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What Makes a Disney Attraction a Classic?

What Makes a Disney Attraction a Classic? Jungle_Cruise_03 Jungle_Cruise_03



When I think of Disneyland, or Walt Disney World my mind immediately starts thinking of attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and “it’s a small world”. These attractions, and others like them have defined what people think of the Disney parks. What about these attractions make them so iconic, and so classic. In order to pinpoint what makes a Disney attraction iconic I evaluated many of the attractions, and I considered what it takes to be classic Disney attractions. I whittled what it takes to be a classic Disney attraction down to these three points:

What Makes a Disney Attraction a Classic? Carousel-of-Progress-03 Carousel-of-Progress-03

1) Audio-Animatronics

Through the use of audio-animatronics Walt Disney saw an opportunity to bring President Abraham Lincoln’s essences back to life in the 1964 New York World’s Fair. President Lincoln, along with the premiere of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, which also includes a family of audio-animatronics, was a huge success at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. This success would set the tone for what Americans could expect from the Disney parks for years to come. The first working premiere of Audio-Animatronics was in Disneyland in 1963 with the opening of the Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.



Today guests from around the world still marvel at the use of audio-animatronics in the Disney parks. While the new audio-animatronics are technologically impressive, the original audio-animatronics from the original attractions like Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, the Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean are classic because of the legacy they created for future Disney park attractions. From its very humble beginnings in Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room to now The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, park guests are captivated by the use of the audio-animatronic technology. Many of the attractions that have created a legacy in the Disney parks are partly due to the use of audio-animatronics.

What Makes a Disney Attraction a Classic? Adventureland_-_Enchanted_Tiki_Room_06 Adventureland_-_Enchanted_Tiki_Room_06

While an attraction doesn’t have to feature audio-animatronics to be considered a classic many of the classic Disney attraction do include them. Notable exceptions are Space MountainMad Tea Party, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, among others.



What Makes a Disney Attraction a Classic? Main-Street-USA-DL-151 Main-Street-USA-DL-151

2) Touch of Walt’s Spirit

Walt Disney was undoubtedly a brilliant man, but there is something about his spirit that lives on even more than his brilliance. When Walt played a part in making an attraction, he left behind a piece of himself that lives on within that ride. In Disneyland, Walt Disney’s spirit lives on everyday through attractions whose creation he oversaw like “it’s a small world” and The Disneyland Railroad.

Even though Walt Disney would never see a completed Walt Disney World, his spirit lives on in the attractions and the ideas he envisioned for the property.



What Makes a Disney Attraction a Classic? New-Orleans-Square-05 New-Orleans-Square-05

3) Timeless Soundtrack

When I say “Grim Grinning Ghosts” you are brought to a very particular place in a Disney park, which is of course is the Haunted Mansion. This song like many other classic Disney attraction songs are a huge key in what makes the Disney parks so magical. With the right soundtrack an attraction is brought to life, and when you add that with years of nostalgia you create a classic Disney attraction. In some cases the soundtrack defines the attraction.

Guests should thank the great minds of Xavier Atencio, the Sherman Brothers (Richard and Robert), Buddy Baker, and George Bruns. These people are just some of the great musical minds that have created the timeless music that us Disney nerds sing along to everyday. Without many of these timeless tunes the classic attractions just wouldn’t be the same.



Stephen "Steve" Porter started going to the parks with his family in 1996. Since then he hasn't looked back! Steve was a cast member participating in the Disney College Program in 2013. Most recently he graduated from Penn State University!




















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