Sure, all of us here at WDWNT love the Disney Parks. But we have other interests, too. In fact, quite a few of us like sports. I, for one, love baseball. And with the Major League Baseball All-Star Game happening today, I decided that I’d combine my loves of baseball and Disney Parks and determine which Walt Disney World attractions best reflect the thirty MLB teams.
(Disclaimer: This list is the product of one writer’s imagination, and may not reflect the opinions of everyone else, or anybody rational.)
American League West
Houston Astros – Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
After years of languishing in obscurity, the Astros are finally the talk of baseball, having finally won their first World Series last year. Similarly, the PeopleMover seems to be experiencing a renaissance of its own, having won back-to-back March Magic competitions the past two years. The Astros and PeopleMover are finally getting attention, and everyone else had better take notice.
Los Angeles Angels – Test Track
Let’s be honest, just from where they’re located alone, both the Angels and Test Track will always have a solid legion of fans, but thanks to recent refurbishments (adding Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani to the Angels, and the 2012 re-theming of Test Track), it seems like they’re ready to take the next step and transcend to greatness.
Oakland Athletics – Muppet*Vision 3D
Sure, they may not be the superstars they used to be, but they’re still solid and dependable, and they can still pack in a crowd and put on a very entertaining show. They’re probably even better than you remember. Plus, in both the case of the Muppet Theater and Oakland Coliseum, both venues will likely be crumbling by the end.
Seattle Mariners – Primeval Whirl
The Mariners seem to thrive on the quirky. Whether it’s serving up toasted grasshoppers or giving birth to “Turn Ahead the Clock Night,” this team will always catch your attention, for better or for worse. And putting a carnival-style wild mouse coaster in Dinoland USA is very attention-grabbing, and yes, it can even be fun.
Texas Rangers – Slinky Dog Dash
Rangers fans historically have had to put up with the oppressive Texas heat in uncovered facilities, not unlike those looking to enjoy Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ newest thrill ride. But when you finally take the ride, it can have an attitude all its own, allowing it to stand out in a crowded field. (Well, Hollywood Studios will be crowded with big attractions again…eventually.)
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks – The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Born in the late 90’s, they had their fair share of critics when they started. How could baseball survive in a desert city? How could anything replace Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride? But bringing an old-school style with some new tricks quickly eased people’s fears, and both have won the respect of baseball fans and Magic Kingdom visitors alike.
Colorado Rockies – Living with the Land
While they don’t have the flash of some of their neighbors, both the Rockies and Living with the Land are and relatively quiet and unassuming, but when the spotlight is on them, they can still dazzle, like Nolan Arenado hitting for the cycle last year, and those Mickey Mouse-shaped pumpkins. Who doesn’t love them?
Los Angeles Dodgers – Frozen Ever After
Let’s face it: they’re big, they’re flashy, and they don’t care who knows. They will always have their haters, but they’ll also always have a legion of fans. Love them or hate them, they’re going to be near the top of the standings and the wait times for a long time.
San Diego Padres – Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
The Padres have a tendency to be overlooked in the range of California teams. They’re not in the Bay Area, and they’re not part of the Los Angeles metro area either. San Diego is its own thing, and the Padres relish in that. Similarly, Space Ranger Spin isn’t part of the hype of Toy Story Land, but is still an enjoyable experience. Maybe both are due for a comeback.
San Francisco Giants – Soarin’
Even with the excitement of recent successes, San Francisco still provides a mellow baseball experience that can be lots of fun. Soarin’, like a Giants game, is mellow in its motion, but still provides plenty of thrills, and like the Giants’ location on the San Francisco Bay, offers spectacular views.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox – Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Back in the days of Bill Veeck, the White Sox were known for their garish promotions, from Disco Demolition Night to fireworks shooting out of the scoreboard after a home run, a tradition that continues today. (The exploding scoreboard, not Disco Demolition Night. Never again.) But all this fun reminds me of the rock ‘n roll attitude of Aerosmith and the glam fun of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. No matter the score, it’s a wild ride.
Cleveland Indians – Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Both the team and the attraction clearly were created in an earlier time, which explains a lot of the aesthetic choices, and I’ll leave it at that. But strip away the cultural exterior, and both have an old-school charm that fans pass down through the generations, building an incredibly loyal, passionate fanbase. Though to be fair, Cleveland had a much better 90’s than the Tiki Room did. (Never again.)
Detroit Tigers – Tomorrowland Speedway
Detroit is known for its cars. It’s also known for being a blue-collar town that appreciates tradition meeting modernity. Taking the idea of Disneyland’s Autopia and turning into a full-on racetrack, the Tomorrowland Speedway puts its own original spin on a Disney classic. (And with constant rumors of the ride’s closure, Speedway fans can commiserate with frequently frustrated Tigers fans.)
Kansas City Royals – Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
Speaking of old-school-meets-new-school, Kansas City’s forty-year old Kauffman Stadium, following a multi-year upgrade, has become a blend of classic, symmetrical ballpark with modern amenities and a unique experience in itself. Meanwhile, following an extensive renovation, the Hollywood Studios staple has become a blend of every era of Star Wars, appealing to fans, whether they love Boba Fett, podracing, or BB-8, or all three!
Minnesota Twins – Kilimanjaro Safaris
Not every E-Ticket attraction has to be an in-your-face thrill ride. Sometimes, it can just be pleasant, and provide excitement in a more subtle, but no less endearing way. The Twins bring a polite charm to baseball, having mostly brought superstars like Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, and Miguel Sanó through their farm system rather than trades or free agency, giving an experience that sets them apart from the rest of the division. Meanwhile, Kilimanjaro Safaris isn’t an intense attraction, but with the unique experience it has with live animals in their habitats, it can capture everyone’s imagination.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs – It’s a small world
There are just some places that by name alone immediately scream “baseball.” Wrigley Field is one of those places. A century-old bandbox park packed with some of the most loyal fans in the game (having just ended over a century of futility with a World Series title in 2016) is one of the most iconic images that defines the game. So nothing less than an opening day Magic Kingdom attraction would do. It’s a Small World has a style and magic that has become emblematic of the Disney Parks experience, and has meant so much to visitors from all over the world.
Cincinnati Reds – Country Bear Jamboree
I find it funny that baseball’s oldest active major league team doesn’t get more attention as one of the stalwarts of the game. Similarly, Country Bear Jamboree, an opening day attraction born at Walt Disney World, doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves as a classic experience. You may not think of them first when you think of their respective fields, but you can’t imagine what life would be like without them.
Milwaukee Brewers – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Something is baffling me: just when did the Brewers get so good? The last thing I remember is them struggling to keep up, then suddenly, they’re challenging for a playoff spot last year, and as of the writing of this piece, they’re in first place in their division! Things turned around quickly in Milwaukee, and it’s a mystery to me, not unlike the events at the Hollywood Tower Hotel. (Did they open a training facility in The Fifth Dimension?)
Pittsburgh Pirates – Peter Pan’s Flight
Pirates fans appreciate the classics and humility, and there’s little that’s more classic than this flight to Neverland. With humble effects from the early days of Disney parks that still prove effective, both know how to endear themselves to a crowd.
St. Louis Cardinals – Mickey’s Philharmagic
If you’ve ever been to a Cardinals game, you know they’ll never fail to remind you about their storied history. And Disney fans know that the parks are an important part of the company, but it all started with animation, and Mickey’s Philharmagic is a celebration of the animated classics that have made Disney an entertainment powerhouse. With Beauty and the Beast, Fantasia, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Peter Pan, and Aladdin as celebrated by Disney fans as Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Bruce Sutter, and Ozzie Smith are by Cardinal fans, both are a rollicking tour through history.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles – Na’vi River Journey
Let’s be honest, in the northeast, with major markets like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, Baltimore seems to fall by the wayside, but the beauty of Camden Yards and the friendliness of Oriole fans make Baltimore an underrated place to take in a game. And in of Pandora, next to the high-profile Flight of Passage, you may find yourself overlooking Na’vi River Journey, but with gorgeous scenery and some great music, this makes for a ride that might not be a banner attraction, but still satisfies.
Boston Red Sox – Pirates of the Caribbean
A definitive classic with a large fanbase that had a resurgence in the mid-2000’s. Sound familiar?
New York Yankees – The Haunted Mansion
Visiting Yankee Stadium can almost feel like a mausoleum to the Yankee greats of the past, so why not compare it to the home of 999 happy haunts? The Yankees feel a lot like Master Steinbrenner’s Gracey’s mansion: large, imposing, has a fiercely passionate fanbase, and always part of the discussion around October.
Tampa Bay Rays – Journey Into Imagination with Figment
I didn’t want to disrespect the Rays, but looking back at their 20-year history, it feels like a legacy of compromise. The Rays came into being after numerous attempts to relocate a team into the city, most notably by the Giants and White Sox, and they play in a facility that feels like a compromise between a ballpark and an arena (which was its original purpose). Similarly, Journey Into Imagination with Figment was a compromise after the disastrous reception of Journey Into Your Imagination, attempting to infuse more of Figment to make it feel a little more like its beloved predecessor. Maybe they don’t really work out as well as fans would like, but at least they’re better than they could’ve been. And with changes seeming to loom on the horizon (Imagination has frequently been rumored to be addressed with the changes coming to Epcot, and the Rays are currently attempting to build a new stadium designed specifically for baseball), things could pick up soon.
Toronto Blue Jays – O Canada!
Okay, this seems like an easy pick, but hey, the Blue Jays literally made their alternate logo a maple leaf! They’ve embraced their role of Canada’s team, so why not give them Canada’s attraction? They’re both solid, consistently entertaining performers that shouldn’t be overlooked. (Not to mention that the Blue Jays appear in the Circle-Vision 360 film; specifically, Joe Carter’s famed World Series-winning home run from 1993.)
National League East
Atlanta Braves – Expedition Everest
Once upon a time, not too long ago, the Braves were the centerpiece of the NL East. There was no question who the division’s top performer was. And before Pandora opened, Expedition Everest was Animal Kingdom’s top-flight E-ticket attraction. And if they finally find the missing pieces (getting a big-name hitter and finally fixing that Yeti), they can be on top again.
Miami Marlins – DINOSAUR
Like DINOSAUR, the Marlins experience is often loud, hectic, and confusing, with frequently dumping their best talent once they start to get good. You can never tell where the Marlins are heading, for better or for worse.
New York Mets – Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
Hey, remember when the Carousel of Progress and the Mets used to be within walking distance with each other? Both seem to have a lot of potential, but frequent malfunctions frustrate their devoted fanbases, with injuries plaguing the Mets, and CoP’s lack of updates in decades. If serious problems were addressed, they could be the jewel of their respective leagues. (And in the end, it’s always the ending/bullpen that needs the biggest refresh.)
Philadelphia Phillies – The American Adventure
Every decade or so, the Phillies make some serious moves that rejuvenate the team. Most recently, with Aaron Nola, Odúbel Herrera, and Jake Arrieta leading the charge, or on the rise once more. Similarly, around once a decade, The American Adventure changes its ending, adding new faces to its tribute to American history and bringing a fresh energy to the attraction. Plus, it doesn’t hear that Benjamin Franklin is one of the hosts.
Washington Nationals – Avatar Flight of Passage
With four playoff appearances in the last six seasons, it feels like a lot of attention is being put on the Nationals lately. Sometimes the pressure gets to them, and sometimes they soar. It reminds me of Flight of Passage, which is only effective if you’re immersed in the experience, and where you’re seated can affect that. The spotlight is on both the team and the ride, which should win them a lot of fans.