• Thursday, January 28, 2021
Vintage Disney: Magic Kingdom

Vintage Disney: Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World’s inaugural theme park will celebrate 50 years of operation next year, and it’s safe to say that Magic Kingdom has changed a ton since its opening day. Take a trip down memory lane and check out these short-lived attractions that have made their mark at Magic Kingdom over the years!

America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful was one of Magic Kingdom’s first attractions, opening in Tomorrowland in November 1971. The park’s first Circle-vision 360 film was presented by AT&T, which was a corporate partner of Disney’s for several years. The 18-minute film ran for around two years before it was temporarily replaced in 1974 with a new film called “Magic Carpet ‘Round the World” while America the Beautiful was updated for the Bicentennial. It returned the next year and operated daily at the park until it was replaced with The Timekeeper in 1979. The attraction space is now home to the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.

The ExtraTERRORrestrial Alien Encounter

The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter opened in Tomorrowland on June 20, 1995, replacing the Mission to Mars attraction. The dark humor sci-fi experience was a collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm. Because it had a much darker tone in comparison to the rest of the park, there was a warning outside of the entrance. The alert explained to guests that the experience may not be suitable for kids under 12 years old due to its intensity.

After a preshow in the “Tomorrowland Interplanetary Convention Center” there was a secondary pre-ride encounter with a talking simulated intelligence robot (S.I.R.) and a cute animatronic alien named Skippy. Finally, guests were led into a circular chamber and seated in harnesses so the ride could begin.

Inside the teleportation tube, two X-S Tech employees communicated with riders “live” from across the galaxy via video screens. One lucky rider was supposed to be teleported live out of the chamber to met with the X-S team in person, but one of the employees got impatient and decided to teleport himself instead.

The unexpected change of plans caused the teleportation signals to be totally crossed and diverted to an unknown planet. Instead of the X-S employee, a giant carnivorous alien with wings was beamed into the tube by mistake. The other technicians panicked at chaos ensued. Flashes of light alternating with total darkness showed glimpses of a shattered, empty teleportation tube before the whole chamber fell completely black. Guests were still restrained to their seats with the harnesses, leaving them completely stuck in the dark chamber while maintenance workers tried to restore power.

Without the ability to see what was happening around them, riders were left to listen to the alien attacking the maintenance worker and the creepy shrieks that followed. The seats rumbled under the weight of the alien moving around the chamber and guests could feel the creature’s drool and hot breath coming from its mouth.

The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter closed in October 12, 2003 and much of the attraction was repurposed to create Stitch’s Great Escape, which opened on November 16, 2004.

Country Bear Vacation Hoedown

The Country Bear Jamboree has been a staple of Frontierland at Magic Kingdom since opening day in 1971. However, there was a brief period of time where the original show went on holiday for the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown. The country bear celebration of summer and the great outdoors debuted in May 1986.

Each critter’s costume from the original show was replaced with an outfit that represented summer vacation activities. Performers included:

Instead of the usual opening with Max, Buff, and Melvin, the Five Bear Rugs started off the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown by tuning their instruments in front of the crowd. All of the animal entertainers performed songs inspired by the summer, such as “The Great Outdoors”, “California Bears”, and “Thank God I’m a Country Bear.”

Summer ended for the Country Bears in February 1992, when the original Country Bear Jamboree show returned to Frontierland.

  • Henry: The master of ceremonies for the show wore an old ill-fitting “Camp grizzly” t-shirt and a Scout Master’s hat
  • Liver Lips McGrowl: The funny looking bear, named for his giant lips, wore a mountain climbing outfit for his Elvis-inspired performance
  • Wendell: The buck-toothed brown bear wore the essential tourist outfit complete with a vacation shirt, hat, and camera
  • Teddi Berra: Came down from the ceiling wearing a yellow raincoat, galoshes, and holding an umbrella
  • Ernest: The fiddle playing brown bear wore his old derby hat from the original show and a striped shirt
  • Terrance (aka Shaker): Wore a blue scuba mask, snorkel, and trunks and accompanied by his octopus “girlfriend” named Delores
  • Trixie: large brown bear wearing a pink butterfly skirt and holding a sandwich
  • Big Al: The fattest bear in the show wore a plaid shirt with a miner hat and camping gear
  • The Sun Bonnet Trio (Bunny, Bubbles, and Beulah): The triplet sisters were beach-ready in a two-piece sailor swimsuit, a one-piece white swimsuit with a red towel and heart-shaped glasses, and a pink floral bikini
  • Gomer: Wore a pink Hawaiian shirt and lei and played a piano decorated with a clam, pineapple, and fishing net
  • The Five Bear Rugs (Zeke, Zeb, Ted, Fred, and Tennessee):
  • Baby Oscar: The cute little brown bear wore a Boy Scout uniform
  • Buff: The head of an American bison wearing a fisherman hat
  • Max: Whitetail buck head wearing a green baseball cap
  • Melvin: The bull moose head had a variety of hats placed on his antlers
  • Randy: A skunk who loved to sing and tap dance replaced Sammy the Raccoon from the original show

Mike Fink Keel Boats

The Mike Fink Keel Boat attraction was one of the first at Magic Kingdom, opening with the park on October 1, 1971. The ride was based on Walt Disney televisions episodes Davy Crockett’s Keelboat Race and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates, getting its name from “King of the River” Mike Fink who lost the keelboat race.

The free-floating boats moved around Tom Sawyer Island in Liberty Square. Riders would sit on benches inside the boat cabin or on the roof during the trip around the Rivers of America.

The long-running attraction closed on April 29, 2001, likely related to a capsizing incident with one of the keelboats at the Disneyland version of the ride. A former Mike Fink Keel Boat can still be found on the banks of Tom Sawyer Island as a non-functional prop.

For more vintage Disney, check out the evolution of The Monster Sound Show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! You can experience Magic Kingdom’s current roster of attractions with discount Disney tickets from Tickets2You!

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