Turman’s Top Ten Dark Rides, Part 2

6.  Horizons– formerly EPCOT (RIP): I didn’t realize that among Disney fanatics (of whom I am only barely, sort of, sometimes one), Horizons was so popular.  We loved riding it because there was never a line, and there was so much cool stuff to see.  Horizons was about The Future.  People living Under the Sea, and people living In Space and people living In The Desert.  There were robots to see, and there was a birthday party happening via videophone.  Much of what they forecast in this ride came true.  People do, now, live in space, if only at the International Space Station.  People do have birthday parties via videophone.  (Mine, last year.)  Living underwater?  Well, not yet.  In the desert?  Well, kinda.  We call that “Las Vegas.”  At any rate, the ending of Horizons, when you got to pick the movie you would watch, was always fun.  We would often ride in a vehicle that was half empty, so we would choose for our phantom riders as well.  Little shields came down to protect your view from the people in the car next to you, and then a video played, showing you zooming underwater or to your space station home, or across the desert (definitely the least popular choice amongst my kin).  Horizons was optimistic, cool to look at, and offered a choice (rare in rides then, and now).

Queue: 4 (nothing to see, but there was rarely a line)

Visuals: 9

Story: 9

Charm/thrill: 8

Total score: 30

5. Peter Pan’s Flight, Disney World, Disneyland: The moment you fly out the nursery and over London—always amazing.  I love seeing the mermaids looking all sexy, and I love seeing Wendy with her stiff upper lip, standing on the end of the plank.  I love the lost boys sitting Indian style around the fire that is not what made the red man red.  At the end, Wendy claps her hands, “Good show, Peter!” and Peter Pan steers the ship away.  At the end, your ship will clonk onto the railing that brings it home.  You’ll only be a little sad.  It was worth waiting so long for.

Queue: 3 (nothing to see except screaming children, and it takes forever)

Visuals: 9

Story: 9

Charm/thrill: 9

Total score: 30

4. The Mummy, Universal’s Islands of Adventure: I rode this four times in one day.  There are cool things to look at, scary things (fire!), and the queue makes you feel like you really are winding your way through a tomb, but what I really love is the roller-coaster element.  It’s just wild enough for me, and never too scary.  It’s what I love: no zooming starts, no sudden drops, just lots of speed and lots of medium-sized, whoops-a-daisy hills.  This ride was made for me.

Queue: 9

Visuals: 8

Story: 7

Charm/thrill: 9

Total score: 33

3. The Haunted Mansion, Disney World, Disneyland: The ghost dance and the graveyard scenes are incredible fun, even forty years later.  Incredible dialogue: “Is this haunted room actually stretching?”  “Of course, there’s always/my way!”  Or perhaps you prefer: “Any volunteers?”  or “Hurry back….”  Winners all.  Po-eh-try!  How do they do those ghosts?  How do they get that head inside that crystal ball?  No one knows or wants to know.  By no one, I mean “me.”

Queue: 9

Visuals: 9

Story: 9

Charm/thrill: 7

Total score: 34

2. E.T., Universal Studios: The queue smells and feels amazingly like a California forest.  The wise old alien dude who appears and talks to you while you’re waiting—great storytelling.  You get to see E.T.’s Speak and Spell, cranking out its message.  Then you board the bikes (the second coolest ride vehicle ever, next to Peter Pan’s ships).  You ride, then you fly, on these bikes.  You see your shadow on the moon.  You get to see E.T.’s weirdo planet at the end, and then E.T. says goodbye to you, using your name.  You can try to give a weird name to the staff, and they may or may not allow you to have E.T. say goodbye to “Baby” or whatever you cook up.  You know the employees make E.T. say dirty words after hours.  “Goodbye, [expletive],” E.T. says in his gulpy, hollow croak.

Queue: 9

Visuals: 9

Story: 8

Charm/thrill: 8

Total score: 34

1.  Pirates of the Carribbean, Disney World, Disneyland (preferred): Before the movies, my whole family loved Pirates.  There is great story.  There is a modicum of political correctness, when you remember how the pirates used to chase the ladies.  At least the beloved, “How much for the redhead?” remains.  There’s that great little hill at the beginning.  There’s a hairy, muddy foot that dangles over you.   There’s wine, women, and song.  I miss the dude who was originally tied up in the counting house.  He looked so real, it always scared me, in a good way.

Queue: 8

Visuals: 9

Story: 9

Charm/thrill: 9

Total score: 35

Honorable mentions: The World of Motion (RIP), Dreamflight (RIP), the Matterhorn, the number 11 for filling in for the number 10

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