as you follow Alice’s adventure. The final scene gives everyone a chance to celebrate their “unbirthday” with Alice and the Mad Hatter. A Disneyland exclusive, Alice is a must visit for first-time park-goers, though I’d recommend making it your first ride of the day, as the line rarely lets up.

6. Big Thunder Mountain

Originally built to provide a more thrilling experience than the older Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland, Big Thunder Mountain has been taking passengers on a fast speed train rides through Frontierland since 1979. A less daunting alternative to Space Mountain and The Matterhorn Bobsleds, Big Thunder is a perfect stepping stone for young children eager to experience the more adventurous side of Disneyland. The “wildest ride in the wilderness” offers some of Disneyland’s most exciting sharp turns while keeping the drops to a minimum.

The scenery in Big Thunder Mountain is also pretty spectacular, full of cute critters and dynamite-loving skunks. There is a saloon toward the end of the ride that states, “We serve the finest corn whiskey,” a claim that’s rather bizarre for a park that doesn’t sell alcohol outside of Club 33. The perfect thrill ride for passengers of all ages (at least those that pass the height requirement), Big Thunder Mountain is one to ride multiple times a trip, especially to enjoy the eeriness of a nighttime train ride. The younger Magic Kingdom version is a bit bigger, but Disneyland’s original take offers more than enough thrills.

I often joke that the train could perhaps be the elusive “Casey Sr.,” but one thing’s for sure, it’s one of Disneyland’s best rides.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean

As the last ride to have its construction overseen by Walt Disney himself, Pirates of the Caribbean holds a lot of sentimental value to Disneyland super fans. The ride has been taking passengers through the pirate-invaded Isla Tesoro since 1967, though the attraction has seen numerous renovations over the years. After serving as the source material for the wildly popular Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, the ride saw itself remodeled in the likeness of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. Recent years have seen a few reversions to the ride of old, particularly the return of Paul Frees’ original audio tracks.

The only theme park ride to have been caught up in the #MeToo movement, Pirates did away with its “Wench Auction” in 2018 in favor of a female pirate, who reminds visitors of the importance of rum in any seafaring diet. While some Disneyland originalists might welcome the removal of Depp years after the peak of the franchise, the ride continues to be one of the park’s most popular attractions. With a whopping fifteen-minute runtime, practically double the length of the Magic Kingdom version, the journey is well worth the wait. No trip to Disneyland is complete without a boat ride through the Caribbean.

4. Space Mountain

Often possessing the longest line in the whole park, Space Mountain is well worth the wait (though a Fastpass is certainly recommended). The indoor roller coaster would be thrilling enough with the lights on, but the darkness adds a whole layer of excitement to the experience. The sharp twists and turns make you feel like you’re being blasted through outer space, rarely slowing down until it’s time for the lights to come on enough for a totally unnecessary picture.

Disneyland’s Space Mountain isn’t as long or as thrilling as its older sibling in the Magic Kingdom, but the California version is a must-do for adventure seekers. The countdown at the beginning of the ride is perhaps Disneyland’s most effective suspense building, putting passengers in the perfect mood for an adventure.

3. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

A Disneyland original, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride has been taking visitors on motorcar adventures since 1955. Based on Disney’s adaptation of the classic children’s novel The Wind and the Willows, the queue gets you right in the spirit, from the courtyard into Toad Hall itself. The dark ride takes travelers on a journey through the weasel infested estate, through London, and finally, for some reason … Hell!

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride earns its high ranking off the sheer idiosyncrasy of the experience. Where else can you find a children’s ride eager to take its passengers through the fiery depths of hell, absent from all versions of its source material? The ride itself remains impressive, full of sharp turns and colorful scenery, and unlike Indiana Jones Adventure and Radiator Springs, the steering wheel actually moves!

While many of the young visitors may not be familiar with The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, the ride remains popular, often challenging Peter Pan’s Flight and Alice in Wonderland for longest wait in Fantasyland. With the 1998 closure of the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in the Magic Kingdom, the Disneyland version is the only one still in operation. A trip to Disneyland is most certainly not complete without a trip to Toad Hall.

2. Matterhorn Bobsleds 

The world’s first tubular steel roller coaster is an enduring classic and Disneyland’s finest exclusive ride. If the thrills of riding down the mountain don’t supply enough adrenaline, the sight of the Abominable Snowman is sure to give you a shock as you speed by. The aged bobsleds offer quite the bumpy experience, but that’s all part of the fun.

With two separate tracks providing slightly different experiences, the Matterhorn Bobsleds if one of my favorite rides to do multiple times a visit. The side facing Fantasyland is the more thrilling of the two with sharper drops, but the Tomorrowland track gives you a longer ride. The front seat offers the best views, but the fifth and sixth seats are the best if you want the full bumpy experience. The Matterhorn is best enjoyed at night, when the darkness accentuates the scariness of the Abominable Snowman’s bright red eyes.

1. Splash Mountain

The perfect combination of thrills and artistry, Splash Mountain best encapsulates the Disneyland experience. The log flume pairs Disneyland’s animatronic craftsmanship with the high octane rush of its three drops, destined to get at least the front seat completely drenched. Based on the banished Song of the South, the ride faithfully recreates the non-offensive cartoon portions of Br’er Rabbit’s adventures, including many of its iconic songs.

It’s almost hard to believe how accurately the ride follows the source material considering how few of its passengers are familiar with the work that Disney has never officially released on home video. Of all the thrill rides at Disneyland, it’s by far the longest, giving riders the best bang for their time spent in line. While the younger Magic Kingdom adaptation is a bit longer, the original Disneyland version is the only one to include the haunting “Burrow’s Lament,” making it the definitive Splash Mountain.

The steep drop into the briar patch is counterbalanced by the charm of many animals singing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” as the ride comes to a close. Perfect for hot days, Splash Mountain is always a treat. No trip to Disneyland is complete without a trek to Critter Country to visit the Laughin’ Place. Br’er Rabbit might be one of the more obscure Disney characters, but he always leaves you with a wonderful feeling on a wonderful day.



November 2018



Ralph Breaks the Internet Is an Immensely Satisfying Sequel That Never Bites Off More Than It Can Chew

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews

Some sequels are born out of necessity to tie up loose ends left over from their predecessor, but others exist for a far simpler reason. Movies that create worlds which excite the viewer become natural habitats for follow-up stories. 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph did not leave any unanswered secrets that had to be addressed, but its seemingly infinite world of interconnected gaming characters is a rich habitat for future adventures.

Ralph Breaks the Internet may not have been born out of necessity, but it didn’t fall into the trap that befalls many sequels in spending its time trying to justify its own existence. The film takes its world and expands it tenfold, sending Ralph and Vanellope into the world wide web to procure a new steering wheel for the Sugar Rush game before Mr. Litwak shuts it down. The plot largely takes a backseat to the simple thrill of the adventure, allowing Ralph and Vanellope to shine through their various adventures.

The internet is a difficult concept to parody, as its sense of culture never stays in one place and tends to differ widely from person to person. A YouTube! spoof from five years ago would look much different if it were made today. Ralph Breaks the Internet takes concepts like viral videos and offers commentary and jokes that seem to keep this in mind, never relying too heavily on humor that requires one to understand much about the references.

The film also exercises surprising restraint toward the inclusion of its own assets. Appearances from Disney Princesses and Star Wars characters managed to integrate themselves into the narrative instead of looking like product placement. Clocking in at just under two hours, Ralph Breaks the Internet possesses a much longer runtime than most Disney movies, but it makes its moments count. Despite its loftier ambitions, the film consistently grounds itself in its best asset, the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope. Their relationship is given room to grow without feeling forced. Sequels often stumble when they arbitrarily mess with their character dynamics, but Ralph Breaks the Internet manages to make it feel like a natural progression.

The very appeal of a sequel is at least in part tied to a desire to spend more time with the characters who made the magic the first time around. Unlike television, movies can’t spend much time showing their characters simply hanging out or doing anything else that doesn’t directly service the narrative. Sequels falter when they create plots that simply exist as an excuse to showcase their characters, as few films can succeed with a gaping hole where their narrative should be.

Ralph Breaks the Internet juggles its pieces well, resulting in a smooth sequel experience that doesn’t force an unnecessary mandate on its characters. The film has plenty of humor that seems more tailored to adults, but has something for viewers of all ages. It’s the rare sequel that doesn’t try to beat its predecessor at its own game, following its own path while never succumbing to the low-hanging fruit of too many pop-culture references. More sequels should aspire to be like Ralph Breaks the Internet, allowing themselves to succeed on the strength of their characters without trying too hard to match an impossible standard.