Walt Disney World is known for iconic rides and new innovations, the popular ones which stand the test of time and people come back to year after year. But what about the not-so-popular ones, what happens to them? If the people don’t come, eventually the ride will be shut down another one will take its place. Or a ride or show that was new and relevant years ago slowly starts to become outdated. Of course, a whole book could be filled with closed down attractions (for example, an entire Disney waterpark, River Country, is permanently closed on site), but I’ve chosen to focus on one from each major amusement park.
“Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” opened on the Magic Kingdom’s opening day in 1971. Guests would board an old fashioned car on a track and then zip through several scenes, with the doors opening at the last second before the car crashed into them. It was meant to simulate Mr. Toad’s maniac driving through the town. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was unique in the fact that there were a large number of fans disappointed that the attraction was closed down in 1998. It was replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which includes a picture of Mr. Toad handing the deed of the place over to Owl.
“Cranium Command” was a humorous show within the Wonders of Life Pavilion, opening in 1989. In it, in audio –animatronic young soldier named Buzzy is sent on a difficult mission to pilot a twelve year old boy. He has to take all of the elements of the body, the left brain, the right brain, the stomach, the adrenal gland, the bladder, and the heart’s left and right ventricles, and make them work together. The story follows a typical day in the life of the boy. Unfortunately, the co-sponsor of the Wonders of Life Pavilion ended its funding in 2001, and after opening seasonally for several years, the pavilion, along with “Cranium Command,” closed permanently in 2007. It has since been used as a meeting space for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
“Studio Backlot Tour,” when it opened in 1989 in Disney MGM Studios (now Disney Hollywood Studios) in the Streets of America area, took hours to complete and ran through a façade of New York City, a residential street which included the Golden Girls House, a look inside (at the time) working soundstages, and a visit to Catastrophe Canyon, which used special effects to create the impression of a flood on the trams in a canyon. The most recent version, after a 2003 refurbishment, only included a small area with car props, Catastrophe Canyon, and a look inside the costume department for the park. Last September 2014, the ride closed for good.
“Pocahontas and her Forest Friends” was a stage show that premiered in the Animal Kingdom’s Camp Minnie-Mickey Area, which premiered in 1998. In the show, Pocahontas and Grandmother Willow, along with a new tree character, Sprig, teach the audience about living with nature in peace and harmony. The show suffered from comparisons from the much more well produced “Festival of the Lion King,” which was also in Camp Minnie Mickey. The show lasted until 2008.
All of these attractions you can no longer see at Disney World, but if you search you can find photos and videos of each attraction online. But it’s still not the same as attending it in person. Here’s to the closed but not forgotten attractions in Walt Disney World.
Check back tomorrow right here for an announcement about my book, Romance is for Other People!