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22 Lost Disney Rides, From the Maelstrom to Mission to Mars

When the new Walt Disney World attraction Frozen Ever After opened at Epcot Center recently in Orlando, eager families waited in line for up to five hours for their turn to see Anna and Elsa in the animatronic flesh. But sprinkled in amongst the jubilant throngs were some unhappy faces mourning the loss of the ride that the Frozen gang replaced: the Maelstrom, a log flume that had entertained visitors since 1988. It’s a reminder that almost every time a new ride debuts at the Happiest Place on Earth, another one twinkles out of existence. From Phantom Boats and Flying Saucers to a World of Motion and an ExtraTERRORestrial Encounter, we’ve assembled this gallery of some rides that are no longer in operation at Walt Disney World and/or Disneyland in Anaheim.
Mission to Mars
This Disneyland attraction had three lives during its four-decade existence. Debuted as Rocket to the Moon in 1955, it was rechristened Flight to the Moon in 1967, two years before Neil Armstrong took one small step for man. The Imagineers then teamed up with NASA for a Mars-themed revamp. Visitors enlisted for a Mission to Mars from 1975 until the early ’90s, when it was permanently grounded. (Photo: ATIS547/Flickr)
Country Bear Jamboree
While Disney’s premiere animatronic ursine combo still croon their bearish brand of country at Walt Disney World, Disneyland pulled the plug on them in 2001 — right before they headlined a feature film that everyone prefers to pretend never happened. A Winnie the Pooh ride occupies that space now, and country music really isn’t that bear’s jam (or honey). (Photo: Whitenep/Wikipedia)
Phantom Boats
These retro-futuristic boats hold the dubious distinction of being the first ride ever removed from Disneyland due to repeated mechanical problems. The 2-3 seater fiberglass flotation vehicles — which zipped around the Tomorrowland Lagoon — were removed in 1956, just a year after the park opened. (Photo:
Flying Saucers
With UFOs all the rage in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Tomorrowland visitors flocked to these personal spacecrafts when they debuted at Disneyland in 1961. The ride’s resemblance to an oversized air hockey table has been duly noted, with air valves aiding in the saucers’ motion, while also making them look more like floating saucers than flying saucers. By most accounts, the ride was fun, but expensive, and the saucers were decommissioned in 1966. (Photo: Tom Simpson/Flickr)
Rainbow Mountain Stagecoach Ride
Nothing is more emblematic of frontier life than a stagecoach, so this horse-drawn Disneyland attraction was a natural for Frontierland’s initial list of rides. Following a dirt road that passes along the banks of the still-existing Rivers of America, the Rainbow Mountain stagecoaches were phased out in 1959 when construction began on the Nature’s Wonderland area, which later became Big Thunder Ranch.

Rainbow Caverns Mine Train
Part of Frontierland’s now-defunct Living Desert region which opened in 1956, this winding train ride went in, under, and around the lovingly decorated Rainbow Caverns. In 1960, it was renamed Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland and took visitors through peaks (specifically Cascade Peak) and valleys (Beaver Valley). Seventeen years later, it was boarded up to make room for one of Disneyland’s best coasters, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. (Photo: Tom Simpson/Flickr)

Big Thunder Ranch
To capitalize on the continued popularity of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Disneyland transformed the Frontierland area previously known as Nature’s Wonderland into this Western ranch in 1986, complete with a petting zoo and a frontier cabin. It also housed the all-you-can-eat Big Thunder Barbecue, where hungry tourists chowed down for decades. But cowpokes are no match for Jedi: In early 2016, Big Thunder Ranch hosted its last hoedown. A massive construction project will bring Star Wars Land to life on the site
Mike Fink Keel Boats
Named after the 18th century river rat who appeared in one of Disney’s Davy Crockett’s movies, these cozy boats were a great way to explore the sights along the Rivers of America at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. That is, until 1997, when a Disneyland boat capsized with several people aboard and the ride was put in dry dock. (The Magic Kingdom docked its keelboats in 2001, though not due to any accidents.) (Photo: Tom Simpson/Flickr)
Star Tours
Decades before the Mouse House purchased Lucasfilm, Star Wars already had a presence at Disneyland courtesy of this beloved motion simulator which opened in 1986, three years after Return of the Jedi. Like that trilogy capper, Star Tours took place on Endor, where hapless pilot droid RX-24 (voiced by Paul Reubens) inadvertently wanders into an Empire/Rebel Alliance battle and has to enlist the help of C-3PO and R2-D2. To bring the ride up to date in the wake of George Lucas’s prequels, Star Tours was replaced in 2011 by Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, set between the two trilogies. Don’t be surprised if another upgrade comes along to account for The Force Awakens. (Photo: Carterhawk/Wikipedia)

Honey, I Shrunk the Audience!
Travel back to an era when Rick Moranis was one of the world’s biggest movie stars! The Honey franchise was a gold mine for Disney in the ‘80s and ‘90s, inspiring two sequels, a television series and this 4D experience, where Moranis’ accident-prone inventor shrinks the crowd through the magic of special effects. Opening at Epcot in 1994, the attraction came to Disneyland four years later, and both versions played until 2010
Before Elsa and Anna conquered the Nordic space of Epcot’s World Showcase section with Frozen Ever After, this gentle log flume took visitors on a ride through a mythical Norway inspired by Viking legends. The ride ultimately sent travelers on a 28-foot plunge into a recreation of the North Sea. The Maelstrom may be gone, but you can re-live its last tour via this Theme Park Review video
Millennium Village
Commissioned and decommissioned within a two-year span, from 1999 to 2001, this 60,000-square-foot pavilion was Epcot’s way of honoring the approaching 21st century. Interactive exhibits, special displays and an international food court made up this global village, with nary a Y2K reference in sight.
Installed in 1983, a year into Epcot’s existence, Horizons invited viewers to gaze into the world of tomorrow. Starting with Jules Verne’s elaborate visions of the future, the ride than transitioned into ideas of what the 21st century and beyond would look like. Although Horizons sounds like the sort of ride that could be continually updated to reflect our ever-evolving concept of the future, Epcot’s minders ultimately decided to phase it out before the turn of the millennium in 1999. (Photo: Sam Howzit/Flickr)
Body Wars
Forget Star Wars: the real action is going on inside our own bodies. Seemingly inspired by the 1966 sci-fi classic Fantastic Voyage (and its equally great 1987 companion piece Innerspace), Epcot’s Body Wars motion simulator inserted the audience into a “body probe” to analyze the effects of a splinter lodged in the skin. Sounds simple enough, but just wait until your probe accidentally gets pulled into a capillary headed directly for the heart! Fun fact: Body Wars, which closed in 2007, was directed by none other than Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy. (Photo: Edward Russell/Wikipedia)
World of Motion
This General Motors-sponsored attraction greeted visitors when Epcot opened to the public in 1982. Spanning the ever-evolving history of transportation, from caveman times to a futuristic city, World of Motion was replaced in 1996 by Test Track, which offers a more hands-on experience in car design, construction and testing. (Photo:
Kitchen Kabaret
Epcot’s answer to the Country Bear Jamboree featured emcee Bonnie Appetite imparting healthy eating advice with the assistance a cast of memorable singing foodstuffs. Food Rocks replaced this kooky Kabaret in 1994 and rocked out for 10 years until it was replaced by the non-food themed attraction Soarin,’ which simulates the experience of hand-gliding over exotic locales
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
Designed to appeal to an older crowd (a sign out front even warned children under the age of 12 to stay away), this F/X laden show took over the Magic Kingdom space previously allocated to Mission to Mars. Tim Curry, Phil Hartman, Kathy Najimy and Jeffrey Jones were among the performers whose faces and voices were seen or heard in the offices of “X-S Tech,” where alien critters are housed in sometimes disturbing conditions, until one particularly nasty beast escapes. Eventually deemed too disturbing even for the tween set, it was replaced in 2003 by the considerably milder ride Stitch’s Great Escape! (Photo: Disney Wiki)
Snow White’s Scary Adventures
Allowing viewers to experience the events of Walt Disney’s pioneering 1937 animated feature first hand, Scary Adventures ventures through foreboding castles and forests en route to a happily ever after. While the ride still exists at Disneyland, the scary adventures ceased for Magic Kingdom visitors in 2012

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage
An expanded version of Disneyland’s Submarine Voyage (today known as the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage), this Magic Kingdom attraction put visitors aboard Captain Nemo’s Nautilus for an underwater journey past sea life and shipwrecks. The expense of maintaining the ride led to the Nautilus being decommissioned in 1994. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train currently occupies its space. (Photo: Larry D. Moore/Wikipedia)
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Although he may not be a household name anymore, Mr. Toad still invites Disneyland visitors to experience his Wind and the Willows-inspired “wild ride,” which has been part of Fantasyland since the park’s 1955 opening. Unfortunately, the Magic Kingdom version of Toad Hall was phased out in 1998, replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. (Photo: Disney Wiki)
To give weary visitors a rest from walking between lands, Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom provided a gondola that transported families directly from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland and back again. But ongoing construction projects and the introduction of new rides led park operators to conclude that Skyway maintenance money was better directed elsewhere. The Disneyland gondola closed in 1994, and the Magic Kingdom followed five years later in 1999. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Adventure Through Inner Space
Sponsored by none other than the Monsanto Company, this attraction gave visitors a shrinking feeling decades before Body Wars premiered. Taking up residence in Tomorrowland in 1967, Inner Space simulated the experience of hitching a ride through an atom, complete with a bumpy trip through a field of electrons. Those electrons became Endor when the original Star Tours moved into Inner Space’s territory in 1987. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Article written by Ethan Alter
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