The theme park industry was built on innovative ideas and is sustained by working to maintain an edge among competitors. Most of the time, it’s exciting to watch the parks evolve and see new thrilling rides appear. Unfortunately, the addition of new attractions often means the closing of others. Here are some of the more heartbreaking changes that have been made in the theme park world over the past few years.
8. Sum of All Thrills
Sum of All Thrills was the first attraction added to Epcot’s Innoventions East pavilion in 2009. Guests could create their own thrill rides using a mathematical computer program to design a rollercoaster, bobsled, or jet plane. Once the design was created, the experience was brought to life by a robotic arm simulator. Innoventions West closed its doors for good in 2015 and the exhibits in Innoventions East started dwindling, igniting rumors that the popular technological experiment sponsored by Raytheon was in its final days as well. Sum of All Thrills officially closed in 2016, leaving Glidden’s Colortopia as the only remaining attraction in Innoventions East.
7. SeaWorld Mimes
Although Seaworld’s famous pirate mimes can’t technically be considered an “attraction”, their 20-year reign as the preshow entertainment at the Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island show made them fan favorites, even inspiring SeaWorld Mime fan clubs. The trio of men who took turns playing the silent comedian were casualties of the park’s budget restructuring in 2014. The Pirate Island show has also been replaced by Clyde and Seamore’s Sea Lion High.
6. Back to the Future
Universal’s simulator ride in Doc Brown’s Delorean took guests on a journey through time on the hunt for the films’ antagonist, Biff Tannen. The attraction was created as a sort of continuation after the franchise’s third installment, in which the riders replaced Michael J. Fox as the story’s hero. Back to the Future operated for 16 years before it closed in 2007 and was replaced by Krustyland, the Simpsons-inspired carnival ride.
5. Body Wars
Body Wars was a simulator ride in Epcot’s Wonders of Life Pavilion that “shrunk” park guests and took them on a journey through the human body. The riders, led by Captain Braddock, had to use the real-life functions in different parts of the human body to successfully complete their mission and rescue Dr. Cynthia Lair, who got stuck in a vein while researching white blood cells. Because Body Wars was one of the first “thrill” rides at EPCOT, it was wildly popular and often had a wait time of at least an hour. The growing success of Star Tours and the poor location of the Wonders of Life Pavilion (the building was stuck between Horizons and Universe of Energy) were both considered to be factors in the attraction’s eventual closing in 2007.
The ride inspired by Steven Spielberg’s JAWS movie was a beloved Universal attraction since its opening in 1990. After 22 years of operation, the nostalgic movie ride closed in 2012 to for the expansion of the mega-successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter from Islands of Adventure. Although the Amity themed area of the park is no longer there, fans can still find several nods to the attraction throughout Diagon Alley.
3. Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue
Universal’s Graveyard revue was a monster-filled musical spectacle featuring Beetlejuice, Dracula, Frankenstein and several other creepy characters performing rock songs for the audience. The show came to an end in order to prepare for the addition of the Fast & Furious–Supercharged ride, opening in 2018. Beetlejuice’s final bow was originally scheduled for December 2015, but high ticket demand led Universal to extend the show until January 5, 2016.
2. Twister…Ride It Out
Twister…Ride It Out gave fans of the 1996 film the opportunity to step inside the action as storm chasers on the hunt for the next big tornado. The special effects masterpiece blasted guests with realistic storm conditions like high powered winds and desctructive strikes of lighting as they made their way through the theater modeled after the film’s version of Wakita, Oklahoma. When it closed in 2015 to make way for the upcoming Jimmy Fallon ride, longtime fans of the Twister experience showed up to take their final ride dressed as Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, who starred in the original film and hosted the attraction.
1. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was one of the featured attractions at Magic Kingdom’s opening day in 1971. Inspired by the 1949 animated movie The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad, The Wild Ride was unlike most other dark rides of that time; It had higher speeds and several sharp turns. The highly popular ride’s closure in 1998 was controversial, fans of the attraction let protests in the park and one even created a “Save Mr. Toad” website. Despite the drama, the ride was still replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
To reminisce on more retired attractions, check out the Walt Disney World parades that have come and gone from the parks over the years!