13 Disney theme park attractions you will never ride again
Remember the Flying Saucers, Astro-Jets and Swan Boats?
Image: The Everett Collection
EPCOT Center is turning 35 years old. Opening on October 1, 1982, the Walt Disney World theme park offered a vision of the future.
Well, now it is the future — though not quite the one we saw on rides like Spaceship Earth. That got us thinking about all those trips we took with the family to Orlando and Anaheim to visit Disney parks. So many of the rides in Tomorrowland have faded away, as the world of tomorrow became today.
Much has changed over the six decades of Disney theme parks. Beloved attractions have gone bye bye. Recently, the Main Street Electrical Parade took its final, glittering voyage.
Here are some of the defunct rides we particular miss. Which Disney rides were your favorite?
Plaza Swan Boats
Walt Disney World, 1973–1983
When you needed a respite from Main Street, U.S.A. and the Magic Kingdom, these leisurely cruises were a welcome rest. About a dozen of them originally drifted in the water, though by the ride's demise a decade later, only a handful of boats were running.
Image: Disney / waltdatedworld
Mike Fink Keel Boats
Disneyland and Walt Disney World, 1955–2001
These free-floating boat (take that, Submarine Voyage!) drifted around Tom Sawyer Island. They were based on craft seen in Disney's Davy Crockett films. Unfortunately, one capsized in 1997 in Disneyland, leading to the demise of this ride. Perhaps tracks were the way to go.
Image: Disney / dsneld via eBay
It was like being at a ski resort, but without all that snow and cold.
Image: Disney, 1955 / Etsy
Did you believe in mermaids when you were younger? Well, for Boomers, this likely had nothing to do with Ariel, rather this (mostly) underwater ride in Tomorrowland. Kids pressed their faces up to the portholes in the submarines to catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing performers and sights in the pool. Originally, the pond was used for a short-lived ride called the Phantom Boats in 1956.
Who needs speed to inspire awe? A leisurely track above and around the park was enough to dazzle. Walt Disney World in Florida has a version, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, but we adore these original, colorful cars that ran out in Anaheim.
Image: Disney / Disney Attractions
20,000 Leagues Under the Seas
Walt Disney World, 1971–1994
Another pseudo-submarine ride through a pool of wonder, the 20,000 Leagues attraction made the Submarine Voyage out in California look a little… junior. The killer Nautilus ships looks straight out of the movie — and weighed a whopping 40 tons each.
Image: Disney / Mouse Planet
These original Tomorrowlan Autopia cars
It's easy to forget the state of car travel in 1955, when Disneyland opened. The notion of multi-laned highways was still futuristic — Eisenhower did not sign the act to create the Interstate Highway System until 1956. This ride, which still exists in some form in multiple parks, had a bubbly design upon opening. The cars eventually evolved into Corvette Stingrays.
Image: Theme Park Review
Yes, it looked like a typically spinning ride from your average carnival or state fair, but this beauty was all about the design. That sleek mid-century futurism just ignites our nostalgia. The ride was eventually enhanced and retitled Rocket Jets.
A mix of bumper cars and a giant air hockey table, Flying Saucers propelled riders on a cushion of air, as they shifted their body weight to crash these circular hovercraft into one another. Apparently, it was took costly to maintain and operate. Tomorrowland was the best, wasn't it?
Image: Disney / Pinterest
Rocket to the Moon
Over the years, Rocket to the Moon, originally sponsored by TWA, evolved, just as NASA explored deeper into space. In 1967, the name altered slightly to Flight to the Moon. Then, the entire moon concept, a bit quaint in 1975, shifted focus to the Red Planet, as the ride was dubbed Mission to Mars. Perhaps you remember sitting reclined in a circular auditorium, staring at the ceiling, as your chair shook. That mission ended in 1992.
Image: TWA / eBay
Much like Tomorrowland, EPCOT was built upon an ideal vision of the future. Optimism and science oozed out of every attraction. Horizons, far from a thrilling coaster, relied upon sci-fi ideas to awe visitors. Even if the big, Brutalist building looked like something out of Blade Runner.
Image: Disney / Orlando Informer
Commonly referred to as "the Viking ride," this wet and wild flume ride in the Norway portion of EPCOT's World Showcase was steeped in Norse mythology. The final drop and splash was great. Originally, it was called SeaVenture. But Maelstrom sounded so much cooler. Sadly, Disney let it go, let it go… replacing it with a Frozen ride.
The Great Movie Ride
Disney's Hollywood Studios, 1989–2017
Until last month, this trip through Hollywood past was the last ride standing, the lone remaining ride open from the park's opening, back when it was called Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park. Elements from The Wizard of Oz —as the cars took you on a tour through Munchkinland — are what likely stand out in your memory — at least they do in ours. Well, the Alien bit was pretty scary, too.
Image: Disney / Wikipedia
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