Walt Disney World has had so many amazing rides and attractions come and go from their parks over the last 50 years. Many of them had a huge fan base and people were shocked when Disney decided to replace them. Here are the top five rides and attractions that we wish still existed at Walt Disney World.
1. The Great Movie Ride
Of course we had to start this list off with one of the most beloved and missed when it come to rides and attractions, The Great Movie Ride. The Great Movie Ride debuted with the opening of MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) on May 1, 1989. It was located in the stunning replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. This is fitting because it’s one of Hollywood’s most famous movie locations.
The 22 minute long dark ride took you on an unforgettable journey through the most iconic movie scenes. Riders would board the vehicle and the “tour guide” would tell you some interesting facts about each movie. As you went from room to room, you felt like you were really part of the scene! Scenes from classics such as “Singin’ in the Rain”, “Casablanca”, “Fantasia”, “Mary Poppins” and even “The Wizard of Oz” were featured. At the end of the ride, all of the ride vehicles would pull into a large dark room with a giant movie screen. In there, you’d sit and watch a 3 minute movie montage from some of the greatest films of all time.
What replaced it?
Disney announced in July of 2017, at the D23 Expo, that a new ride starring Mickey and Minnie would take the place of The Great Movie Ride. Sadly, this very popular ride gave its final curtain call on August 13, 2017. Fans from all over the world were sad to see it go. Petitions were even created to try to save the ride!
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened at Hollywood Studios on March 4, 2020. Fans of The Great Movie Ride were very conflicted and never expected the ride to close. You can actually find an easter egg from The Great Movie Ride on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway in the carnival scene. You’ll notice a poster on the wall that says, “The Great Moving Ride” and that was their little nod to the famous predecessor. The Great Movie Ride should have stayed in Grauman’s Chinese Theater. However, it did need a major update to the movie scenes and animatronics. In my opinion, they’re both great rides and could have each had their own respective place in the park. Then we could have kept the nostalgia and movie magic, while also welcoming a new ride.
2. The Skyway
The Skyway was a fun transportation-style gondola ride located at Magic Kingdom that took you from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland. It opened with Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971. The Skyway actually originally opened in 1955 in Disneyland. It was such a huge success that they brought it over to Walt Disney World for the opening of Magic Kingdom. Guests would board the bucket-style sky gondolas and have one-of-a-kind views of the park! The Skyway was a very quick way to get around the parks, but unfortunately it closed on November 10, 1999.
What replaced it?
When the Skyway closed in 1999, the sky gondola portion of the ride was completely torn down. The Tomorrowland Station remained until 2009, when it was completely demolished during a renovation for Space Mountain. The Fantasyland Station was used for stroller parking until its demolition in 2012. The new Tangled themed restrooms took its place that same year. Nearly 20 years after the closure of the Skyway, Disney revived the popular attraction on a much larger scale.
The Disney Skyliner was launched and became one of Walt Disney World’s newest and most popular modes of transportation. This connects Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach Resorts, and the Disney Riviera Resort with other locations including Epcot and Hollywood Studios!
3. Studio Backlot Tour
The Studio Backlot Tour was an exciting look “behind the scenes”, with the original vision to be a backlot tour of a working film studio! Like The Great Movie Ride, The Studio Backlot Tour was another opening day MGM Studios attraction. When this ride originally opened on May 1, 1989, it was much larger and more elaborate than the version of it right before it permanently closed down. Guests would board a tram and drive through New York Street, the Streets of America and then to Catastrophe Canyon.
Once guests were done with the tram, they would start the walking part of the tour. This took guests through the water special effects tank, an effects shop and some soundstages along Mickey Avenue. The streets portion of the tour was so popular that it was cut from The Studio Backlot Tour. In turn, guests could then walk around and explore it on their own.
Over the years, big pieces of the tour were cut out and changed until it became its shortened final version. It started as a walking tour which took guests to a large water tank with props in it. The Cast Members would explain how movie scenes worked, and they would call someone from the audience to participate in a scene from Pearl Harbor. Once the demonstration was over, guests would walk through a large warehouse filled with props from a lot of famous movies. Once guests exited the prop warehouse, they would begin the tram portion of the tour.
The tram would take guests on a ride through the back of the park which showcased many famous props and the parks former icon, the Earffel Tower! Riders would happen to stumble upon a “live movie set” in Catastrophe Canyon. Suddenly, an earthquake would shake the tram resulting in a fuel truck to erupt in flames! After this, a huge gush of water would come down to extinguish the flames, while cooling guests off at the same time. When the ride was over, guests would have to walk through an American Film Institute museum featuring AFI’s 50 Greatest Villains. This was definitely one of the fan favorites when it comes to all of the rides and attractions at MGM, even with the minor changes.
What replaced it?
In September of 2014, Cast Members were told that the attraction would be temporarily closing for the orchestral facility. Later that same month, the ride’s signage was removed and painted over. Many people did not know what was going on or if the ride would even reopen. The future was unknown for this beloved attraction until it was announced at the D23 Expo in 2015 that the ride (as well as the Streets of America) would be closing permanently to make way for Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge. The classic attraction was completely demolished in 2016 and construction began on the newest expansions to the park. Many guests were upset because the original “Old Hollywood” feel to the park was quickly fading.
4. Mickey’s Toontown Fair
Mickey’s Toontown Fair was one of the seven themed lands at Magic Kingdom. It opened on June 18, 1988 as Mickey’s Birthday Land, then it became Mickey’s Starland on May 26, 1990. For Walt Disney World’s 25th Anniversary on October 1, 1996, it reopened as Mickey’s Toontown Fair.
Whether you were a kid, or a kid at heart, this land was perfect. The premise of the land was that it was portrayed as the vacation homes for the characters that reside in the original Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland in California. You could find the homes of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and more! There was also a Judge’s Tent where you would enter a huge tent and there would be a big screen playing Mickey Mouse cartoons. Once you walked all the way through the tent, you would meet Mickey Mouse and get your picture taken. Guests of all ages loved walking through the homes of their favorite characters, and would become immersed in the magic of each character.
What replaced it?
In February of 2011, Mickey’s Toontown Fair closed permanently. With the expansion of New Fantasyland, most of Mickey’s Toontown Fair was eventually demolished. The only attraction that still remains is The Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm, which was renamed The Barnstormer featuring Goofy as the Great Goofini. Mickey’s Toontown Fair ultimately became Storybook Circus, a circus themed part of New Fantasyland. Many guests miss this part of the park and feel it was unnecessary for it to close. However, fans of the beloved land are still able to visit the original Mickey’s Toontown Fair at Disneyland in California.
Horizons was a fan-favorite of all the rides and attractions at Epcot for many years. It opened on October 1, 1983 and was believed to be the sequel to another fan-favorite, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. Horizons was a dark ride that took guests on a slow journey past scenes that depicted the future. The ride would move past two enormous OMNIMAX screens and show riders modern technology and ideas to help build “the world of tomorrow”.
Horizons was the only attraction to showcase all of Epcot’s “Future World” elements: community, interaction, communication, transportation, energy, anatomy, physiology, and human kinds’ relationship with air, sea, land and space. It was also the only ride in Disney World at the time with multiple endings. Riders were able to choose how they returned to the FuturePort; from the Space Station (space colonization), from the desert farm of Mesa Verde (arid-zone agriculture) or from the Sea Castle research base (ocean colonization). Horizons was way ahead of its time and in the 16 years that it was opened, it amassed a huge fan following.
What replaced it?
Horizons permanently closed its doors on January 9, 1999. Fans were shocked and saddened by the news and quickly wondered what would be taking the place of this very popular ride. The building stood dormant for a long time with no ride and was eventually torn down in July 2000. It was announced that a space ride would be taking the place of Horizons. Construction on Mission: Space began late in the year 2000, ultimately opening on August 13, 2003. Even though the ride has been closed for more than 20 years now, there are still petitions to bring this ride back. Horizons left behind one of the biggest fan bases of any ride in a Disney park.
Disney does a fantastic job of creating rides and attractions that guests love and hold dear to their hearts. The memories that are created on these rides will last forever. Walt Disney famously said that “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world”. It is sad to see these rides leave, but they are making way for newer and more technologically advanced rides that are paving the way for the future. Though these rides and attractions may no longer have a place in Walt Disney World, they will always have a place in our hearts.
What’s your favorite ride or attraction that’s no longer in the parks?