As much as we love Disney World, not everything that they try to pull off in the parks is a slam dunk.
We’ve seen some interesting ride ideas, some weird snacks, and a ton of things that just made us scratch our heads (Donald Duck being replaced by a hat-wearing plant, anyone?). Today we’re breaking down the times that Disney World tried to do something interesting and it didn’t go quite as planned. Hey, we’re still giving them an ‘A’ for effort!
25th Anniversary Birthday Cake Castle
Back for the Walt Disney World 25th Anniversary in 1996, the castle got a complete redecoration to look just like a giant pink birthday cake. It was nice that Disney tried to decorate the castle all special, but it probably didn’t go over as well as they hoped.
Unfortunately, many people HATED the castle look during that time. If you booked your “once in a lifetime” trip during this time, instead of those classic family photos in front of the castle you got a VERY pink reminder of your uniquely timed visit! Nowadays, it has quite the fan following, and we’ve even seen merchandise with the birthday cake castle. While we can appreciate the cake design now, we think we like the 50th Anniversary castle a LOT more!
The Ugliest Pretzel in the World
We hate on this pretzel a lot here at DFB, but we think it deserves our disdain. (WE’RE SORRY, pretzel. It’s really not you, it’s us?) This poor unfortunate soul (LOL…sorry) was part of the 2019 Christmastime offerings at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. When we saw the promotional picture, the iced pumpkin pretzel looked like a cute idea, but in reality, it was NOT cute.
The icing came out uneven and patchy — it kinda looked like it went through a horrific accident. In total disbelief that such a sweet little pretzel could end up such a hot mess, we even ordered it a second time just to be sure. Yep, still a face for radio, this one.
Better, but no dice. The poor Cast Members tasked with making this treat at Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks struuuuuggled to make these frosting-dunked concoctions and the end result both times looked more cheesy than frosting-y! You’ll likely NOT be surprised to learn this did not return last year! It sparked much conversation among our team and has been the subject of many, many jokes. At least the pumpkin pretzel accomplished something!
The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management)
Back in 1998, Iago from Aladdin and Zazu from The Lion King took over a classic Magic Kingdom show, and The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management was born! This unusual retheme made the show lose a bit (OK, a LOT) of its charm, and fans weren’t too fond of the changes.
Surprisingly, the show lasted for nearly 13 years until a fire started in the attic of the building. The fire caused some damage to various elements of the show and it had to go under refurbishment. When it reopened 7 months later as Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, guests were pretty relieved to see arguably the two most annoying birds in Disney animated history gone and much of the original show returned!
The Moldy Space Sandwich
Back in 2019, EPCOT got some new eats to celebrate the Guardians of the Galaxy — Awesome Mix Live show. One of the treats on the list was called the “Space Sandwich” and the bun was supposed to mimic a galaxy full of stars. Intriguing, right? WRONG. It looked like this:
Unfortunately, the bun turned out to look more like a moldy mess than a work of art. The sandwich itself wasn’t terrible, basically just a pulled pork sammie, but we couldn’t really get past the look of “moldy” bread. We’re all for adding some fun color to otherwise boring-looking foods but any kid that’s learned their colors could tell you: brownish bun+blue=mucky dirty looking bread. It’s a no from us, Disney.
Stitch’s Great Escape
Ahh, one of the most infamous Disney World attractions of all time…Stitch’s Great Escape. This show opened up in 2004 to replace the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, which was deemed “too scary for kids” (OK, OK…adults too. Not speaking from experience or anything!). Disney hoped that they could make the attraction a little more family-friendly by retheming it with a different…more cuddly…alien.
The show received mixed reviews from guests, with some thinking it was fun and others describing it as the worst attraction in Magic Kingdom. You basically sat stationary in a room and watched a robo-Stitch do very little for 10 minutes. The general consensus from most guests, though? That chili dog burp was gross.
The Controversial Poor Unfortunate Souls Float
This float first appeared during Villains After Hours in Magic Kingdom in early 2020. It was made with black raspberry soft serve and cherry coke. Sounds pretty tasty, but in execution, it tasted like medicine your mom would force you to take as a kid.
The Poor Unfortunate Souls float came back for the Halloween season with cream cheese soft serve instead and was much better received, although it was still only liked by about half of the people who tasted it. The artificial “cream cheese” flavor was just too much for some tasters. Poor float indeed…you tried to fix it Disney, but you just didn’t succeed.
Bo Peep Meet & Greet
Okay, we understand that when Disney premieres a new movie that they want to promote it in the parks. That makes sense. However, if you’re going to promote the characters, do it in a way that isn’t scary! Listen Disney, no ALL characters translate to a walking, real-life version, OK. Case in point:
If you ever stopped by Hollywood Studios around the time that Toy Story 4 premiered, then you likely ran into Bo Peep. It was neat to see her in the parks meeting with Woody, but we’ll be honest…she was pretty terrifying! That face just looked a little too creepy for our liking. (Anyone else feel like her eyes are staring into your soul? 🙋🏽♀️) For a generation or two that grew up with Bo in her poofy dress, seeing her stomping around in her high-waisted cropped romper getup was a lot.
Journey Into Your Imagination
In 1983, Journey Into Imagination opened at EPCOT and started a long saga of various rides at the Imagination Pavilion. The original version lasted until 1998, then it was replaced the following year by the revamped Journey Into Your Imagination. And let’s just say, the new version was NOT received well by guests.
The second iteration of the ride lost the fan-favorite characters of Figment and the Dreamfinder, as well as the hit song that came along with the original. These losses were lamented by guests, and they complained so much that Disney chose to redo the ride AGAIN in 2001. That’s when we got the Journey Into Imagination with Figment that we have today! (It’s not the same as the OG, but it’s definitely better than the last one.) Still no Dreamfinder, instead we get the lackluster Dr. Nigel Channing, and this Figment is less childlike and more just annoying. Maybe if there’s a 4th time it will be a charm, Disney?
When Disney World launched Mission: SPACE, they wanted the new ride to be as realistic as possible. The goal is to simulate a rocket launch accurately, and, from what astronauts have said…they succeeded! Disney worked with NASA to design the attraction, so the experience is pretty darn realistic!
However, this means that the centrifuge-based ride is SUPER intense. (In fact, it’s the only Disney ride that comes with barf bags.) It was SO much when it first opened guests were getting sick and walking (err…stumbling) off the ride dazed and feeling pretty crummy the rest of their day. Disney responded by toning things down a bit, eventually adding the Green Mission for those who don’t want to feel like the skin is flying off of their face.
A Bunch of Things in Galaxy’s Edge
Before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland, we were promised quite a few things about the land. Sadly, not all of those promises came to be! For instance, we were told that guests would get to see X-Wings flying high above the land. We got to see one for a few short seconds at a media event, but when the lands opened…nothing!
We were also assured that there would be roaming droids on Batuu. The lovable hero R2-D2 was at Disneyland for a very short time, but he hasn’t returned to greet us since then. Disney also hoped to add a dinner show to the land and that didn’t happen, although it’s possible that it could come to Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser instead. Oh, and remember when how you performed on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run was supposed to follow you around the land with in-character actors engaging you at every turn? Yea…not so much.
But the biggest flop of all for Black Spire Outpost? Blue milk! If it was supposed to be Disney’s way of competing with Universal Orlando and their Harry Potter-inspired Butterbeer…well, that didn’t really work out. The flavor and texture fell flat for many, making it largely forgettable. Blue Milk is fine and all, but Butterbeer still reigns supreme for most on our team.
Those are all the times we gave Disney an A for effort, even though things didn’t really work out in their favor. That’s okay, not every idea can be a winner, and we still love going to the parks! Stay tuned to DFB for more advice (and things you need to know) for your upcoming Walt Disney World vacation!
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Is there anything you think Disney didn’t execute to perfection in the parks? Let us know in the comments!