This thread is a response to the arguments scattered around the board that Disney can't build a new, original, non-movie-based attraction because the general public prefers - nay, demands - attractions with characters from popular movies. There is also a related argument that the only rides that can survive without characters are thrill rides, and that people only ride those because of the physical thrill factor. My hopes are that this thread will help to puncture those arguments .
The question I'd like you to answer is, what could be a "draw" in a new attraction for the modern general public other than physical thrills or characters? (Note that this draw or hook does not have to be everything the attraction is about, just as DL's thrill rides are about more than thrills). What would the PotC or Haunted Mansion of today be like? (And by that, I don't mean they have to be similar to those rides in any way, just that they would be of that caliber and original). What myth in the popular conciousness would they bring to life?
I don't have an answer yet, but I do have an example of an existing ride that is not based on a movie, is not a thrill ride, and is a huge hit: Soarin'. Some might argue that is a thrill ride, but it certainly is not in the same vein as Space Mountain or Tower of Terror. You are never meant to feel a sense of danger. It's not "OMG, we're going to hit that mountainside!" it's "OMG, look at that beautiful mountainside!" The draw here is the sensation of flying, which is a fundamental human fantasy.
(I'd also like to point out that, as far as I know, PotC and Small World both saw healthy attendance prior to their character-adding refurbs, and were definitely both Disney icons in their own right.)