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7 Cool Features of The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it's off to New Fantasyland We Go

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Now open! Read my full review of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Perhaps the seven coolest features of the highly anticipated The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coming to the New Fantasyland expansion at Disney World's Magic Kingdom are actually Bashful, Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, and Dopey (especially Dopey) -- eight if you include Snow White. But it's likely that you are already familiar with the famous characters. You may not be familiar, however, with the unique new attraction based on the popular animated film that will be opening in 2014 at the park. In honor of The Seven Dwarfs, let's take a look at seven of the more intriguing elements and features of the new ride, which promises to be another Walt Disney Imagineering E-Ticket attraction.

1. First-of-its-Kind Swinging Coaster

Disney. Used with permission.
Surely the most unique aspect of the new ride will be the design of the coaster train and its cars. Instead of fixed cars, they will be mounted in cradle-like pivots that will give them the ability to swing side to side during the ride.

There are spinning coasters (like Disney World's own Primeval Whirl at Disney's Animal Kingdom) in which individual Wild Mouse-style cars spin around. And there are fourth dimension coasters such as X at Six Flags Magic Mountain, which have cars that rotate to the sides of the track. But the innovative design of The Seven Dwarfs coaster will mark the first time that coaster cars will pivot, somewhat like a Ferris wheel but with side-to-side motion instead of back-and-forth movement.

At the time this was written, Disney hadn't elaborated much on the pivoting motion (or much else about the attraction for that matter), so I don't know the precise nature of the ride experience. But I am guessing that the cars will gently sway to and fro, possibly in time to the ride's musical score. Can't you just see passengers bopping along to "Heigh Ho! (The Dwarfs' Marching Song)?"

2. It's a Coaster. It's a Dark Ride. It's Two Rides in One!

Disney. Used with permission.
Disney World has other themed coasters, such as Space Mountain, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, and Expedition Everest. But the stories largely take a back seat to the coaster thrills (although of the three, the Animal Kingdomn's Yeti ride has the most compelling story). The Seven Dwarfs won't have the same thrill level as Expedition Everest, but it appears that it will have a more immersive story.

It will be more of a full-fledged dark ride, like Pirates of the Caribbean, with animatronic characters, show scenes, props, music from the film, and other elements that will tell a linear story and immerse riders in the dwarfs' mythical workplace. Unlike Disney World's other mine train coaster, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the New Fantasyland ride will more than just hint at mine activity by taking riders into a "working" mine. In that sense, it will give equal weight to its status as both a coaster and a dark ride, not unlike (the wonderful) Revenge of the Mummy at the Universal Studios parks.

3. It will Have Variable Speed Vehicles

© Arthur Levine, 2013. Licensed to About.com.
Most traditional roller coasters use a chain lift to carry a train to the top of a lift hill and allow gravity to handle the rest of the ride. That system would make it difficult to incorporate dark ride features. Instead, the Seven Dwarfs ride will have variable speed vehicles that will allow them to slow down and rev up to accommodate both the show scenes and the coaster elements. Revenge of the Mummy has similar ride vehicle capabilities.

4. New Animatronic Technology

During a brief backstage tour of the attraction's construction site in April 2013, Imagineer Dave Minichiello said that the animated characters, which will include the dwarfs, Snow White, and forest animals, will introduce some new technology. He wouldn't elaborate, but he did promise that the ride would deliver some "wow factor." I'm ready to be wowed. And you?

5. It will Be Mildly Thrilling, but Widely Accessible

Disney. Used with permission.
Disney and other broad-appeal theme parks must perform a delicate balancing act of delivering thrills while allowing as many of its visitors as possible to experience its attractions. Rides that are too intense exclude younger guests who don't meet the height requirements as well as older wimps who don't have much of a tolerance for thrills. How many guests can't or won't ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror because of its extreme drops but would otherwise love its incredible effects and engaging story?

The new coaster/dark ride should hit the sweet spot. It will have some mild thrills (I'm guessing it will be milder than the relatively mild Big Thunder Mountain), but will not be intimidating enough to scare away wimps or have too much of a height restriction. It will be a true family coaster that most young children will be able to enjoy with their grandparents.

6. It will Include an Interactive Queue

The bane of theme parks has long been the interminable lines guests must endure to experience more popular rides. For the last few years, Disney has been adding entertaining diversions in its queues to make the waits more palatable. This has included features such as a tricked-out pipe organ in the line for Haunted Mansion and an air-conditioned "circus tent," complete with benches, games, and climbing equipment, for guests waiting to board Dumbo. Disney has not revealed the details, but it did confirm that the new attraction would keep riders engaged with some interactive features while waiting in line.

7. Other Possible Features

© Arthur Levine, 2013. Licensed to About.com.
Minichiello, the Disney Imagineer with whom I spoke, was a bit coy but did seem to indicate that other surprises may be included in the attraction. I emphasize: may be included. While he would neither confirm nor deny anything when asked, he did sport a broad smile and a twinkle in his eye when he said that the ride might include backwards as well as forward motion as well as spritzes of water. Because the ride will include a trestle bridge and waterfall, the wet feature seems more likely, while, from what can be seen of the track, the backward motion seems less less likely.

Check back in 2014 to see what the ride does include.

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