The future is looking bright with Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration starting next month! However, we do miss some of the prior attractions that are no longer with us in Florida’s theme parks. Even though we miss some events such as Star Wars Weekends and Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, the focus of today’s discussion are extinct rides. Let’s take a look at some the rides and attractions that still tug on our heartstrings!
This ride was unique and featured some of the most amazing animatronics to date, but it was more than that. If the ride felt like a sequel to Carousel of Progress, there’s a good reason. The same concept is featured in the ride, chronicling a families adventures through the years- this time through the 21st century! You could even hear “A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” playing in the background of the shows opening scene.
Horizons featured one of best things to ever occur on a theme park attraction: you got to choose your own ending. I still remember how excited I always was about that! At the end of the ride, a touch screen (pretty nifty in the 80s) allowed you to choose between an undersea, space or dessert future. A screen appeared which essentially turned your ride vehicle into a simulator and your path back to “future port” was completed in either a submarine, hovercraft or spaceship.
It smelled like oranges, but not just any oranges- orange lollipops! It’s no secret that Disney uses our sense of smell to evoke emotions or provide realism through its park and Horizons was no different. To this day I cannot smell an orange lollipop without thinking of Epcot and smiling.
Horizons also held a special place in Epcot history- it served as Future Worlds mission statement. Every pavilion in Future World featured a distinct theme- communication, agriculture and nutrition, imagination, motion, health, and energy. Horizons combined them all.
Journey into Imagination
The original version!
- One Little Spark the rides original song is a fan favorite and was written by the Sherman Brothers, the same computer responsible for the Mary Poppins soundtrack amongst other classic Disney tunes.
- This is the ride that introduced the world to Figment. During the rides first, redesign he was removed completely resulting in an outcry from Disney fans everywhere that grew up with the purple dragon! Disney quickly revamped the ride again and gave Figment a prominent role where he remains today.
- Like Figment, Dreamfinder was a lovable fan favorite. Unlike Figment he is no longer present in the parks. The 80s/early 90s meet and greet with Dreamfnder was so fun! The original rides main character, however, has not been completely forgotten not long ago Marvel released a graphics novel based on Dreamfinder! Never the less we miss his zany optimistic imagination at Epcot.
The Great Movie Ride
Oh man, this one still hurts. In 2016 if you were to ask me what my favorite Disney ride was I would have unquestionably said The Great Movie Ride! The romanticized “Hollywood that never was” theme, the music, the over the top but still fun live-action plot- it all added up to one incredible ride! The ride lets us relive some of our favorite classic films like Singing in the Rain and Casablanca! This ride was more than the sum of its parts though, it was about how it made us feel! The energy and nostalgia of this ride permeated it and was infectious!
- The ride was originally intended for Epcot. I know!!! We were surprised when we learned that too!!! When the ride was first pitched, it was pitched as a new pavilion at Epcot based on Show Business. Imagineers decided the idea would be a better fit as a stand-alone concept and so the concept of Disney/MGM Studios was born. A whole Park was built for this ride, so the fact that it’s gone stings a bit.
- The live action component of the ride made it truly a unique experience. Is it a dark ride? Is it a show? We like to settle on both. This kind of hybrid ride was popular for a time but lost favor and we really hope it makes a come back.
- The ride introduced at least two generations to classic films. I consider myself a movie buff and many of my favorites are movies I was inspired to see because of the Great Movie Ride. I was excited to find I was not alone in this!
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
This was one of the most innovative rides of its time. It was incredibly popular like so many of the others on this list, remained popular until the day it closed. The ride, based on the Disney live car in film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (which was, itself based on Jules Vern’s novel of the same name), took guests on an undersea adventure…you guessed it 20,000 leagues under the sea. Throughout the ride, guests could marvel at exotic coral, sea life, and even an animatronic diver or two. The ride culminated in an encounter with a great squid as it did in the movie/ Novel. Ultimately the ride proved too expensive to operate and after failing to secure a sponsor to offset costs, was closed.
- The ride featured some amazing technology that amazed fans for nearly 50 years. If you think about how much technology changed between 1959 and 1994, that is an incredible feat of Imagineering! As a 90’s tween, I was difficult to impress. Grunge was all the rage and we were all “like, whatever!” but this ride… I was impressed. It truly was a marvel to experience.
- The ride did what Disney does best: it gave us an opportunity experience something most of us will never get to experience in the real world and it did so in a way that our suspension of disbelief allowed us to imagine we were actually in a submarine exploring the depths of the ocean. While rides like Flight of Passage and Mission: Space have perfected this style of ride, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea did it first and did it extremely well!
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