5) The Maelstrom – EPCOT, 1988 – 2014
The Maelstrom was a dark ride aboard a Norwegian Viking vessel inside the Norway pavilion at EPCOT on the World Showcase. Its maiden voyage took place in 1988—the same year the Norway pavilion opened at EPCOT. Guests took their final voyage on the Maelstrom attraction in 2014 when the attraction was closed to make way for a new Frozen-themed boat ride. The Maelstrom gave Guests a look at Norwegian mythology as the vessels took them on a journey through an enchanted swamp and down a 28-foot high waterfall. At the bottom of the waterfall, Guests found themselves on the North Sea, dangerously close to an oil rig. Guests then disembarked in a Norwegian harbor before entering a screening room where a short film was shown about Norway.
Today, Guests can experience Frozen Ever After, which is similar to the Maelstrom attraction in several ways. The Frozen-inspired journey takes place aboard a Norwegian vessel and makes use of the same track that was in place in the previous attraction. (Photo credit: Dad’s Guide to WDW)
6) Double-decker buses – EPCOT, 1980s
Who doesn’t love visiting the World Showcase at EPCOT? It’s a fascinating tour of 11 countries from all over the globe that celebrates their uniquely different cultures, customs and cuisine. But if you frequent the parks in the warmer months, you know that the World Showcase Promenade can be one of the hottest places in the park—largely because there is very little shade along the Promenade. The heat can make walking the 1.3-mile journey around World Showcase somewhat uncomfortable on warm days and downright miserable on hot days.
But Guests at EPCOT of yesteryear wouldn’t know of this dilemma. That’s because once upon a time, EPCOT offered the services of a fleet of old-fashioned double-decker buses on the World Showcase. The buses looked very much like the Omnibuses designed for Disneyland. Oddly enough, Disney World never considered the buses an attraction. In fact, inside the original EPCOT guide booklets that were made of cardboard, the buses were listed under the heading of “services,” on the same page with information about first aid and telephone locations.
Guests could board one of the two-tiered buses and ride it all around World Showcase Lagoon, or they could choose to disembark at one of several scheduled stops along the promenade. And although they were open-air buses, devoid of air conditioning, you can be sure that a slow ride with a gentle breeze in the Florida sun still beat walking along the promenade in the heat of the day.
7) Main Street Electrical Parade – Magic Kingdom, 1977 – 1991, 1999 – 2001, 2010 – 2016
This spectacular nighttime parade was a hit on Main Street U.S.A. for a combined total of over 22 years. The Main Street Electrical Parade took place each night at Magic Kingdom and featured over 80 live performers covered in thousands of electronically-controlled lights synchronized to music that still resonates in the minds of Disney World fans today. A true technological marvel, the parade made use of over 11,000 LED lights worn on the dancers alone. Oh, to hear the vocoder’s words once more—the words that quieted a crowd of thousands and drew their attention to the spectacle before them: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Disney World proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination in thousands of sparkling lights and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds—the Main Street Electrical Parade!” But alas, the parade made its final pilgrimage down Main Street on October 9, 2016.
The lights weren’t the only things that were in huge numbers. The Main Street Electrical Parade was one of the best places to see characters from all our favorite Disney films. Mickey and Minnie were there, as were Alice, the White Rabbit and the Caterpillar from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella in her pumpkin coach were a huge part of the parade, as were Tinkerbell, Peter Pan, Pinocchio and more. The amazing nighttime production also featured The Jolly Roger from Peter Pan, Cinderella’s Clock Tower and even the Seven Dwarfs’ Diamond Mine.
Just waiting along the parade route for the first float to file in front of you was thrilling, and what followed was an experience that no doubt remains in the memories of childhood for a lot of us. To say that we miss it is an understatement.