I’ve decided to have some nostalgic fun by talking about old and defunct Disney attractions from the 90s. I’ll start in Epcot, Disney World’s second park.
Behold, Spaceship Earth: a testimony to human communication, the symbol of Epcot, and, to some, a giant golf ball. This ride has gone through several renditions, but the 1994 version is considered by many fans to be one of the better ones, if not the best version. While it doesn’t have a singular theme song, like Tomorrow’s Child, it does have a grand and varied orchestral score, ranging from the choirs of a church to the fast beat of 1950s jazz. Narrated by Jeremy Irons, Spaceship Earth ‘94 carries a sense of seriousness and historical authority, but also a sense of culture and wisdom. It shows us the good times and the bad, it looks to the past and the future, and it has both facts and heart. I’m sorry, Judy Dench, but Spaceship Earth as it stands today will never compare with this version.
Featured image taken from here, available under the Creative Commons license. Originally taken and uploaded to Flickr by Mark Kosinski.
Continuing where I left off, this next segment moves from Communications to a more abstract concept: Imagination. Imagination sounds like something that would be hard to make a ride about, but in the 1980s, “Journey into Imagination” was one of the best Epcot rides. It was a kiddie ride at heart, but the way in which it broke down the creative process was simple enough for kids to understand and inspiring enough in its scope to really get your engines going, and it had great, marketable characters. Why would Disney ever throw something like that away? Regardless of why, they did. Enter the creatively titled “Journey into YOUR Imagination” in 1999. Completely throwing away any sense of organization, flow, and emotion, this bizarre replacement tried to take a more scientific approach to imagination. That alone was the ride’s fatal flaw, but a host of others made everyone shake their heads at Disney and Kodak. It closed in 2001, and its replacement brought back the beloved Figment character, but the magic never fully recovered.
Featured image taken from here, available under the Creative Commons license. Originally taken and uploaded to Flickr by Theme Park Tourist.
Moving to the Magic Kingdom, we now turn to what has been labelled by many as the scariest Disney attraction ever created: The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. Trying to appeal to teens, CEO Michael Eisner ordered up attractions based on movies, even if they weren’t Disney ones. An idea that popped up was Alien: an R-rated, gory, sci-fi film. Eisner loved it, but some older Imagineers convinced him otherwise. The license to the film wasn’t used, but a scary attraction was still underway. The final attraction used surround sound, binaural audio, air and water effects, and more to create the illusion that guests were trapped in a room with a man-eating alien, which was free to get up close and too personal. This proved to be too scary for little kids and contrasted sharply with everything else in the park. For reasons not officially stated by Disney, Alien Encounter closed in 2003. Stitch’s Great Escape, a cheap retool, opened a couple years later and it has since become almost universally hated, which makes one wonder why it hasn’t been removed.
Featured image taken from here, available under the Creative Commons license. Photo originally taken and uploaded to Flickr by Jeremy Thompson.