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You know, the song "Dude Looks Like A Lady" has really not aged well.

That aside, the now-quaintly-dated "Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith" at Hollywood Studios is a lot of fun, and is also easily the most intense roller coaster at Walt Disney World, which is to say that the ride itself would be a respectable though certainly not record-breaking ride at, say, Hersheypark or a Six Flags. It's also another dark coaster, which makes it in some sense a descendant of Space Mountain.

The coaster's a Vekoma custom ride with three inversions; it begins with a powerful, high-speed launch into a twisty double inversion element, and there's a third corkscrew roll toward the end. It is actually not quite as fast as Test Track, but it's obviously a much more intense ride. There are over-the-shoulder restraints. I didn't find it untowardly uncomfortable or rough; it's forceful, but Space Mountain jerked me around more. The promotion for the ride plays up the 4 and a half gees you pull going into the first inversion, but that's pretty normal for this kind of ride. As usual, Coasterforce's East Coaster General has ridden it:

As with most other Disney coasters, much of the fun is in the theming. The building has a big photogenic weenie in front, a gigantic Fender Stratocaster whose strings transform into an overhead track bearing an upside-down car. The queue is a fake recording studio, and there's a scene in which Aerosmith and their "manager" (Illeana Douglas) appear in a video, and grant you backstage passes to a concert that you have to get to in an unreasonably short time. The ride's conceit is that you're rushing through the night in a stretch limo along the freeways of Los Angeles, which apparently go upside down for some unexplained reason.

So the ride is in a dark enclosure and there are old-fashioned, fluorescent-painted flats in there representing road signs and the Hollywood sign and such--all very cartoony once the ride starts, but that's part of the charm. The trains all have onboard audio playing different Aerosmith songs, of which I unfortunately drew the aforementioned transphobic anthem "Dude Looks Like A Lady."




Another dark ride from the same late-90s era is "Dinosaur" at Animal Kingdom. This was one of the first rides I rode on my trip, right after Expedition Everest (which I described a few years ago--it hasn't changed since then; the yeti's still broken but it's still a solid ride anyway).

But I hadn't ridden Dinosaur before. The name seems to have been changed from "Countdown to Extinction" as a tenuous tie-in with the nearly unrelated, largely forgotten Disney movie "Dinosaur". But the ride's actual plot is basically "how much can we rip off Jurassic Park without having the license at all?" Instead of a theme park with genetically engineered dinosaurs, there's a service associated with the "Dinosaur Institute" offering tours in a time-traveling car that takes you to the Cretaceous Era. ("How? That is proprietary," says the director, played by none other than Phylicia Rashad in the pre-show video.)

But an overweening scientist named "Dr. Grant Seeker", who is totally not a knockoff of the Wayne Knight character from Jurassic Park, then appears and wants to divert you to a time period mere seconds before the meteor impact that wiped out the dinosaurs, so you can pick up a specific Iguanodon he is interested in, who I guess is supposed to be the one from "Dinosaur", and this makes no sense but roll with it. Here's a pretty good low-light video of what follows:



 The ride itself is apparently a redressed duplicate of the ride system from the Disneyland Indiana Jones ride, which I have not had the pleasure of riding. It's fairly ingenious, basically a motion simulator bed that can move on rails while bouncing around to simulate a Jeep moving over rough terrain. There's a strange "time travel chamber" sequence that looks like you're being baked in an oven, then the vehicle darts and jolts rapidly through a dark environment full of noisy, menacing animatronic dinosaurs, an onboard computer voice identifies their species, and Dr. Seeker's voice shouts repeatedly that they're still not the one he wants. Finally you start dodging meteors, the Big One is about to hit, and there's a race against time to get back to the present; a giant Carnotaur lunges at you and you go into a small drop while Dr. Seeker yells "They're not gonna make it! They're not gonna make it!" He's kind of irritating, but I have to hand it to them, the storytelling during the ride proper is as simple, stark and clear as is possible. On a relatively fast action ride like this it can't be too complex.

A thing I noticed about this ride is that because it has a pretty low height limit, parents were taking fairly young kids on it, and it's actually kind of a scary ride, far spookier than, say, the Haunted Mansion. Much of the scariness comes from the combination of loud noises and rapid motions in the dark, more than from the dinosaur animatronics themselves, though they're fairly well-done. Anyway, there was a little girl sitting behind me who was utterly petrified by the ride and spent the whole time crying. Parents might want to pre-screen it via YouTube if nothing else.
 

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