- Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, has gone through tons of changes and renovations since first opening for business in 1971.
- Over the years, a number of beloved rides and attractions have been removed from the park’s grounds.
- The Maelstrom ride in Epcot, for example, was renovated in 2014 with a new theme inspired by the animated film “Frozen.”
- Other attractions, like the giant sorcerer’s hat at Hollywood Studios, were removed to keep up with the changing atmosphere of the theme park.
Whether you’re a frequent Disney World traveler, or have only visited once, there’s a good chance that you have a favorite attraction at the theme park.
Since Disney often renovates its properties, over the years a number of beloved rides and attractions have been removed in the process.
From the fan-favorite Maelstrom ride in Epcot to the classic Studio Backlot Tour in Hollywood Studios, we wish these retired rides and attractions could come back.
The Great Movie Ride epitomized the movie-set aesthetic of Hollywood Studios.
The ride first opened in 1989, and was built within a replica of the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
Outside the ride, tons of celebrities left signatures and handprints in a cement walkway.
- Jeff C./Yelp
The celebrity signatures were implemented to replicate a similar walkway found outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
According to the Disney blog AllEars, everyone from Audrey Hepburn to Robin Williams left their mark at the Florida location.
From start to finish, the Great Movie Ride made guests feel as though they were starring in a film.
After entering the replica theater, park visitors would wait in a “theater lobby” filled with real props from famous films, according to Disney blog WDW Info. Classic silent films were also displayed on screens along the line queue.
Park visitors then took a 22-minute-long boat ride through some of Hollywood’s most famous movie scenes.
The ride was filled with animatronics meant to represent classic movies, like “The Wizard of Oz.”
Throughout the ride, park goers viewed animatronic versions of scenes from films such as “Casablanca,” “Fantasia,” “Alien,” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” among others.
And there were live actors involved in the ride too. According to Paste, each ride was “taken hostage by a cast member playing either a 1930s gangster or a bandit from an old Western.”
Unfortunately for fans, the Great Movie Ride was closed on August 13, 2017.
In its place, Disney is creating its first-ever Mickey Mouse ride called Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Lights, Motors, Action! was another staple of the Hollywood Studios park.
The “extreme stunt show” was first brought to Disney World as part of the park’s Happiest Celebration on Earth event in 2005, according to Extinct Disney, a blog about retired park attractions.
The show was inspired by the similar Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular in Disneyland Paris.
The 40-minute-long show featured high-speed car chases, motorcycle tricks, and jet-ski stunts.
Famous Disney characters also made appearances in the show, including Herbie the Lovebug and Lightning McQueen from “Cars.”
But to make room for new “Star Wars” and “Toy Story” attractions, Disney chose to end the show on April 2, 2016.
In 1996, Cinderella’s castle was decorated like a bright-pink birthday cake to celebrate the park’s 25th anniversary.
The castle was transformed on October 1, 1996, according to Disney Everyday, a blog dedicated to the the Florida theme park. It was covered in pink-and-white paint that looked like icing, fake candy canes, and 26 decorative birthday candles. The park’s birthday celebration went on for 15 months, and the castle remained decorated until January 31, 1998.
While Disney World won’t be celebrating another 25th birthday, the castle would look stunning if decorated for other milestones.
Fans were sad to see the closing of Mickey’s Toontown Fair in 2011.
The smaller land was located within Magic Kingdom, and was home to meet-and-greet areas, rides inspired by classic Disney characters, and playgrounds, among other attractions.
The two walk-through replicas of Mickey and Minnie’s cartoon homes were arguably the most famous part of the land.
Mickey Mouse’s larger-than-life home was beloved by visitors of all ages.
- Anna Fox/Flickr/Attribution License
Those who visited were able to tour Mickey’s living room, bedroom, kitchen, and garden, among other areas.
Disney World reportedly held a party for employees at Mickey’s Toontown Fair after it officially closed.
Attractions Magazine reported that Disney held the VIP party on February 12, 2011, after Magic Kingdom closed for the night.
During the reported event, park cast members were said to have taken photos with Disney characters throughout Toontown.
The Studio Backlot Tour was one of the most interactive rides in Disney World.
Like the Great Movie Ride, Disney’s Studio Backlot Tour was one of the first rides built for Hollywood Studios in 1989.
The tour changed a lot over its nearly 15 years in business.
- Aaron H./Foursquare
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the attraction originally took hours to walk through and doubled as a working studio. At the time, visitors were even able to get a glimpse of television productions being filmed on the lot.
Even after being reduced to a 30-minute-long show in its later years, the Studio Backlot Tour still gave visitors a taste of what it’s like to make action movies. For example, four volunteers would be chosen from the audience at the start of the tour to take part in a live special-effects demonstration, according to Disney blog Yesterland.
During the tour, visitors would board tram cars that drove through backstage areas of the park.
- Orman B./Foursquare
During the ride’s heyday, park visitors were able to see everything from working movie sets to the working Disney costume department as part of the Studio Backlot Tour.
In its final years, much of the back lot had been taken over by other attractions, such as the Lights, Motors, Action! stunt show.
- Amy S./Yelp
Still, some movie props and Disney memorabilia could be seen throughout the attraction. An authentic Herbie the Lovebug was on display, as well as Walt Disney’s personal airplane called “The Mouse.”
A fan-favorite part of the Studio Backlot Tour took place at “Catastrophe Canyon,” the attraction’s last-standing film set.
- Carl H./Yelp
At the movie set, visitors would sit in tram cars and view an imitation movie scene play out.
During the demonstration, a fake earthquake would shake the tram car, a tanker would explode and soak the audience, fake power lines fell, and a fake flash flood would drench the set.
Despite wishes from fans, the ride closed permanently in September 2014.
For almost 15 years, a 122-foot-tall sorcerer’s hat was the main focal point of Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.
According to AllEars, the structure was first built in 2001 as part of Disney World’s 100 Years of Magic Celebration. It was inspired by the celestial blue hat worn by Sorcerer Mickey in the 1940 film “Fantasia.”
Mickey’s giant sorcerer’s hat was originally home to interactive kiosks that taught park goers about Walt Disney’s life, but was taken over by pin-trading stands and merchandise booths by 2003.
Disney World began to deconstruct the hat in January 2015, and completed the job by February 2015. Like other attractions in the park, it was removed to match the changing image of Hollywood Studios.
Epcot’s World Showcase once featured a thrilling ride called the Maelstrom.
- Donna N./Foursquare
It was located in Epcot’s Norway pavilion, and had a loyal fan base. During the dark ride, park goers were taken on a whimsical journey filled with trolls and Norse mythology, which helped visitors to “seek the spirit of Norway,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios offered a unique chance to experience the popular show in real life.
To participate in the show, visitors would audition with park producers early in the morning, according to WDW Info. Chosen park goers would then undergo hair and makeup transformations before spending time with a vocal coach.
Later on in the day, participants would compete during a live show for other park attendees, and winners were awarded passes to cut the lines during auditions for the actual “American Idol” television show.
But on August 30, 2014, the American Idol Experience was permanently shut down to make room for new attractions in Hollywood Studios.
Yet another esteemed attraction at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios was called The Magic of Disney Animation.
- Amy S./Yelp
While many of the park’s attractions were fast-paced and full of energy, the art studio provided a relaxing escape for visitors of all ages, according to WDW Info.
At the studio, park goers could receive art tips from actual Disney animators.
The tour began in a theater filled with Mickey-shaped drawing stations. There, a Disney animator worked alongside Mushu from “Mulan” to teach visitors how to draw popular characters.
Real Disney animations were displayed in glass cases throughout the studio.
Depending on which Pixar movie had recently been released, Disney World displayed original drawings and story boards from film productions like “Monsters University.”
But the fun didn’t stop there. The art studio also held meet and greets with characters like Baymax from “Big Hero 6.”
The “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure made park guests feel as small as insects.
- Chris K./Foursquare
The playground was inspired by the 1989 film, and was beloved by park visitors of all ages. Like many other retired attractions, the fake movie set was located within Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.
The playground’s larger-than-life features were demolished in 2016.
- Mike W./Yelp
According to WDW Info, the attraction once featured 30-foot tall grass, 40-foot-tall bumblebees, and a 52-foot-tall garden hose that sprayed visitors with water.
There were also larger-than-life cans of Play Doh and giant rolls of film in the playground, which doubled as climbing walls and slides.
To make room for the upcoming Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, the playground was closed on April 2, 2016.
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