Looking Back: Disney Experiences We Miss the Most
Disney has opened Tron Lightcycle / Run and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway already in 2023.
Later this year, EPCOT will unveil Journey of Water | Inspired by Moana.
So, Disney parks are unquestionably getting better. Still, I sometimes feel a bit melancholy about some things we’ve lost.
Here are some Disney experiences I miss the most.
The Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island
When Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser opened, it earned international headlines for what it represents.
The current generation of tourists prefers experiential entertainment. This behavior explains the rise of escape rooms.
People love spending time in unique settings where they have no idea what will happen next.
Disney fans remember what came before Galactic Starcruiser during the days of Pleasure Island.
A restaurant and interactive experience called the Adventurers Club provided nightly entertainment.
A dutiful crew of cast members portrayed characters, many of whom were at least loosely connected to the Society of Adventurers and Explorers.
The details don’t really matter, though. This place was a fully immersive bit of improvisational entertainment.
The story and actions changed each night, just as happens with Galactic Starcruiser. There’s a general script, but the tourists play a role in the story.
The Adventurers Club was decades ahead of its time, and I really miss it.
Yes, NBA star and Disney superfan Robin Lopez accidentally purchased a black-market Buzzy AA.
Once Lopez realized what had happened, he returned the stolen goods and offered a sincere mea culpa.
Still, the incident underscored how popular some Disney characters are.
Buzzy starred in Cranium Command, an EPCOT attraction about the importance of the human brain.
When Disney revealed that someone had stolen Buzzy, the entire fanbase expressed outrage and obsessively tracked the story.
That statement alone reinforces how much fans miss Cranium Command…or at least Buzzy.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure
Disney’s longest attraction died so that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind could live.
When EPCOT opened, it included a variation of this attraction. Its sole purpose was to underscore the importance of fossil fuels.
The ride transported guests to the distant past when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
Later, Disney added beloved entertainer Ellen DeGeneres and a Jeopardy element to the proceedings.
In fact, the primary antagonist in this story was Jamie Lee Curtis, who won an Academy Award in 2023.
I don’t think anyone would describe Ellen’s Energy Adventure as EPCOT’s best attraction. However, it served its purpose in offering tremendous throughput.
Hundreds of guests could simultaneously experience this attraction, thereby providing them with a 45-minute respite during a hectic park visit.
Alas, Disney needed the space for an E-ticket roller coaster.
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
Here’s the least Disney attraction on this list BY FAR!
For some reason, Imagineers dared to try something different at Magic Kingdom.
Disney designed an interactive show attraction in which park fans would encounter an alien.
That may sound genteel, especially if you remember Stitch’s Great Escape, the attraction that replaced this one.
However, I can assure you that Disney dramatically dialed down the tension from the original.
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter scared the stuffing out of people. Seriously, it was a problem!
I suspect that modern Disney fans, especially those who love the Halloween season, would find the attraction much less terrifying.
At the time Disney closed it to re-theme with Stitch, I suspect that more Disney fans wanted it gone than begged for it to stay.
I fell into the latter category, though. This was the adult attraction Magic Kingdom desperately needed at the time. And I wish it would come back!
The Great Movie Ride
Some attractions make everyone nostalgic. High on that list is The Great Movie Ride, which was one of the original attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Guests would board a tram that carried them to several different Hollywood-based sets. There, fans would admire memorabilia from classic films.
Also, a cast member would drive the tram and narrate the proceedings.
Along the way, they’d inevitably get interrupted by someone who would hijack the story.
The whole thing was just an excuse to celebrate the Golden Age of Hollywood, but it felt so uplifting and entertaining.
The Great Movie Ride was accurately named, and I still cannot believe Disney shut it down.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway could have easily gone somewhere else at the park!
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Disneyland fans always look at me curiously when this discussion arises.
They still enjoy the joy of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride whenever they visit the park.
Alas, I’m primarily a Walt Disney World fan. I lost Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in 1998, and I’m still not over it!
In fact, not that long from now, Magic Kingdom will have had more time without Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride than with it. The ride has been defunct for that long.
I don’t care, though! This attraction embodied the joy I feel when I’m on Disney dark rides. I’m bereft without it.
Spirit of Aloha
Not all Disney experiences occur at attractions.
We all know the joys of Disney dining. And some of the most communal meals occur at Disney dinner shows.
Since 1974, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue has entertained Disney fans with its delightful small-town charm.
However, you could argue that a different Disney dining experience came before it.
In the days leading up to the opening of Walt Disney World, park officials entertained celebrities, dignitaries, and reporters at Luau Cove.
This favorite spot at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort encapsulated the magic of a Disney vacation.
Alas, Disney closed the dinner show here, Spirit of Aloha, during the pandemic.
While many of us hoped for its return – I counted down the days – park officials shared different plans. They tore down Luau Cove instead.
In its place, Disney will add an expansion tower to the hotel campus. That sounds lovely in theory, but it comes at a massive opportunity cost.
My family shared so many unforgettable experiences at Spirit of Aloha (I took the worst picture of my life here!). I’m crushed that it’s gone.
World of Motion
I’m a Test Track superfan, and I mention this because I wouldn’t have Test Track if not for the closure of World of Motion.
Still, the magical part of a childhood Disney theme park visit is how much it crystallizes in our minds.
During my first visit to EPCOT, which happened to be its first year, I watched with wonder as this dark ride carried me in and out of the same pavilion.
This ride provided me with my first “WOW!” moment at Disney. And it hurts my heart that I can’t re-live it.
That’s the price all Disney fans pay for the sake of progress.
Yes, attractions like Runaway Railway, Cosmic Rewind, and Test Track are phenomenal.
We lost other exceptional attractions to get them, though.
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Feature Photo: Disney