It happens. You’re right in the middle of an attraction, and everything just grinds to a halt. Sometimes you’re down for a few seconds, sometimes it’s several minutes, and sometimes you actually have to be evacuated from the ride. I was talking with someone in line on a recent trip, and he relayed a story where he spent an hour at the crest of the big drop on Splash Mountain before eventually having to walk off of the attraction without experiencing its climax. To me, that seems like a pretty awful way to spend an afternoon, and it got me to thinking — what are the best and worst attractions at Walt Disney World to find yourself so stuck that you actually have to exit the ride using your feet? This article attempts to answer this pressing quandary that I suspect most of you had never bothered to contemplate before.
Here are the parameters of the challenge: you’ll be in the midst of the ride, and then at either the most or least optimal moment, the ride will stop moving, although the effects and show elements other than motion will continue to work. You’ll thereafter spend 30 minutes plus whatever time it take to get you rescued in that spot, and then you’ll either be ushered out by Cast Members, or extracted from the ride if necessary. Shows that you could just stand up and leave do not count (i.e., you cannot get “stuck” at Hall of Presidents). Also, you should assume that any momentum-based ride (e.g. roller coasters) is going to come to a natural resting place, such that you won’t be stuck upside down or in the middle of a steep hill.
So, without further ado, let’s go!
While being stuck at the crest of Splash Mountain’s big drop would unquestionably be sub-optimal, for me, the absolute worst attraction to be stuck on would be the Astro Orbiter in the up position. When you’re on the Orbiter, there’s really nothing around that is as high as you are and no scaffolding to step out onto, so you’re sort of out there all alone, no shade or anything. I’m fairly certain Disney isn’t going to permit you to climb down the structure of the ride, so that means that they are going to have to get some serious equipment, possibly a crane, to get you out of there. You don’t usually see cranes rolling around Tomorrowland, which suggests to me that you could be up there for a while. The fact that I’m not a huge fan of heights transforms this into my own personal hell.
Honorable mention here must go to it’s a small world. I get that it is a classic, there is a ton to look at, and it’s air conditioned to make sitting there more bearable, but — you know — that song! My position on this attraction has softened some now that I’m the parent of a small child, but it is still the case that its 14 minute duration is already about 5 minutes longer than I care to hear that little ditty. Add another 30+ minutes to what is already more small world than I’m comfortable with, and I’d probably end up in the fetal position sobbing just to drown out the sound of the song.
The best? The one upside of getting evacuated from a ride is that you get a backstage, behind the scenes look at your favorite attractions, and who among us hasn’t wondered what Space Mountain looks like with the lights on? I don’t have a particular spot in mind for the car to stop, but there are certainly some spots that are going to be easier to extract yourself from than others, like a spot where there is a platform and ladder right next to you where you can just exit by your own volition. I’d like to be stopped at one of those spots, thank you very much.
The best attraction to get stuck on at Hollywood Studios is a pretty easy one for me, because it’s happened before: Toy Story Midway Mania. When the ride stops moving, the targets all change to “zero” value targets, but you can still sit there and play as long as you like. It’s a great way to get some practice, delve into the various things that will trigger special effects, and by any standard, it beats sitting there doing nothing. Moreover, it’s air conditioned, and if you get extra warm, just shoot a ring at one of those rockets that shoots a gust of wind at your face. It’s very refreshing! Also, when it is ultimately time to leave, you are basically just walking out on level terrain. Could be much worse.
The worst? With so many shows and a limited number of actual “rides,” Hollywood Studios doesn’t provide too many options. I’m going with Star Tours, because once the attraction starts, the ride vehicle becomes unmoored from any easy means of egress, and with the constant pitching, yawing and twisting, your final resting position could end up being completely cattywampus. It’s easy to imagine that your evacuation/extraction would be awkward, to put it mildly. Also, I’m sure C-3PO would fill the down time regaling you with the slim chances of you making it through the ordeal alive — or at least that’s how I picture it in my head. Not fun.
Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safari has the unique distinction of being both the best and worst ride to get stuck on, depending upon where and when it happens. The scenery and surroundings are gorgeous, your ride vehicle is covered so you’ve got some shade, and you’re looking at a dynamic environment as opposed to just a static scene that is going to cycle through the same motions every few seconds. There’s really nowhere else at Animal Kingdom — or at Walt Disney World in general, for that matter — that provides that kind of potential for an ever-changing view.
With that said, that dynamic environment combined with the presence of wild animals could be a problem. Sure, those hippos and crocodiles (or are they gators? I always get them confused. I digress…) are safely out of reach, but the very first time I experienced the Safari, a baby rhino walked literally a few yards from our vehicle as we rolled by. While that was incredible with a working truck, it probably would have been a less than ideal place to get stuck, particularly if one of his 3/4 ton buddies decided to come over to make sure everything was cool. I’m sure Disney has taken steps to ensure that we wouldn’t be in any actual danger, but it would still be a bit unnerving.
Epcot is tricky, because there isn’t an enormous list of attractions that fit the criteria to choose from. For me, if I have to get stuck and then escorted off the ride, I think I’d go with Living With The Land. How many times have you been riding it and thought to yourself, “Hey, I could just step right off of this boat and look around?” I mean, the edge is RIGHT THERE, and I wouldn’t even have to get wet, plus, there’s some great looking fresh produce. This would give me an opportunity to live out this dream, and if you’re going to get stuck on a ride, the least Disney can do is let you have some jackfruit, right?
Honorable mention goes to Spaceship Earth. There is an enormous level of detail in the various scenes, and I feel like I always notice something I haven’t seen before every time I experience it. It would certainly be interesting to see behind the scenes here.
The worst? For me, it would be Ellen’s Energy Adventure. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the experience of being stuck on it, though — unless I need a nap or have someone in my party that really loves dinosaurs, I’ve already made a mistake by getting on it in the first place. Spending an extra half-hour in there is only going to exacerbate the agony. Sweet fancy Moses, could we please get a refresh of this attraction? A lot has happened in the last TWO DECADES in the energy arena, and it’s starting to feel a bit dated.
So, those are my choices, but I’m curious what all of you think! What would be your most and least preferred places to get stuck? Which attractions would you like to see behind the scenes? Let us know in the comments!