We know that Walt Disney’s plan was to always be building, planning, and renovating attractions and experiences. His belief that the Parks will never be complete ensures Guests continually have new things to experience when they come to any Disney Park. Obviously, as in any theme park, new attractions mean some older attractions must be replaced. Still, there are some Walt Disney World experiences that have gone the way of the dodo that we still miss.
Maelstrom, Norway Pavilion
EPCOT World Showcase
We know, we know, this addition may not be a popular one. True, the Frozen Ever After attraction that now occupies the space of the classic Maelstrom is super popular. Still, Maelstrom will always remain in our hearts and memories as a fast-paced, creepy, and fun ride.
This reverse flume ride transported Guests through the wilds of Norway in the most suited fashion for the country – on the water via Viking Ship. Opening on July 5, 1988, this attraction was a touchpoint of the Norway pavilion, and of EPCOT, until it closed in 2014. From its first sail to its last, Maelstrom was a hit with Guests, nearly always boasting a long wait time.
From the creepy trolls, puffins, and polar bears to historical scenes of Viking village life, we loved every minute of this attraction. The end of the ride dropped Guests into a Norwegian village, where they entered a theater to watch a short film and learn even more about Norway and its culture. Maelstrom certainly ranks as an attraction we miss. The Norway pavilion is well-suited to a Frozen ride and Guests are delighted with Frozen Ever After. Still, we wish today’s EPCOT had the cultural components and educational touchpoints that were more common in the early days of the Park.
Pocahontas and her Forest Friends
It goes without saying that we 90s girls were diehard Pocahontas fans. So of course, when Animal Kingdom announced the Pocahontas and her Forest Friends show, we were ready to paint with all the colors of the wind. Located in Camp Minnie Mickey of Animal Kingdom, this live stage show taught children about living in harmony with nature and protecting wildlife.
Pocahontas teamed up with wise Grandmother Willow and a sapling named Sprig to show off animals we recognized from the movie Pocahontas. Pocahontas and her Forest Friends ran from the opening of Animal Kingdom in 1998 to 2008, at which time we said “Ana” (goodbye) to this awesome animal show.
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
Hitting the road to Walt Disney World during the holidays to see The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights was a Christmas tradition in so many Disney-loving families. Opening Christmas 1995 and running through Christmas 2016, this holiday light display was truly jaw-dropping.
Donated by the Osborne Family of Little Rock, Arkansas, this holiday Park experience decked the Streets of America section of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. A massive rotating light Christmas tree, nativity scene, and streets of the brightest Christmas lights we’d ever seen were just a small part of the allure of this long-gone Christmas tradition at Walt Disney World.
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way – the early 2000s and 1990s Disney Parks had some of the best nighttime entertainment for Guests to enjoy. From parades and fireworks to live-action spectacular performances, Disney Parks had Guests on the edge of their seats every night.
Fantasmic was the perfect mix of pyrotechnics, fireworks, lasers, and waterworks merging with storylines we love and our favorite Disney characters. When I say every moment of Fantasmic! seemed better than the last, that is not an understatement. Seeing scenes from our favorite films converge in this nighttime spectacular was the highlight of a Hollywood Studios Park Day for many Guests.
Disney villains battling Sorcerer Mickey?! Come on, it’s a classic! You have to admit, Jafar in snake form when he took on Mickey in Fantasmic! was extra creepy. Waving to our favorite Disney Princes and Princesses as they floated by after good triumphed over evil was everything. Lucky for us, there are rumors about Fantasmic returning to the Park in the coming year. We really hope this is true because Fantasmic is a Disney Park experience we really miss.
Dream Flight, Tomorrowland
Talk about a blast from the past! Delta Dreamflight was a staple of Tomorrowland in the 1990s that was one of my favorites. This often-forgotten attraction was loved by some Guests but had a short stint in the Parks, opening June 23, 1989, and closing less than a decade later on January 5, 1998. Exploring the history and magnificence of flight, Delta Dreamflight took Guests on a trip into air travel in the past from the days of the Wright Brothers forward. This slow-moving attraction showcased foreign lands and even the future of air travel.
To be fair, this attraction doesn’t rank as a thrill ride or Disney movie-themed attraction, which is likely why it was removed from the Magic Kingdom after such a short time. However, there are still those of us that look back on Dreamflight as a loved ride we enjoyed during childhood. This makes Dreamflight a must-have entry on this list.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Fantasyland
Based on the 1949 film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, this ride transported Guests away from Magic Kingdom Park and through Toad’s antics, as we navigate in a motor car through the nearby village, a gypsy camp, Toad Hall, and a final creepy hell-like judgment scene as the ride ends.
An opening day attraction that first took Guests away to the land of the Wind in the Willows in 1971, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride closed in September 1998 when the space was converted to another storybook attraction. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The next time you ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, take a look in Owl’s house on the left side of your honeypot to see a photo of Owl shaking hands with Mr. Toad. Sure, we love Pooh and Tigger too, but it’s hard to beat the iconic Mr. Toad.
The Great Movie Ride
Lights, camera, action! Hollywood Studios and The Great Movie Ride is a more recently closed attraction at Walt Disney World. Mention the demise of The Great Movie Ride and the addition of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and you risk a polarizing chat with Park goers and Disney nerds alike. Yep, this is a hotly debated topic among Guests.
The Great Movie Ride was an opening day attraction for the Park (then called MGM Studios). The ride first pulled Guests into their favorite movies on May 1, 1989. It enjoyed a long-standing home at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, finally closing August 13, 2017, when Grauman’s Chinese theater was reimagined as the ride home of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
While this updated attraction is an incredibly immersive experience that is loved by Guests, The Great Movie Ride was a highlight of the day at Hollywood Studios and a perfect attraction fit for this theme park. Riders literally entered the temple of doom with Indiana Jones, rode through the Emerald City behind Dorothy and her friends, and felt like a character in the movies.
Park Guests admired the rooftops of London alongside Mary Poppins and sang in the rain with Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Gene Kelly thanks to the magic of this ride. The Great Movie Ride was also a relaxing and fun way to break up a day in the Park, as it was one of the longest attractions at Walt Disney World. From the word action to the final bow, the attraction lasted around 20 minutes. There were so many reasons we loved this classic ride and man, were we sad to see it go.
Is your favorite long-lost experience or attraction on this list?