Ever changing and expanding, today’s Walt Disney World looks quite different from the original WDW. In fact, the evolution of the place where dreams come true is remarkable and continuous. If you have been going to WDW since you were a kid, you may remember some of these old favorites, who have graciously bowed out to make room for experiences tailored to a new generation. Stroll down memory lane remembering these experiences that no longer exist.
10. The Skyway
An aerial ropeway between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland similar to a ski lift gondola. It was closed in 1999 due to safety concerns and completely removed in 2009. I have seen pictures of my sister and I on the Skyway when we were small, looking totally exhausted and glad to be resting our little legs. Well kids, it’s the stroller or nothing for you these days. So long, Skyway. (In it’s 2017 D23Expo, Disney announced plans for a new gondola experience, “The Skyliner”, which will connect Epcot and Hollywood Studios with some of the resorts. An official opening date has not been released.)
9. Snow White’s Scary Adventure
This ride actually lived up to it’s name for a lot of kids. Perhaps it was that cackling animatronic witch – she was enough to give anyone shivers. Sheesh. In 2012 the ride was shut down to make room for the Princess Fairytale Hall, due largely to the popularity of the Frozen sisters. It was obviously a good move for Disney, seeing as there are 2 hour wait times now, where the Snow White ride was often a walk-on.
8. Richard Petty and Exotic Driving Experiences
Just south of Magic Kingdom you could try your hand at driving a Porsche or ride shotgun in a race car…for a fee, of course. In June 2015 the track was closed to make way for ambiguous transportation developments. However, Petty Holdings has talked of making a new road track for the Exotic Driving Experience at a different location in Orlando.
7. Body Wars
This experience used to be a part of the Wonders of Life Pavilion in Epcot’s Future World. A simulator ride similar to Star Tours, Body Wars “shrunk” the guest down to the size of a blood cell to travel through a human body’s vessels and organs. Being the main “thrill ride” in Epcot, I remember Body Wars being extremely popular as a kid, along with the rest of the exhibits in Wonders of Life (…but that Making of Me movie….a little weird….). Today the Pavilion is used for special exhibits during the International Food and Wine Festival and the actual simulator is rumored to be stripped for parts to repair Star Tours.
6. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
This one has been talked about over and over again. Though the ride holds fond memories for many, Mr. Toad met his demise in 1998 to make room for a more marketable (read: more souvenir sales) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I did like the Toad and his Wind in the Willows pals, but who can compete with lovable Pooh Bear? Plus the in-line activities that were added later make Pooh’s Adventures a clear winner.
Though Maelstrom in the Norway Pavilion of World Showcase was hardly super-popular, its final ride in 2014 was met with much protest from Disney nostalgics. Under construction is a new ride called Frozen Ever After, which will include the movie’s cast in an all-new story according to Disney. Critics wonder what the fictional Arendelle had to do with a celebration of Norway, but nevertheless Maelstrom is now a thing of Disney past.
4. River Country
Creepy photos of Disney’s abandoned water park have been well-circulated around the internet. I vaguely remember the fun of River Country in it’s heyday, and the concept seems to be legit. However, with space and water-safety constraints, River Country shut it’s doors in an effort to push more guests to the larger Disney Waterparks.
3. Discovery Island in Bay Lake
Apparently in the middle of Bay Lake there used to be a large animal sanctuary that guests could visit by boat. There were even concepts developed with the creators of the Myst computer game (remember that one?) to make Discovery Island an interactive experience. But alas, in 1999 the exotic animals that were housed there made their way over to Animal Kingdom and Discovery Island was no more.
2. American Idol Experience
One of many experiences that cycled through Hollywood Studios, the American Idol Experience is one of the latest to bite the dust. Though the live singing competition was a key turning point to the rise of several true finalists of the show, waning popularity shut down the experience in August 2014.
1. Camp Minnie-Mickey
One of the original lands of Animal Kingdom, Camp Minnie-Mickey used to be a sweet place to meet characters, as well as the home of the Lion King and Pocahontas shows. Festival of the Lion King has simply moved to Africa, but my kids were saddened to not have those special out-of-the-way character greeting spots anymore. Now that Avatar Land has opened in it’s place, Flight of Passage has become such a popular ride that Camp Minnie-Mickey is a fading memory.
So there you have it…10 experiences that will go down in Disney history. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There have been SO many changes at Walt Disney World over the years…what experience do you miss the most?
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