“Time to be movin’ along!”
It’s been a wild end of an era at Magic Kingdom, with long queues, interesting “memorials,” and expensive reselling of ride water all commemorating the final moments of the iconic Disney ride Splash Mountain.
With the recent loss of Splash Mountain literally “splashed” all over the internet, it only means we’re now thinking about what else we miss at the Walt Disney World theme parks.
There are so many attractions that have come and gone at Walt Disney World, from spectacular shows and exciting rides to movie walkthroughs and character meet-and-greets, so we’re here to reminisce and look back on the memories of yesteryear in Florida. There are definitely some old Disney rides that need to come back!
The Princess and the Frog (2009) is coming to the Magic Kingdom in 2024, with Tiana taking over Splash Mountain in what has been a divisive ride renovation. The iconic Frontierland attraction closed permanently on January 22, 2023, to make way for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, and many fans were not happy to see the end of Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear from the controversial movie Song of the South (1946).
But in reality, there have been many old attractions that have been either demolished, renovated, or revamped into something else – and, usually, the new attraction is always better. Disney Imagineers are always looking to achieve what Walt Disney originally said, that Disney theme parks would always continue to change and adapt:
“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”
And with that, let’s dive into the complete list of what has been lost at Walt Disney World over the years:
Magic Kingdom theme park has seen multiple changes over the years, including the expansion of Fantasyland, a Tomorrowland overhaul, and numerous character changes.
Some of the most discussed removals are Stitch’s Great Escape, the popular Skyway, Mr Toad, and, of course, Toontown. Splash Mountain has now made its way to the list, an announcement that surprised many fans of the Disney water ride and member of the Disney “three mountains” (Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain being the others).
There are some iterations of lost rides that can still be found at Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure, including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and the newly reimagined Toontown area.
Areas like Main Street, Jungle Cruise, and Haunted Mansion will hopefully never change at the Disney World Park. Here’s the complete Magic Kingdom list of old Disney rides:
- Mickey Mouse Revue (1971-1980)
- Swan Boats (1983-1983)
- If You Had Wings (1972-1989)
- Country Bear Vacation Hoedown (1986-1992)
- Mission to Mars (1975-1993)
- Magic Journeys (1987-1993)
- Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes (1971-1994)
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage (1971-1994)
- Tropical Serenade (1971-1997)
- Delta Dreamflight (1989-1998)
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (1971-1998)
- Skyway (1971-1999)
- Mike Fink Keel Boats (1971-2001)
- The Legend of the Lion King (1994-2002)
- ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (1995-2003)
- The Timekeeper (1994-2006)
- Pooh’s Playful Spot (2005-2010)
- Mickey’s Toontown Fair (1996-2011)
- Snow White’s Scary Adventures (1971-2012)
- Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook (2011-2014)
- Stitch’s Great Escape! (2004-2018)
- Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (2012-2021)
- Splash Mountain (1992-2023)
EPCOT has seen some drastic changes since its opening over 40 years ago, with the iconic theme park currently undergoing a massive transformation that has introduced the development of four new “neighborhoods.” While World Showcase will keep its name, the former Future World is being split into World Celebration, World Nature, and World Discovery. Despite several construction walls and alternate walkways still present, the four “World” neighbors seem to be well underway.
The popular Walt Disney Animation Studios movie Moana (2016) is, of course, also getting its own Disney attraction in Fall 2023, with Walt Disney World Resort Imagineers working to construct the intriguing “Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana” area. Disney recently welcomed a 16-foot-tall Te Fiti to the World Nature neighborhood of EPCOT in Journey of Water.
Along the way, however, EPCOT has lost some iconic attractions, some that Disney Guests (and even Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord himself) still talk about and argue have changed the concept of EPCOT as a theme park. These include the Universe of Energy, Body Wars, Innoventions, and Maelstrom.
Maelstrom opened back in 1988 in EPCOT’s Norway pavilion. It was a boat that brought Norway’s history to life with trolls and Vikings but in 2014, it was reimagined into Frozen Ever After. Here’s a look at the complete EPCOT lost attraction list:
- Magic Journeys (1983-1986)
- CommuniCore (1982-1994)
- Kitchen Kabaret (1982-1994)
- World of Motion (1982-1996)
- Universe of Energy (1982-1996)
- Horizons (1983-1999)
- Millennium Village (1999-2001)
- China -Wonders of China (1982-2003)
- Food Rocks (1994-2004)
- Wonders of Life (1989-2007)
- Body Wars (1989-2007)
- O Canada! (1982-2007)
- Mexico – El Rio del Tiempo (The River of Time) (1982-2007)
- Honey, I Shrunk the Audience! (1994-2010)
- Kim Possible (2009-2012)
- Norway – Maelstrom (1988-2014)
- Captain EO (1986-1998; 2010-2015)
- Ellen’s Energy Adventure (1996-2017) – now Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind!
- PLAY! (2007-2017)
- Wheel of Fortune Live (2017-2018)
- Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable (1995-2018)
- Innoventions (1994-2019)
- Agent P (2012-2020)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
There is obviously only one main answer to the question: “What do you miss most at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park?”
No, it’s not the original name of MGM Studios, the dazzling Osborne Family Lights, the exciting Studio Backlot Tour, or the fabulous The Hunchback of Notre Dame – A Musical show. But they’re all up there.
Rather, it’s The Great Movie Ride, which operated from the Park’s opening in 1989 to 2017 when it closed to make way for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction. We still wish that Mickey and Minnie could have found a new building to house their railway ride, as The Great Movie Ride was a classic – it was the last remaining opening day attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
A great fit for the Hollywood-themed Walt Disney World theme park, the dark ride was located inside the Parks’ replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Featuring the glitz and the glitter of classic Hollywood movies, the attraction employed the use of audio-animatronic figures, amazing sets, live actors, and special effects to recreate iconic scenes from twelve classic films throughout motion picture history.
We’re not sure it experienced 4-hour wait times on its closing day as Splash Mountain did recently, but its closure was certainly a huge loss for the Walt Disney World Resort. Other such classic losses occurred in the 2010s to make way for Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (or Batuu), including Streets of America and the Studio Backlot Tour. Here’s the full list:
- SuperStar Television (1989-1998)
- The Monster Sound Show (1989-1999)
- Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – Play It! (2006-2008)
- Disney-MGM Studios renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios (2008)
- Journey into Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008-2011)
- The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow (2012-2014)
- American Idol Experience (2009-2014)
- The Magic of Disney Animation (1989-2015)
- The Sorcerer’s Hat (2001-2015)
- The Studio Backlot Tour (1989-2016)
- Lights, Motors, Action! (2004-2016)
- Streets of America (1989-2016)
- The “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure (1990-2016)
- Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (1995-2016)
- The Great Movie Ride (1989-2017)
- Disney Junior – Live on Stage! (2001-2018)
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid (1992-2020)
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park has seen fewer attractions lost in its time but has had its fair share of changes, including the huge loss of Camp Minnie-Mickey to make way for Pandora: World of Avatar in 2017.
One thing we truly miss in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the show based on Tarzan (1999). Tarzan Rocks! was a fantastic musical show that took place in the Theater in the Wild, filled with the sounds of Phil Collins’ epic music, acrobatics, and skating stunts! Finding Nemo: The Musical took over the rock show in 2007, but that doesn’t make us wish that Tarzan and Jane couldn’t have some more representation in the theme park – they’re perfect for it! Here’s the full lowdown:
- Discovery River Boats (1998-1999)
- Journey into the Jungle Book (1998-1999)
- Dinosaur Jubilee (1998-2000)
- Tarzan Rocks (1999-2006)
- Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends (1998-2008)
- Camp Minnie-Mickey (1998-2014)
- Flights of Wonder (1998-2017)
- UP! A Great Bird Adventure (2018-2020)
- Primeval Whirl (2002-2020)
- Rivers of Light (2017-2020)
- Kite Tails (2021-2022)
Who could forget Disney Springs? We can’t be the only ones who still sometimes call it Downtown Disney. The biggest two losses at Disney Springs have to be the fun and whimsical DisneyQuest (1998-2017) and the adult destination Pleasure Island with its abundance of restaurants and bars.
DisneyQuest was a 100,000-square-foot indoor entertainment center with video and virtual games that first opened in 1998 at the entertainment district’s West Side. The indoor interactive “theme park” featured interactive favorites including Virtual Jungle Cruise, CyberSpace Mountain, and Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam. DisneyQuest was an incredibly popular attraction on rainy days.
Whew, so there you have it. A complete look at what has been changed, refurbed or removed at the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks since its opening in 1971. And though nostalgia and childhood memories mean we get attached to certain rides and shows, Walt’s promise that imagination will keep Disney Parks evolving lives on.
What Disney attraction do you miss the most?