WDW Rides That Inspired Movies

Walt Disney World has so many great rides across all four theme parks. Did you know that some movies were inspired and based on these rides? Some of the them went on to be blockbuster hits, and some were…well…not as good as the ride. Here are some of the rides at Walt Disney World that inspired movies!

1. Pirates of the Caribbean

It’s almost impossible to picture Pirates of the Caribbean now without thinking of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. The Pirates of the Caribbean movies debuted in 2003 and have gone on to be massive blockbuster hits. To this day, many people still don’t realize that this movie series idea developed from the actual ride! The original Pirates of the Caribbean ride opened in Disneyland in 1967 and was so popular that it is now in 5 of the 6 Disney Resort Parks around the world.

Images by disney.com (left) and scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (right)

The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl has the most nods and references to the ride. The scenes from the ride that appear in the first movie are the prisoners trying to lure over the dog holding the keys to free them, the drunk pirate in the mud with the pigs, and of course the famous Pirates of the Caribbean song “Yo Ho- A Pirate’s Life for Me” is sung in the movie. The movie also brought a new-found popularity to the ride and later incorporated Captain Jack Sparrow into many scenes throughout the ride.

2. Jungle Cruise

Everybody loves the Jungle Cruise and all its hilarious puns and jokes. This ride was so popular that Disney decided to make a live action movie based on it, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt. The live action movie took on the sense of adventure that comes with every ride on the Jungle Cruise. The only thing that was missing was many of the “dad jokes” and hilarious puns that make the ride so great! The movie centralized around a riverboat captain and his quest through the heart of the jungle to find a mythical tree.

Images by disney.com (left) and official Jungle Cruise poster released by Disney (right)

Fun fact: The Jungle Cruise ride was originally based off the 1951 film The African Queen. The boats used in the ride were styled after the steamships in that movie. Also, the ride was supposed to be more of a serious, safari type ride. Over time, Disney Imagineers took on a different approach and made it more of a comedic performance.

3. Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion is a super popular and delightfully spooky ride at many of the Disney parks around the world. Although there are different variations of the ride overseas, it still has the same overall concept. The Haunted Mansion has one of the most elaborate backstories of any of the original rides at Walt Disney World. The mansion has 999 happy haunts who reside there and a few of them are featured in the 2003 movie, The Haunted Mansion starring Eddie Murphy.

Image by disney.com (left) and scene from the Haunted Mansion by Disney (right)

The story centralizes around the Evers’ family taking a vacation and stopping at a spooky mansion that is for sale. The husband and wife own a real estate firm and the wife was chosen to sell the house. As you may have guessed, some things go awry, and they find themselves in a very spooky situation.Your “ghost host” Master Gracey from the ride, is a central part of the movie. Madame Leota (the magical floating head) also plays an important role in the movie as she provides important clues to the Evers’ family. Much like the ride, it is the perfect combination of comedy and some spooky moments.

4. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was the first Disney movie to be based off an attraction. Although the ride was inspired by the Twilight Zone television series, it was not drawn from any specific episode. In fact, Disney Imagineers created the story for the ride. The Tower of Terror movie focuses entirely on the story that the ride is based on. It goes more in depth to the brief introduction to the story that we hear during the pre-show from the ride. It doesn’t focus on The Twilight Zone at all.

Image taken in the Hollywood Tower of Terror lobby (left) and by imdb.com (right)

The movie, starring Steve Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst, was released in 1997 as part of The Wonderful World of Disney on the Disney Channel. The plot centers on a journalist trying to investigate a cursed hotel in Hollywood and then we find out what really happened on that fateful night… Interestingly, some of the footage from this movie was actually filmed at the Disney World version of the ride! This is a great movie to watch before your next trip to Hollywood Studios. Fans of the ride will be able to spot all the parts that they filmed in the park.

5. Dinosaur

Back in 2000, Disney released a movie called Dinosaur that was inspired by the ride Countdown to Extinction at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Park. The original ride was an opening day attraction at Animal Kingdom, and it took guests through a thrilling journey back in time to the Cretaceous period. In order to help promote the movie Dinosaur, Disney changed the name of the ride and even added scenes from the movie into the ride’s pre-show. The Iguanadon and Carnotaurus from the original ride were both very important parts of the movie. Guests hop into a Time Rover and travel back in time to save the Iguanadon from extinction. The Carnotaurus is the antagonist of the ride and film, and will try everything to stop you from saving the Iguanadon. Will you be able to successfully save the Iguanadon and bring it back before it’s too late?

Images by disney.com (left) and official Dinosaur poster released by Disney (right)


These are just a few of the many movies that were inspired by Disney rides. They all do an amazing job of going into even greater detail than the ride story. Of these movies, Pirates of the Caribbean has proven to be the most successful of them all. It is very interesting to watch the movies inspired by the rides because it gives you a greater appreciation for the attraction after seeing it on screen. The Disney Imagineers are excellent storytellers, and it is awe-inspiring to see how they bring these ideas to life.

Which of these Disney ride-inspired movies is your favorite?

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