Modern Audiences Doom Disney’s Dark Rides

in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World

Madame Leota's head in a crystal ball from the Haunted Mansion

Credit: Disney

Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort are home to some of the most iconic fixtures in the theme park industry, but have modern audiences grown too sensitive to some of the darker stuff? Considering Disney helped shape the archetype, it seems hard to believe.

Guests riding on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland
Credit: Disney

Although the parks’ reputations for thrills might come from attractions like Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Expedition Everest, many of Disney’s most iconic rides have a touch of darkness that might not last very long but sticks with generations of riders even after the gates close.

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While this is undoubtedly expected in things like The Haunted Mansion, DINOSAUR, and Tower of Terror, it’s equally astounding and bizarre that so many Disney dark rides have at least one sequence that takes a freaky turn. The unfortunate truth, however, is that it might not last.

Disney World Dark Rides Lose Their Edge

mr-toad-wild-ride-devil
Credit: Disney

From tunneled boat rides to a campy haunted house, dark rides are a theme park staple, and Disney has some of the best. However, they also come with an unexpected twist for good measure.

Related: Disney Permanently Changes Haunted Mansion for Being “Too Scary”

Comedian Griffin McElroy has a bit that has since become a frequent TikTok sound that talks about this phenomenon. In his spiel about “Tigger’s Abyss,” the comic points out how even the tamest Disney ride has one creepy moment that breaks up the flow of the experience.

Strangely enough, it happens on too many different attractions for it not to be noticed. While the Heffalumps and Woozles section of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is certainly overstimulating, the sharks and angler fish in The Seas with Nemo and Friends, the eerie opening and skeletons in Pirates of the Caribbean, and do we even need to talk about the Hell scene in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride?

Related: Game Over: Disney Park Permanently Axes Fireworks as of Today

While the aforementioned sequences are part of the experience for most of these rides, many iconic Disney attractions have either stripped these sequences or removed the experience entirely. Moreover, this pattern does not seem to exist just in one location.

The Decline of the Disney Dark Ride

A fantastical scene featuring a mossy, tree-like creature with glowing yellow eyes and a blue mustache, reminiscent of a Disney dark ride astonishment. A humanoid figure with wild hair and tattered clothes stands on rocks amid the foliage, holding a staff and gesturing dramatically to enchant modern audiences.
Credit: Disney

One of the most infamous examples is EPCOT’s Maelstrom being replaced by Frozen Ever After at the Norway pavilion, a wound that still pains many long-time pass holders today. However, if other reports are to be believed, trolls and waterfalls might be the least of Disney’s problems.

Related: Haunted Mansion Destruction Outrages Fans

In Tokyo DisneySea, Sinbad’s Seven Voyages was converted into Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage after its dark tone and fearsome features were dubbed too scary for younger guests. One Alan Menken song later, and the rest is history.

Ratatouille ride concept art
Credit: Disney

Fans have noticed a quality change in some of Disney’s most recent attractions, such as Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, which was recently criticized for having environmental details and factors covered in darkness or overrun by screens. Not even “it’s a small world” is safe from griping guests demanding change, and there have been talks of toning down the scares on The Haunted Mansion. Where does Disney draw the line?

Related: Guests Trapped on Terrifying Disney Dark Ride

The Disney parks were designed to be in a constant state of evolution, but sometimes, it can feel more like pandering than progress. Considering Walt Disney Imagineering pioneered redefining what a dark ride could do, it feels insultingly counterproductive.

Do you think Disney’s rides are changing too much? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World

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