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My top five former Walt Disney World attractions

November 20, 2013
By

For as long as I can remember, my favorite thing about Walt Disney World has been that there’s always something new — an attraction, a character, a restaurant, a special event, etc. Maybe this is why I’ve been to Walt Disney World an obnoxious number of times and Sea World zero times, save for a 5K I ran there in 2011.

I’m 28, and my Disney Parks obsession continues to know no bounds. When I have children, I’ll forget I’m supposed to be the adult in the relationship when we’re at WDW. I may or may not visit the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for myself more than my hypothetical future daughter (or son) while assuring them it’s really for them. I’m prepared for this sad yet inevitable reality.

My fiancé, Josh, and me. He’s a good sport.

My fiancé, Josh, and me. He’s a good sport.

But as I’ve gotten older, some of my most-beloved Disney attractions have shut down to make room for all the new stuff. I know growth is necessary, and like I said, the ever-changing nature of the parks is the best part, but it doesn’t make letting go of the defunct easy. Here are the top five things I miss most about the WDW I knew in my childhood. All of them, incidentally, happen to be Magic Kingdom attractions:

 

1. ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (1995 – 2003)

Oh, Skippy. I barely knew ye. Image credit: Disney Wiki, courtesy of Gary Burke.

Oh, Skippy. I barely knew ye.
Image credit: Disney Wiki, courtesy of Gary Burke.

This attraction has since been turned into Stitch’s Great Escape!, which isn’t lame, per se, because Stitch is adorable and has a charmingly eccentric disposition and vocabulary (not to mention my fiancé does a great impression of his voice), but before Lilo & Stitch was born, there was an attraction called Alien Encounter. It scared the crap out of me, but I’m also the same kid who was watching the Child’s Play films at age 3 and not learning my lesson after constant nightmares, so naturally my masochistic self was all about it. The gist was that you were on some kind of space mission with a cute little alien named Skippy. Then, as you’d suspect, all hell breaks loose: Skippy’s antithesis (I like to think it was his mother-in-law) gets aboard your ship, spits at you, makes a lot of loud noises and eventually peaces out. I think it scared my mom more than me, which made it extra fun.

Fun Fact: Alien Encounter was originally going to be named Nostromo, after the ship in the film Alien.

 

2. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (1971-1998)

In college, my editing professor had us write a headline for the story about Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride closing. Someone who wasn’t me totally nailed it with, “Mr. Toad Croaks.” I think I wrote something really stupid like, “Mr. Toad Hops Away.” What kind of nonsense?

One of Magic Kingdom’s originals, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was based on the “The Wind in the Willows” segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, an old Disney animated feature no one saw, like The Black Cauldron or Song of the South (without the blatant racism).

Image credit: Disneybiz.com

Image credit: Disneybiz.com

In one part, the ride takes you through “hell,” which terrified my then-3-year-old niece (oddly enough, she handled The Haunted Mansion fine). Maybe that’s why The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh took over for Mr. Toad. Fluffier animals and lack of Satan = win for the children.

Fun Fact: My niece is almost 22, which makes me feel very old.

 

3. Skyway (1971-1999)

The Skyway was another Magic Kingdom original. It consisted of gondola cabins suspended from cables that would take you from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland and vice versa. I’m not a fan of being suspended from a cable (or anything, really), so I didn’t enjoy riding this, but there’s just something missing about WDW when I go to Magic Kingdom and don’t see those cabins traveling back and forth between fairy tales and the future.

Fun Fact: Whenever someone shook the cabin, I’d scream bloody murder.

Image credit: Disneypix.com

Image credit: Disneypix.com

 

4. Delta Dreamflight (1989 – 1998)

Image credit: Disney Parks

Image credit: Disney Parks

I’ve always been kind of afraid of flying, thanks to Hollywood convincing me that plane crashes are super common and the most terrifying way to die (I’m looking at you, Final Destination), so a ride that took me through the history of aviation and put me on a grounded-yet-convincing-enough “airplane” was a pretty great balance. Now I have to settle for Peter Pan’s Flight, or Soarin’ at Epcot. Both awesome rides and, to be honest, more fun than Delta Dreamflight, but neither is worth their usual hour-plus wait when you’ve been on them dozens of times already. Delta Dreamflight was the People Mover version of these rides with no wait and not-to-be-underappreciated-in-100-degree-heat-with-120-percent-humidity air conditioning, and I miss it for that alone.

Fun Fact: Delta Dreamflight was replaced by Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, which I always lose at.

 

5. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage (1971 – 1994)

I shouldn’t technically include this, because everything I remember about it boils down to three things:

  1. It was based on the book and/or film of the same name.
  2. It was always closed when I went to Magic Kingdom.
  3. I thought someone died on it when I was a kid because of #2.
Image credit: 20kride.com

Image credit: 20kride.com

It feels blasphemous not to include this on my list since it was also one of the OG attractions and has a big place in park fans’ hearts (like, there’s a freaking fan site).

Fun Fact: Some of the water from the original lagoon was poured into Ariel’s grotto last year in a ceremony to mark the opening of Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, over the former location of 20,000 Leagues 18 years after it closed.

I’ll add The Timekeeper as an honorable mention, because the robot host was voiced by Robin Williams, whom I’ll always love despite his current questionable career decisions.

Which former WDW attractions do you miss most? Which were good calls to ditch?

 

 Related: Our top 15 current Disney World attractions not to skip (even if you can’t skip the line)

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  • Paige

    Another great article Jen! I loved the snow white ride, I was so sad to see it go :( Also, I too, was terrified of Mr. Toads Adventure. . Scarred for life. . .

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    I almost included Snow White but only didn’t because it closed fairly recently. It was such a good ride, and I liked how scary it was.

    LOL right? They didn’t adequately warn you about that one!

  • Deb

    Excellent list (and Alien Encounter scared the beegeezus out of me, too), but I miss Hunchback. I realize the production is dated, but they could just move it into France, in Epcot, and perform it all the time

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    Hunchback of Notre Dame? Was it a show? I don’t remember this!

  • George

    Came for 20,000 Leagues, left satisfied.

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    Good to know since that’s the one I probably rode the least, lol. It just didn’t feel right to leave it off.

  • http://blog.aspiringimagesbyrachel.com/ Rachel

    I love that there’s a photo of Owl shaking hands with Mr. Toad in the Winnie the Pooh ride. Another nod to the previous ride in that location.

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    Oh man, YES! I totally knew that and should’ve included it. Thanks for pointing it out!

  • http://blog.aspiringimagesbyrachel.com/ Rachel

    I TOTALLY forgot about Dreamflight until your post – talk about memories. I also talked about the Timekeeper this weekend to someone who didn’t remember it. Totally memory lane post here!

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    I really loved it because it was in the A/C honestly haha but I remember a room with clouds that you travel through that was really neat. I originally was going to include the Timekeeper but ran out of space, and I felt like 20,000 Leagues was enough Jules Verne, but I HAD to mention it because of Robin Williams voicing the robot, lol.

  • Demos Euclid

    It’s nice to see Dreamflight getting some love. I loved that ride as a kid and it may be partly one of the reasons why I like to travel so much. Thankfully, they still have a version of Mr. Toad in Disneyland and a very different, although spectacular, version of 20,000 Leagues in Tokyo DisneySea.

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    I want to visit all the Disney parks in the world. Josh is getting dragged to Disneyland Paris whenever we get over there!

  • http://hilaritybydefault.blogspot.com/ Demos Euclid

    Disneyland Paris is a beautiful park (despite all the criticism it gets). Any theme park that sports an Indiana Jones roller-coaster gets props in my book!

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    Doesn’t Disneyland in Cali have that too?

  • http://hilaritybydefault.blogspot.com/ Demos Euclid

    They have an Indiana Jones dark ride which is absolutely incredible (I would probably rank it as my Disney favorite ride) but the Jones coaster is unique to Disneyland Paris.

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    Gotcha. Very cool! I need to get to both ASAP.

  • Jeff Jones

    The original Imagination ride as well as The Kitchen Cabaret

  • Victoria

    MR. TOAD’S WILD RIDE WAS MY FAVORITE RIDE EVER! But Seaworld is great too. If you like shows! They better not ever get rid of It’s a Small World or I will protest!

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    I do need to go to Sea World for the penguins and the puffins.

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    YES the original Figment. <3 I don't recall The Kitchen Cabaret! What was it?

  • Jeff Jones

    Animatronic Musical show (a la Country Bear Jamboree) but took place in a kitchen and the different food groups would perform. Was hosted by the woman whose kitchen it was Bonnie Appetite. It was swapped out for Food Rocks (was a really bad move) and now Soarin’ sits in its place. You can find the full show on youtube.

  • Andrew Rudolph

    I just like this article because you said OG.

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    :o) I’ll take it!

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    Oh…my lord…whyyyy doesn’t this exist anymore!?!?!?!

  • Mike

    I can remember as a kid that you had to purchase tickets to ride the rides. It was like Monopoly money. Don’t forget the Eastern Airline’s Carousel of Progress or The Hall of Presidents. The two most boring rides for an 8 year old.

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    I still fall asleep in the Hall of Presidents. D: But I’ve always loved Carousel of Progress!

  • Jeff Jones

    Did you find the video?? It was a pretty amazing show.

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    I did, my friend sent it to me, and…yeah I’m really upset I have no memory of this! When did it close?

  • Jeff Jones

    1994..was replaced by Food Rocks (horrible) and then that closed in 2004.

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    Ah gotcha. Glad Soarin’ is there now! That’s the best ride at Epcot. :o)

  • Erick

    there was a show at Hollywood Studios (back then MGM) which actually replaced a Pocahontas show… i think. it was actually a really cool show. i think i may have photos of the show somewhere.

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    Nice! I haven’t watch the Hunchback film in so long.

  • JT from Suckerpunch

    HORIZONS.

  • http://www.jenislosingit.com/ Jen

    I honestly don’t remember this, which is apparently a travesty because everyone keeps mentioning it! :[ I wish I remembered it!

  • http://djanga.ru/ Pol Dej

    dfsdfdfd