Disney World made its nationwide debut on October 1st, 1971. And despite a few hiccups, the park blossomed to be the “happiest place on Earth” that we all know and love today. Over the past 47 years, Disney World has had a ton of rides come and go. Some were relinquished to make way for more modern rides, while others have been added on to the property as it continues to advance and grow. And though some may remember the days when Pirates of the Caribbean required an E-ticket, chances are that most have forgotten all about these rides from Disney’s past.
Here are 10 Disney World rides that most visitors forgot about!
10 The Skyway
This gondola lift was a convenient transport that brought Disney World guests from one end of the park to the other. Visitors could get in the rotating cabin lifts in either Tomorrowland or Fantasyland. The ride closed a few years after issues occurred with the renovations from the Skyway at Disneyland. It made its final transports in 1997, just a few years after the Imagineers decided that this ride could not be stabilized. Its location has been remodeled to fit Tangled-themed restrooms and a parking stroller area.
Recently, Disney World has decided to return this ride, however. It will be renamed the Skyliner and will be able to carry guests between different Disney properties in the Florida location.
9 Alien Encounter
This ride opened in 1994 and was closed only nine years later in 2003. This ride would go down in history as being one of the most intense Disney rides to ever be planted on Disney soil. The ride was advocated for by the CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner, who closed the ride shortly after its opening to be reworked. He wanted to ride to be even more intense, which is why the official opening didn’t happen until June 1995.
The premise of this ride took guests to a fictional facility named X-S Tech, where they showed guests a recent client capture. The alien then tried to free itself whilst that it came in peace and X-S Tech were actually the bad guys. X-S Tech then tries to take down the circular arena entirely, but the alien holds them off, allowing for the guests to escape. The ride was deemed too grim and was replaced by the family-friendly Stitch’s Great Escape!
8 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
This ride is one of the original rides the opened up Disney World in Orlando in 1971. The ride gave the illusion of an underwater voyage in a makeshift submarine. Riders would enter the cabin and sit in their seats, each of which came with its own portal hole. Their journey was narrated by Captain Nemo as explorers discovered the hidden secrets beneath the seas. This Disney World ride gave riders access to beautiful images of tropical fish from Vulcania and brought them to the icy depth of the North Pole. Peril ensues after an epic journey through the lost city of Atlantis finds them in the treacherous tentacles of a giant squid. The riders are soon free and on their way back to Disney’s tropical lagoon to end the ride This ride closed in 1994 due to the expensive upkeep requirements. It wasn’t replaced until 1997 when Ariel’s Grotto was introduced into the Magic Kingdom.
7 Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Another opening day attraction, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was a prominent ride in Fantasyland. It was actually deemed a dark ride because of its gloomy interior and many sharp turns and obstacles, though it was meant to be a children’s ride.
The ride closed in September of 1998 and was replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Like most retired Disney rides, Imagineers were sure to pay homage to the characters in the ride by incorporating them throughout the park. There is a statue of Toad in the Haunted Mansion’s Pet Cemetery and a painting of Toad and Moley can be found inside the Winnie the Pooh ride.
6 Swan Boats
Because Walt Disney was eager to open up his second park location, Disney World welcomed guests to a park that was oddly barren. There were only a fraction of the rides that we see today, which is why Imagineers implemented the idea for the Swan Boats. The Swan Boats were a simple solution for an easy and pleasing ride. The ride took passengers along the canal surrounding Cinderella’s Castle and brought them straight to Adventureland. The ride only ran seasonally and was eventually closed in 1983. The loading docks and the canal are still inside the park today.
5 If You Had Wings
This ride was added a year after the grand opening, becoming one of the first rides in Tomorrowland. The ride took on the futuristic theme and took riders on a journey through Mexico, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. It was a two-person Omnimover dark ride that was eventually replaced by Delta Dreamflight (sponsored by Delta Airlines). Dreamflight was a simple show with animatronic characters and animations that presented the history of flight. It was renamed to Take Flight but was ultimately closed down in 1998. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin now takes its place.
4 The Timekeeper
This ride opened in 1992 and was an innovative ride because it merged audio-animatronic effects with a Circle-Vision movie. Timekeeper was a robot (voiced by Robin Williams) who came to life and gave Nine-Eye a heroic journey through time. Nine-Eye and guests were transported back to the prehistoric era, through the Renaissance, all the way up to the year 2189. The ride was open for twelve years before closing in 2006. It was replaced by Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.
3 Mickey Mouse Revue
This animatronic stage show was featured in Fantasyland. It opened in 1971 and provided guests with a musical concert conducted by Mickey Mouse himself. The orchestra was made out of various Disney characters and is similar to the show called Mickey’s Philharmagic that is at Walt Disney World today. The ride was eventually closed and moved to Disneyland Tokyo for the grand opening in 1983.
2 Snow White’s Scary Adventures
This ride opened with the park in 1971 and is known as one of the strangest Disney renditions to date. The queue to the ride took place in the dwarf’s mine shaft. Once inside the guided cart, guests were brought near Snow White’s cottage. However, strangely enough, Snow White wasn’t seen throughout the ride at all. Instead, the Evil Queen makes her appearance and slowly turns into the Witch. The cart quickly steers the passengers through a wall and takes them on a narrow escape through the forest. The riders are then brought back to the cottage where the dwarfs make their brief appearance before they are being chased again by the Witch who eventually pushes a large gem towards the riders. The ride was redesigned in 1994 but eventually closed in 2012.
1 Flight to the Moon
Tomorrowland was a barren stage, with many of its rides not ready before the 1971 opening. However, as a Christmas gift, Disney had Flight to the Moon ready for takeoff just two months later. This ride brought guests to the Mission Control room where they met their flight captain, Mr. Tom Morrow. Then guests were moved to their spaceships, which was actually just a circular room with recessed setting and panoramic screens. Once seated, the guests were launched into space where they met astronauts, witnessed the moon’s outer crevices, and were even terrorized by a meteor shower before safely returning to Earth. After just four years, the ride was closed and eventually made into Mission to Mars. This ultimately turned into Alien Encounter which is now Stitch’s Great Escape.