I like Disneyland and I like movies. And yet, most movies based on Disneyland rides are terrible. Note that this is different from “rides based on movies,” which covers more ground than a lot of people think. For example, the Matterhorn is from Third Man on the Mountain, a live-action movie from 1959. And Splash Mountain is from The Song of the South. So that’s a whole separate…thing.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Look, I still like these movies. The second and third were silly and overblown, but I like a good swordfight set piece. I haven’t seen the fourth one yet, but I’m very fond of the Tim Powers book On Stranger Tides which is what the movie’s sort of based on. I think they took just the title, Blackbeard, and the Fountain of Youth, but if anything else from the book makes it in, I’ll have something to like. The first movie was an A for me, and then the series kind of ticks down from there.
The Haunted Mansion
After the pirate movie, we’re already in the category of “movies people forgot about.” This was that Eddie Murphy movie, remember? It wasn’t great, but all I wanted out of it was for someone to use the line “Of course, there’s always…my way! from the attraction. In Disneyland, that line is an ominous way of encouraging people to commit suicide to escape, which seems like an odd message. In the movie, it’s said by Wallace Shawn, who says it like Wallace Shawn. So I came out of it basically satisfied with the movie, I guess. Let’s call it a solid C-.
The Country Bears
Live-action bears in a movie based on an attraction where you watch animatronic bears playing novelty bluegrass songs. And it has Christopher Walken in it. It’s terrible, but at least it’s terrible in an interesting way. I guess if you’re into anthropomorphic representations of animals, this might be more interesting to you, but bears are already pretty anthropomorphic. No, this movie’s dumb all the way. D.
Mission to Mars
Ha! Everyone forgets this, possibly because the “Mission to Mars” attraction was shut down in 1992. It was a terrible attraction, incidentally. The big gimmick was that the seats had cushions that would inflate or deflate depending on what the gravity was supposed to be doing. So you’d sit on these weird uncomfortable plastic seats (Tomorrowland used to be very into the idea that the future would be composed of light grey plastic) and watch a big TV screen on the floor. And then there would be a description about flying to Mars while the seats got harder or softer. Then there was a Brian De Palma movie in 2000 with the same name and kind of the same plot. So it’s probably based on the ride, right? It wasn’t very interesting and I don’t remember anything about it. But it was De Palma, so let’s assume it was at least a C-.
Tower of Terror
It’s not really a Disneyland ride, but it’s at California Adventure and a few other Disney parks. The ride was sort of based on Twilight Zone (not a specific episode, but there are Twilight Zone aspects of the ride) and then there was a movie based on the ride, but without the Twilight Zone part. I never saw it, but it’s a 90-minute made-for-television movie starring Steve Guttenberg in 1997. So I think it’s safe to say it’s about a D-. If that.