Category Rank: 3
Park: Magic Kingdom
Park Rank: 8
It should be no surprise that the iconic "It's a Small World" ride made the list. For many, the question will be why is it so low.
Perhaps a better question would be, why is this ride and the past 6 or so entries different than Dumbo, Peter Pan, or the Tea Cups, 3 other long-lasting iconic rides that don't make the list at all. We asked the question before, and now is a good time to come back to it.
Part of the "nostalgic" equation is that a ride has that sentimental feel to it that comes from a long history within the parks. Another big part is the personal experience that we have had with the attraction as well. While "thrill" isn't a consideration, the rides still need to be enjoyable. And, some very iconic rides lose out because of this. We also mentioned that attractions get an extra buoy from the "First Day Effect" or having a famous song attached to the ride. And, attractions also get buoyed by how well they connect with the "themes" of Disney World (including the ones they are synonymous with).
Here is where those three rides lose out. The three rides are nothing I consider significant; they are extensions of existing movies. Rides like It's a Small World and Carousel of Progress (and Haunted Mansion/Pirates of the Caribbean for that matter) have had to exist on their own, not piggy back off another character. For this reason, any upcoming Frozen items will have a hard time making the list, unless the experience is extraordinary. Furthermore, those rides feature long waits for limited excitement, and in all honesty, the experience could be fairly well replicated at different parks (in fact, Universal has done so with spinners and spinning cup rides). When you couple in that they don't benefit from the first day effect, and that Kristen got sick being in the proximity of the Tea Cups... yeah, they aren't that special to us.
It's a Small World is different, though. It definitely is not a thrill ride, but the experience is not something that any park is going to replicate. Much like Carousel of Progress, it is synonymous with its centralized theme (the "we are all one big world" theme that Epcot's World Pavilion strives for). It has the song attached to it as well, which is actually much more innovative than those who think it is insidious repetition would believe. I would posit that It's a Small World is the top slow ride for nostalgia for most the world. Why else would Dreamworks, when mocking Disney, choose that song to spoof in Shrek?
It just isn't that special to us.
Again, it isn't an annoying experience, like the long lines or the motion-induced sickness of the other three rides have been. We go on It's a Small World on every visit because we do like it. But while it has everything else going for it above, it is just one of many not-significantly-special attractions to us. And since our list is shifting as the top 21 all will have special significance to us, It's a Small World ranks about as high as it can here.
Though, I've gotta admit, we do like this shirt of Zach's.
Okay, we have been building up throughout this list for the big shift starting at #21. We are now ready for that big shift. And, our first one is an actual, honest-to-goodness restaurant (no fooling you with some other food option). This one is a classic... just be sure to ask for the ketchup.