The Best (and Worst) Disney Movies Based on Theme-Park Rides

A new ‘Haunted Mansion’ is out this week. Where will it rank? (Low)

This weekend marks the release of The Haunted Mansion, Disney’s third adaptation since 2003 of its popular theme park ride. That makes it the Disney ride with the most film adaptations besides the Pirates of the Caribbean series. So far, there have been 13 film adaptations of Disney parks, with more on the way. Movies about Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Epcot’s dragon Figment are all in development.

Most Disney theme park rides are based off of the studio’s films, but several are original concepts all on their own. Come to think of it, it’s kind of weird Disney hasn’t tried to adapt all of its original rides by now, given the success of the Pirates franchise. The ones that have been successful are already getting remakes and sequels (more on that later).

But with Haunted Mansion’s release, it’s time to look back at the best and the worst of Disney’s theme park adaptations. With that, here’s a ranking of all of the films Disney has made based off of its rides.

8. The Country Bears

The Ride/Attraction: Country Bear Jamboree

Disney’s third ride-to-film adaptation tells the story of young Beary Barrington (Haley Joel Osment), a cub adopted by humans. Once Beary discovers he’s adopted, he goes on a mission to find his place in the world. In this case, that means getting the country-rock band The Country Bears back together for One Big Show to save their concert hall. This move exists mainly for the cameos — Queen Latifah, Elton John, Don Henley, Jon Hiatt, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Wyclef Jean and others all make appearances. At least most of the creature effects are done with puppet suits, which helps this from showing its age more than CGI would.

7. The Haunted Mansion (2003)

The Ride/Attraction: The Haunted Mansion

Rob Minkoff’s film adaptation of the Haunted Mansion ride is the first of three Haunted Mansion movies on this list. It’s not as spooky as the actual ride, although it does feature several Easter eggs and references to the Disney World and Disney Land attractions. This Haunted Mansion, starring Eddie Murphy, is interesting to watch now. It’s got more on its mind than just ripping off the ride. Somehow nobody got up in arms in 2003 or called a movie about a Black family in a haunted house “woke.” And it’s a nice entry point for kids who might want to start watching horror movies.

6. Mission to Mars

The Ride/Attraction: Mission to Mars

In 2000, Disney/Touchstone released Brian de Palma’s version of a space adventure movie loosely based on the Mission to Mars ride in Tomorrowland. The resulting movie is about as much of a tonal mismatch as that previous sentence would imply, although there are sequences here that rival some of the most cruel and heartwarming of de Palma’s entire filmography.

The whole “the aliens are us from the future sending a message” trope seems overdone at this point, but it seems novel here, with a third act that manages to combine elements of 2001 along with the Disney ride. Overall, it doens’t cohere, but it’s an interesting curio.

5. Muppets Haunted Mansion

The Ride/Attraction: The Haunted Mansion

The second adaptation of the Haunted Mansion arrived via puppets on Disney+ in 2021. Unlike the other two versions of the Haunted Mansion, they actually released this one in October. It features Gonzo and Pepe as they try to spend one night in the titular manor.

Like The Country Bears, there are more cameos than you can throw a crystal ball at: Darren criss, Taraji P. Henson, Will Arnett, John Stamos, Ed Asner and Dany Trejo all show up for a bit. And like the original Haunted Mansion, this leans more intot he laughs than the scares, but with better results. Try getting “dancing in the Moonlight” out fo your head after watching this one.

4. Jungle Cruise

The Ride/Attraction: Jungle Cruise

In terms of hewing exactly to the tone of the ride, Jungle Cruise takes the cake. Full of puns, riverboat adventures and exotic animals, the latest iteration of Dwayne Johnson’s brand machine keeps the Disney money boat chugging along. Also like the ride, it goes on for a little too long and the jokes start to wear thin after a while. But if you’re looking for an old-fashioned action-adventure movie (the kind that Disney used to make all the time), you could do a lot worse. A sequel is in development, with Johnson and Emily Blunt returning.

3. Tower of Terror

The Ride/Attraction: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

People have unfairly maligned Disney’s first go-round at adapting one of its rides for the big screen. They didn’t release it theatrically, but instead developed it as a TV movie for ABC’s Wonderful World of Disney timeslot. Because the network wouldn’t license the Twilight Zone for the movie, Tower of Terror doesn’t feature any references to Rod Serling’s influential anthology series. (The ride, however, does.)

It still gets the tone right, though, as Are You Afraid of the Dark? director D.J. McHale takes the location of the haunted elevator and places it in 1930s Hollywood. It’s a fun, lighthearted horror caper that, like Haunted Mansion, acts as a safe entry point for the spookier stuff for kids.

A reboot is under development, with Taika Waititi directing and Scarlett Johansson set to star.

2. Tomorrowland

The Ride/Attraction: Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland is one of only two live-action films Brad Bird ever directed, and while both critics and audience panned it when it came out in 2015, I’m here to tell you that it’s Good, Actually. Bird’s film is visually stunning and taps into the wonder and possibility of discovery and invention that the Tomorrowland attraction provides. What if sci-fi was hopeful? Tomorrowland answers that question.

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean series

The Ride/Attraction: The Pirates of the Caribbean

 Yes, all five of them. The first movie, Curse of the Black Pearl, was lightning in a bottle that the rest of the series never quite replicated. But the series as a whole is great swashbucking fun—especially the first three films, which are anchored by a strong trio of performances from Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley.

This series is the gold standard for Disney ride adaptations, which is why Disney hasn’t stopped making them or stopped trying to replicate its formula. More Pirates are on the horizon, though it’s unclear in what capacity. Disney recently scrapped a planned series with Margot Robbie.

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Jake Harris

Jake Harris is a Texas-based journalist whose writing about pop culture and entertainment has appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Nashville Scene and more. You can find more of his writings at or through his pop culture newsletter, Jacob's Letter.

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