Disney World has retired several rides and attractions over the years to make way for new interests and experiences. Here are some notable examples of retired Disney attractions. If there are some rides you think we missed, let us know in the comments.
Photo Source Yesterland
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (Magic Kingdom) – closed in 1998
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was a classic attraction at the Magic Kingdom theme park in Walt Disney World Resort. However, it closed permanently in 1998. Its closure was to make way for a new ride, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Winnie the Pooh, at the time, was seen as a more popular and modern attraction.
Disney has been updating and revamping its parks to keep up with changing tastes and new technologies. The decision to replace Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride with a more unique, more relevant attraction was part of that process. While some guests may have been disappointed to see the classic ride go, the addition of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh continues to be well-received by many visitors.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Magic Kingdom) – closed in 1994
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a classic ride at Magic Kingdom. It allowed guests to ride in a submarine and explore the underwater world, inspired by the famous novel by Jules Verne. The ride closed permanently in 1994 after more than 20 years of operation.
Several reasons for the ride’s closure, including declining popularity and high maintenance costs. Additionally, the ride vehicles used for the attraction needed to be updated, and it was becoming increasingly more challenging to obtain replacement parts for them.
Another factor in the decision to close the ride was the need for space to accommodate new attractions and experiences. The area that housed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was later transformed into the Storybook Circus section of Fantasyland, which includes attractions like the Barnstormer roller coaster and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
Although the ride is no longer in operation, it is still remembered fondly by many Disney fans who appreciate its unique and immersive experience. Some original ride elements, such as the giant squid, were repurposed for other attractions or displayed throughout the park.
The Great Movie Ride (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – closed in 2017
The Great Movie Ride was a popular attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios). It took guests on a journey through classic movies using audio-animatronics and special effects. The ride closed permanently in 2017 after nearly 30 years of operation.
One reason for the closure of the Great Movie Ride was the need for space to accommodate new attractions and experiences. The ride occupied a large footprint in the park, and Disney was looking to update the area to include new attractions that would appeal to modern audiences.
Additionally, the Great Movie Ride was showing its age, and many of the films and scenes featured in the ride were becoming less relevant to younger generations. Disney has been moving towards updating and refreshing its park attractions to keep up with changing tastes and new technologies. The decision to replace the Great Movie Ride with a more unique, relevant interest was part of that process.
The retired Disney attraction was replaced with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which uses state-of-the-art technology to bring the beloved Disney characters to life in a new and immersive way. The new attraction has been well-received by many guests and represents a fresh, modern take on classic Disney characters and storytelling. This might be one of the more controversial retired Disney attractions in history.
Maelstrom (Epcot) – closed in 2014
Maelstrom was a famous ride at the Norway pavilion in Epcot that took guests on a journey through Norwegian folklore and history. The ride closed permanently in 2014 to make way for a new attraction based on the popular Disney movie, Frozen.
A combination of factors drove the decision to close Maelstrom. One factor was the opportunity to capitalize on the success of Frozen, which had become one of Disney’s most popular and profitable franchises. By replacing Maelstrom with a new Frozen-themed attraction, Disney hoped to attract more visitors to the Norway pavilion and keep the park fresh and relevant.
Another factor in the decision to close Maelstrom was the age and condition of the ride. The attraction had been in operation for more than 25 years and was showing signs of wear and tear. In addition, some of the ride’s animatronics and special effects needed to be updated and in need of repair or replacement.
The new Frozen Ever After attraction that replaced Maelstrom uses cutting-edge technology to bring the world of Frozen to life in an immersive and entertaining way for guests of all ages. The ride has been a popular addition to Epcot and has helped to attract new visitors to the Norway pavilion.
Photo Source Yesterland
The Backlot Tour (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – closed in 2014
The Backlot Tour attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios) was closed in 2014. The decision to close the Backlot Tour was part of a more significant effort to revitalize and update the park’s offerings.
One factor that contributed to the closure was the changing nature of the film and entertainment industry. The Backlot Tour was designed to showcase the movie-making process, including a tram ride through various outdoor sets and soundstages. However, the Backlot Tour became less relevant and compelling to guests with the increasing use of digital effects and location shooting.
Additionally, the Backlot Tour required a lot of real estate and resources, which could be better utilized for new attractions and experiences that better aligned with the park’s evolving focus on immersive storytelling and themed environments.
Another factor contributing to the decision to close the Backlot Tour was the need to streamline and update the park’s offerings. The closure of the Backlot Tour allowed for the creation of new attractions, such as Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which have proven to be hugely popular with guests.
Overall, the decision to close the Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was driven by a combination of factors, including changes in the entertainment industry, the need for new attractions, and a desire to update and modernize the park’s offerings.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure (Epcot) – closed in 2017
Ellen’s Energy Adventure was a ride attraction at Epcot in Walt Disney World Resort that closed in 2017. There were several reasons for the attraction’s closure.
One reason was the age of the attraction. Ellen’s Energy Adventure opened in 1996 and has not received any significant updates or renovations since then. The ride technology and special effects used in the attraction needed to be updated, and the appeal did not offer a modern experience compared to other attractions at Epcot.
Another reason for the closure of Ellen’s Energy Adventure was to make way for a new Guardians of the Galaxy-themed attraction. This new attraction, called Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, will be a roller coaster ride with a new ride system and immersive storytelling expected to appeal to modern audiences.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure was one of the longest rides at Walt Disney World Resort, with a runtime of approximately 45 minutes. This long runtime made the attraction less attractive to guests who prefer shorter, more interactive experiences.
Finally, Ellen’s Energy Adventure was less popular than other attractions at Epcot, with relatively low guest attendance. As a result, the decision was made to close the attraction and replace it with a new, more modern, and popular attraction that would better meet the needs and expectations of today’s guests. This is easily one of the more welcomed retired Disney attractions.
Snow White’s Scary Adventures (Magic Kingdom) – closed in 2012
Snow White’s Scary Adventures was a dark ride attraction in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort. The ride closed permanently in 2012. There are several reasons for its closure.
One reason for the closure of Snow White’s Scary Adventures was the need to update and modernize the attraction. The ride technology and special effects were updated and up to the standards of other modern attractions in the park. The decision was made to close the magnet and replace it with a new mechanism. This offers guests a more immersive and contemporary experience.
Another reason for the closure of Snow White’s Scary Adventures was the ride’s reputation for being too scary. The ride was designed to be a dark and spooky experience. Over time, however, it became clear that some guests found it too intense for younger children. Disney wanted to create a more family-friendly experience for all guests. The decision was to replace Snow White’s Scary Adventures with a new, less scary attraction.
Finally, the closure of Snow White’s Scary Adventures was part of a more significant effort to update Fantasyland. The attraction was replaced with a new one called Princess Fairytale Hall, featuring meet-and-greet opportunities with Disney princesses. The new ride is more in line with modern, interactive experiences. Disney is continuing to modernize great rides.
Overall, the closure of Snow White’s Scary Adventures was driven by many factors. These included the need to update and modernize the attraction. The ride had a reputation for being too intense for younger children. Likewise, it made way for a more significant effort to revitalize and update Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.
Stitch’s Great Espace (Magic Kingdom) – closed in 2018
Stitch’s Great Escape was an attraction in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort that closed in 2018. There were several reasons for the attraction’s closure.
One reason was the attraction’s popularity. Stitch’s Great Escape was less popular than other attractions at Magic Kingdom and had relatively low guest attendance. The appeal was also known to be quite scary for younger guests. This makes it less appealing to families with young children.
Another reason for the closure of Stitch’s Great Escape was the need to update and modernize the attraction. The ride technology and special effects used in the interest needed to be updated. Likewise, the appeal did not offer a modern experience compared to other attractions at Magic Kingdom.
Additionally, the attraction had a troubled history. It originally opened in 2004 as Stitch’s Great Escape. However, it initially existed as a temporary attraction until a new ride could be developed for Tomorrowland. The appeal was unpopular with guests from the beginning. It went through several different versions and re-themes over the years to improve its popularity and guest experience.
The closure of Stitch’s Great Escape was part of a more significant effort to revitalize and update Tomorrowland. Of course, we see that now with TRON. The attraction was replaced with a new interactive entertainment experience called Stitch’s Alien Encounter Character Greeting. This allows guests to meet and take photos with Stitch in a more immersive and interactive setting.
So that you know, this is not an exhaustive list. However, it’s a selection of some of the more well-known retired rides and attractions at Disney World. Do you have any other questions about closed rides? You can subscribe to the Parks Academy podcast for more details.