Top 10 Distinctly Patriotic Disney World Attractions
Happy Independence Day! If you’re spending July 4th at Walt Disney World, you might be curious as to which attractions are the most distinctly patriotic. Fortunately, Walt Disney World remains a bastion of patriotism and is a great place to spend the Fourth of July with tens of thousands of your closest friends!
In large part, this is due to the enduring legacy of Walt Disney, and the next generation of Imagineers who wanted to preserve his vision and ideals. As the narrator says in the opening lines of Carousel of Progress, Walt Disney “was probably as American as anyone could possibly be.” This is on display in parts of Walt Disney World even when patriotism or Americana aren’t explicit.
Beyond the attractions here, many of the underlying conceits of Disneyland and Walt Disney World involve Americana, and these notions stem from Walt Disney’s own interest in the American family. These overarching themes and the Disney Parks’ places as American institutions are another (fascinating) topic for another day, as we are only focused on how what to do for the most patriotic day at Walt Disney World with this post.
Rather than offering a contemplative analysis of the intersection of Americana and Disney, this post seeks to offer a lighthearted look at the most distinctly patriotic attractions at Walt Disney World.
Some of our picks are pretty obvious, but others will shock and delight you. Or not…
10. Dinosaur – What represents America more than the sense of rugged individuality required to be insubordinate to your boss and put a group of tourists in harm’s way because he knows acquiring dinosaurs is the right thing to do?
Perhaps Dr. Seeker is the hero America deserves, but not the one it needs right now. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dinosaur-Seeking Knight. Seriously, though, how can you have a list of patriotic attractions without some dinosaur action?!
9. MuppetVision 3D – There’s the obvious here, which is the finale, but before you even get to that, I think MuppetVision ranks highly as a masterpiece by American icon Jim Henson. Beyond that, the show features the innocent yet satirical and subversive humor of the Muppets, which has helped shape America’s comedic sensibilities.
Finally, if there’s going to be a Judgment Day, I foresee civilization as we know it being sent off in style as Sam Eagle finally gets to perform his glorious three-hour finale. Would that really be such a bad way to go? (Sorry, I might have just watched Terminator this morning…)
8. Mission: Space – Despite being a massively squandered opportunity, Mission: Space makes the list because I can think of nothing that embodies the American spirit more than space exploration. Unfortunately, this attraction almost completely fails to capture that sense of awe, wonder, intrigue, and endless supply of superlatives that NASA and the space program instills, and instead offers an experience that is mostly an exercise in button-mashing and cheap thrills.
An inspiring space pavilion that strives for more would easily crack the top 5 here, and we dream of the day that SpaceX partners with Disney and delivers on the concept’s full potential. Nevertheless, there are still enough flashes of the American spirit in Mission: Space to earn it a spot on the list.
7. Tower of Terror – You might think this is sarcastic, but hear me out. There are a few definitive Fourth of July experiences that remind me of the holiday: grilling on the lake in Michigan, dangerously lighting off Roman candles with my grandpa, and watching the Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel (sorry, not calling it by the dumb new name).
While riding Tower of Terror isn’t as exhilarating as the prospect of losing a finger to a defective Roman candle, it speaks to me (personally) on the Fourth of July more than anything else outside of the top 5. Your mileage may vary.
6. Living with the Land – There’s nothing inherently “American” or patriotic about gardening, but I think Living with the Land still demonstrates the same forward-thinking vision that makes us proud to be Americans. From the quotes in the queue to the growing techniques on display, the attraction is a slice of the original EPCOT Center and the inquisitive spirit of America.
I know the amount of substantive research being done at Epcot is de minimis, but hearing about the work of the scientists in The Land in conjunction with NASA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is a glimmer of that inspirational spark the park once held. It’s also a strong reminder of the best of what it means to be an American.
5. Walt Disney Presents – “Walt Disney loved the idea of progress and he loved the American family. He himself was probably as American as anyone could possibly be.” So starts the attraction script on the next entry on our list, and it’s unquestionably true.
When it comes to patriotism, few Americans surpass Walt Disney himself. Pay tribute to the man, his dream, his determination, and patriotism all at once with a walk through Walt Disney Presents at DHS. It’s an inspiring look at American ingenuity.
4. Electrical Water Pageant – This combines Disney, Americana, and nostalgia for a distinctly patriotic water parade that has been running nightly since October 1971. For years, we’ve joked that the only reason Electrical Water Pageant still exists is because the “team” behind it is a dude named Earl who management forgot was on the payroll 3 decades ago. He hauls the EWP floats around behind his 1970 Sears fishing boat every night, hoping none of the hotshots wise up.
The good news is that Earl is a patriotic fella, and he concludes his Electrical Water Pageant with a salute to
all nations, but mostly only America with flags and stars, set to a patriotic musical medley of God Bless America, Yankee Doodle, and You’re a Grand Old Flag. This vestige of the original “Vacation Kingdom of the World” feels like something from a bygone era, but it absolutely holds up and is a great way to end a night at one of the Magic Kingdom area resorts.
3. Carousel of Progress – Beyond the cynical, jaded veneer, there’s an optimist in me…somewhere. Carousel of Progress speaks to that optimist, and gives me hope about the promise of a brighter tomorrow. Not because it features anything resembling futurism at this point, but because it highlights the evolution of society and what prior generations have produced–even as they faced their own challenges–and how the lives of ordinary Americans changed for the better.
While The American Adventure showcases the trials and tribulations we as a people have faced and overcome, for me this is the ‘everyday’ analog to that. Carousel of Progress is a reminder that even in times that otherwise seem bleak, there is always a great big beautiful tomorrow.
2. Fireworks – I think fireworks appeal to humans on a primal level, so in that sense they’re probably less patriotic and more a borderless experience that unites all of the world. That should come as no surprise, given that ‘people are alike all over.’
On both July 3 and 4, “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky” is shown at Magic Kingdom. Over at EPCOT, the “Heartbeat of Freedom” tag follows the finale of the normal nighttime spectacular. As tribute to America, expect earth-shaking pyro accompanied by patriotic soundtracks that really put the whole productions over the top. In my experience, there’s no better way to end Independence Day at Walt Disney World!
T1. The American Adventure – Was there any doubt that this would be #1? The whole experience here begins well before ever stepping into the theater housing one of the ten best attractions that Imagineering has ever built.
American Adventure starts with a tour of Heritage Gallery, before listening to the beautiful Voices of Liberty, and climaxes with The American Adventure show itself. You’ll be feeling proud to be an American by the time you leave that theater!
T1. Hall of Presidents – There are no surprises with the top of this list, and there’s really not a lot that can be said about Hall of Presidents that hasn’t already been said. Irrespective of what you think about any past, present, or even future inhabitants of the White House, this is a stirring showcase of where we’ve been and could go as a nation.
The video footage inspires confidence in our representative form of government and its history, which certainly makes for a reassuring experience in today’s polarized political climate. Ultimately, what’s more American than an optimistic spirit?
That covers it for our top 10 distinctly patriotic attractions at Walt Disney World. A potentially controversial list, especially with Disney Legends like Main Street Philharmonic, the Liberty Belle, and Country Bear Jamboree left off the list.
That’s just the way lists like this go. If you have a favorite pick that didn’t make the cut, please share it in the comments below!
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Do you agree or disagree with our list? Any patriotic attractions or other experiences that you think should’ve made the cut? Any distinctly unpatriotic attractions you think should be banished from Walt Disney World? (I’m looking at you, Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along!) Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
Great article! I think Splash Mountain should be in there, maybe #6 or 7. What about food?! Definately any meal on Liberty Sqaure will do. Happy Independence Day!
The Electrical Water Pageant should make the list. Few things are more patriotic then the floats that all turn into American flags and fireworks. If the Main Street Electric Parade still ran, I would consider that too because of the last float of the eagle and our flag.
Love the article as I do all of yours.
But I’m curious and have to ask. What is that in the bottom right in the photo of the Celebrate America Fireworks?
Wishing you all a happy July 4th from New Brunswick, Canada! Stay safe and enjoy!! All the best Tom and thanks for all you do, Sarah too
Big stretch with 2 or 3 on your list being “Distinctly” Patriotic — should have kept it to Top 5
Thank you for this patriotic top 10. Disney Parks, whether through current or former attractions, provides plussing of most major holidays including July 4th. Disney Parks also fuels my patriotism. I like most of your Top 10 items and the honorable mentions. One more honorable mention: Electrical Water Pageant because of the patriotic finale. Some other patriotic items that go beyond the scope of your article: strolling through the themed lands of Main Street USA, Liberty Square, and Frontierland also evoke patriotism in patriotism. Also I love the various old American songs played in background music of attractions and lands (Main Street USA, Frontierland, Hall of Presidents, Liberty Square, American Adventure, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, New Orleans Square, Wilderness Lodge).
Correction: “Some other patriotic items that go beyond the scope of your article: strolling through the themed lands of Main Street USA, Liberty Square, and Frontierland also evoke patriotism in patriotism.” Sorry typo on the extra “patriotism” at the end of the sentence.
How could you leave out The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History? Surely the show would have been running this week had the Magic Kingdom been open.
I thought about it, but since it’s not something anyone can see anytime soon (if ever again), it didn’t seem worth including. Definitely a top 5 pick if it runs again, though!
Fair enough, I had no doubt it would be in your top 5. Have a good one!
definitely a Top 5 if the show still existed
I was going to ask about Muppets Present too! Really hope they bring them back at least seasonally. Happy 4th Tom! Hope you guys are staying safe and thanks for all the info! I read your updates hoping things smooth out by the time our trip comes up
For me, the very BEST thing about going to WDW is spending a few days without thinking about the news. So the Hall of Presidents is definitely out.
I also love the escapism that Walt Disney World offers, but for me, Hall of Presidents cuts through the daily ‘breaking news’ element of politics and offers something timeless and reassuring thanks to its longer view of things. Can’t fault you for your perspective, though.
Regardless, I think the next time there’s a change of presidents–regardless of who is elected–it might be a wise move to remove the current president’s speech. It might also be wise to announce that decision in advance of the election, so it doesn’t come across as partisan. That is, if Hall of Presidents survives much longer.
The President is not what makes America, America. The President is, at the end of the day, only a person. I certainly don’t approve of most of the politicians these days, but I can separate our great country as a whole from the corruption that currently inhabits our capital.
Every nation has had great and terrible leaders. Is England any less of country because it was once ruled by Henry VIII? He slaughtered Catholics who did not agree with his decision to create the Church of England. At the same time, he led the country out of bankruptcy and into a time prosperity. Stalin is not seen as a hero by any stretch. He helped to defeat Hitler, and yet hundreds of thousands of people died in his Gulag. In the case of American history, FDR threw thousands of Japanese-Americans into internment camps (an idea he got from Hitler who he revered), yet he also brought America out of the Great Depression with his New Deal and led America through most of WW2.
Those who lived before us are no different than we are today–complex individuals who navigated their circumstances without the benefit of hindsight. In a time where we seem to only remember the bad things that people in history have done, I think Hall of Presidents helps us to remember the good that each of our leaders has contributed.
At the end of the day, the President is just a person. They have and will continue to contribute valuable things to our country, even those valuable things are lessons learned on how not to act. Don’t let your approval or disapproval of that person distract you from the values and beliefs that are written in our founding documents. Presidents will come and go, but as long as our founding principles remain that is all that matters.
Happy Fourth of July!
What is wrong with the current President’s speech? My wife and I were at Disney World in November / December of 2018 and loved the Hall of Presidents and saw nothing wrong with the current president’s speech and found it inspirational. Did they change something about it since then?
I appreciate your blog Tom, but found that comment a bit subjective. We are all welcome to our political views and if you want to interject commentary regarding yours, I’m ok with it too. However, one of the things I have enjoyed about your blog the last few years has been your ability to not include subjective thoughts on current political events, or at least keep them at a humorous minimum. I hope you can continue to do that going forward. While we are definitely a polarized nation, this country is split fairly evenly 50/50 give or take 5% depending on the day of the week, and I would instead of potentially turning off up to half of your audience, I think you are at your best when you use the magic of Disney as a bridge to bring everyone together with a world of entertainment we all love!
Happy 4th to you and Mrs. Bricker!
To be clear, I’m referring to the structure of the Hall of Presidents show including a speech by the current president, whoever that might be. I think it’d be wise to remove that segment with the next change in presidency (whether that occur in 2021 or 2025) as it has been a lightning rod for controversy since (at least) the mid-90s.
Thank you for clarifying that Tom! I truly apologize for misinterpreting what you were saying. While it’s sad it has come to this, I don’t totally disagree with the idea. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a short quip just so the current President is represented, but I feel you are right that at this point in history, a long speech from a sitting President from either party probably isn’t going to sit well with 50% of the audience. Also, it kind of makes sense in a way since the current president usually hasn’t done too much yet when they are added to the attraction. I like the idea of past presidents saying more since they have served full-terms and can potentially speak more to their experiences, not to mention having full access to all of their speeches so as to pick from the best moments.
All that said, my apologies again and keep up the great work!
Apart from #1, #2 and #3 , I cannot see anything that would clearly TELL an outsider (on the spot..) something like you interpret it ! 🙂 … I’m in Europe. So, I guess you need to be a patriotic American in the first place to get your logic ? … 🙂
At the other hand, I just would put down the whole of ‘Main Street USA’ as #1 (<< it's even in the name).. and, oh yes, sorry, that not considered an attraction, it's a shopping centre, but seen the pricing, not considered a typical touristic outlet centre.. 🙂
Celebrating Hollywood productions as done in the 'Great Movie Ride' at least also pushes patriotism better then all your other examples in my opinion (at least, again: from an outsiders viewpoint).
The 'Country Bear Jamboree' get's a place in my personal list, as it's focussing so clearly on All-American (patriotic) songs.
And last, perhaps 'Ellen's Energy Adventure' , as you must be really patriotic to go on a 30 minutes ride where most seats are always empty !!! .. 🙂 (joking)
Great list Tom. I love Carousel of Progress as much as anyone, but as far as the ” great big beautiful tomorrow” theme goes, it’s time to update Grandpa and the gang.
. The last time it was, Seinfeld was the #1 show on television.
Great list Tom – a very entertaining read!
As Brits who visited Disney World last year, the amount of American Patriotism in the park was a little new to us but we thoroughly enjoyed all the US History type attractions.