Lost Walt Disney World Experiences We STILL Miss!

One of the best aspects of a trip to Walt Disney World is those “magical moments” that can happen when you least expect it. But the times, they are a-changin’.

Main Street Trolley Car Show in Magic Kingdom

As technology has advanced and refurbishments have transformed the Parks, some of the most unique hidden experiences at Disney World have faded away.

Here’s a short list of some of the most popular experiences you USED to be able to have throughout Walt Disney World that we still miss so so dearly.

Finding Paintbrushes on Tom Sawyer Island

Those sneaky Cast Members over on Tom Sawyer Island in Magic Kingdom had a tradition of hiding a handful of paintbrushes around the island each morning. These brushes were dipped in dried paint and came with a note instructing the finder to return it to the raft driver upon leaving the island for a special surprise.

Tom Sawyer Island

This was a nod to the famous scene in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer where Tom, trying to escape his responsibilities, tricks a group of young boys into painting a fence for him — but they pay HIM for the privilege to do so!

Painted Fence on Tom Sawyer Island ©Sam Howzit

If returned, the brushes would yield the finder a paper FastPass for a ride on nearby Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain. But this experience stopped in early 2013, likely due to the release of the digital FastPass+ system. Guests were also known to pocket the brushes frequently as a unique keepsake, making it difficult to maintain the tradition.

Wake Up Tinker Bell

Did you know Tinker Bell used to live in a gift shop in the Magic Kingdom?!

Tinker Bell

Over in Fantasyland, the long-gone Tinker Bell’s Treasures gift shop used to choose a child to be given the responsibility of waking up the little fairy each morning.

Tinker Bell Signage

The child would ring a bell to wake up Tink, who would soar around the top of the shop in a quick series of sparkles and jingles. She’d land in a chest behind the register, appearing briefly to say hello before fluttering off to tend to her fairy duties for the day!

Castle Couture

This experience was wildly popular with many families and was sadly lost when Castle Couture replaced the shop in 2010.

PUSH the Talking Trashcan

One particularly eye-catching object in Tomorrowland you may have had the pleasure of MEETING was a talking trashcan named PUSH.  Yes, a moving, talking, wise-cracking trash can used to inhabit the Magic Kingdom!

PUSH posing for a photo ©Edward Russell

Back in his heyday, PUSH was nearing almost celebrity status around the Parks! Due to his free-roaming spirit, he was a challenge for guests to hunt down, and he got into mischief around Walt Disney World for almost 20 years before retiring back in 2014. PUSH still lives, though! While he may have moved out of his home in Disney World, he still shows up at the Disney Parks overseas from time to time!

Take a Ride in the Front of the Monorail

This one used to be a favorite tradition for many kids visiting Disney World.

Disney World Monorail

Before mid-2009, you could request to ride in the front of the Monorail with the driver! Sometimes a small line of families would even form for their chance to sit up front and get a prime view while cruising the “Highway in the Sky.”

Sitting in the Front Cabin of a Monorail

Sadly, Disney stopped allowing guests to ride up front after a tragic accident involving two Monorails in May of 2009. This is also why you won’t see a Monorail Purple in service anymore; Disney retired the color after the accident.

Get a Personalised Message from a Diver at Coral Reef

If you’ve ever eaten at the Coral Reef restaurant in Epcot, you know the main draw of this spot is watching a variety of tropical fish — and possibly a diver or two — swim by while you dine!

Coral Reel Dining Room

But did you know that for many years you could arrange with the restaurant to have a diver in the tank swim up with a personalized message?! Tons of marriage proposals, birthday announcements, and more happened underwater for all diners to see almost daily. This had very limited availability and, shockingly, it was FREE! This unique experience stopped quietly in 2009.

Divers Could Swim Right Up to Your Table!

These are just a few examples of creative ways Disney has made guests trips just a little more magical over the years. Sometimes, small interactions and experiences can have a HUGE impact on your trip and leave you with a lifetime of memories, so we’re sad these guest experiences faded away.

Did you experience any of these unique interactions in the Parks? Any fun stories to share? Leave a comment below!

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8 Replies to “Lost Walt Disney World Experiences We STILL Miss!”

  1. In 1985 my family got to ride up front in the monorail leaving one night, I was 5 so specifics are a bit sketchy, but I do know we were the only people boarding the monorail and it was late at night. I miss the animatronic Orange Bird they had then. He flapped his leaf wings and swung on a perch.

  2. For those who go to Disneyland, while you can’t ride in the front of the monorail there either, you can ride in the last car with its view as you pass through Disneyland and Downtown Disney.

  3. For me, it was the special Sunrise Safari that concierge guests at the Animal Kingdom Lodge could sign up for. The ride went to the Animal Kingdom park before it opened and did a much slower safari ride. The driver would stop, and you would have time to properly take pictures of the animals (and they would dispense with the ‘little red’ story line done at the time). The guide would tell you about the specific animals, etc.

    After it was done, you would go to breakfast for a lovely buffet with African accents. I think originally at Pizzari and later it moved to another restaurant (Restaurantosaurus, Flame Tree BBQ?).

    The last time went down to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, they had discontinued the Sunrise Safari. I decided then I didn’t need concierge service, and saved quite a bit of $$$.

    One of the first times we did it, Joe Rhode (Imagineer who was one of the Animal Kingdom Park designers) rode on the safari, but I didn’t really realize who he was until later, when I would see the various Disney behind the scenes TV shows.

      1. Yep. It was never really publicized, but towards the end, it was hard to get tickets for it, as word had been put out by places like allears.net. When they cancelled it, I wonder how many people like me, decided to ‘downgrade’ their reservations, dropping concierge.

        In terms of AKL concierge, it is kind of weird. You are paying extra money (for those snacks they put out all day), but you are not guaranteed a savanna view. And then when the Disney Vacation club entered the picture, it changed things again.

        Here is a review from 2010 that described it:

        Here are the pictures I took of it in 2011: