When it comes to movie-themed attractions, it’s fair to say that guests expect to be fully immersed into the world of film. There’s a whole world of such experiences to choose from at Walt Disney World, and there’s something for everyone. So here are the 6 most immersive movie-themed attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort.
6. Frozen Ever After – Epcot
There’s a lot to be said about attractions that make great use of Disney Imagineering animatronics, and Frozen Ever After stands out as one of the best. Perhaps it’s much easier to capture the look of CG-created characters with them, but understandably there’s no doubt that Disney movies are made with future projects and merchandising in mind. The ride’s queuing system takes you through Arendelle, with views of the Northern Lights created using ‘forced perspective’ – a technique that truly lends to the immersive nature of this attraction. Once in your boat, dark ice caverns await where you’ll find the likes of Olaf (singing, of course), Sven, Anna, Kristoff and Elsa, who’s singing in her ice castle. Then it’s down a small waterfall and back into Arendelle, where fireworks erupt overhead.
5. Pirates of the Caribbean – Magic Kingdom Park
Disney World animatronics aren’t always wide-eyed and friendly. In fact, such things can actually be quite unsettling. Where Pirates of the Caribbean is concerned, it’s the setting that plunges you deep into the world you’re used to seeing on screen. In this case, though, the attraction inspired the movies (though it does pay homage to the blockbusters). You’ll journey along underground rivers, where long dead pirates and unclaimed treasures litter the banks. Winds whistles and storms rage, before you suddenly find yourself alongside a warring pirate galleon. Then you’re in the thick of it: port towns bustling with pirates and bookended with a dungeon. Sure, these animatronics are old-school, but it’s their mannequin-esque nature that add to the eeriness. Don’t believe in ghost stories? You’re in one!
4. Haunted Mansion – Magic Kingdom Park
While on the subject of spooky rides, the most obvious is Haunted Mansion. This dark ride makes use of audio-animatronics and old theatrical special effects, with the latter enhancing the aesthetics that showcase the unsettling bygone era of choice. The 2003 movie wasn’t all that great, nor was it creepy, but that hasn’t changed a thing where the ride is concerned. First, you’ll explore the weed-choked grounds of the estate, before entering the realm of the undead. Inside, you’ll board a Doom Buggy, and all that lights these haunted halls, shadowy staircases and ghoulish graveyards are petrifying portraits, shaking chandeliers, beastly brides and singing heads! And then there are all the sound effects – eerie narrations and echoes from beyond. You’ll be wishing you opted for the Eddie Murphy version in no time…
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3. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
It might seem that Star Wars makes it onto every list out there, but there’s no avoiding the fact that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is one of the most immersive movie-themed attractions ever. The experience drops you into a battle between the Rebellion and the First Order, in which you’ll be walking and boarding a mini transportation shuttle. But what is it that makes this ride so immersive? Well, for starters, you’ll meet Daisy Ridley’s Rey in hologram-form, an incredibly realistic animatronic of Admiral Ackbar, First Order officers in the flesh, dreaded AT-ATs that tower over you and a company of intimidating First Order Troopers. You’ll even witness an epic space battle (which looks like it’s actually taking place ‘outside’). We think you’ll agree the Force is strong with this one.
2. Avatar: Flight of Passage – Pandora – The World of Avatar
It wasn’t an easy choice picking this simulator attraction over Na’vi River Journey, but its 3D element is as ground-breaking as the movie. You’ll also feel like a Na’vi throughout (or an Avatar, seeing as you’re human before your journey begins). This ride pioneers 3D technology that wraps around your senses, making it more immersive than any IMAX screening. On the back of a Banshee, you’ll join others and take to the open skies of Pandora – the absurdly majestic, jungle-clad exoplanetary moon. Feel your stomach flip as you swoop in and out of rocky valleys, lush rainforests and gargantuan waterfalls, and skim over glassy lakes and thrashing coastal waters, marveling at the insanely rich wildlife as you go. It’s no surprise this ride is so immersive, though – anything based on such a revolutionary film had to be.
1. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
There was no way that the top of this list was going to be anything but an attraction hosted by Disney World’s golden couple. It also helps that this ride doesn’t just immerse you into the world of film – it literally takes you into it. Sure, it isn’t based on a film per say, but it is movie-themed, taking the idea of the theater to a whole new level and beyond. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway pioneers “2 ½ D”. Just when you think you’re settling down to enjoy a movie starring Goofy and Pluto, things take a rather strange turn – a hole appears on the theater screen and in you go! This one-of-a-kind ride ingeniously combines practical and animated effects for a hyper-whimsical, color-drenched adventure that acts as a love letter to Disney’s most iconic characters and the zany world they inhabit.
There are many more movie-themed rides and experiences at Disney World that span all four theme parks, but these are easily the most immersive. Be sure to keep up to date with availability by visiting the official Disney World website.