Disney World and Disneyland have seen MANY attractions come and go throughout their histories.
Some rides became outdated, several were replaced by new IP (we’re looking at you, Frozen!), and others were just flat out not good rides. So, let’s look at some of these Disney rides that had to close, and dig into why they closed as well!
We’re starting off with a fan favorite! Maelstrom used to be in the Norway pavilion in EPCOT at Disney World. You boarded a small boat (that looked like it should belong to Vikings) and then took a nice journey on the water to learn about Norway’s history. There were trolls, and it was awesome.
This was also a neat ride because you would go backwards in your boat at one point, and then down a little drop. You also got to peek out over a waterfall into the Norway pavilion!
As many of you probably know, Maelstrom was closed in 2014 and replaced by Frozen Ever After in 2016. It has the exact same ride track and some very similar boats, but now Elsa sends you backwards with her ice powers instead of a troll. You also no longer get to look outside over the waterfall.
Many guests were not happy with this change, because the history lessons of Norway were replaced by Disney movie content. But, we know a lot of people also love Frozen Ever After, or at least want to ride it, because it consistently has one of the longest wait times in EPCOT. We do miss you though, Maelstrom.
The Great Movie Ride (1989-2017)
Oof, we know this is another touchy subject for a lot of Disney fans. The Great Movie Ride was one of the most recent ride closures in Disney World.
This ride at Hollywood Studios in the Chinese Theater took guests on a tour through classic Hollywood movies like the Wizard of Oz, Alien, Casablanca, and Indiana Jones. It also had LIVE performers, so it was like a ride and a show!
The Great Movie Ride shut down for good in 2017 to make way for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Many guests were sad about the change, especially because it was an opening day attraction at Hollywood Studios.
There are still a few things from the ride incorporated into Runaway Railway, though! The tornado scene from The Great Movie Ride has been transformed into a chaotic sequence that takes place during Runaway Railway.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure (1996-2017)
Before Ellen, this attraction was called Universe of Energy and it was an opening day attraction at EPCOT. It took you through the “prehistoric past” to learn more about energy and how it works.
Then, Ellen DeGeneres took over the ride in 1996 and the plot changed to her dreaming about being on Jeopardy, but not being able to get any of the questions right, so Bill Nye the Science Guy shows up to help her out. Pretty bizarre, right? This ride was also REALLY long — it was 45 MINUTES!
Ellen’s Energy Adventure closed for good on the same day as The Great Movie Ride, actually. And, on its last ride through, it actually broke down, so guests got to walk around the ride and take pictures as a final goodbye. Now, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be in that space.
This is a new coaster that actually has a reverse launch! You can read our full spoiler free review of the attraction here!
Rocket Rods (1998-2000)
Believe it or not, Disneyland Park used to have a PeopleMover like Magic Kingdom does, but it was replaced after almost 30 years with Rocket Rods in the late 90s. This was like a faster version of the PeopleMover, but it logistically didn’t work very well, because the vehicles had to speed and and slow down suddenly to get around the turns on the PeopleMover track.
The track also weakened because the infrastructure was not built for a high-speed ride, it was built for a leisurely one! So, it broke down a lot in the brief period that it was around. The Rocket Rods closed down quietly in 2000. Disney said they would reopen it in 2001…but that never happened. So now, an empty PeopleMover track just lingers over Tomorrowland in Disneyland.
Superstar Limo (2001-2002)
Oh boy, we have reached the infamous Superstar Limo attraction that was once in Disney California Adventure Park. This was an opening day attraction at the park and was so bad that it didn’t even last for a full year (it opened in February 2001 and closed in January 2002).
The original idea for the ride was that you were trying to escape the paparazzi, but after Princess Diana’s tragic death, the concept was reworked to be more respectful. But, the ride still didn’t turn out well. Guests compared it to a carnival ride saying it felt like a rush-job. Also, the celebrity animatronics were…weird, to say the least. Superstar Limo was replaced by Mike and Sulley to the Rescue in 2006.
If you look carefully, you might be able to make out some of the old animatronics from the original ride — Disney covered them in yellow hazmat suits to turn them into CDA agents!
Backstage Studio Tour (1989-2014)
The Backstage Studio Tour (or, as a lot of people know it, the Studio Backlot Tour) was another opening day attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which was then called Disney-MGM Studios. It took you on a 35-minute behind-the-scenes tour where you saw how movies are made by going through different production buildings and special effects demonstrations.
Many tour elements were removed to make room for Lights, Motors, Action, which is when it was renamed the Studios Backlot Tour. However, the tour closed down completely in 2014 to make way for the current Toy Story Land area of the park.
Body Wars (1989-2007)
Body Wars used to be in the Wonders of Life pavilion at EPCOT and had similar technology to Star Tours. But, instead of going into space, you were shrunk down and went inside a person’s bloodstream (yeah, really). This was supposed to help educate people on the human body, but what an interesting choice for a ride, right? It’s giving us Magic School Bus vibes.
This was one of the first thrill rides in EPCOT, so it was pretty popular for a while! However, when Star Tours made its way on over to Disney World, Body Wars didn’t stand a chance. They had very similar ride mechanisms, but Star Tours had a WAY better story, so the hype for Body Wars died down and it officially closed in 2007.
Disney’s original version of the Skyliner was in Disneyland Park for almost 40 YEARS. The Skyway (or Sky Buckets) ran above the park from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland and was a fun way to move around the park. People used it for things like a shortcut to get around parades or just as a relaxing ride to get off your feet for a bit.
When the Matterhorn Bobsleds opened in 1959, the Imagineers had built the ride so that the Skyway could run straight through the mountain. But, years later, rider demand for the Skyway was falling. Also, there were apparently stress cracks showing up in the support tower of the Matterhorn.
To keep both rides operating safely, it would have cost a big chunk of change, and Disney didn’t think it was worth the cost. So, they chose to only save the Matterhorn, and the Skyway was closed after almost 4 decades of operation.
All of these rides have such interesting histories and reasons why they had to close down. But, there are a lot more rides which have similar stories! Find out why even MORE rides had to close in Disney in our video below:
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Which of these rides do you wish was still around in the Disney Parks? Tell us in the comments!