Neatorama Facts: Closed Disney Rides

Fans of Disneyland know that no matter how popular an attraction is, there’s still a chance it won’t be there in ten years. That’s partly because Disney wanted his parks to always be improving, but also because things wear out or become dangerous and there’s no inexpensive fix. While some fan favorites, like Captian EO will eventually return if you wait long enough, others, like America Sings will be readapted to fit into another attraction and will never be seen in their original incarnation again. Here are a handful of attractions that once existed at the park and may or may not be gone for good.

Image Via bearexposed [Flickr]

The Skyway

Most visitors to Disneyland before the mid-nineties will remember this attraction, even if they never rode it. After all, an aerial gondola ride that went through the Matterhorn was something that was pretty easy to remember. The ride was built in 1956 and while plenty of similar rides exist in parks around the country these days, at the time, it was the first aerial ropeway in the U.S. In fact, the Skyway was actually built before the Matterhorn, which had to be built around the pre-existing gondola ride. While the ride was very popular in that it allowed guests to view the entire park from above, it was closed in 1994 because the Matterhorn battery supports started to show stress cracks.

In addition, prior to the closing of the ride, someone jumped out and while he ended up OK, the incident was certainly not something Disney executives wanted to repeat. Fixing the machinery and updating the ride to become ADA compliant and safer would have been outrageously expensive, so the ride was closed all together. The hole in the Matterhorn is now covered up and the Tomorrowland station has been torn down, but the Fantasyland station is still sitting around empty.

Image Via ATIS547 [Flickr]

Country Bear Jamboree

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m particularly sad this one is gone. Opened in 1972, the Country Bear Jamboree was a stage show performed by animatronic critters –mostly bears. The attraction was so popular, it even was given a special Christmas show to entertain guests and inspired a movie that was released in 2002. A year before the movie was released though, the attraction was removed to make room for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride.

If you are hoping that the bears come back, there are rumors that the attraction may open at California Adventure sometime, but these stories have not been confirmed as of yet.

Image Via Loren Javier [Flickr]

Flying Saucers

This ride, built in 1961, sounds pretty fun as it’s a little like riding on an air hockey puck. Essentially, you got to play bumper cars on hover cars. The vehicles featured an air cushion that was pushed off the ground by forceful gusts of air from the surface under the cars and while the ride seemed to be pretty popular, it was too expensive to operate and only allowed a few guests to participate at a time. That’s why it was cut only five years later, only to be replaced by the Tomorrowland Stage. If you’re cursing the Imagineers for removing such a cool ride before you got to experience it, there’s good news. This idea is going to be reworked to fit a Cars theme and Luigi’s Roamin’ Tires at California Adventure is all set to open in 2012.

Image Via arbyreed [Flickr]

Tomorrowland Boats and the Submarine Voyage

The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage might be the current occupant of Tomorrowland’s Mermaid Lagoon, but it is the third incarnation of rides in the area. In fact, the first ride in the lagoon, Tomorrowland Boats, was actually the first permanent attraction to be removed from the park. Opening a little after opening day, then renamed and closed within a year, the boats suffered from unreliable engines that often left visitors stuck in the middle of the lagoon. Of course, Disney wasn’t about to leave that space open long, so within a few years, the Submarine Voyage was opened to the public. The ride explored an undersea world filled with mermaids, a sea serpent and other realistic and imaginary marine life.

The ride was a big enough deal that it was actually one of the first attractions to require an E ticket. In the mid-sixties, the lagoon was even decked out with real women in mermaid costumes sitting on the rocks and periodically performing synchronized swimming routines. Unfortunately, a few gents actually tried swimming out to meet these mystical maidens and some of the mermaids raised health concerns related to being submerged in the dirty water on a daily basis, so the act only lasted a few years.

The Submarine Voyage lasted quite a while longer, but as rides began improving more and more, kids started to get bored with the attraction and the cost of upkeeping the vessels and underwater creatures just wasn’t worth the investment. The ride closed for good in 1998, with Disneyland president Paul Pressler promising a new attraction would be opened by 2003. Originally, the powers that be intended to create a ride based on the Disney film Atlantis, but when that movie bombed, the lagoon sat empty for years, until it was finally drained in 2005 for the creation of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.

Images Via Olivander and Tom Simpson [Flickr]

The PeopleMover and Rocket Rods

Opening in 1967, the PeopleMover was intended to show a futuristic alternative version of public transportation. The ride used a moving sidewalk to get people up to the right speed before they boarded open air cars that ran on a high track, allowing them to see the attractions of Tomorrowland. When the ride was closed in 1995, it sat vacant for years before it was replaced with the Rocket Rods, which were Disney’s attempt at using the PeopleMover track for something else.

Essentially, the ride took a similar look at the area as the PeopleMover, only it raced through the track. Because Disney couldn’t find a sponsor for the ride though, they tried to keep costs down as much as possible, refusing to bank the corners, which resulted in the ride having to slow down drastically every time it turned. These sudden speed changes also led to problems with the computer system and the ride broke down just about every day. Within two years, the ride was scrapped and the track now sits empty. While there are rumors that the PeopleMover will return, Disney execs have stated that if they do, it will be a major investment on the company’s part because the ride will have to be revamped drastically to make it compliant with modern ADA and safety regulations.

Image Via Distraction Limited [Flickr]

The Mule Pack and Rainbow Caverns Mine Train

Here’s one I always thought sounded cool even though I never got to do it myself. The Mule Pack gave kids and adults a chance to ride real mules up the mountains, forests and deserts of Frontierland. When the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train ride opened in the space that is now Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the mules and trains could operate the hillsides at the same time. The mule ride was closed in 1973 though, and three years later, the train ride (renamed the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland) was closed to make way for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. For more information on the transition, check out our Neatorama Facts about the ride.

Image Via fivequinns [Flickr]

Rocket to the Moon and Mission to Mars

Back in 1955, it was amazing to imagine man being able to actually travel to the moon, but the Rocket to the Moon attraction allowed guests to imagine flying in a rocket ship that was on its way to our nearest neighbor in the sky. The project was as realistic as Imagineers could hope at the time and they even worked with NASA to ensure it was as authentic as possible. After we landed on the moon in 1969 though, the ride started seeming less and less exciting, so Disney refurbished the ride so the ultimate destination would now be Mars. Designers once again worked with NASA to ensure the attraction was realistic and the Mission to Mars opened to the public in 1975. By the nineties though, space exploration wasn’t nearly as far-fetched as it was in earlier decades, so the attraction was closed in 1992 to make way for an ambitious new Tomorrowland project that would include a number of exciting new rides.

Unfortunately, Disneyland Paris started going into serious debt at the same time, so most of the Tomorrowland changes were canned permanently. The Mission to Mars building sat open until 1998 when it was opened as a restaurant, Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port –personally, I’d rather take a simulated trip to Mars than eat some subpar pizza.

Image Via bearexposed [Flickr]

Do any of you miss these long-gone attractions? And those of you who visit Disney World or the other parks, do you have any closed rides you were particularly fond of?

Sources: Wikipedia #1,#2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 _____________________________

Disneyland fans! See more Neatorama Facts: Neatorama Facts: Splash Mountain Neatorama Facts: Haunted Mansion Neatorama Facts: Sleeping Beauty Castle Neatorama Facts: Pirates of the Caribbean Neatorama Facts: The Jungle Cruise Neatorama Facts: Space Mountain Neatorama Facts: The Enchanted Tiki Room Neatorama Facts: Christmas at Disneyland Neatorama Facts: It's a Small World Neatorama Facts: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Neatorama Facts: Star Tours

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The Tiki Hut animatronic birds & masks
Swiss Family Robinson treehouse
Safari Boat Ride
Frontierland whistling caves (Tom Sawyer theme)
Mary Poppins and Tinkerbell gliding across the sky during fireworks finale
Presidents animatronics
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As a small child I watched the end of the microscope on the Monsanto ride trying to figure out how the people got so small.

Eventually I notice that black people would enter the ride but never appeared at the tip of the microscope and finally figured out it was just miniature models I was seeing. This was in the early sixties to give you some idea of the times.
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As of this past December, the People Mover was still going at WDW. As far as the Skyway goes, I would be interested in seeing what other parks around the country still have this type of ride. I didn't think there were any opperating in the States any longer.
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