Since Disneyland first opened way back in 1955, the company has built a tremendous legacy of theme park attractions. Some, like Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, and It’s a Small World have become iconic.
However, as Walt Disney famously said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” And for every Disney attraction that’s stood the test of time, there are others that have disappeared.
Whether they were a victim of outdated technology, changing times, or simply a need for space, each of these attractions have fallen into the category of beloved closed Disney attractions.
Rainbow Caverns Mine Train/Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland (1956-1977): The scenic train ride was one of Disneyland’s earliest hits, highlighted by it’s beautiful cavern sequence. The attraction closed in the late 1970s to make room Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Submarine Voyage (1959-1998): One of Disneyland’s original E-Tickets, the Submarine Voyage headlined the 1959 “second grand opening” of Disneyland. The partially underwater attraction wow’d guests for nearly 40 years before closing, allegedly due to budget reasons. After sitting vacant for years, the attraction was refurbed and reopened as the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in 2007.
America Sings (1974-1988): Opened in preparation for the American Bicentennial, this animatronic-packed show used the former Carousel of Progress theater to travel through the history of American music. After the attraction closed, many of its animatronics were moved over to the then-under construction Splash Mountain.
Videopolis (1985-1989): When Michael Eisner and Frank Wells took over the reigns of the Walt Disney Company in the mid-1980s, one of their first goals was to make the company’t theme parks more appealing to teenagers. While that would eventually lead to Captain EO and Star Tours, the first project to come from this was initiative was Videopolis. This teen-centric nightclub-esque area was built in a far-off corner of Disneyland’s Fantasyland, and allowed guests to dance to the pop hits of the day while their music videos were projected on giant screens. For the relatively short time it existed, Videopolis was one of the park’s most heavily trafficked attractions.
Skyway: DLR Edition (1956-1994): For nearly 40 years, the Skyway was one of Disneyland’s most iconic attractions, in particular thanks to the way its gondolas traveled through the Matterhorn mountain.
Disney California Adventure
Superstar Limo (2001-2002): This dark ride through the celebrity-filled Hollywood hills holds the dubious distinction of being one of the quickest closures in Disney history, and is called by many the worst ride the company ever built. The show building and ride system was eventually reworked into Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
Walt Disney World
If You Had Wings (1971-1987): Sponsored by Eastern Airlines – the then-official airline of Walt Disney World – this Tomorrowland dark ride attraction was essentially nothing but a commercial for Eastern, though it was well-known for its titular theme song. After Eastern’s sponsorship ended in 1987, it was briefly refurbished into the similar If You Could Fly, which removed the Eastern branding.
Dreamflight (1989-1998): Eventually the ride was reworked into Delta Dreamflight and later Disney’s Take Flight, both of which were thematically similar. In 1998, the attraction would be retimed entirely into Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (1995-2003): Arguably the most legendary closed Disney attraction’s, Alien Encounter’s terrifying close encounter with a violent extraterrestrial still gives nightmares to those who experienced it today.
The Timekeeper (1994-2006): This animatronic/film hybrid show was a staple of Tomorrowland for well over a decade, and featured a tremendous vocal performance from the late/great Robin Williams.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1971-1994): The Magic Kingdom’s equivalent to Disneyland’s Submarine Voyage, this heavily-themed attraction wow’d guests for over 20 years before closing in 1994, again allegedly due to budget reasons. However, unlike it’s west coast equivalent, these subs never reopened, and its lagoon was eventually filled in.
The Skyway: (1971-1999): Much like Disneyland’s edition, this version – sans awesome trip through the Matterhorn – staid for nearly 30 years before closing, allegedly due to legal fears.
Flight to the Moon (1971-1975): This opening day Magic Kingdom attraction was outdated before it opened, likely leading to its quick closure and conversion to Mission to Mars. That attraction lasted until 1993, when it closed for good.
World of Motion (1982-1996): This whimsical, animatronic-packed journey through the history of transportation was an opening day staple of EPCOT Center, and remained so for nearly 15 years. It closed for TestTrack after sponsor General Motors requested a new thrilling and product-centric attraction as a condition of renewing.
Journey Into Imagination (1983-1998): The beloved dark ride that detailed the Dreamfinder and Figment’s tour of the concept of imagination remains so beloved – and merchandised – that it’s hard to believe it’s replacement has been around longer than the original.
Universe of Energy (1982-2017): The Universe of Energy, both in its original and Ellen-infused 1990s retheme was a controversial attraction amongst EPCOT fans. Many loved it, especially thanks to its animatronic dinosaur segment, while others found it overly long and tedious. Either way, the attraction closed in 2017 to make way for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Horizons (1983-1999): Considered by many to be the greatest attraction in EPCOT’s history, Hosrizons took all the elements of the park’s original mission statement and synthesized them into a brilliant ride that’s still beloved by many fans to this day.
Maelstrom (1988-2014): Beloved by many, this boat ride in EPCOT’s Norway pavilion still elicits wistful nostalgia from those who remember its trolls, vikings, and near-backwards drop. It was closed to make way for Frozen Ever After in 2014.
Body Wars (1989-2007): This simulator ride through the human body received mixed reviews over its run, but those who loved it REALLY loved it. Unfortunately, the ride and it’s show building have sat empty for nearly two decades.
Sum of All Thrills (2009-2016): Located in Innoventions, this roller coaster simulator attraction used the same KUKA Arm technology that’s currently employed by Universal’s Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
The Great Movie Ride (1989-2017): The former centerpiece of Hollywood Studios, this massive attraction used screens, scale sets, live performers, and hundreds of animatronics to take riders into their favorite films. While we love Mickey and Minnie’s Runway Railway, it’s a shame the Great Movie Ride had to die for it to live.
Studio Backlot Tour (1989-2014): When the then-Disney/MGM Studios was built, it was supposed to be more film studio than theme park, with the Backlot Tour serving as its main attraction. Once the studio work dried up however, the Tour was continuously cut-down to the point that the version that closed in 2014 was near unrecognizable from its original incarnation.
Primeval Whirl (2002-2020): Primeval Whirl is another attraction on our list that’s quite controversial. Those who didn’t enjoy it saw it simply as an “off-the-shelf” carnival ride, while its fans passionately defend it as one of Walt Disney World’s most fun attractions.
Adventurers Club (1989-2008): Of the clubs on the dearly departed Pleasure Island, none has the staying power in fan’s minds as The Adventurers Club. The mix of lore, live theater, and immaculate theming brought die hards back over and over again, and still has them clamoring for a return of some kind.
Do you miss any or all of these Disney attractions? Did we miss your favorite bygone ride? Let us know in the comments below.
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