Excitement has been building for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure for years. Walt Disney World fans are anxiously awaiting the first major addition of EPCOT’s overhaul, and World Showcase is starved for attractions. So it makes sense. But with opening delayed for over a year after being first announced 5 years ago, does the hype exceed what the “Rat Ride” can realistically deliver?
In today’s internet age of breathless construction coverage on Walt Disney World blogs like this one, there’s always the risk that new attractions cannot live up to the anticipation and sky-high expectations. If the finished attraction doesn’t comport with the one mentally-constructed in the heads of fans, there’s the danger of disappointment. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure has added another layer to that, with much more mainstream awareness and excitement thanks to the way Disney and Imagineering have tied it into the viral internet sensation, Ratatouille: the TikTok Musical.
Usually, we don’t have an answer for whether an attraction is overhyped until it opens. However, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a clone of a dark ride that opened at the Walt Disney Studios Park in France (the real one). We thus thought it would be fun to revisit our review of Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy from when the attraction opened, offer comparisons based on other rides added in the ~7 years since then, and other spoiler-free thoughts on whether EPCOT’s next new attraction is a rat-sized addition or a human-sized block of cheese. (The latter is very good, in case that’s not clear. Cheese is an international treasure.)
Our goal with this post is not to rain on the parade of anyone who is brimming with excitement for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Given the state of the world for the last year, our general view is “let people enjoy/be happy about/excited for things!”
Instead, we’re hoping to diminish disappointment and maybe reset expectations a little bit. We’re posting this after seeing a lot of sadness in response to the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Opening Dateamong readers who are visiting this summer before the ride’s official debut.
Much of our original Ratatouille ride review focuses on the Place de Rémy mini-land, adjoining Bistrot Chez Remy table service restaurant, and the Walt Disney Studios Park as a whole. None of that is relevant to EPCOT where the Streets of Paris area will be different and so will the added crêperie.
Although also irrelevant, it’s worth mentioning that Walt Disney Studios Park was really bad before Ratatouille: the Adventure debuted. So bad that we asked aloud Is Walt Disney Studios Park a Disney Park? prior to the ride being added. This is relevant because anything “not awful” added to that park is graded on a colossal curve (see also, Crush’s Coaster) and Disneyland Paris fans had been starved for new attractions for years. Whatever negative things you might think of EPCOT, its problems are not even remotely on par with Walt Disney Studios Park.
Then there’s the ride itself. Although Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a clone of Ratatouille: The Adventure, it’s entirely possible there will be iterative improvements based on what Imagineering has learned on screen-based attractions since, so we’re cutting out many of the minor quibbles. (Much of what follows is a condensed version of our 7-year old ride review.)
There’s understandable excitement for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Imagineering has set the bar high, especially on the trackless dark ride front. Even before we first experienced the attraction, it seemed like Ratatouille: The Adventure was poised for near-certain success, as a rat scurrying through a restaurant feels like a fun use of the trackless dark ride technology. And it is…in theory.
Unfortunately, in execution, the ride falls short. The problem isn’t so much with the overuse of screens as it is with the misuse of them, and the poor balance of screens versus physical sets. To wit, at only two points in the attraction am I actually able to suspend disbelief and feel like a rat racing through a restaurant.
The rest of the time, it’s painfully obvious that ride vehicles are essentially parked in a cavernous room in front of a gigantic screen. This can work to varying degrees with other attractions, but this one comes to a screeching halt during these scenes because you’re supposed to be a rat racing around. Whereas a normal dark ride turns and directs guest attention to certain show scenes, trackless dark rides are more about satisfying the desire of freely exploring and adventuring. There’s a certain curiosity and whimsy to trackless dark rides–or at least, there should be.
This isn’t to say these sensations are totally absent from the Ratatouille dark ride. To the contrary, it has flashes of brilliance, and a couple of segments that beautifully integrate the physical environments with screen tech. Even though we’re refraining from spoilers here, you’re probably already familiar with what these scenes look like if you consume content on Disney’s official social media channels, because they’re the only scenes ever featured in photos. There’s a reason for that.
Despite my belief that the Ratatouille dark ride is overhyped, I’ve tepidly advocated for it in World Showcase. For one thing, because more intellectual property in World Showcase is an inevitability and Ratatouille is the best case scenario for that. The movie is basically a love letter to Paris, and is certainly a better fit than Arendelle in Norway. For another, World Showcase has needed more rides for decades. I’m a realist who views Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure as a good, albeit imperfect compromise solution to both problems.
The attraction is still fun, even with its faults. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is still a solid addition that is far superior to the vast majority of Fantasyland-style dark rides. If you’re judging it against those instead of other E-Tickets, it’s easy to overlook the flaws. The Ratatouille ride doesn’t take the boring book-report approach nor does it utilize the “Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong” storytelling conceit. It’s a simple premise lifted from the movie that lends itself really well to an attraction. For many guests, that will be enough, and they will have plenty of fun with it.
In some alternate timeline, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure could’ve been the first trackless dark ride to debut at Walt Disney World, opening before Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as well as Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Had that been the case, I suspect Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure would’ve opened to rave reviews. It would’ve met the hype for most Walt Disney World fans.
The problem is that this now is not going to be the first trackless dark ride most Walt Disney World fans will experience, and despite opening later, it’s the oldest of the bunch. While the two attractions are dramatically different, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway feels like a spiritual successor to the Ratatouille dark ride.
It’s as if Imagineering looked at where they failed and succeeded with the Ratatouille dark ride, and used technological innovations to improve on the overall experience. Obviously, different characters resonate differently and that’s so much of the appeal, but it’s difficult to envision regular guests with no particular affinity to either set of characters preferring the Ratatouille ride. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is superior by any objective measure. (There’s absolutely no comparison to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.)
As for other comparisons, the Ratatouille dark ride reminds me a lot of Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Both have exceptional queues and flashes of on-ride brilliance, but lean way too heavily on sitting in front of a gigantic screen for prolonged periods of the “action.” That’s also not an apples to apples comparison, as Reign of Kong uses clunky safari vehicles, not nimble rodents.
None of Universal’s other screen-heavy attractions are good comparisons, though. The best might be imagining the ride vehicles of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, plus the presentation of Soarin. In some ways, that actually sounds sort of awesome.
Maybe Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is sort of awesome? While I wrote that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is “superior by any objective measure,” reactions to theme park attractions are inherently subjective. For the vast majority of guests, rides work on emotional and nostalgic levels more so than technological ones. So all of this could be beside the point.
It’s also fair to point out that many (most?) of you vehemently disagreed with our Rankings of All Attractions at Walt Disney World, which put Soarin’ Around the World at #26, Toy Story Mania at #37, and Lightning McQueen Racing Academy at #48. If you’d rank any or all of those rides higher, you will probably have a much more favorable opinion of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure than we do.
Again, the goal here is not to be a wet blanket putting out the fire of fervor for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Hopefully all of the above caveats sufficiently underscore that. If you’re a huge fan of the movie (or TikTok musical, I guess?) your personal enthusiasm will probably be vindicated.
The point is more that this ride is not the end-all, be-all of new additions at Walt Disney World. If you’ve yet to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance or Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, those are more worthy of hype. Same goes for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge as a whole. Neither are new-new, but had been open for less than a year pre-closure, so they’re new to many of you.
While we obviously don’t know what the future holds for other debut dates, I’m personally more excited for other things coming to EPCOT this year. Specifically, Space 220 Restaurant and the new nighttime spectacular, Harmonious. It’s still possible that one or both could debut by this summer. (Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is not conducive to physical distancing–there’s no space for physical distancing back there and on-ride plexiglass dividers aren’t really viable.)
Ultimately, I’m more excited about other things I love returning to Walt Disney World, as well, which will hopefully accelerate heading into summer. (Obviously, no guarantees.) As with everything, there are tradeoffs. Those who wait to visit Walt Disney World until the 50th Anniversary begins and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will be able to enjoy those things. Those who visit this summer are almost certainly going to be able to enjoy significantly smaller crowds. The cheese you want is always more delicious than the cheese you have, but let’s be real: all cheese is delicious. Ditto trips to Walt Disney World.
Are you excited for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure? Concerned it’ll lean too heavily on screens at the expense of physical props and environments? If you’ve experienced the version in the Walt Disney Studios Park, what did you think of it? Is the ride overhyped or deserving of the excitement? Do you agree or disagree with any of our thoughts? 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!