Jungle Cruise is the latest in a line of Disney movies based on its theme park rides. And there are more than you think! Check out our favourites, we’ve ranked them here!
Jungle Cruise trailer
A look at Jungle Cruise
With action stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt (coming back to Disney after doing the Mary Poppins reboot) starring, Disney’s upcoming Jungle Cruise should get rowdier than an unsupervised house party. And, we can’t wait!
Being based on a Disney ride, Jungle Cruise has a lot of source material. But, at the same time, there’s no definite plot to the ride. So, for this movie to be a hit, it’s going to have to have better balance than a tightrope walker.
The story has to be completely original and entertaining. But, it needs to make sense with the ride, bringing in a lot of the elements that Disney theme park tourists know so well.
We’ve seen this done well in the past. And, we’ve seen it botched like a discount plastic surgeon’s patients.
But, that got us thinking. Just how many Disney movies have been based on rides in its parks. And, which ones nailed it? We ranked them below!
7 Disney movies based on theme park rides, ranked!
Here we go. According to us, these are the best ride-based movies from seventh to first!
7. The Country Bears (2002)
This movie is based on an attraction more than a ride, which goes by the name of Country Bear Jamboree. The attraction, based at Walt Disney World in Florida, puts about 20 animatronic bears on stage and has them perform western songs to the audience.
The movie, understandably, is based on a band of bears who had broken up, but are brought back together when a young bear, named Beary, starts tracing his roots. They settle old arguments, overcome a bad guy played by Christopher Walken, save a music hall, and put on an awesome farewell show.
It’s a decent attempt at bringing the concept of the bear band to life and it has a good cast. But, it feels like it works too hard to create a story behind the attraction and it soon runs out of steam.
6. Tower of Terror (1997)
This is an interesting one. It’s based on the Disney theme park ride, The Tower of Terror, which was originally based on an episode of the Twilight Zone. So, live action became ride… became live action again.
The Tower of Terror ride is now Guardians of the Galaxy. But, at the time, it was based on a creepy hotel that would weird you out and then drop you down a lift shaft. It was awesome. So, it’s no wonder that Disney decided to make a movie about it… even if it was made for TV.
Basically, a disgraced reporter goes to investigate the Hollywood Tower Hotel after he hears about some suspicious stuff that went down (yeah, thought we’d, ahem, drop that in) in 1939. Naturally, he takes along his young niece. Turns out the place is cursed, but, being the smart reporter he is, he figures out a way to break it.
This movie is cheesier than a budget frozen pizza. It’s not very scary (‘cos, Disney) and it’s pretty cliched. But, it’s based on the Twilight Zone, so it actually works.
5. Mission to Mars (2000)
Because of the feel, the plot, the creepy, organ-driven soundtrack, and the fact that it was directed by Brian De Palma, who did Scarface, not a lot of people knew this movie was based on a Disney ride. But, it totally was.
Originally called Rocket to the Moon, the ride was rebranded Mission to Mars after people actually went to the moon (or pretended they did, based on which side of the conspiracy fence you live on).
Appearing in Tomorrowland, this ride would simulate an attempted Mars landing, though it would be bumpier than rollerskating on a cobbled road.
The movie took this to the next level. A crew head to Mars to rescue a stranded astronaut, discovering much more on Mars than they bargained for. It was the Interstellar of its time and did what sci-fi movies should… which is leave the audience feeling a bit weird.
4. The Haunted Mansion (2003)
The Haunted Mansion (or Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris) is one of the most popular rides at Disney, so it made sense that this would be picked to hit the screen.
The attraction is a classic haunted house, filled with creepy ghosts and things that move. So, there was a lot of source material. But, that might have been the problem.
The movie, the Haunted Mansion, starring Eddie Murphy, wasn’t a bad comedy/horror. But, it seemed to rely too heavily on the attraction. It seems as if its goal is to show as many of the cool things in the ride as possible and squeeze the story in between.
It’s entertaining, but it had to live in the shadow of a far more popular attraction-turned-movie that came out that same year. More on that below.
3. Dinosaur (2000)
Dinosaur, the ride, is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and lets guests take prehistoric safari of sorts as a timer counts down to extinction. Fun fact, that’s probably why it was originally called Countdown to Extinction.
The ride was actually developed alongside Disney’s Dinosaur, the movie. In fact, the name was changed to match when Dinosaur was released in 2000.
Being a CGI animation instead of a live action, this film has that classic Disney magic to it. Plus, being developed at the same time as the ride, it didn’t have the pressure of having to please theme park fans. So, it’s awesome.
The movie is about an Iguanadon who’s raised by prehistoric lemurs. In true Disney fashion, it’s a tale of loss, defeat, peril, and triumph that ends in a bond that tugs at your heartstrings.
2. Tomorrowland (2015)
Tomorrowland isn’t a ride as much as a whole land in Disneyland. Walt Disney was all about innovation, so this land a meant a lot to him. It was pretty much his glimpse into the future.
Tomorrowland the movie stays pretty true to this concept by giving its characters a glimpse into a utopian world of tomorrow, where their actions still affect their own world.
With a definite subtext of environmentalism, this film is actually a great way at helping audiences peek into the future of our world, showing us how important it is to look after what we have.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
Hugely popular theme park attraction. Hugely popular movie! Done.
OK, not done. We could go on about the Pirates of the Caribbean movies for ages, but we’ll try to rein it in. Basically, this was Disney getting it very, very right.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl had a story that was inspired by the ride and featured much of the iconic scenes for the attraction. But, it didn’t get caught up in trying too hard.
With awesome visual effects and a plot that kept audiences hooked, it was just as entertaining to people who’d never even been to Disneyland. Plus, of course, it was helped by Johnny Depp’s genius take on Jack Sparrow.
Captain Jack’s lively spirit broke free from the ‘ride’ theme and gave the original film a life of its own, which is why it spawned so many sequels and stands head and shoulders above the other ride-turned-movie offerings.
Which is your favourite ride-based Disney movie?
So, those are how we’d rate the Disney movies based on rides. But, that’s just us. Which ones are your favourites?
Also, when Jungle Cruise comes out, we may well have to reorder this list. So, we look forward to that. For now, we feel a re-watching of some classic Disney movies in our future.
Jungle Cruise UK Release Date
Disney Jungle Cruise will release in the UK on 30 July 2021.
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Main image credit: Disney via Cnet