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Remember These? Beloved Disney Attractions That Are Long Gone

Long Gone Disney attractions
All Images Credit Disney

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

Walt Disney is one of the most creative minds in the theme park and film industry. Disney changed the film industry with the 1937 release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — the first full-length animated feature film. Then, in 1955, he changed the amusement park industry with the opening of Disneyland. Disneyland was meant to be a place that adults and children could enjoy together. It is a place where imagination has no age and guests can enjoy “a world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.”

Walt Disney Disneyland Railroad

Credit: Disney

Walt believed in always moving forward, always dreaming, and always creating. That has led Disney Imagineers to create some of the most memorable and iconic rides and attractions in history. Rides like “it’s a small world”, the Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean remain incredibly popular, even decades after their opening.

The problem with always thinking of ways to make the parks more incredible means that some attractions will come and go — even ones that people love. But Disney Imagineers fully believe that they can win the hearts and minds of Disney fans by replacing attractions with ones that guests will love even more.

Disney Removes Gender Specific Language From Haunted Mansion

Credit: Disney

Here are some beloved Disney attractions that have gone extinct.

Splash Mountain

Of course, we had to start this article with one of Disney’s most iconic attractions and its controversial reimagining.

Splash Mountain opened in 1989 at Disneyland Park and in 1992 in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. It quickly became one of the most popular and beloved attractions, becoming a symbol of both theme parks.

Splash Mountain Magic Kingdom Disney World woke

Credit: Disney

Splash Mountain took guests on a journey with Br’er Rabbit as he searched for adventure. Unfortunately, Br’er Rabbit’s enemies — Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear, have other plans. They capture Br’er Rabbit, but the tricky rabbit is able to outsmart them and ends up in the Briar Patch, where he finds his laughing place.

In 2020, while both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney announced that both locations would be undergoing extensive rethemes. It was acknowledged that the original attraction had racist undertones, due to it being based on the controversial film, The Song of the South (1946).

Tiana's Bayou Adventure

Credit: Disney

Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Disney’s Splash Mountain Replacement: Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

Splash Mountain closed at the Magic Kingdom in January 2023 and in Disneyland Park in May 2023. When the rides reopen, it will be Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, based on the hit 2009 film, The Princess and the Frog. Tiana’s Bayou is slated to open this summer at Walt Disney World Resort and in late 2024 at Disneyland.

MGM Studio Backlot Tour

When Disney’s MGM Studios opened in 1989, the park was Disney’s homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood. As part of that, guests could enjoy the Studio Backlot Tour and see some props used in their favorite movies, including the bone cage used in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006).

Bone Cages MGM Studio Backlot Tour

Credit: Lyman Green, Flickr

Guests would also get a backstage look at how costumes were made and stored. Then, there was the amazing reenactment of a dramatic movie scene. It was complete with a torpedo strike, gunfire, explosions, and thousands of gallons of water crashing onto a poor cast member.

And who could forget Catastrophe Canyon? Sitting on a tram, watching a tanker full of gasoline explode, then thinking a cascade of water was about to fall on you? Classic Disney.

Sadly, the Studio Backlot Tour closed in 2014 and was replaced with the Lights, Motor, Action! Stunt Show and Toy Story Land. Toy Story Land is still wildly popular, but the stunt show closed in 2020.

Disneyland Skyway

For almost forty years, guests visiting Disneyland could board the Skyway — a gondola attraction that would take guests back and forth between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The Skyway first opened in 1956, less than one year after Disneyland first opened. The attraction had to close in 1959 when Disney Imagineers brought Matterhorn Mountain to The Happiest Place on Earth.

Disneyland Skyway

Credit: Disney

Related: Disney’s Beloved Matterhorn Ride Has an Age Limit

For years, the Skyway actually went THROUGH Matterhorn Mountain.

Sadly, in 1994, Disneyland officials announced the permanent closure of the Skyway. According to Disney, the ride was suffering from “metal fatigue” and needed to close in order to keep guests safe. It was reported that stress cracks had formed on the supports within the Matterhorn, and the only way to fix them would be to take the Matterhorn apart.

Disneyland Skyway

Credit: Disney

For years, the rumor was that Disney closed the Skyway because a man had fallen out of one of the gondolas and had fallen more than 20 feet. Reports indicate that Randle Charles jumped out of a gondola and landed in a tree near the Alice in Wonderland attraction. At first, Charles tried to say that he had fallen out of the gondola. He even filed a lawsuit against Disney for $25,000.

However, just before the lawsuit was set to go to court, Charles admitted that he “came out” of the gondola and called the lawsuit “ill-advised”. A judge dismissed the lawsuit upon Charles’s admission.

Disneyland Skyway

Credit: Disney Examiner

Body Wars – EPCOT

Many millennials probably remember growing up watching the animated show, The Magic School Bus. The concept of the show was simple, Ms. Frizzle — an eccentric science teacher — takes her students on exciting learning adventures with the help of her magic school bus. Many of those adventures involve the bus shrinking to a microscopic size, so students can see how things like the human body work.

But before there was a shrinking magic school bus, there was Body Wars at EPCOT.

Body Wars

Credit: Disney

Body Wars opened in EPCOT in 1988, and was very similar to Star Tours at Disneyland, which opened one year earlier. The attraction was a motion simulator ride inside the Wonders of Life pavilion in Future World East.

Body Wars saw guests shrunk down to the size of a blood cell and sent into a human body to retrieve a doctor who needed help. The doctor had volunteered to be shrunken down and venture into someone’s body and keep an eye on a splinter. Guests board the Bravo 229 ship and meet Dr. Lair, who is suddenly sucked into a capillary.

Body Wars

Credit: Disney

Related: EPCOT’s PLAY! Pavilion Is Done, Disney “Re-Evaluating” Original Concept

Guests chase after Dr. Lair, traveling into a vein and up into the person’s heart. When they finally rescue Dr. Lair, they must travel to the brain and use a neuron to help recharge the ship and get out. It was a truly wild ride.

Body Wars sadly closed in 2007 to make way for the Play! Pavilion. The Play! Pavilion was originally scheduled to open in 2021, but has been indefinitely delayed. We do not know when the Play! Pavilion will open.

Play Pavilion EPCOT

Credit: Disney

The Maelstrom – EPCOT

To be honest, this one still hurts.

One of the really cool things about EPCOT is its World Showcase. Guests can take a trip around the world without ever leaving the theme park! The World Showcase consists of eleven pavilions representing different countries — Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, the United States, Italy, Germany, China, Norway and Mexico.

worldshowcase epcot

Credit: Disney

Related: The BEST Choices For Drinking Around the World at EPCOT!

Some of these pavilions even have rides that guests can enjoy. At the Norway pavilion, that ride used to be the Maelstrom.

The Maelstrom had guests board a boat, where they were taken up a hill and shown some of the true beauty that exists in the country. However, Norway is also full of folklore, including many stories of trolls. But the trolls are real! And one three-headed troll turns your boat around, sending you tumbling backward!

The Maelstrom Norway EPCOT

Credit: Disney

Related: Why You’ll Love Frozen Ever After at EPCOT

In 2014, Disney announced that the Maelstrom would be closing and would be replaced by a new ride, themed around the 2013 blockbuster hit, Frozen. Frozen Ever After opened in 2016 and is still one of the most popular rides in EPCOT.

The PeopleMover – Disneyland

There are some Disney attractions that have a cult-like following. And at Walt Disney World Resort, one of those attractions is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. The PeopleMover has been open at the Magic Kingdom since 1975 and is a must-ride for thousands of guests.

PeopleMover

Credit: Disney

But did you know that Walt Disney World’s PeopleMover was not the first PeopleMover created by Disney?

The original PeopleMover — also called the WEDWay PeopleMover — opened in Tomorrowland at the Disneyland Resort in 1967. Much like the one at the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland’s PeopleMover took guests on a “grand circle tour” of Tomorrowland, complete with an audio guide. The WEDWay PeopleMover took guests through several Tomorrowland buildings, over the Autopia attraction, and over the Submarine Lagoon.

Disneyland PeopleMover

Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Shares History of The PeopleMover

The PeopleMover closed in 1995 and was replaced with the utter failure that was Rocket Rods. Rocket Rods opened in 1998, but was plagued with problems. It was only open for three years. Guests were incredibly upset that Disney would close such a beloved ride only to replace it with a ride that completely failed.

Rocket Rods Disneyland

Credit: Disney

Some of the PeopleMover tracks still stand in Tomorrowland, and fans are still waiting for Disney to announce the return of the PeopleMover to The Happiest Place on Earth.

The Great Movie Ride – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Much like Splash Mountain, the closing of The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was a very controversial one.

The Great Movie Ride opened in Hollywood Studios — then called MGM Studios — on May 1, 1989, the same day the theme park opened to the public. The new attraction took guests on a trip through some of Hollywood’s most iconic films, including The Wizard of Oz (1939), Casablanca (1942), and Mary Poppins (1964). Disney Imagineer’s incredible animatronic work was on full display throughout the attraction.

The Great Movie Ride

Credit: Disney

Related: 5 Reasons We Love The Great Movie Ride

What made things even better was that guests became a part of the ride!

There were actually two different scenarios that guests could encounter. One group of guests would have their ride vehicle highjacked by a gangster during the scene dedicated to the 1931 movie, Public Enemy. In the second scenario, guests would have their ride vehicle taken over by a Western bandit who is robbing a bank.

The Great Movie Ride

Credit: Disney Dining

Both the gangster and the bank robber take over the tour, but greed gets the better of both of them. During the Indiana Jones scene, they both try to steal a gorgeous gem, but learn the hard way that they shouldn’t have touched it. Thankfully, the original tour guide was okay and finished up the tour!

The Great Movie Ride closed in 2017 to make way for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which opened in March 2020, just days before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the parks to close. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway also made its way to the West Coast and opened in ToonTown at Disneyland Park in January 2023.

mickey and minnie's runaway railway

Credit: Disney

Related: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Includes Sweet Tribute to Walt Disney’s Love of Trains

Honey, I Shrunk the Audience! – EPCOT

Captain EO, starring Michael Jackson, wasn’t the only popular 3D show that guests could enjoy at EPCOT. After Captain EO, there was Honey, I Shrunk the Audience!, which opened in 1994.

Honey, I Shrunk the Audience! starred Eric Idle as Dr. Nigel Channing, who is hosting the Inventor of the Year Award. This year, the award is going to Professor Wayne Szalinski and his work on the Shrink Ray. Unfortunately, things never go the way they are supposed to, and Professor Szalinski accidentally shrinks the audience.

Honey I Shrunk the Audience

Credit: Disney

Between duplicated mice, a snake named Gigabyte, and being picked up by a toddler, guests are taken on quite the adventure. Thankfully, Professor Szalinski manages to get the audience back to normal size, before he receives his Inventor of the Year award.

Honey, I Shrunk the Audience! replaced Captain EO in 1994, but in 2010, the 3D show closed and was replaced with none other than a Captain EO Tribute show. The show closed in 2015 and guests can now head into the Imagination Pavilion theater and watch a series of Pixar short films.

Captain EO

Credit: D23

Related: Disney’s Newest Ride-Based Movie Could Be a Blast From the Past

Food Rocks – EPCOT

One of the things that made EPCOT different from the other Disney World theme parks is that is really focused on learning in a fun way. You can learn about countries around the world at the World Showcase. You could learn about the human body on Body Wars, discover how to make the planet a more stable place on Living With the Land, and learn about the water cycle on Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana.

For 10 years, guests could head to the Land Pavilion — where Soarin’ Around the World and Living With the Land are located — and learn about good nutrition with Food Rocks.

Food Rocks EPCOT

Credit: D23

Food Rocks was hosted by FĹ«d Wrapper, but he was constantly being interrupted by Excess — a junk food band who hates anything to do with good nutrition. Thankfully, Excess lost its power when FĹ«d Wrapper declared that no food is off-limits, it is just important to eat everything in moderation.

In true Disney fashion, Food Rocks featured a number of audio-animatronics which were food items with human features. They sang fun songs based on classic hits. For example, The Peach Boys sang “Good Nutrition”, based on the hit Beach Boys song, “Good Vibrations”.

Food Rocks EPCOT

Credit: Disney

Food Rocks was open from 1994 through 2004. It then closed to make way for the popular attraction, Soarin’ Over California, which is now Soarin’ Around the World.

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter – Magic Kingdom

Okay, we aren’t going to say that we miss this ride, but it has become a part of Disney legend. Disney typically creates attractions that make you smile, or make your heart race. ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, however, was really just good at giving you nightmares and making you cry. Seriously, I cried.

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter opened in 1995 in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, across from what is now the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. The ride took place in a round theater, with guests expecting one person in the room to be teleported out of the room to meet with Mr. Clench, the head of XS-Tech.

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter

Credit: Disney

However, Clench decides to be the one to teleport instead, so he can meet the entire group. Sadly, things do not go as planned, and the teleportation signal is diverted to another planet, bringing a terrifying creature into the room. The massive creature is hungry and the guests look like the perfect snack. The alien escapes and the power goes out.

Disney then used scary effects to make guests think that the creature was right behind them, ready to strike. It was truly the stuff of nightmares, and many younger (and some older) guests were left shaken.

alien encounter disney

Credit: Disney

Related: Saying Goodbye to Rivers of Light, Stitch’s Great Escape, & Primeval Whirl at Walt Disney World

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter was only open for eight years, closing in 2003 to make way for Stitch’s Great Escape!. Stitch’s Great Escape! is also considered kind of a flop and closed in 2018. As of today, the building sits empty and Disney has not said what they plan to do with the space.

Honorable Mention

Ellen’s Energy Adventure

Days at Walt Disney World can be very long and very tiring. It is important to make sure you take a break and relax. And, for a long time, one of the best places to relax was at EPCOT. Guests could head to the Universe of Energy Pavilion, where they could ride Ellen’s Energy Adventure, starring Ellen DeGeneres. The ride lasted a whopping 45 minutes and took place in several air-conditioned theaters, so a great place to relax and cool down.

Ellen's Energy Adventure

Credit: Ray, Flickr

The attraction focuses on Ellen, who dreams that she is in an energy-themed episode of Jeopardy with her neighbor, Bill Nye the Science Guy. What made it really cool was that Disney managed to get the late, great Alex Trebek and longtime Jeopardy announcer, Johnny Gilbert, to participate!

Together, Ellen and Bill go on a journey through time, where Bill teaches Ellen about the Big Bang, the time of the dinosaurs, and how fossil fuels are created. But guests — and Ellen — do not stay in the past the entire time. They are brought back to the present, where guests learn about the energy we use today and what kinds of energy we can use in the future.

Ellen's Energy Adventure

Credit: Disney

Related: Universal’s Forbidden Journey or Disney’s Cosmic Rewind: Which Gives Guests More Motion Sickness?

This ride is classic Disney, and who could ever dislike a ride featuring Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and Alex Trebek?! But I have to admit, I’m not too sad Ellen’s Energy Adventure closed, considering it was replaced with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The new roller coaster could easily be considered one of the best Disney rides.

It’s Tough to Be a Bug

I know what you’re thinking, “What are you talking about? It’s Tough to Be a Bug is still open at Animal Kingdom!” And you would be correct. However, the adorable 3D show closed at Disney California Adventure Park in 2018 to make way for Avengers Campus, which opened in 2021.

And It’s Tough to Be a Bug will soon be a thing of the past at Walt Disney World as well. In September 2023, Disney announced that the attraction will be closing sometime in 2024. It will be replaced by a brand-new attraction centered around the hit 2016 animated film, Zootopia.

animal kingdom's tree of life walt disney world disney park disconvery island it's tough to be a bug replaced with zootopia show disney imagineers tree of life theater

Credit: Michael Gray/Flickr

Fans were devastated to learn that the 3D show would be ending, and some even created a petition to save it. Unfortunately, that did not work, and the ride is still scheduled to close this year. We do not yet have a closing date, and we do not have more details about the new Zootopia attraction, or when it will open.

As you can see, there are A LOT of Disney attractions that have come and gone over the years, this is just a small sampling of some of our favorites. But, as Walt said, we always need to keep moving forward, and that is what Disney Imagineers and dreamers will continue to do.

What extinct Disney attraction do you miss the most? Let us know in the comments!

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

3 comments

  1. Splash Mountain, MGM Backlot Show, Skyway

  2. Michelle McCormick

    Backlot tour, Great Movie ride, energy ride.
    Seems like all the rides that taught you something about history is gone and replaced with a roller-coaster that teaches nothing. That is so sad.

  3. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Splash Mountain, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

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