Seven Attractions that Disney Wouldn’t Build Today

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Walt Disney and his team of Imagineers practically invented the modern theme park. They took old ideas and elevated them to something guests would be talking about for years to come.

Over the years, the crowds have grown most sophisticated and ride technology has changed too. It still comes down to one thing, telling an amazing and engaging story, rich in detail, and immersive in environment.

Here’s a list of 7 attraction types that will never be built again in a Disney theme park:

Snow White / Pinocchio Dark Ride – The original dark ride at Disneyland was little more than a giant electric train set going through a series of wooden cutouts. Not only are ride systems much more complex, guests are too savvy for simple set decorations. The new rides are all nearly 360 degrees immersive.

The Great Movie Ride / Ellen’s Energy Adventure
– Not only are both these rides full of expensive to build and maintain animatronics, their ride systems are large and complex, essentially theaters on wheels. The modern guest doesn’t quite get the metaphor.

Innoventions – Originally an EPCOT attraction that leaked to Disneyland in a minor form. It’s a hand-me-down version of the World’s Fair with little booths sponsored by various corporations. The idea is still sound, but corporations have changed so much, it’s unlikely this model will ever fully reach its potential

Backlot

Backlot Tram Tour – In a world where and entire movie can be created in a computer, the need to tour a movie studio with practical sets seems positively quaint.

Circlevision 360 movies – I toyed with not putting this one on the list, but I really don’t expect to see a new 360 degree attraction again. They might update the two existing movies at EPCOT, but that’s probably it.

Horizons – It’s hard for me to describe Horizons considering I’ve never been on it. It was destroyed before I visited EPCOT for the first time. But fans have recreated it virtually. That’s as sure as sign as any it and it’s like are never coming back.

Pirates of the Caribbean
– When I think of the quintessential Disney theme park attraction, this one is near the top of the list. Unfortunately, due to the huge number of audio-animatronics, I don’t think we’ll ever see its like again.

Bonus: as we just found out at Disney California Adventure, the flying saucer/tire air cushion attraction just won’t work like Imagineers want it to. I doubt they’ll try again.

Of course, Disney could prove me wrong and bring back any of the above type of attractions again. I hope they do. How about you? Which of the above attraction types would you like to see Disney return to?

(Photo credit: Harshlight on Flickr cc-by-sa)

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10 thoughts on “Seven Attractions that Disney Wouldn’t Build Today

  1. Bob Fraser

    ……and in the meantime, instead of using their design skills and the Pixar creativity, most of their “new” rides consist of putting a new face on the Dumbo ride and calling it by a different name. The company possesses so much creative genius and yet they have been unable or unwilling to use it at their theme parks.

  2. sjthespian

    I can’t agree on the tram tour. As Universal has proven, a tram tour of a *working* studio can be incredibly successful. Just imagine being on a tour where you see real movie and tv sets being used in filming and have the chance of seeing famous actors at work. Hollywood Studios almost had this when it was still a working studio, I can remember seeing a portion of “Sing Me A Story With Belle” being filmed on the walking tour and saw animators working out a sequence from “Mulan” in the animation studios many years ago.

    However, a tram tour of a bunch of props and fake sets is just a waste of real estate.

  3. Tom

    I have a love-hate relationship with Ellen’s Energy Adventure. I actually went on it for the first time 2 years ago. It was very long, very 90s, very oldish feeling, and my 4 year old daughter peeed all over my pants while she was sitting in my lap. I didn’t particularly like the ride, but was amazed, no, astounded by the whole ‘moving stage’ and huge production effects, which boggled a first time rider like me. IMO, Disney should keep all the mechanics of the ride up and running, and just change the overall theme.
    Imagine a Frozen ride where the whole stage moves like that. Or add any other favorite disney theme there you want. With a mere theme change, that could easily be Epcot’s BEST ride. The actual mechanics of the ride are awesome, the stage separating to reveal a quasi ‘moving’ ride, just amazing. Now all Disney needs to do is just put something in there that we actually want to see as we’re enjoying the amazing mechanics…

  4. Dan

    John – thanks for the list. I did go on Horizons many times, and loved it, but haven’t been to the park in YEARS. Decades, actually. Why is it that a ride such as that, or Pirates — those which use a lot of audio-animatronics are cost prohibitive today? Why is that cost greater today than it was in the 1960s or 80s?
    Thanks.
    -Dan

  5. Greg

    My problem with Ellen’s Energy Adventure was that as soon as you tie something to a celebrity it becomes instantly dated. Journey into Imagination doesn’t suffer as much, even though it stars Eric Idle, because it doesn’t hinge on Idle’s persona.

    Horizons itself may never come back, but I still think it was precisely the sort of ride Disney does best and should continue to do at EPCOT: it was inspiring, educational, and downright beautiful, at times.

  6. Christopher Rhodes

    I think we have a fair chance of getting an animatronics heavy ride again. I mean, they’re re-Imagining Pirates for Shanghai, so if they’re willing to re-use the model to re-envision an existing ride I don’t see why they couldn’t do it with original material. But you do bring up a good point… when WAS the last time we got a AA heavy ride?

    1. Christopher Rhodes

      Under the Sea has a pretty good amount of Animatronics, but nowhere near as many as Pirates or Haunted Mansion.

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