Growing up by Walt Disney World had a lot of perks, including seeing the evolution of the Parks’ landscapes, the introduction of new rides, and of course the closing down of older attractions. In episode 006: THNKS FR TH MMRS, Retro Disney Attractions we look back at 11 of our most noteworthy Walt Disney World attractions that are now extinct!
Just so we weren’t basing everything on memory, we did research on the rides and are so thankful there are YouTube videos documenting these memorable attractions of the past. We have included them here for you to take a magical trip back in time with us. You can hear our thoughts on these retro attractions and our reactions of seeing many for the first time ever. This list is in no particular order, though we did save the best for last. While we understand why some of these were cut to make way for newer and more modern things, we will never forgive whoever made the deciding vote to end the Hunchback of Notre Dame theatre show in Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM). Watch that masterpiece below and you will see what we mean and you’ll wish you could have been there to cry SANCTUARY for it.
#1 Food Rocks
1994 – 2004 Formerly located in EPCOT, and replaced with Soarin’, Food Rocks was a musical theatre show meant to educate the young audience on the importance of eating right and in moderation. The show was filled with classic rock and pop hit songs sung by characters with pun heavy names (ie. The Peach Boys).
#2 Captain EO
1994 – 1997 & 2010 – 2015 Formerly located in EPCOT, replaced by Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and later returned to the same location for 5 more years before closing down permanently. A 17 minute 4D musical space odyssey staring Michael Jackson and Angelica Houston which was produced by George Lucas, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and cost 20 million dollars to make. That sentence alone is something to marvel at.
#3 Ellen’s Energy Adventure
1995 – 2016 Formerly in EPCOT, will be replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy. A journey into Ellen Degeneres’ dream in which she is a contestant on Jeopardy, but is losing to her arch enemy Stupid Judy. Frustrated, she goes deeper into her dream with Bill Nye the Science Guy to learn the correct answers on the topic of Energy.
#4 Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
1995 – 2016 Formerly in Hollywood Studios, replaced by Galaxy’s Edge. A gigantic Christmas light display covering entire buildings in Streets of America that were synced to classic Christmas songs such as Here Comes Santa Claus and Nightmare Before Christmas’ ‘What’s This?!”, creating a 360 light show experience.
#5 Body Wars
1989 – 2007 Formerly in EPCOT’s World of Life Pavilion, now the EPCOT Festival Center. A ride that took you down to the microscopic level inside the body, where you are tasked to remove a splinter, but things go horribly wrong when you are sucked through the veins into vital organs. The ride mechanism was identical to Star Tours and served as an educational journey of the human body’s defenses.
#6 Studios Backlot Tour
1989 – 2014 Formerly in Hollywood Studio’s, replaced by Toy Story Land (Andy’s Backyard). The Backlot Tour served as a peek behind the curtain of what it took to make practical special effects for major blockbuster motion pictures. You begin with a show taking place on a set recreating action packed scenes from Pearl Harbor, then hope on a tram that takes you through several working costume and scene warehouses, vehicle graveyards and and behind the set of Lights! Motor! Action! The tour’s finale is through “Catastrophe Canyon” which puts you right in the middle of a…you guessed it…CATASTROPHE!
#7 Lights, Motor, Action!
2005 – 2016 Formerly in Hollywood Studios, replaced by Galaxy’s Edge. A large set stage show with several stunt drivers through a French market scene. The drivers drove in perfect synchrony and preformed tricks throughout the set. It gave you a first hand look at how action scenes were shot and edited from footage shot. It was explosive, it had fire, it had stunts, smelled of burning rubber, tires screeched for 30 minutes straight…it was Hollywood, baby!
#8 ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
1995 – 2003 Formerly in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland, replaced by the now closed Stitch’s Great Escape. An actual scary ride geared towards teens. An Alien would be transported to a glass container in front of you from a civilized alien convention. However, mid transmission, there was interference and a violent, rogue alien is transported instead. The lights go out, and true terror issues with environmental sensory in the dark. The alien is breathing on your neck, shaking your seat restraints, and you feel splashes of blood from a fallen maintenance worker hit you. This might be the most ill-fitting ride in Walt Disney World’s history.
#9 Great Movie Ride
1989 – 2017 Formerly in Hollywood Studio’s Chinese Theatre, replaced by Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. One of the best nostalgic rides to ever exist. A slow moving trackless ride with a cast member for a host takes you through replicated movie sets filled with iconic music. There were two versions possible, both involve your cart being highjacked by either a 1930’s Chicago gangster or a lawless cowboy. This cheesy bit paired with the animatronic Hollywood star and starlets made it a true treat for any movie lover.
#10 Tarzan Rocks!
1999 – 2006 Formerly in Animal Kingdom, replaced with the Finding Nemo Stage Show. Get ready for a rough one. This show is lacking from start to finish, with 3 off-key singers competing for that lead vocalist spot right in front of you, unexpected key changes from the band, and really awkward choreography…the only saving talent is the entertainer who plays Jane, she seems like she showed up for the wrong gig and props to her for being the only one who might have shown up for rehearsal. The Tarzan soundtrack is one of the best to ever exist, I’ll let this meme do the talking for it:
But they really did it a huge disservice by reimagining it into a rock ensemble with a LOT of creative liberties. This is one that we collectively can understand why it is now extinct.
#11 Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Musical Adventure
1996 – 2002 Formerly at Hollywood Studios in the Backlot Theatre in Streets of America, now Galaxy’s Edge. Unlike Tarzan Rocks! this stage show is a perfect adaptation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame movie. It plays out as a traditional broadway stage show would. You feel transported into the story’s sets with the clever transitions of live actor to marionette. The story telling is perfect, the singing is phenomenal, and might be the best stage show Disney has ever had. Even with the non-HD quality of this footage, we were totally blown away in watching this video and are devastated that Freddy and I personally did not get to experience it in person. This one is a real treat, pull up a chair, grab some popcorn and get ready for this emotional journey.
We hope you enjoy Episode 006: THNKS FR TH MMRS and would like to thank our resident Disney Park historian Alisa for joining us and helping regale on these bits of Disney Magic that can live on in our hearts. You can listen to this special Side Car Adventure episode below for our full thoughts.