7 SHOCKING Disney World Ride Malfunctions

Have you ever been riding on an attraction in Disney World and something didn’t seem…quite right?


Disney World might be “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to technical issues and other problems! We’re taking a look back at seven of the most infamous ride malfunctions in Disney World. Buckle up, because some of these stories get…interesting.

Many of our stories come from Magic Kingdom, probably because that park has the most rides out of all the Disney World parks.

Lots of rides means lots of chances for things to go wrong

More rides means that there are more opportunities for things to go wrong!

Magic Kingdom Rides

Carousel of Progress: The Case of the Missing Hand

2020 was a big year for ride malfunctions, and one of the most shocking was at Carousel of Progress.

Carousel of Progress

This ride in Tomorrowland takes guests through scenes in a rotating theater. In one of the scenes, a reader noticed that John (an animatronic — not a real person) was missing his hand!

© Mlecuyer28

It didn’t seem to stop him from enjoying his Christmas Day in the kitchen, but we’re glad that he’s got his hand back now.

“it’s a small world”: We Barely Held Onto Our Sanity

This attraction is one of the most popular in Disney World, maybe because the Disneyland version was designed by Walt himself. Or maybe you’re one of the special few who LOVE to have that catchy song stuck in your head.

“it’s a small world”

But most people get off the ride and breathe a sigh of relief that they don’t have to listen to that song all day long. But one time our reporter Molly got stuck on this ride…like…for a LONG time.

Riding “it’s a small world”

Y’all probably know and love Molly already from many of the AllEars videos on YouTube, but did you know that she once spent 90 minutes stuck on “it’s a small world”?

“it’s a small world” queue

The boats stopped near the exit (she was SO. CLOSE.), and then she had to wait an hour and a half while Cast Members worked hard to get everyone off the attraction safely. Those dedicated Cast Members were in hip waders inside the water, moving the boats along to get guests to a safe evacuation place.

Cast Members to the rescue!

So just in case you’ve ever thought about listening to the theme song from “the happiest cruise that ever sailed” on repeat for multiple hours, we can tell you right now: DON’T.

Jungle Cruise: …Is This Part of the Ride?

Jungle Cruise in Adventureland is known for its fun antics and hilarious jokes (don’t @ us — that humor is GOLD).

It’s Jungle Cruise time!

But one prank you’re skipper won’t pull on you is to pretend like the boat is sinking as it slowly fills with real water. Nope, if that starts to happen, you will be evacuated.

Jungle Cruise boat

And it DID happen in Magic Kingdom — a Jungle Cruise boat actually sank, and guests had to quickly evacuate with the help of their trusty skipper.

Photo Credit: Disney Food Blog & Amy D.

No one was injured in the process, and the Jungle Cruise resumed operations safely a little while later (minus one boat).

Splash Mountain: Just an Off Day for Everyone Involved

We all have those days when we’re feeling a little too tired to function properly. Sometimes it even happens in Disney World. When you hit that wall in the parks, it’s best to grab a delicious snack and enjoy a rest with Cinderella Castle views.

Grab a snack and take in the view

But apparently that wasn’t an option for a few of the animatronics on Splash Mountain. While we were on this ride back in 2020, we saw not one, not two, but THREE characters having a serious no bones day.

Splash Mountain

Br’er Fox, Br’er Rabbit, and Br’er Bear were all a little off when we rode by their scenes. Br’er Rabbit just looked kind of sad as he hopped by…


…and Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear usually move in this scene, but they were just hanging out motionless instead.

Malfunctioning Splash Mountain Animatronics

It’s OK guys — we’ve all been there.

Click Here to See Which Magic Kingdom Rides Disney Fans Love the MOST


Frozen Ever After: Elsa Has Had It With this Song

One of the newest attractions in EPCOT is Frozen Ever After, where you can ride through the story from Disney’s Frozen and belt out “Let It Go” at the top of your lungs (as long as everyone else in your boat is OK with that).

Frozen Ever After

At the climax of the ride, you’ll visit Elsa at her ice palace, where she sings “Let It Go” and then dramatically sends your boat backwards, down a hill and away from the palace.

Let It Go scene

But sometimes Elsa is just not feelin’ the magic. Or maybe she just thought her classic song was getting a little over-played at this time. Or maybe she was having the same 2020 experience as the rest of us (that’s when this malfunction happened). Whatever the case, a reader shared a video from this ride that shows Elsa giving just a little shrug instead of her usual send-off.




Sometimes subtle is best, but we’re not sure that applies to this situation. A little while later Imagineers repaired the animatronic and Elsa was back to her usual dramatic self.

Gran Fiesta Tour: One Problem Made the Ride BETTER

Gran Fiesta Tour can be found in the Mexico pavilion, inside the pyramid. It’s a fun, musical boat ride that follows the Three Caballeros (Donald, José, and Panchito) on an adventure through Mexico.

Gran Fiesta Tour

During the ride, José and Panchito lose Donald and have to find him before their big performance later that night. Usually they’re successful and the big finale (spoiler alert) is the three of them performing together.

Hey, Pals!

But sometimes Donald stays lost, like he did during a long duration of time that we have dubbed “Plant Donald.” For several months, the Donald Duck animatronic was nowhere to be seen. In its place was…a plant. Wearing a sombrero.

Can you honestly tell the difference?

As you might guess, that hilarious replacement broke the internet a little bit.

Every plant deserves a hat.

Plant Donald was just one part of a multi-stage saga where the Gran Fiesta Tour animatronics experienced some issues. José was missing for a while (replaced with some flowers), and sometimes all three birds were cardboard cutouts instead of 3D figures.

Cardboard cutouts replaced all three “birds of a feather” on Gran Fiesta Tour

You really never know what you’re going to get at this attraction, but it’s always worth a visit.

Click Here to See Our Ranking of the EPCOT Rides

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Rides

Na’vi River Journey: The BEST Part Was Straight-Up Gone

Most people head straight to Avatar: Flight of Passage in Pandora when they visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But nearby, you’ll find Na’vi River Journey.

Na’vi River Journey

This attraction is a relaxing boat ride through the Pandora jungle. It’s very nice, but you might be disappointed if you wait longer than about 30 minutes for it.

It’s nice! But not spectacular

The BEST part about this ride is an amazing animatronic of a Na’vi Shaman of Songs, which you’ll see right at the end of this ride. It’s very large, and the fluid movements and life-like features are stunning.

Morning, Shaman!

So imagine our dismay when we waited in line and sailed through the entire ride only to be met with a disappointing projection instead of the incredible animatronic.

Shaman of Songs is sometimes just a screen

The animatronic was under refurbishment, and we dearly missed the most impressive part of an otherwise uneventful boat trip.

Navi River Journey

Don’t worry — it returned just a little while later!

Click Here to See Our Ranking of the Animal Kingdom Rides

So it’s clear that things don’t always go to plan with rides in Disney World. But we do our best to laugh it off, because sometimes the changes are even better than the normal rides (*cough Plant Donald*).

Keep following AllEars for more news and planning tips as you plan your Disney World trip!

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 Do you have any stories about ride malfunctions in Disney World? Tell us about them in the comments!

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One Reply to “7 SHOCKING Disney World Ride Malfunctions”

  1. I’ve seen a YouTube video of the Gran Fiesta ride where Jose slowly keeled over backwards, and then a later ride-through from the same day where someone had just thrown a sheet over him. It looked like Donald and Panchito were happily serenading their dead friend. Just plain creepy.