Walt Disney World has never been shy about slipping some “adult themes” into their attractions. That is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that sometimes us adults will look at each other over our kids heads with a look of amusement that says, “Did they really jus to that?” In this list, I am going to show you some attractions that are/were PG13 in some areas. Some of them will be a walk down memory lane, others still exist today.
Country Bear Jamboree
The Country Bear Jamboree is an often overlooked attraction in the Magic Kingdom. With Splash Mountain and Great Big Thunder Mountain nearby it is easy to forget that the bears even exist. But the Country Bear Jamboree is a gem of the Magic Kingdom, full of truly funny moments. There are some moments in the Country Bear Jamboree, though, that will leave you saying, “Wait, what did I just hear?” For example, there is a song sung asking a mama not to beat her child (Buford) but to shoot him instead, a song about a married man going to see “go-go girls”, the line, “The guys that turn me on turn me down”. To be honest though, these are the things that make the Country Bear Jamboree an interesting show.
The Making of Me
Have you ever thought to yourself, “You know, I’m really enjoying this theme park, but do you know what it could really use?? A video about where babies come from!” Believe it or not, that conversation probably happened in a Disney board room at one point as they discussed attractions in Epcot. Epcot used to house the Wonders of Life Pavilion, which showcased the miracle of the human body. One of the attractions in this pavilion was called “The Making of Me”, which was legitimately a video about human reproduction staring Martin Short. Because of the nature of this video, there was an advisory sign outside of the attraction that warned parents about what they were about to see and to turn back if they did not want to expose their kids to such a delicate subject. Of course, this attraction no longer exists, in fact, the entire pavilion no longer functions as “The Wonders of Life Pavilion” anymore. Which is kind of sad, because if you were ever nervous about having “the talk” with your kids, you could always just let Disney do the parenting for you!
Pirates of the Caribbean
I am about to touch upon something very controversial. Disney has just announced that they are going to be making some changes to the beloved “Pirates of the Caribbean” and the internet has lost its mind. Disney fans have gone to their keyboards crying, “Disney has fallen to the pressure of Political Correctness!” I am not going to say whether or not them changing the attraction is a good idea or not, but I will say this, let’s look at this “Bride Auction” scene for what it is. These are pirates who have come in and have taken over a coastal town. They “pillage, and plunder, and riffle, and loot”. By the way, they also “kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot”, whatever could that be referring to?? The truth is, these “brides” are not being willing participants in this auction, many of them have a look of fear and some even are crying. This is human trafficking. Oh yeah, have you noticed how I keep putting the word bride in quotes, yeah, that’s because even back when the ride was first built, they put the word “bride” there to try to sanitize what was happening. Even back then they knew they were dealing with a controversial, unsavory subject. So it does make some sense that Disney will be changing this scene. Good news, the redhead stays, but she will be a pirate herself now. I only ask one thing of Disney, somehow incorporate the line “we wants the redhead” somewhere into the attraction, for old times sake.
This is actually one that I truly wish was still around, because although the theme was very on the nose and difficult to swallow, it was effective. I was fortunate enough to get to enjoy Kilimanjaro Safari when it was more than just a safari ride, but also had a story. The story was that we were saving elephants from poachers (very abridged version). This story line went along with the whole concept of the park: conservation and animal protection. By the way, I cannot praise Disney enough for tackling the concept of conservation with their Animal Kingdom park, I am amazed by how many people go through those turnstiles every day and are inspired by Disney to make the world a better place for humans and animals alike. There was one small problem with this attraction though: It felt too real. In fact, at one point near the climax of the ride, the safari vehicle would come across an elephant audio-animatronic that had been attacked by poachers for its ivory tusks and killed. This was supposed to add a gravitas to the attraction and some meaning to its message, but instead it left children scared because the fake elephant looked too much like a real elephant. Sadly, a lot of people saw this as Disney crossing a line from “teaching about the good of conservation” to “Disney now needs to pay for my child’s therapy bills because they saw a dying elephant”.
I struggled with putting this one on, because I could do a whole other list of “scary” attractions at Walt Disney World. The reason I added Alien Encounter is this: Tower of Terror, Dinosaur, It’s Tough to Be a Bug, and the TTA are scary (don’t judge me!), but to lump Alien Encounter in with the rest of them is definitely not fair. Alien Encounter was not scary, it was horrifying! This attraction felt way to real for childhood me. If you have ridden on Stitch’s Great Escape, you should understand the general concept of this attraction, albeit more horrifying and less mind-numblingly annoying. Basically, an alien gets loose in a room full of people who are strapped into their seats. But instead of it being a cute little Stitch who wants to bounce on people’s shoulders and burp chili dog in people’s faces, it was a massive, blood thirsty alien who wanted to eat everyone in the room. This attraction included hearing the sounds of other people nearby being chomped down by the alien, feeling the alien breath down the back of your neck, and feeling the blood (special effect, warm water) of a dead handyman in the rafters dripping onto your face. My mom and sisters left the attraction crying, I left as a changed young man, swearing to one day get revenge on XS Tech for hurting so many people and putting all of our lives in danger (maybe I took that attraction a little too seriously!)
Those are my top 5 PG-13 moments at Walt Disney World. I have to give an honorable mention, though, to Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, as you would hit a train and be sent to Hell (explain that one to your kids!). Did I leave any out? Let me know in the comments!