Ranking Every Disney Theme Park Attraction With A Movie Connection

This is a banner week for the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. This Friday, Walt Disney Pictures releases the new entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Dead Men Tell No Tales; it's the fifth film based on the classic 1967 attraction. Also Friday, at the Disney California Adventure theme park in Anaheim's Disneyland Resort, Marvel will make its presence known in the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission – Break Out! attraction, taking over from The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. But wait, as they say: there's more. This weekend, Disney's Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World gets a whole new land, Pandora, themed to James Cameron's Avatar. This combination of theme-park and movie-centric unveilings is the inspiration for the following, admittedly massive ranking of every single movie-inspired or movie-adjacent Disney attraction.

Get comfortable. We're going to be here for a little while.

A few caveats: first, there are two notable, newer attractions omitted from this list: Frozen Ever After in Epcot's World Showcase and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland. There's a simple reason why: I haven't been back to Walt Disney World since these attractions opened. Whatever opinions I may have of, say, putting a Frozen ride in Norway (hint: they're not positive), I can't fairly place it or the Seven Dwarfs roller coaster on this list without riding them. Second, this list is not just a ranking of rides, but some of the stage shows as well, those of which focus on a specific film. (So, for example, the wonderful nighttime experiences Fantasmic! and World of Color don't show up here.)

51. Stitch's Great Escape! (Tomorrowland -- Magic Kingdom)

Lilo & Stitch is a fine throwback for Disney hand-drawn animation, but the use of Stitch in the theme parks has always been shaky, if not awful. Unfortunately, Stitch's Great Escape!, at the entry point of Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland, is on the negative end of that extreme. The attraction has been in place for nearly 13 years, replacing The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter ride but maintaining its basic setup: guests are recruited to be prison guards and watch a demonstration of an alien prisoner being beamed in for incarceration when said prisoner (guess who?) wreaks havoc on the strapped-in attendees. The ExtraTERRORestrial effects were meant to be intense – closer to the Alien movies – but the re-theming in Stitch's Great Escape! is woeful. The good news is that the attraction isn't open year-round anymore; the bad news is that there's a reason why.

50. Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable (Future World -- Epcot)

This film's message is undeniably valuable: we must save our natural environment before it's too late. Utilizing characters from Disney's massively popular The Lion King is a fair way to marry education and entertainment. However, the attraction opened in Epcot's The Land pavilion in January 1995, so it's shown its age for a while. There are slighter, equally noticeable, distractions throughout: Matthew Broderick doesn't voice Simba, though Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, and James Earl Jones appear. Plus, the grafting-on of elements from The Lion King, specifically its music, is a reminder of how shoehorned-in the characters feel, as Timon and Pumbaa try opening a resort in the Pride Lands. (Yup.) The message is vital...or was more so in the 1990s. As successful as The Lion King is, it's time to replace this with something more apt to modern times.

49. Heimlich's Chew Chew Train (A Bug’s Land -- Disney California Adventure)

There's nothing inherently wrong about Heimlich's Chew Chew Train, one of many toddler-friendly attractions in A Bug's Land in Disney California Adventure. It's a pleasant, calm ride through some Imagineer-designed versions of human food that would appeal to the Teutonic-voiced caterpillar Heimlich. Part of the problem is inherent to the land: as much as A Bug's Life may be a fun, enjoyable early Pixar film, it doesn't merit an entire land in the same way that other films may. So the theming here is fine, but unnecessary (especially when there are similar food-related props you can see while walking through A Bug's Land). Also, a little of Heimlich's humor goes a long way; even though this train ride is short, by the end, the humor is stretching the breaking point of enjoyment.

48. Francis' Ladybug Boogie (A Bug’s Land -- Disney California Adventure)

Much like Heimlich's Chew Chew Train, Francis' Ladybug Boogie is low on the ranking because it's themed to a film that hasn't stuck around in the cultural consciousness nearly long enough. Essentially, this is an updated version of an attraction we'll discuss later, Mad Tea Party. This time, it's not teacups in which you spin, but ladybugs. It could be argued that the theme makes sense: Francis may be a ladybug, but his major trait is defensiveness at seeming less than masculine. Surviving a spinning ride is tough, especially since you can choose to spin these ladybugs as much as you want. (Plus, the attraction is designed in a Figure-Eight style.) The roughness of the ride, coupled with the minimal theming here, is enough to put it low on the list.

47. Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

Beauty and the Beast is one of the great animated films of all time. It's also been a staple of Broadway for over two decades, as well as having had various touring productions around the world. Because of that, and because this attraction on Sunset Boulevard in Disney's Hollywood Studios has been around literally since the film's opening day, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage is simply old hat. Of course, this is also a heavily condensed version of the film with a mostly pre-recorded soundtrack: it's just 25 minutes long and only the actors playing Belle and Gaston speak and sing live. (Guess what? It's very, very noticeable.) A couple years ago, Disney changed out its Aladdin stage show in Anaheim – it's high time this Beauty and the Beast stage version got removed for something more timely.

46. Voyage of the Little Mermaid (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

A truncated stage version of a wildly popular and beloved Disney Renaissance film, housed in Disney's Hollywood Studios. Where have we seen this before? Oh, right, the previous entry. So what is it about Voyage of The Little Mermaid, which is shorter and reliant on video effects, that makes it slightly better than Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage? The theming of the indoor theater, along with the in-show effects and puppetry, is just enough to make this stand out. Because the theater is indoors, too, there's more effort to make the entire environment feel like it's straight out of The Little Mermaid, even extending to the nautically-themed queue. Voyage of The Little Mermaid is long in the tooth and well past ready to be replaced, but it's a bit more magical.

45. Flik's Flyers (A Bug’s Land -- Disney California Adventure)

Flik's Flyers is close to the best actual ride in A Bug's Land (even if it's not the best attraction). From the outside in, it's a low-rent version of the Silly Symphony Swings attraction in Paradise Pier in DCA: there are a couple handfuls of ride vehicles, shaped like open, empty boxes of food, a suitably wacky piece of music from A Bug's Life playing on the soundtrack, and Dave Foley's upbeat performance as Flik accompanying it. If not Silly Symphony Swings, this is the A Bug's Life version of Dumbo the Flying Elephant (with a different ride apparatus). However, because the view you get within the surprisingly sizable vehicles is...that of A Bug's Land, and because the theming to a nearly-20-year old film is unavoidable, Flik's Flyers remains low on the list.

44. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (Cars Land -- Disney California Adventure)

Cars Land, to the Imagineers' credit, is a very well-themed area. Unlike A Bug's Land, the land feels much more immersive and fully realized in the way that a great themed area in Disneyland or Walt Disney World can. One of its attractions, in spite of being similar to another Disney thrill ride, will rank fairly high on this list. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree isn't that attraction. Arguably, the non-thrilling attractions in Cars Land aren't as impressive in part because the theming of the queues and rides themselves aren't as impressive. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is a riff on the setpiece in Cars where he and Lightning McQueen tip tractors, which has a certain charm...presuming you like that kind of humor. If not, the attraction is merely a time-killer in an otherwise decently designed environment.

43. Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies (A Bug’s Land -- Disney California Adventure)

What does Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies have that the other rides in A Bug's Land don't? As Walt Disney would say (though not about this attraction), the blessing of size. Make no mistake: the attraction is basically just bumper cars, an old-school kind of attraction you don't typically find at Disney theme parks. But the space in which the bumper cars live is, or at least feels, larger than the rest of the rides in A Bug's Land. This is by no means the best overall attraction in A Bug's Land – we'll get to that in a bit – but its queueing area and general layout makes it slightly more palatable than the rest.

42. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (Adventureland -- Magic Kingdom)

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is little more than Dumbo the Flying Elephant with a different theme. It would be wrong to say it's nothing more than that, though; the big difference is that you can watch people get startled by a spitting camel perched at the front of the attraction. The Magic Kingdom's Adventureland in Orlando is, generally, a wonderful themed environment and is home to some of Walt Disney World's finest attractions, from The Jungle Cruise to Pirates of the Caribbean. So The Magic Carpets of Aladdin serves its function as a way to siphon young kids away from some of the other attractions, but it's not exactly remarkable. Dumbo the Flying Elephant may not have a spitting camel, but...well, there's a good reason why.

41. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor (Tomorrowland -- Magic Kingdom)

Monsters, Inc. is one of Pixar's funniest movies, ending with a stand-up set performed to a delighted youngster. So, it's logical that Disney created a movie-themed mini-comedy club with shows every 20 minutes or so. However, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, more than another interactive experience appearing later on this list, is hit or miss depending on the audience energy and reaction. On a larger scale, there's the question of why this attraction is in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland. Monsters, Inc. doesn't take place in the future; the other Pixar-themed attraction in Tomorrowland, at least, has a direct science-fiction vibe. The location is a large part of why this attraction lands so low; plus, the actual laugh floor is exceedingly, oppressively bright and loud. It's just too much.

40. Luigi's Rollicking Roadsters (Cars Land -- Disney California Adventure)

Luigi's Rollicking Roadsters, taking the place of Luigi's Flying Tires, is a mild step above Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. The queue is a bit more expansive, with quaint details suggesting that you're walking through an Italian-inspired auto shop. The ride itself, now trackless, isn't terribly remarkable; the original version was more of a headache, as it required riders to understand how to commandeer their tire-shaped vehicle while riding the attraction. (Flying Tires was inspired by the Flying Saucers attraction from Disneyland back in the 1960s, itself known for causing guest consternation.) Rollicking Roadsters' queue doesn't count for a ton when you're in the ride. But it's something.

39. King Triton's Carousel of the Sea (Paradise Pier -- Disney California Adventure)

Paradise Pier, in its original and current iterations, hearkens back to the turn of the 20th century, when midway-style games made their home on outdoor boardwalks like those in California. So, naturally, there's a carousel, King Triton's Carousel of the Sea. The theming to The Little Mermaid is as well-done as can be (especially considering the film takes place nowhere near California), and the carousel is a suitably pleasing ride for young children. However, it also feels like a bit of a leftover from the much tackier version of Paradise Pier, and has long since been supplanted by a dark ride at the front of Paradise Pier as the better Little Mermaid-themed attraction at DCA.

38. Tarzan's Treehouse (Adventureland -- Disneyland)

A version of this attraction will show up later in the list, but Tarzan's Treehouse still lags behind its counterpart at the Magic Kingdom. Originally called Swiss Family Treehouse to tie into Swiss Family Robinson, Tarzan's Treehouse has been themed to the animated film since its release in 1999. A number of the tableaux you get to explore, themed to events in the film and with the setup that you're reading from Jane's diary, are well designed and intricate. That said, while it was a very successful film, Tarzan hasn't stayed in a lot of people's minds long enough for it to merit standing next to Indiana Jones Adventure in Disneyland. At this point, Disney would be better off bringing back the Robinson family.

37. Mad Tea Party (Fantasyland -- Disneyland, Fantasyland -- Magic Kingdom)

Spinning around in large tea cups straight out of Alice in Wonderland is one of the more unforgettable experiences you can have in a Disney theme park. Depending on the constitution of your stomach, it can also be one of the more sickening. The theming here is well done (though I'd vote for the Disneyland version over the Walt Disney World version, if only for its location), but it's a ride where you spin around over and over, and that's if you're not whipping the wheel at the center of the ride vehicle around to spin even faster. Mad Tea Party certainly lives up to its name, but if your stomach is shaky, it's more of a warning.

36. Gran Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros (World Showcase -- Epcot)

For the past decade, the Mexico pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase has been the home of the Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride, featuring Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles, the Three Caballeros. The story of the attraction is fairly silly: Donald has gone missing in advance of a big concert, and someone has to find him! Donald and the others show up primarily via video screens placed carefully through each scene of the attraction, evoking elements of Mexican culture from food to outdoor activities, and so on. The original version of this attraction, El Rio del Tiempo, was cheesy but felt more worthy of its placement. Gran Fiesta Tour is pleasant enough, but no less cheesy and a bit more distracting because of its Disney-fied nature.

35. King Arthur Carrousel (Fantasyland -- Disneyland)

What makes the King Arthur Carrousel in Disneyland, as well as the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel in the Magic Kingdom, better than the King Triton carousel in DCA? The answer is an old standby: location, location, location. Whether you enter Fantasyland in the morning or afternoon from the castle, the first thing you'll see is this carousel in full operation. That, plus the fact that you get a fine, rotating view of Fantasyland from the perch of your inanimate horse, allows the King Arthur Carrousel to stand taller. As a visual icon alone, it can't be beat, especially when compared to King Triton.

34. Casey Jr. Circus Train (Fantasyland -- Disneyland)

This attraction is partly so low on the list for personal reasons. Nothing against Dumbo, but if you are a person over a certain height, Casey Jr. Circus Train is uncomfortable. Like, physically uncomfortable. (I'm 6'2", which isn't that tall, but it's too tall for this.) From the outside, this train ride is quaint and charming, and the tie to the 1941 animated film is decent enough. The ride passes over miniaturized versions of scenes from other Disney classics that take center stage in Storybook Land Canal Boats, which is a plus. But if you're looking for a decent, Dumbo-themed attraction in Fantasyland, you better be tiny to pick this one as your favorite.

33. Frozen: Live at the Hyperion (Hollywood Land -- Disney California Adventure)

After only a few years, Frozen has become one of the more unavoidable films in the Disney theme parks: aside from the aforementioned attraction in Epcot, there are meet-and-greets with the film's characters, appearances in nighttime shows, and this hour-long performance in DCA's Hollywood Land. No doubt, it was time for Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular, the previous resident of the Hyperion Theatre, to move on. The performers in Frozen: Live at the Hyperion (especially the actress playing Anna) are capable and talented. But where Aladdin lent itself to a slightly condensed stage version, Frozen doesn't have quite the same possibilities. The "Let It Go" scene is the high point of the show...after which there's about 30 minutes to go. While this may be popular, it's not the best use of the Hyperion.

32. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (Tomorrowland -- Disneyland)

A variation of this attraction appears later in the list, as the film accompanying Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is essentially duplicated in Epcot. The success of Finding Nemo inspired the Imagineers to retheme the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarine attraction in the mid-2000s, where it remains today. It's unquestionably cool to set foot in a legitimate submarine that takes you on a brief tour of the deep blue sea, interacting with Nemo characters. Having said that, the queue for the attraction is essentially nonexistent (just a long, winding line in the open, overlooking the bay where you enter the sub), and anyone who's a mite claustrophobic will have a hell of a time maintaining their composure during the ride.

31. Swiss Family Treehouse (Adventureland -- Magic Kingdom)

This walkthrough attraction has been operating in the Magic Kingdom since opening day. While the 1960 film that inspired the treehouse isn't as embedded in people's minds as other 60s-era Disney movies like Mary Poppins, it fits in perfectly with the old-fashioned sensibility at play in much of Orlando's Adventureland. Most of the other attractions are throwbacks to an earlier time, with the exception of the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. Swiss Family Treehouse is right at home next to The Jungle Cruise and the Enchanted Tiki Room in this capacity. It's not a must-do compared to those or Pirates of the Caribbean (more on that later), but its antiquated charm is hard to beat.

30. Storybook Land Canal Boats (Fantasyland -- Disneyland)

The Storybook Land Canal Boats, unlike the Casey Jr. Circus Train, is not themed to a specific film. (I'm allowed to break my own rules.) Like that train, it covers a lot of the same ground, passing by a series of handsomely appointed miniaturized scenes from various Disney animated films of the past 80 years, from Frozen to Alice in Wonderland to Pinocchio. Arguably, the on-boat narration can be hit or miss depending on the enthusiasm of the cast member leading you around the canal. But the design of those mini-versions of beloved films and the way music from each film is carefully linked to specific sections of the attraction without overlapping is enough to make this a charming throwback to the days of old Fantasyland.

29. Turtle Talk with Crush (Hollywood Land -- Disney California Adventure, Future World -- Epcot)

In the mid-2000s, Turtle Talk with Crush felt groundbreaking. The concept is simple: in the 15-minute show, audience members can meet with and ask questions of Crush, the surfer-inspired turtle from Finding Nemo. The novel twist is that you're watching a movie, but Crush seems to be answering questions live, the animation reflecting the real-time response. The attraction film has been slightly tweaked since Pixar's Finding Dory opened last summer, but still has some funny, if familiar jokes (as when Crush wonders about a waterlogged Buzz Lightyear toy). Turtle Talk is cute, but is very hit-or-miss: if the Cast Member playing Crush can nail the voice, you're in luck. If not...watch out.

28. It's Tough to be a Bug (A Bug’s Land -- Disney California Adventure, Discovery Island -- Disney’s Animal Kingdom)

In a lot of ways, It's Tough to be a Bug has been showing its age for a while. The attraction has been part of Disney's Animal Kingdom since its opening day in 1998 (seven months before A Bug's Life was released in theaters), and at Disney California Adventure since 2001. The 4D film is charming enough, and the queue is full of goofy puns that once lined the walls of the queue of DCA's now-closed MuppetVision 3D. The attraction is also easily the best part of A Bug's Land. That said, almost every other original DCA attraction has been overhauled in some way; if this isn't going away, it needs a spruced-up film print or queueing, instead of the same old thing.

27. The Seas with Nemo and Friends (Future World -- Epcot)

For a long time, the Seas pavilion at Epcot wasn't themed to any Disney films; after the mammoth success of Finding Nemo, that changed. (Some would say, not incorrectly, it changed for the worse.) Much of the OmniMover attraction at the front of the pavilion echoes the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage: brief computer-animated segments where Marlin has once again lost his son Nemo and comes across the same characters as he did in the 2003 film. The final effect of the attraction is still impressive: the computer-animated fish seem to interact with live fish in a gigantic aquarium that makes up the bulk of the pavilion. Though it now relies too much on the Pixar film, The Seas with Nemo and Friends is still a decent attraction with a killer last bit.

26. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

Theme-park aficionados can fall prey to a great debate: Disneyland or Walt Disney World? With some attractions, the debate is simple. Disneyland got the long end of the stick with the Indiana Jones films, with a thrill ride that will show up later on the list. Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World doesn't have a ride, just the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. The half-hour show brings to life a number of memorable stunts and fights from the films, primarily Raiders of the Lost Ark, and gets audience members in on the fun. The show has been part of Disney's Hollywood Studios since 1989, so it's certainly old; however, Raiders of the Lost Ark is so timeless that many of the stunts remain exciting to watch even as the performers show you how the sausage is being made.

25. Country Bear Jamboree (Frontierland -- Magic Kingdom)

This may seem like heresy to some theme-park fans, simply to suggest that the Country Bear Jamboree isn't one of the greatest of Disney's attractions. What I will say in my meager defense is this: first, the current iteration of the show in the Magic Kingdom's Frontierland is roughly a third shorter than it used to be. Second, the film inspired by this attraction, 2002's The Country Bears, is just awful. In truth, the quality of the film doesn't guarantee low placement – another bad film was inspired by an excellent attraction we'll discuss later. But Country Bear Jamboree's pleasant, cornpone, old-fashioned humor has less of an impact in its truncated version, at the very least.

24. Dumbo the Flying Elephant (Fantasyland -- Disneyland, Fantasyland -- Magic Kingdom)

It's one of the most iconic images in a theme park: going round and round on a vehicle shaped like Dumbo. The ride is as simple as it gets: you sit in the vehicle, it's lifted in the air and with circus-style music blaring on the speakers, you go in a circle for a few minutes. What makes Dumbo the Flying Elephant so potent, for children and adults alike, is the genuine sense of flight coupled with the wonderful view of Fantasyland and the edges of both Tomorrowland and Frontierland. While this ride is simplicity to the extreme, sometimes, simple is the equivalent of exhilarating.

23. Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough (Fantasyland -- Disneyland)

It's rare in the annals of Disney theme-park history to build an attraction themed to a movie that won't open for four years. But that was the case with the Sleeping Beauty Castle, the visual icon of Disneyland from its opening day despite Sleeping Beauty not being in theaters until 1959. Now, after a few different iterations, Sleeping Beauty Castle is home again to a walkthrough attraction featuring diorama-style tableaux of scenes from the wonderfully animated film. Sleeping Beauty Castle, nor its walkthrough, can compete with the Magic Kingdom's Cinderella Castle. But the design of each tableau, plus a few cool jump-scares, makes the walkthrough a worthy tribute to the film.

22. Dinosaur (Dinoland, U.S.A. -- Disney’s Animal Kingdom)

You're forgiven for seeing this entry and thinking "What movie is this related to?" The answer is the ride's title: Dinosaur, the Disney film that's now largely forgotten despite being the 11th highest-grossing film of 2000. Granted, the movie doesn't involve humans traveling in time to rescue dinosaurs. But the ride, renamed from Countdown to Extinction, does involve a time-travel rescue mission. Plus, the preshow has Phylicia Rashad! Dinosaur has a similar ride design to the Indiana Jones Adventure in Disneyland. The theming within the attraction – more appealing than that of the queue, which is reminiscent of a natural history museum – is suitably impressive, even if the ride vehicles move so fast you're not always able to appreciate it. The ride is rollicking enough, but it's not quite the same as that Indy ride, nor is the movie tie-in nearly as worthwhile.

21. Finding Nemo: The Musical (Disney’s Animal Kingdom)

Before they worked on Frozen, Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez worked on this 40-minute condensation of Finding Nemo. It's in the vein of Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular – it combines inventive puppetry, impressive staging, and memorable songs to retell a beloved story. Probably the biggest problem with this attraction is its location: it makes sense to be in Disney's Animal Kingdom, but Dinoland, U.S.A.? The songs are wonderful, specifically "In the Big Blue World," and the performers are as engaging as you'd hope. But it really just makes no sense for this to be in a dinosaur-centric part of any theme park.

20. Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin (Mickey’s Toontown -- Disneyland)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an all-time great; the attraction inspired by the film isn't quite up to the same standard, but it's still enjoyable. It's another theme-park hybrid: a mix of a dark ride and a spinning attraction a la Mad Tea Party. In the attraction, guests ride Benny the taxicab, who almost immediately gets his wheels stuck in some of Judge Doom's nasty Dip, causing him to spin around. And around. And around. Even if you don't yank on the large wheel in your vehicle, you spin a lot, which is disappointing considering how extensive and manic the theming is. Still, the attraction is an appropriately wild take on the Toontown section of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and has a bafflingly cool final gag.

19. Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue (Hollywood Land -- Disney California Adventure)

This is the one standard-issue dark-ride attraction based on a Pixar film in either Disneyland or Walt Disney World. The attraction covers the familiar elements from the 2001 film, kicking off when the child named Boo enters Monstropolis and causes havoc among the monsters who believe a child's touch is toxic. The centerpiece is its climax, when the ride vehicles enter the massive warehouse of doors in which Mike, Sulley, and Boo escape to avoid the clutches of Randall Boggs. It's too dimly lit, but a thrilling realization of one of the film's many memorable images. The attraction is capped off by an interactive Audio-Animatronic of the obnoxious Roz riffing on guests as they pass by; it's not groundbreaking, but a fine version of a theme-park standby.

18. Cinderella Castle (Fantasyland -- Magic Kingdom)

It may be a slight stretch to dub this an attraction: Cinderella Castle is home to one of the more popular sit-down restaurants in the Magic Kingdom as well as a hair salon where girls and boys can undergo royal makeovers. But it's also where nightly fireworks shows are set, and just a jaw-dropping structure to walk through on its ground floor. Disneyland has Sleeping Beauty Castle, and its diorama-laden walkthrough is a cool addition. Here, though, the "blessing of size" Walt Disney always mentioned is most clearly crystallized: Cinderella Castle is massive, housing a royal suite that was originally designed for Disney himself. Here, size is what makes the castle superior.

17. Festival of the Lion King (Africa -- Disney’s Animal Kingdom)

Festival of the Lion King cannot compete with the incredible Broadway version of The Lion King, but is produced and choreographed in a similar vein. The 30-minute show features a host of extensive puppets, dancers, and other effects in performing the 1994 film's most well-known songs. This may not be the most technically daring attraction on the list, but Festival of the Lion King endures after nearly 20 years in Disney's Animal Kingdom because the live performance is always striking, colorful, and exciting. Each of the dancers, acrobats, and puppeteers feel like they've come straight from Cirque du Soleil, making this one of the better, almost underrated gems of Animal Kingdom.

16. Pinocchio's Daring Journey (Fantasyland -- Disneyland)

The greatest of all Disney animated films hasn't inspired the best dark-ride attraction, but Pinocchio's Daring Journey comes close. This attraction sends you through the major setpieces of Pinocchio, from the marionette's performance at Stromboli's, his visit to the garish excess of Pleasure Island, and his final battle with Monstro the whale. The first major flaw is simple: unlike other dark rides, this one essentially sidesteps the first 30 minutes of the movie. If you know the film, you probably won't need to catch up, but anyone (especially kids) who doesn't know the story may be mighty confused. It's a longer dark ride than a couple others on this list, but the storytelling within is just too haphazard.

15. Alice in Wonderland (Fantasyland -- Disneyland)

What was once a novel addition to a dark ride – what if the vehicles go outside? – has become slightly less cool because of OSHA regulations. In the past, the Disneyland version of Alice in Wonderland went outside for its final minute, the track veering around neon-colored leaves with the sense that you might tip over. Now, there are themed railings throughout the outdoor track; that doesn't remove the fact that...y'know, they're railings. The interior portion of the ride is very well done; the episodic nature of the 1951 film fits very well for the purposes of a dark ride. It's just a real shame that the outdoor portion has had its deliberate shakiness removed.

14. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Critter Country -- Disneyland, Fantasyland -- Magic Kingdom)

The Winnie the Pooh films are among the most pleasant and soothing Disney has ever made. So it makes perfect sense that the attraction is similarly low-key and charming. The Anaheim and Orlando versions aren't exactly the same, though they cover similar ground: in Anaheim's Critter Country, the ride vehicle rocks back and forth to simulate a "very blustery day", whereas the Orlando ride vehicles bounce to mimic Tigger once he shows up. Though the styles may differ, and while some may remain furious that Pooh replaced Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Orlando, this remains one of the sweetest, calmest, more pleasing attractions at the Disney theme parks.

13. The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure (Paradise Pier -- Disney California Adventure, Fantasyland -- Magic Kingdom)

Unlike Voyage of The Little Mermaid, this dark ride in Disney California Adventure's Paradise Pier feels accurate to the 1989 film, in spite of being shorter. The attraction, under a different name, is a centerpiece of the recent Fantasyland expansion in Walt Disney World where it boasts a more intricate queue; in DCA, the queue is primarily outdoors, and the indoors queue has an impressive mural with the film's characters but not much else. The ride, bringing to life such setpieces as "Under the Sea" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls," is remarkable. If there's any flaw, it's this: the climactic battle when Ursula grows to enormous heights is relegated to...an angry-looking silhouette in the background of a triumphant reunion between Ariel and Prince Eric. As a closing scene, it's a letdown; otherwise, the attraction is a fine addition.

12. Toy Story Midway Mania (Paradise Pier -- Disney California Adventure, Pixar Place -- Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

The major Toy Story-themed attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World are interactive video games, but Toy Story Midway Mania pushes its technology beyond the Buzz Lightyear attractions in Tomorrowland. Here, you sail through a 3D series of carnival-inspired midway games with various franchise favorites guiding you every step of the way. The game is roughly the same in Anaheim and Orlando, but the queues are much different: in Disney's Hollywood Studios, the queue (largely interior) reflects Andy's bedroom, where the DCA queue is largely exterior and meant to evoke a boardwalk setting. Because the track makes it slower to load guests onto the attraction, Toy Story Midway Mania isn't the best of the Toy Story attractions, but it comes very close.

11. Radiator Springs Racers (Cars Land -- Disney California Adventure)

Cars Land boasts three attractions, but it's really about the big one, Radiator Springs Racers. Though it has many similarities to Test Track in Epcot, Radiator Springs Racers marries the thrill-ride aspect of zooming around the Southwestern-themed area with a dark ride in which you see characters from the world of Cars. People who love these films and characters like Lightning McQueen and Mater may place this even higher on the list; for those of us who...don't love these films, Radiator Springs Racers is still impressive because of the intricately designed environment. Riding it at night makes the experience all the more impressive (a bonus for any attraction).

10. Peter Pan's Flight (Fantasyland -- Disneyland, Fantasyland -- Magic Kingdom)

Peter Pan's Flight, like many great Disney attractions, offers a traditional theme-park ride with a valuable tweak. Think of Space Mountain: it's a roller coaster...but in the dark. Peter Pan's Flight is a typical Disney dark ride...but you're flying. Instead of the track being laid into the ground, it's on the ceiling, lifting you up as you see Peter face off against Captain Hook, Tinker Bell soar through the air, and so on. The ride's effects were recently renovated, adding to the excitement; it's roughly similar in both the Orlando and Anaheim Fantasylands, where the biggest flaws are the same: first, the lines are always extremely long and second, the ride is always over before you know it. But it's beloved for good reason.

9. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue (Tomorrowland -- Disneyland, Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

When Star Tours opened, it was on the heels of the original Star Wars trilogy; the attraction recently received an overhaul tailored to Disney's new films. Largely, that's worked in the attraction's favor. The premise is the same: galactic tourists wind up in the middle of warfare featuring locations and characters from the Star Wars franchise. A new wrinkle is that one tourist is a Rebel spy (chosen at random), in need of being sent to safety. The changes don't diminish the attraction, though it's disappointing that Paul Reubens' pilot Rex was replaced by C-3PO. The attraction is complemented by an expansive queue featuring solid Audio-Animatronics (the outdoor queue at Disney's Hollywood Studios emulates an Endor forest, which is mighty cool). The continued expansion of Star Wars in the theme parks is questionable, but this attraction remains a high watermark.

8. Mickey's PhilharMagic (Fantasyland -- Magic Kingdom)

Technically speaking, Mickey's PhilharMagic, in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, isn't connected to a specific film. (I'm breaking the rules again!) It's here, though, for one reason: it's wonderful. Mickey's PhilharMagic, a 4D film, is related to many of Disney's animated classics, from Peter Pan to Aladdin to The Little Mermaid. Despite the name, the film mostly focuses on Donald Duck, who gets a hold of Mickey Mouse's magical Sorcerer Hat and inserts himself into the scenes of the aforementioned films as well as others. For animation buffs, PhilharMagic is notable because some of the films' animators – Glen Keane and Nik Ranieri, for example – aided the project in re-animating characters like Ariel and Lumiere in 3D. For anyone else, it's a delightfully manic, goofy play on Disney films.

7. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (Tomorrowland -- Disneyland, Tomorrowland -- Magic Kingdom)

The Toy Story movies have been so massively successful that they've been a presence in the parks for a while. Nowhere is that presence more enjoyable than in the addicting Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Or Buzz Lightyear's Astro Ranger Spin. The former is the Disneyland attraction, while the latter is in the Magic Kingdom. The attractions are very similar despite the name changes: in both, you get into a ride vehicle similar to the OmniMover vehicles in the Haunted Mansion, but you get to fire a weapon at various aliens, including the Evil Emperor Zurg. It's an interactive video game, sure, but...it's really addicting. The attraction queue also features a life-size Audio-Animatronic of Buzz Lightyear; the only downside is that it's not Tim Allen doing the voice. Otherwise, the Buzz Lightyear attractions are just about unbeatable.

6. Snow White's Scary Adventures (Fantasyland -- Disneyland)

This is a standard-issue dark ride: you ride through major scenes from the film, climaxing with the evil Queen (in her haggardly form) falling off a cliff in the rain to her doom. If you've seen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the various scenes and characters will be familiar. (I assume most of you have seen Snow White.) What makes this attraction so special, and so deserving of the word "scary" in the title, is that the Imagineers didn't skimp on adding a foreboding atmosphere to most scenes in the ride. When your vehicle shifts from the transforming Queen, into her dungeon and the spooky forest that's trying to grab you...well, it's no wonder kids can walk out of this attraction terrified. Snow White's Scary Adventures tells a familiar story very well.

5. Indiana Jones Adventure (Adventureland -- Disneyland)

The Indiana Jones series are generally exciting cinematic thrill rides. So it's perfectly logical for Indy to have a presence in the Disney theme parks. While Walt Disney World has a decent stunt show, Disneyland has Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye. In the setup of Temple of the Forbidden Eye, Indy has gone missing in the midst of tourists visiting the temple and finding various riches. The tourists (including you) make the mistake of looking into the forbidden eye of the idol at the heart of the temple, setting them off into a ride through a greatest-hits of the films, culminating with that damn boulder from Raiders. The downside: because of how computer-reliant the ride is, it often breaks down. The upside: when it works, this is one of Disney's finest themed and designed attractions.

4. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (Fantasyland -- Disneyland)

That Mr. Toad's Wild Ride has survived over 60 years at Disneyland is somewhat wild. Unlike other films represented in Disneyland, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is based on a much less popular film (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad), and is inspired by the famed children's book The Wind in the Willows. But when the attraction was shuttered at Walt Disney World in 1998, the resultant outcry may have scared Disney off from touching the original. Since it opened, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, arguably a better experience than the film inspiring it, has been tweaked, but remains one of the weirdest, more jolting dark rides at Disneyland. It's this high not just because of the ride and queue design, but because...listen, few attractions could try to end in Hell. This one does it, and pulls it off.

3. Splash Mountain (Critter Country -- Disneyland, Frontierland -- Magic Kingdom)

Here's a challenge. Splash Mountain is one of Disney's most popular attractions, a brilliant hybrid of flume ride and dark ride. It's also based on the most racially controversial film in the studio's history, Song of the South, which hasn't even been made available on home media. (Don't hold your breath.) So this is an attraction based on a film most riders under the age of 35 (the film was last released in theaters in 1986) have never seen and may never see. The attraction wisely focuses only on the animated characters, such as Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Bear, and doesn't include such painful aspects of the animation as the awkward, embarrassing tar baby sequence. The theming to the film may be selective, but the experience is one of the best Disneyland or Walt Disney World offer.

2. The Haunted Mansion (New Orleans Square -- Disneyland, Liberty Square -- Magic Kingdom)

In 2003, Walt Disney Pictures released a film heavily inspired by an enduring attraction that began its life in Disneyland's New Orleans Square, to massive acclaim. That was Pirates of the Caribbean. Later that same year, Disney tried to capture lightning again and failed with the Eddie Murphy-led version of The Haunted Mansion. Since that time, the Haunted Mansion attraction in Disneyland has indeed incorporated elements of a film into the ride: The Nightmare Before Christmas. This attraction is so high on the list primarily for the version that's not themed to the exploits of Jack Skellington and friends. But even that holiday-themed version can be a spooky jolt to ride through. It can't top the original, steeped in old-fashioned thrills and gallows humor, but then, what can?

1. Pirates of the Caribbean (New Orleans Square -- Disneyland, Adventureland -- Magic Kingdom)

The quality of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies is inconsistent. The inclusion of characters like Captain Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones into the attraction may be unnecessary. But Pirates of the Caribbean is the pinnacle of what Imagineers can do. People can argue all day whether the Disneyland or Walt Disney World version is better (hint: Disneyland), but Pirates of the Caribbean remains the best. Since the first Pirates of the Caribbean film took off in 2003, Disney has inserted elements from the films into the attractions. But the charms and thrills of the attraction aren't tied to the films; in fact, they're more expansive and compelling in spite of the cinematic connection. Even after 50 years and updates that may not always be warranted, Pirates of the Caribbean is the best around.