This entire page can neatly be summarized as: every person that has ever been caught in a ride malfunction has a horror story.
Up to Eleven if you get stuck in the Haunted Mansion when there's a malfunction.
Might as well begin this list with the most appropriate entry: Storybook Land Canal Boats were a quintessentially Walt idea to have children float in boats past miniature sets while a young hostess retold condensed versions of the stories like the most gentle mother you never had. Behind the Railroad, it's the oldest concept for Disneyland. Except that the ride begins with the boat floating through the Cave Mouth of Monstro the whale. His eyes blink and light up with doom at night and on the ride all you see is just this giant mouth and then what looks like a Womb Level inside for a few feet before you wind up in daylight (don't ask out of where.) The big problem is that Monstro has some serious teeth! It's like floating straight into the jaws a Slasher Smile!
Well now it's much less scary because they're making fun of the animatronics. Like for example, pointing out that one of the elephants is so wrinkled because she took a shower for 50 years.
Disney World in Florida had a Hell Hotel on property for a while — namely the unfinished half of the Pop Century Resort. Come take a visit. It was like this for a little over a decade, thanks to the post-9/11 tourism slowdown and then the Great Recession. Visitors who stayed within the boundaries could only see some buildings from the finished half, and cross a bridge and stare at it through an Insurmountable Fence. Anyone who went there found the place had an atmosphere somewhere between an Abandoned Playground and the Chernobyl village. But there was a happy ending — the buildings were retooled and completed in 2012 to become Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
Then there's also the eerily abandoned River Country and Discovery Island at WDW's Fort Wilderness area (Which are STILL abandoned to this day, yet in plain sight to most people). And despite being abandoned, the lights and background music there still continue to run...
On the subject of "It's Tough to be a Bug", the show does scare a lot of children (for one thing, it's loud, and for another you don't really need to be told to be afraid of things like a giant termite who spits poison at you, giant spiders, killer bees who sting you, or a gigantic can of pesticide). One guidebook includes this classic one-line review, "Finally this generation gets it's 'Snow White's Scary Adventures.'"
Muppet*Vision 3D is pretty damn tame in comparison, but the character Waldo (another herky-jerky hologram out of the Uncanny Valley) has freaked out his share of viewers.
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience: The hologram lion, which was the result of trying to scare away those mice crawling up your legs! And once you're shrunk, there's the hungry python looking to make a meal of you and your seatmates...
Before these were Magic Journeys (1982-1993) and Captain EO (1986-94, at least at the U.S. parks; revived in 2010). Magic Journeys had some kids having imaginary adventures. Gentle and upbeat stuff, but the haunting score and the slow pace to savor the then-landmark 3D imagery were unsettling.
Captain EO was Michael Jackson's answer to Star Wars and whatnot, and it was probably the first theme park show to have sonic-boom volume levels. That's fine when it comes to the music, but then there's all the explosions, not to mention the appearance of the Witch-Queen — Anjelica Huston in an H.R. Giger sort of getup with loooooong claws...and 3D effects really invading your personal space.
"Snow White's Scary Adventures", for those not in the know, is a ride that strings all the most horrifying scenes from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs into the space of a few minutes. They periodically try to change it so that it isn't as intense. (As a matter of fact, it was originally simply named "Snow White's Adventures". They changed the name for the purposes of truth-in-advertising when the area was remodelled in the early 1980s.) But given that the Wicked Queen/Witch still jumps out and screams at you repeatedly, it's still the scariest damn ride in the park.
The spooky forest sequence also counts, expecially the logs - alligators who swim up to your cart snapping at you.
Also, if you look closely at one of the models of the Witch — her eyes. Her GLOWING ORANGE EYES.
There's even a creepy bit you don't have to go inside to enjoy. At Disneyland, watch the window over over the ride. Every so often, the curtains will part and the queen will glower down at you. This can be really disconcerting if you don't know about it, as she only appears for a few seconds. At Disney World, where the ride was closed and replaced in 2012, that particular gag was at the end of the outdoor section, overlooking Snow White at the wishing well. If you caught it there, it was foreshadowing about what was ahead.
"Mr. Toad's Wild Ride", as much as some of us might like to forget it. After a series of dreadful near-misses in frantic scenes inspired by the "Wind in the Willows" part of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, the ride ends with your car going into a tunnel, colliding with a train, and passing through Hell. That's right, Hell! There was a serious uproar when it was replaced by a Winnie The Pooh-themed ride at Walt Disney World, but maybe this is why? (Or WDW just doesn't expect today's kids to be familiar with Mr. Toad...)
Granted, The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh still has the "Heffalumps and Woozles" sequence. So creepy...
Did you know that Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was originally conceived as a epilepsy test?
And throughout the entire Hell sequence, the "Merrily on Our Way" theme continues playing the whole time. Somehow the bright and cheery music juxtaposed with the little demons surrounding you makes the whole thing even more disturbing.
At Disneyland, there's good reason to be scared. Big Thunder Death Mountain, anyone? That ride's been closed due to sucking chest wounds more times than I can count.
Disneyland's Splash Mountain? At night? MUCH scarier that the Haunted Mansion or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. There's just something about those jerky, smiling animatronic animals... * shudder* (For a mostly indoor-ride, most of the ride is dependent on outside lighting, turning things much scarier in the dark. That Briar Patch at the end goes from clearly showing the tunnel if you look down, to not showing it whatsoever, making it look all too much like you are going to crash fatally.)
At first there is cheerful, happy, singing, and much carrying on about finding a Laughing Place and happiness, and it gradually grows darker, with far less light and worried small animals humming as you begin to ascend, followed immediately by a silhouette of the villain and his gleeful, mocking cackling, and two vultures in undertaker uniforms perched overhead saying: "So you're looking for a laughing place, eh? We'll show you a laughing place!" Then you pop out and descend the big drop.
Even worse? There's a medley of Splash Mountain in one of the park soundtrack CDs that includes happy Laughing Place music... and then suddenly the music goes terrifying and the Vultures have their lines. "If you've found your laughing place, why aren't you laughing?" Thanks, Disney.
The context of the scene alone is frightening: a RABBIT being held hostage by a FOX and a BEAR...if you get the drift ( a clue: the bubbling sound of a unseen cauldron). And the two cackling vulture commenting the scene afterwards... brrrrr.
What about the ride vehicles for Splash Mountain at Disneyland? At Disney World in Florida, the logs have adequate row seating and lapbars. At the one in California, the seating consists of straddling one beam going from the front to the back of the log, and only two measly handlebars on each side keep you from feeling like you'll fly out into the air on each drop.
Tom Sawyer Island (The WDW version in this context) is completely unsupervised and very old (It practically hasn't changed since it opened with the park in '71) so most of the Audio Animatronics present in the Fort are these stiff corpse like figurines (with a severe case of Uncanny Valley) that only make the slightest movements of theirs limbs if any at all.
Also somebody died on Tom Sawyer Island which in terms makes it even worse...
The Enchanted Tiki Room was fun and tame for the most part, with cheerful singing birds and flowers. However, many a youngster was frightened by when the show briefly took a sinister turn, with the grotesque face carvings of tiki gods on the wall suddenly uttering sinister chants (depending on where you're sitting, sometimes right next to you), as more and more join the chorus. The sudden thunderstorm right after this scene didn't quite help things. The gentle rain and dialogue that follows the thunderstorm is often punctuated by the crying of at least one child.
The best part of this ride was shortly after the "maintenance" person got eaten, and the monster was walking around the station...You could hear its footsteps, its breath...eventually it came by your seat and you could feel its breath and hear it right next to you (!) If you sat back in your seat (like I did), a little "alien tongue" PROBED THE BACK OF YOUR NECK! Note that this was an attraction where you were held down in your seat by hydraulic shoulder harnesses...
It was eventually changed to a Lilo & Stitch ride because the original version freaked so many people out so badly, especially because Disney never found a way to properly warn people what it was. Stitch's Great Escape actually uses much the same technology and special effects as a prequel to the movie, but in a more lighthearted way — or so Disney thought. Travel guides confirm many poor tots whose parents probably never would have taken them to the old show have apparently been scared out of their wits thanks to the darkness and high volume level. Worse, due to the harness you have placed over you (largely for sound effects), the Unofficial Guide still has to warn parents "You will not be able to leave your seat to comfort your child if the need arises." That's just cruel.
The long-dead Submarine Ride, which would take riders in a cramped and rather claustrophobic sub through a small man-made lake, where outside the portholes were underwater scenes consisting of fake and somewhat creepy-looking plastic sea creatures... including a definitely creepy-looking giant squid that "attacks" your sub and is driven off with electric shocks. All the claustrophobic fun of the original is available in the much tamer Finding Nemo version (at Disneyland; the WDW version was completely dismantled). Luckily, the cute story takes your attention off how horribly cramped the small submarine is, and the fact that if the thing took on water, it would be a bunch of bodies scrambling desperately towards the steep, narrow staircase.
Even the Finding Nemo version is not devoid of scares. From "colliding" with an undersea mine (complete with an explosive boom, a sudden gush of bubbles and the submarine rocking from the impact while alarm bells and warning lights go on) to the eerie darkness right before a huge angler fish looms right in front of the riders porthole, all teeth and lifeless glowing eyes, the ride definitely has its moments of terror.
The WDW version, called 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, was in fact closed in 1994. However, the lagoon wasn't drained and demolished until 2004. For ten years, that giant squid was alone, motionless, down there in the dark murky water.
Country? Bears? How can any part of the show be remotely creepy, especially after the terrible movie that came out based off of it? Well, close to the end, Big Al comes out and sings "Blood on the Saddle," a song about a cowboy whose head gets bashed open by his horse, all played on an out-of-tune guitar to add to the creep factor. "There was blood on the saddle/There was blood all around/And a great big puddle/Of blood on the ground"
YMMV, of course; this troper finds Big Al's part hilarious.
It should be noted that Big Al doesn't say "blood", he says "BBBBBLLLLLLLLood". Every. Time. This either makes it much scarier or that much funnier.
The Norway section of EPCOT's World Showcase features Maestrom, a boat ride to a three-headed troll who casts a spell on you to "DISAPPEAR, DISAPPEAR!" Your boat is then sent rocketing backwards through an Arctic landscape with a polar bear growling at you, then starts approaching a waterfall so that you think you're about to go over it backwards. Thankfully, the ride doesn't quite go that far. Still, the only proper response to it is "Oh my god, oh my god, get me out of here, that tree stump is STARING AT ME!" And some people can get scared when the ride goes outside over the crowd briefly.
"Crush's Coaster" at the Studio's section in Disneyland Paris. Hoo boy. At first it's fairly nice (even though you're mostly in the dark), going through some of the movie. And then....you get to the part with Bruce and the sharks. What's worse is that if you've seen the movie, then you know exactly what's coming when you see the rusty ship pipes, and the shadows of the sharks on the wall whilst they chant "Fish are friends! Not food!". Suddenly you're propelled upwards with Bruce 'chasing' you, and a sudden flash lights up this model of Bruce sticking out through the ship, before you're plunged into the pitch black section of the ride, spinning every way known to man.
EPCOT's iconic Spaceship Earth is responsible for a fair amount of Nightmare Fuel. For those who have never been, you ride a neverending chain of vehicles (Haunted Mansion style) through the giant geosphere. At the top, the vehicles make a 180 rotation to descend to ground level at an angle that would be too steep facing forwards without restraints. For many years, this happened in a nearly empty planetarium dome with nothing but some tear-jerkingly epic music. Some people would become afraid that the ride would change to a roller coaster and drop them off a cliff backwards without restraint, even though that would be impossible with the ride vehicles being chained together through the entire track. Frightened riders would abandon their vehicle and stumble out into the black void of the dome.
Not only do employees have to rescue this frightened visitor but there's stuff hiding in the pitch black room that you could get hurt with. Mostly effects equipment, some maintenance tools, and a scissors lift to the hatch on the roof of the sphere, and of course the heavy duty ride vehicles themselves rolling through the room. An audio clip of a calm voice telling your that your car is going to rotate had been added to the ride, and was sort of a mood killer AND couldn't communicate with the foreign-language visitors who were most likely to abandon ship once it spins around.
Space Mountain's creepy enough since it happens in the dark, meaning you can't anticipate what's around the next curve. "Ghost Galaxy", the Halloween version of the Disneyland ride? Okay, who let Warhammer 40,000 into Disneyland?!?
Ghost Galaxy doesn't exist in Florida, but the Peoplemover still tours you through Space Mountain dome (as it used to in Disneyland.) There's a sort of dissonance as the soundtrack tells you about the ride's high-speed thrills and then... gives you a solid 45 seconds of sitting in the inky darkness, unable to see anything and wondering what's happening.
Disneyland's Peoplemover also used to have a TRON segment, where they projected grids and early CGI on the walls and loud abrasive sound effects played. And fans blew air on you to make the cars seem to be going faster than they actually were. Also, your gentle narrator was hijacked for this segment with an angry reverb voice of doom.
"YOU HAVE ESCAPED TRON'S GAME GRID FOR NOW, USER. BUT BEWARE, NEXT TIME YOU MAY NOT FARE SO WELL."
The line for the Jungle Cruise. It is set up to resemble a trophy room/curio shop with various pieces of jungle memorabilia. One of the gimmicks is a small cage holding a "Goliath Bird-Eating Spider". Anyone who gets close to look inside is scared out out of their minds when the cage JUMPS AT THEM.
The Tower of Terror! First, the doors open at the top, just so you can see how far off the ground you are. Then they close again, and the rest of the ride occurs in total darkness. The "elevator" is actually on a belt (rather than rigged with a counterweight like a traditional elevator), and it can (and will) push you down faster than the acceleration due to gravity. And the ride is randomized every time, so the number and length of drops is different even on back-to-back trips, so you never will get the same ride experience if you are on the Florida version.
The Tower of Terror itself is a very creepy ride, but it was intended to be one (not for small kids). Still, one of the scariest parts is when you're walking up to the "hotel". You're completely surrounded by lush, overgrown forestry and the walk is at least a minute or two. Doesn't sound too scary right? Well, imagine you're walking up there. By yourself. And old music from the 1930s is playing around you. God... That isolation really gets to you and almost makes you feel likes something's going to jump out at you any second.
There are many easter eggs and Twilight Zone references, some of which are quite chilling. For example, as the ride comes to an end, there is a creepy ventriloquist dummy◊ that you can only see if you are in the back row, all the way on the left, then look to the left as the ride reaches the bottom. The dummy just sits there, but he could startle you.
It's gone now, but there used to be an ominous message. The bulletin board in the queue is missing a few letters. Originally, if you walked up to the board and looked at where the letters fell◊, they would spell out "evil tower u r doomed." The letters were removed at some point, but the effect used to be great because you would probably find it on accident.
If you chicken out before getting onto the Tower of Terror, don't expect to get off without a little fear! If you decide to not go on the ride a cast member will lead you to another elevator with an entrance identical to the ride itself, making you think that there was a misunderstanding and that you were brought to the ride. However, the scary doors open to reveal a brightly lit elevator to the exit. It's a nice prank though, since the cast member always says that he or she will take you to "the elevator" rather than "to the exit"!
Just the thought that the only thing keeping you in the ride vehicle while it's falling is a nylon seat belt and the strength of your own two hands.
Many rides, mostly older dark rides, rely on By the Lights of Their Eyes for a cheap scare. This can really frighten small children. Even the Disneyland Railroad in California had little red eyes light up in the darkness at the level with your ankles when it passed into a tunnel behind the Haunted Mansion. By the time Splash Mountain opened with a window into the end of the ride, the train narrator began promoting Splash Mountain from the start and the red eyes were completely left unmentioned, making it eerier. This space is now brightly lit with a fake branch sticking out of the rock.
Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour at Tokyo Disneyland. That ride was all about Disney Villains, and it actually closed in 2006. And do you know why? The last villain encountered is the Horned King! A member of the audience would actually be chosen to defeat him, though.
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. You were in this car that was spinning around like crazy, with no actual control over the vehicle itself even though you had a steering wheel. And then anthropomorphic fire hydrants and stuff would pop up in a blaze of neon light. Somehow, Disney managed to make a big, happy, anthropomorphic inanimate object the most terrifying thing in the world. And then when you spun around randomly at what felt like about 20mph and you saw this giant stack of boxes labeled "TNT" in front of you...
The windows of Disneyland's Emporium store contain figures of characters from the Disney Animated Canon. Some of these figures date as far back as their respective movie's initial release, or a re-release from the '60s. Because of the period of their creation, some browsers might find them to lack the charm of contemporary figures.
Yes, everyone remembers the dolls on It's A Small World. What no one remembers is the hot air balloons with creepy demented clowns that drop a few inches near your boat.
On Expedition Everest, The Yeti no longer functions. This hasn't been fixed because it has been discovered that every time the Yeti figure swings its arm, it causes damage to the rides overall structure. So now it just has a flashing light over it,which makes the thing even more horrifying.
When you are on the chain lift it just keeps going… and then you realize just how high up you are…
The Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom. You're in the dark, the dinosaurs are randomly lit up, and then OHMYGODIT'SACARNOTAURUS. Also? It's LOUD. Very, very loud.
On that note, the final scene where you see a immobile sculpture of the Carnotaurus is actually quite horrifying because you see it only for a split second and it doesn't even do anything.
The Alioramus seen near the ride's beginning, eating a large lizard.
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue has a cameo of REX from the ride's first incarnation, occasionally spouting lines from said first incarnation. Thing is, they are rather glitchy and context-free, causing a rather eerie effects in the same room as another more light-hearted event.
Lots of people wish that the parks would incorporate Kingdom Hearts characters and elements. They did, briefly, to commemorate the first game's launch. However, they had the brilliant idea to have Sora portrayed asa "mask" character rather than a "face" character". Enjoy meeting your favorite game hero, kiddies!note To be fair, that's how they portrayed some other human characters, such as Captain Hook and Smee, until deciding to have them as "face" characters instead; it's quite likely that, if they still had Kingdom Hearts characters, they'd be "face" characters by now (can you imagine Axel or Naminé portrayed by someone in a creepy mascot-type getup?)
Rock N' Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios is usually a bit too loud and goes by too quickly to be scary. However, when the music stops and the lights turn on and you're frozen at the highest point in the ride, the effect that is created is a bit unnerving. Especially when you look to your right and you see a rickety metal platform and a seemingly-endless flight of stairs acting as the only thing that can bring you back down to ground level. Then you look to your left and see NOTHING. That's right, there's not even a gate put up to protect you from leaning over the side and falling over. Not to mention that once the lights are on, you realize just how cramped the building is. In this state, the coaster is just a bunch of steel tracks tied in a knot in a very faulty-looking warehouse. Now imagine being stuck here, held down by shoulder restraints, for half an hour before having to climb back down, holding onto the stairs for dear life.
The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, before it was refurbished for the film, was less busy and quieter, especially at the beginning, which made the earlier "rooms" quite freaky, as you were going through in the dark, with only the sounds of wind, rushing water and "dead men tell no tales" echoing around, looking at skeletons.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a fun but fairly tame roller coaster, even the Paris version which is slightly more intense because of the presence of two underwater tunnels where you can't see anything, and a surprise drop through a washed out trestle...Except at night, where you can hardly see the track at all, making the ride feel far more rough as you cannot prepare yourself for twists and drops ect, and making it seem like your going to crash into rocks. Paris's actually has some more Nightmare Fuel:
The story behind all incarnations of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is that the trains are all possessed by whatever supernatural force caused the inhabitants of the local town to disappear. You are riding a wild, undead train that could kill you at any second - and perhaps wants to.
There's even a sign displaying the population getting crossed off down from 2,015 to 247 to 88 to 38...and then nothing.
In all of the Big Thunder Mountains, the first of the three lift hills is in a cave that is infested with bats. In Paris, a waterfall parting around the track at the top of the lift hill shows that the cave is flooding.
Also, midway up the third lift hill, an earthquake seems to hit and the track is banked slightly to imitate the train being jostled by the forces of the shockwaves. Again, in Paris, it is more frightening since you hear a miner yelling "Fire in the hole!" and see the lights of blasting going on right before the point on the track where the earthquake hits, and gold is seen coming out of the ceiling.
There is a section of a trestle that is washed out before the second lift hill, where trains go from running level to dropping down to the water. It's jarring as it's unique to this ride.
Further more, the turns leading into the second and third lift hills on the Paris Big Thunder Mountain are on trestles that, thanks to the installation of anti-rollback dogs (the teeth that produce a racheting sound as the train climbs the lift hill designed to keep the train from rolling back if the chain should stop), are made to sound like they are groaning under the train's weight.
The biggest one: the Paris Big Thunder Mountain is right across the water from Phantom Manor. When you go through that ride, then ride Big Thunder Mountain, you might feel like you're getting the creeps knowing that there are supernatural things going on in and behind that dillapidated mansion across the river from the washed-out trestle and second lift hill. For the record, the earthquake that hits your train as you go up the third lift hill is the one that creates Phantom Canyon.
The Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars is a ride unique to Hong Kong Disneyland and has a very shocking moment where on a lift hill you can hear the tracks groaning and see a flayed bit of rope before a cable "snaps", sending the train into the backwards section of the ride. Of course, this is intentional, controlled and you are not actually in danger, but it is quite frightening, as its so unexpected.
In Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland, there's a bit of a jump scare in the Greek Room - as a Shout-Out to The Haunted Mansion, a painting morphs into a gorgon that comes with an angry face and flashing red eyes. Some other scary moments include a Mongolian suit of Armour-affably nicknamed "Trader Sam"-with several helmets on his spear, which may indicate he killed some suits of armour and took what was technically their heads, and the giant Venus Flytrap in the Solarium that turns to face the guests, roars, tries to eat them-and then lightning flashes and the lights go out. There's also the scarabs swarming the Sarcophagus and dropping on the guests and the samurai trying to execute Albert.
The Tokyo Disney ride Monsters, Inc. Ride and Go Seek has a cute concept, executed with lavish detail: Drive around Monstropolis and use a flashlight to find hidden monsters, who meanwhile use flashlights of their own to play hide and seek with Boo. A subplot during the ride has Randall try to stalk and kidnap Boo. Fortunately, Mike drops Randall down the garbage chute before he can capture her. Unfortunately, this "treats" riders to a realistic sequence in which Randall lands on a conveyer belt, gets crushed twice, flattened by a roller, and finally shaped into a cube.
The Great Movie Ride. On this ride you get an up and close encounter with the Xenomorph from Alien and the Wicked Witch of the West, plus there's a part where a gangster or cowboy hijacks your vehicle...only to get roasted into a skeleton in the Raiders of the Lost Ark scene.