The attractions at Walt Disney World transform over time as culture shifts, new characters and movies achieve prominence, and fresh ideas sprout up from the minds of Imagineers. Sometimes, Disney themes parks have to make room for these new creations by sacrificing the old. Like the dinosaurs that scurried and pounded across the landscape millions of years ago, these sacrificed attractions have become extinct.
Many of us desire to experience the nostalgia of our childhood at Walt Disney World, because we miss those rides that have perished. Unfortunately, we can’t build a time machine and enjoy them once more. Nevertheless, from the ashes of one ride’s death springs the life of a new one. Rafiki would remind us, “It’s the Circle of Life.”
10. Plaza Swan Boats (1983)
Imagine there was a time when you could take a boat ride around the Central Plaza and the Swiss Family Treehouse at Magic Kingdom. Well, the Plaza Swan Boats once filled that role. The attraction opened in 1972 and remained in operation until its demise in 1983 due to high operational costs and problems with its guidance system. Though riding on a boat guided by a swan figurehead is really cool, crashing into Cinderella Castle isn’t.
9. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage (1994)
Based upon Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), this attraction featured an underwater excursion with Captain Nemo’s crew aboard replicas of the Nautilus. It opened at Magic Kingdom in 1971, just two weeks after the park’s grand opening. When the budget tightened during the 1990s, the ride closed permanently. Today, only Tokyo DisneySea offers a submarine ride with a similar theme. Disney Imagineers at Magic Kingdom eventually drained the lagoon where this ride operated, filled it in, and constructed the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
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8. World of Motion (1996)
This slow-moving, educational ride featured the history of transportation as told by Disney animatronics. The “Omnimover” vehicles transported guests through scenes ranging from the caveman’s use of foot travel to hi-tech speed tunnels leading to a futuristic city. It opened as one of the original rides at Epcot in 1982. Unfortunately for this ride, it closed when its sponsor, General Motors, suffered from years of declining sales. Fortunately for us, GM and Walt Disney World replaced the attraction with Test Track.
7. Mr. Toad’s Wilde Ride (1998)
The name may fool you, because Mr. Toad’s Wilde Ride is rather calm, though a little dark. It was an original ride at Magic Kingdom in 1971 and enjoyed success throughout the years. In fact, many park guests protested when it closed in 1998. Disney Imagineers replaced it with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, but to pay tribute to Mr. Toad, they painted a picture of him in the current ride and placed a statute of him in the pet cemetery near The Haunted Mansion. For “Toadheads” to experience the ride today, they’ll have to visit Disneyland.
6. Horizons (1999)
The designers of Horizons made exploring the future the central theme of this ride. Guests used to pile into an “Omnimover” vehicle (Disney must have tons of these) and watch scenes from the past and present that imagined the future. Futurism may have attracted the millions of imaginative park guests who visited Epcot annually, but the future moved much faster than the ride did, so Disney demolished it and erected MISSON: Space in its place.
5. Skyway (1999)
Remember those gondolas that followed aerial ropeways from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland and back? They aren’t there any longer, mostly due to low traffic. Families with small children should be glad their gone, because Disney demolished the Fantasyland station to make way for a stroller parking lot.
4. Body Wars (2007)
Located at Epcot in what was once known as the Wonders of Life Pavilion, Body Wars miniaturized park guests and inserted them into the blood stream of a living person. Well, not really. It was a simulation, similar to Star Tours, but blasting white blood cells instead of asteroids. The ride became extinct with the closing of the pavilion, which happened a few years after MetLife withdrew sponsorship. Disney hardly allows property to go unused, so the building was repurposed as the Festival Center to support both the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
3. Snow White’s Scary Adventures (2012)
In homage to the first feature length, animated movie produced by Walt Disney, this ride transported park guests into a world filled with woodland creatures, a princess, a band of dwarfs, and a wicked queen transformed into a hideous witch. The attraction still survives at Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris, but its incarnation at Magic Kingdom has been extinct since May of 2012. It was retired to make way for Princess Fairytale Hall and the new expansion of Fantasyland. If you want to see some of the animals and dwarfs from this ride, you can view them while riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
2. Maelstrom (2014)
Fans of Maelstrom from the Norway Pavilion at Epcot will no doubt miss this unique ride aboard a replica dragonship that honored Viking legend, Norse magic, and the power of trolls. Unfortunately for this ride, the popularity of Frozen and its fictional kingdom, Arendelle, had reached a fevered pitch, meaning a ride had to be created. Maelstrom closed in October of 2014 to make way for reconstruction that brings Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and an ice-laden wonderland to the masses. You can see the connection between Norway and the popular film at the stave church at the entrance to the pavilion. In the end, die-hard fans of the replica church that featured Erik the Red and Maelstrom will just have to “Let it go…”
1. The Great Movie Ride (2017)
Still making our hearts sink, The Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios made its last trip through the movies August 13, 2017. This attraction was actually the last operating attraction from Hollywood Studios’ opening day in 1989. With numerous audio-animatronics, theatrical sets, a few live actors, and much more – this attraction took guests through iconic scenes from twelve classic films throughout motion picture history. While we miss The Great Movie Ride, we are loving the new attraction in its’ place, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.