10 Disney attractions that closed too soon
This past weekend, Disney World fans got some bad news: Hollywood Studios’ the Great Movie Ride and Epcot’s Ellen’s Energy Adventure are both closing in August to make way for new attractions.
While Mickey & Minnie’s Railway Runway, a tribute to early cartoons, is taking Great Movie Ride’s place, a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed ride will replace Ellen’s Energy Adventure. As Disney World says goodbye to them, we’re commemorating those attractions and others —looking at you, Maelstrom — from both Florida’s Disney World and California’s Disneyland that closed too soon.
Submarine Voyage, Disneyland (1959—1998)
Reconstruction has since themed this underwater explorer slow ride as a Finding Nemo experience, but Disneyland’s Submarine Voyage was a kitschy, lazy journey through the shallows beloved for its memorable oceanic creatures that guests spied through the portholes. Fun fact: Kids definitely believed mermaids existed after this ride. —Marc Snetiker
Horizons, Disney World’s Epcot (1983—1994, 1995—1999)
Pour out a glass of sweet-smelling orange juice in memory of Epcot’s choose-your-own-adventure dark ride, which gave guests a glimpse at various visions of the future before giving them a choice: head to space, hit the desert, or take to the sea. Horizons had such a cult following that it even reopened a year after its initial 1994 closing, but it was demolished three years later to make way for a speedier interstellar voyage, Mission: SPACE. At least some signature props found new homes in other Disney World attractions. —Kelly Connolly
Rocket Rods, Disneyland (1998—2001)
1998’s renovation of Anaheim’s Tomorrowland centered its action around this land-spanning roller coaster, which was a fairly simple futuristic experiment in acceleration. Unfortunately, the thrill of its high speed was counterbalanced by the frequent breakdowns that kept stalling the queue at a high-octane zero MPH. —M.S.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Musical Adventure, Disney World’s Hollywood Studios (1996—2002)
Based on Disney’s animated adaptation of the same name, this showwas many young park-goers’ bite-sized first introduction to live theater. Between Quasimodo’s soaring rendition of “Out There,” the confetti-filled “Topsy Turvy,” and Esmeralda’s gorgeous performance of “God Help the Outcasts,” Hunchback was a half-hour that colorfully brought a beloved movie to life. —Ariana Bacle
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom (1995—2003)
Disney World is one of the most kid-friendly vacation spots… except when it came to ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, an immersive experience that discouraged children under age 12 from entering — and for good reason. After being harnessed down, brave guests faced the titular, angry alien almost completely in the dark, with sound and other effects — vibrating seats, puffs of air acting as the alien’s breath — taking center stage. It’s since been replaced by the decidedly less scary Stitch’s Great Adventure, leaving Hollywood Studios’ Tower of Terror with the title of the Orlando park’s scariest attraction. —A.B.
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Cranium Command, Disney World’s Epcot (1989—2007)
Ever wonder what it’s like to be inside the brain of a 12-year-old boy? Well, Cranium Command showed you: The show followed a pre-teen through his day as a team representing different parts of his body — the right and left brain, heart, bladder, and so on — tried to prevent complete chaos from erupting. Thanks to performances from comedians like Jon Lovitz and Charles Grodin, Cranium Command was an amusing and refreshingly accessible lesson on the wonders of the human body (not to mention one of the park’s best places to take a relaxing, air-conditioned break). —A.B.
Captain EO, Disneyland (1986—1997, 2010—2014) and Disney World’s Epcot (1986—1994, 2010—2015)
It’s hard to say exactly how many children consider their first 3-D movie to be this 17-minute 1986 sci-fi film, which starred Michael Jackson as a space captain who uses the power of music to foist alien leader Anjelica Huston. Hollywood! —M.S.
Maelstrom, Disney World’s Epcot (1988—2014)
Intrepid Epcot travelers took their last trip “back, back, over the falls” when this Scandinavian log-flume adventure — one of only a few rides around the World Showcase — closed in 2014, clearing the way for an attraction inspired by Disney’s animated mega-hit Frozen. The updated ride, which opened in 2016, is still the best place in the park to spot trolls, but they’ve lost their predecessors’ warty charm. —K.C.
The Great Movie Ride, Disney World’s Hollywood Studios (1989—2017)
Once upon a time, Hollywood Studios was called MGM Studios, and the Great Movie Ride, which takes film buffs (or future film buffs) through recreated sets of classics like Raiders of the Lost Arkand The Wizard of Oz, was its centerpiece. Housed inside a replica of Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre, the ride opened with the park in 1989 and has been introducing kids to movie magic ever since. —A.B.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Disney World’s Epcot (1996—2017)
In 1996, Epcot’s Universe of Energy — a crawling trip through a land of audio-animatronic dinosaurs — got a high-wattage update: a series of filmed segments about Ellen DeGeneres and her helpful neighbor Bill Nye, who guides her on a trip back in time so she can ace a game of Jeopardy! The one source of power that will never run out (what is brain power, Alex?) is about to glow a little dimmer. —K.C.