You love Disney World as much as I do, but there’s nothing more heartbreaking than wandering through a theme park and seeing permanently closed Disney World rides—especially if you have a strong affinity for the attraction. So whether it’s Horizons, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, or The Great Movie Ride, here are the Disney World rides you’re still not over being torn down (and I’m not either).
Closed Disney Rides That Still Make You Cry
Here are some of the closed Disney rides (that I’ll be discussing today) whose permanent closure still brings a tear to my eye:
- The Great Movie Ride
- Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure
- Superstar Television
- The Monster Sound Show
- Studio Backlot Tour
- Primeval Whirl
- Splash Mountain
- Snow White’s Scary Adventures
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
- Minnie’s Country House
- ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
- The Skyway
- Universe of Energy / Ellen’s Energy Adventure
- Captain EO
- Honey I Shrunk the Audience
- Test Track (original version)
- Body Wars
- Sum of All Thrills
- Flying Saucers
- Luigi’s Flying Tires
- The Skyway
- Rocket to the Moon / Mission to Mars
- Jedi Training Academy / Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
Closed Hollywood Studios Rides That Hurt My Soul
The Great Movie Ride
- Ride Opened: May, 1989
- Ride Permanently Closed: August, 2017
Well, we might as well start off this painfully nostalgic trip with my favorite Disney World ride of all time: The Great Movie Ride. Now, The Great Movie Ride opened in Disney-MGM Studios in 1989 and ran for the final time in 2017.
It eventually was replaced with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. This indoor adventure ride took you on a tour through classic movie history and featured sets from all sorts of great movies like The Wizard of Oz and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I love this ride so much, I actually have the The Great Movie Ride signage (printed on wood) hanging over my physical media collection in my home:
I still remember how impressed I was the first time I experienced this tour of movie history, complete with amazing sets, awesome animatronic figures, and amazing immersion thanks to the energetic and interactive tour guides.
There are so many sequences in this ride that are burned into my memory forever, such as the dramatic tone shift of the Western scene into the foreboding set of “Alien.”
In fact, The Great Movie Ride script still echoes throughout my mind, especially when the ride’s narrator is heard through the speakers stating:
“This is Alien. You are with Sigourney Weaver aboard the spaceship Nostromo. Something has gone wrong. One by one, the crew has vanished.”
Goosebumps. Utter goosebumps.
And seeing that animatronic Sigourney—with her face full of sweat and her eyes full of panic—no doubt made your hair stand on end like it did mine.
And then, of course, there’s the actual animatronic alien! I know there had to be at least a few people per ride vehicle that needed a clean pair of shorts after that scene ended.
What also made The Great Movie Ride standout, too, was its length. Unlike most rides that were three to five minutes long, The Great Movie Ride lasted a good twenty minutes.
The ride vehicles were huge and moved slower than a snail, but the effort that went into building those sets (especially The Wizard of Oz set, which looked like it was an actual set from the original film) was unmatched. Major props to the imagineers on this one—I never met ya’ll, but I love ya’ll just the same!
Sometimes I wonder what became of those sets and animatronics, especially the incredibly next level animatronic figure of The Wicked Witch of the West. Sadly, I think we all know the answer (although, perhaps some of them were saved by Dick Van Dyke himself?).
Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure
- Attraction Opened: December, 1990
- Attraction Permanently Closed: April, 2016
This detailed playground based on the movie Honey I Shrunk the Kids gave you a taste of what it would feel like to be shrunken down to the size of an insect.
Featuring 20-foot tall blades of grass, giant lawn features, and mega ants, this attraction was a great fit for kids who don’t like intense rides (or parents who want their kids to burn off energy on, essentially, a high priced kids jungle gym).
During my first trip to Disney World, I remember being blown away by the sensation of being a tiny person in this giant world. I loved the “Honey” movie as a kid, so I definitely remember running around that set, jumping up mutant-sized flowers and sliding down huge blades of grass.
Sadly, this attraction closed in 2016.
- Attraction Opened: May, 1989
- Attraction Permanently Closed: September, 1998
Come on, I know you miss this attraction as much as me!
From 1989 to 1998, SuperStar Television grabbed select audience members and made their television dreams come true.
What I loved about this attraction was its adoration for classic television. Through the use of green screen technology, guests would adorn sitcom and drama specific costumes and be asked to read a script from teleprompter or perform some unique task or activity.
Then, thanks to some sparkling “TV magic,” the audience would see the aforementioned audience member interacting in a scene from “The Golden Girls” or participating with Lucille Ball in the iconic chocolate candies sketch from “I Love Lucy.”
As an 80s baby and 90s kid, this attraction was awesome, regardless of whether you were a big fan of the TV shows that were showcased in the attraction themselves (and even as a kid, I appreciated “The Golden Girls” and “I Love Lucy”).
In fact, I think what made this attraction so great, and partially what’s lacking today at Disney and even Universal Studios theme parks, is the ability for shared pop culture to cross generations.
There used to be a time where you could go to a theme park and have modern day entertainment (like Ghostbusters or The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) sit alongside classic TV and film entertainment (like “I Love Lucy” or “Gilligan’s Island” or Alfred Hitchcock films).
Those days, sadly, seem to be gone.
The Monster Sound Show
- Attraction Opened: May, 1989
- Attraction Permanently Closed: July, 1997
Sitting ride next door to Superstar Television was a smaller theater that housed The Monster Sound Show. This show, featuring Chevy Chase and Martin Short, was all about teaching guests about the unique job of being a foley artist. And it was just so much fun to experience.
You might remember that this show, which was an opening day attraction at Disney-MGM Studios, depicted a short comedy-horror film on the large screen above the stage. But there was only one problem—the movie needed sound! That’s where you, as the audience, came into play.
Calling on a few guests to jump onboard the stage, each person was given a very specific job. One guest might be in charge of walking on a bed of rocks and sand to simulate the footsteps of the main character in the film.
Another guest may be asked to shake or blow on items that would simulate the sound of wind or a creaking door or a gate opening and closing.
In the end, I think the real fun of the show was in guests’ execution—regardless of how good or bad their execution was! If every guest hit their mark perfectly (which almost never happened), you got a beautiful behind-the-scenes look at how a lot of sounds in Hollywood motion pictures come together in concert to make an excellent movie.
And, if the guests struggled mightily to time their sounds with the movie’s on-screen actions, then you had an already funny movie made all the more hilarious, as it sort of became an absurd, poorly produced mess of a movie.
Chevy Chase and Martin Short were very big comedy stars in the 1990s, so having them be in this film attraction was always great.
I know I’m biased, but I think because we as park goers know so much about how entertainment is made (thanks to behind-the-scenes material placed on DVDs in the early 2000s or social media in the early 2010s), it’s taken a lot of the excitement out of what made Disney Parks (and Universal Studios) so unique.
Yes, thrill rides will always be king, but there really was something special about feeling like you could go to a theme park to not just ride the movies, but get a true appreciation of movies were made as well.
Studio Backlot Tour
- Ride Opened: May, 1989
- Ride Permanently Closed: September, 2014
Back when Disney-MGM Studios actually functioned as a spot for movie and prop making, the Studio Backlot Tour was always a bit of a hidden gem. This attraction, which opened in 1989, had three primary functions:
-It served to show you how “movie magic” happened on-screen
-It provided you with a tour of movie props, classic facades of famous TV and movie homes, and even vehicles that were used on-screen
-It allowed you to see how high level action movie stunts could be performed, complete water and pyrotechnics
Sure, the Backlot Tour was lengthy, clocking in at 35 minutes. But you had to appreciate this tour’s ambition. It went through various iterations, as it sometimes was a walking tour, sometimes a tour where you stood and watched audience members interact with a scene, and sometimes a tour where you sat and filmed the attraction through your Hi8 video camcorder.
My memories of this attraction are vast, much like yours probably are. I remember seeing audience members jump aboard a huge animatronic bumblebee to depict how action scenes from “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” were created.
I also remember the tour showing us the house facade of “The Golden Girls,” and thinking how cool it was to see the exact home that Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia lived in.
And I was always thrilled by the huge finale at Catastrophe Canyon that featured a fuel truck falling and exploding towards your tram!
It’s become a cliche, but it’s true—they just don’t make attractions quite like this one anymore.
Closed Magic Kingdom Rides That Still Pain Me
- Ride Opened: October, 1992
- Ride Permanently Closed: January, 2023
Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom is one of the most recent closures on this list, with riders getting splashed for the last time in January of 2023. It was undeniably one of Disney’s most popular rides, one that took you on an animatronic adventure full of special effects—and ending with the plunge on the final chute.
I’m not one for HUGE drops in rides, so I only rode this baby one time. I would post my purchased photo of me on this ride but, well, it’s embarrassing. I appreciate the ride for its thrills, but as someone that doesn’t prefer his heart in his throat, one ride was all I needed!
Now while many other attractions on this list were demolished to make way for something new, the story of Splash Mountain’s demise is a bit more complicated. The ride is built off the foundation of “Song of the South,” which, well, hasn’t aged well (to be nice about it).
Splash Mountain will be replaced by a Princess and the Frog log flume ride, which Disney claims will give us a similar riding experience with a more appropriate theme. Hopefully this will become a new fan favorite but until then, I’ll miss watching everyone’s faces contort in agony as they plunge several stories downward!
Snow White’s Scary Adventures
- Ride Opened: October, 1971
- Ride Permanently Closed: May, 2012
Snow White’s Scary Adventures opened in 1971 and was remodeled in 1994 to try and make it less, well… terrifying.
The original version was much more intense than the movie, but the 1994 remodel took its softer cues from scenes from the animated film. Still, if you remember that forest scene from Snow White, you may recall that it’s pretty, well, intense.
Even with the changes, Disney decided to wave goodbye to this ride in 2012 as part of the Fantasyland remodel.
It may not be for everyone, but the immersive storytelling elements of Snow White’s Scary Adventure really brought elements of the movie to life. Some parts of the ride were repurposed for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride, but I’ll still miss the original journey through Snow White’s story. This ride had a small charm that’s had to re-capture.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
- Ride Opened: October, 1971
- Ride Permanently Closed: September, 1998
The Disney World version of this ride was one of the original attractions in the park on Opening Day back in 1971. The ride was themed after the 1949 Disney movie The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
Now the Magic Kingdom version of the ride featured two separate entrances, and each entrance led you to a different track with a slightly different version of the ride depending on which boarding area you chose.
I always loved this small little ride nugget throughout the 1990s, as most rides are fixed with one single story and one single ride experience.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in Magic Kingdom closed in 1998 (boo!) and was replaced with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which does feature some set pieces that pay tribute to the original ride. While the Disneyland version is still open, I still miss that doggone toad in Disney World.
Minnie’s Country House
- Ride Opened: June, 1996
- Ride Permanently Closed: February, 2011
This building was a recreation of Minnie’s house as it appears in the cartoons, and it was fun way to engage with the magic of Disney.
Minnie’s Country House was perfect for those of us who can’t ride more intense rides, but still want to get a taste of the “Disney magic.” Unfortunately, that magic was gone in 2011 when the house was demolished to make way for Fantasyland.
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
- Ride Opened: June, 1995
- Ride Permanently Closed: October, 2003
Now let’s all be honest—you know just as much as I do that this attraction had no business inside Disney World. This attraction was frightening to kids, and probably gives grown adults a bit of PTSD whenever they set foot inside Magic Kingdom.
I say all of this in jest—but only up to a point. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter was a surprisingly scary ride by Disney standards.
If you never experienced it, this was a science fiction themed ride with a dash of dark humor. Featuring harnessed theater seats and special effects, the ride took you through the story of an alien encounter.
While it was considered too scary for younger guests, the darker tone could be a lot of fun if you were looking for a little something different from your Disney experience. The ride closed in 2003 to be replaced by Stitch’s Great Escape. The replacement used similar technology, and some of the same set pieces, but didn’t quite have the same scary vibes as Alien Encounter.
- Attraction Opened: October, 1971
- Attraction Permanently Closed: November, 1999
Ahhh…the Skyway (which you can see soaring over the Tomorrowland Speedway attraction at Magic Kingdom in the photo above).
There’s just something in my childhood makes the word “skyway” synonymous with Disney, but sadly not one of the parks still features the skyway today. The Magic Kingdom version of this gondola ride moved guests between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland until it was removed in 1999.
The Disney Skyliner, which connects the Disney resorts with other locations in the parks, is considered the modern resurrection of this attraction. Still, I’ll always miss the nostalgia that comes with the earlier version (and kind of wish I rode it a bit more when it was still around).
Closed Epcot Rides I’m Still Not Emotionally Over
Universe of Energy
- Ride Opened: October, 1982
- Ride Permanently Closed: August, 2017
Universe of Energy, later renamed Ellen’s Energy Adventure, originally opened in October of 1982. This pavilion was part of Future World on opening day at Epcot, and was an educational attraction centered on energy. You rode slow-moving traveling theater cars (huge theater cars!).
After learning about energy through a series of short films, the ride took you through a jungle-themed set where you’d enjoy animatronic dinosaur scenes. The set stayed more or less the same after the Ellen’s Energy Show rebrand, but the pre-show films shifted to feature Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Both versions of this ride were educational adventures with some fun special effects. Sadly, it closed in 2017 to be replaced by the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride in 2022, which uses the same basic building structure.
I always felt this ride was a bit of a mixed bag. I enjoyed it for the nostalgia, and on oppressively hot days, I loved how long this ride kept you away from the sun. But when you’re a kid, you’re naturally a bit torn on Universe of Energy. It’s got awesome dinosaurs in the ride—but it’s also a deeply educational ride (and perhaps the longest ride ever, clocking in at 45 minutes).
Nothing wrong with that, of course. That’s what makes Epcot great. But when you’re away from grade school thanks to your summer vacation, the last thing I wanted to do was learn about solar power.
- Ride Opened: September, 1986
- Ride Permanently Closed: July, 1994
Okay, I know what you’re saying. You’re going to tell me that Captain EO debuted in 1986—and certainly looks like it debuted in 1986.
You’re going to tell me that it starred a 1980s Michael Jackson, was produced by George Lucas, and featured puppets that looked straight out of Fraggle Rock (but actually were not puppets made by Jim Henson, oddly enough).
And listen, you’re right. I cannot argue these facts. Captain EO was a dated attraction. And while I’m not too proud to say that my rose colored glasses alter my memory of this fun 3D science fiction film, it had a boundless imagination that I think was a pretty nice mix for Epcot.
Am I saying it should still be around today? Probably not, I suppose. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have love for it (although clearly there are other people that disagree!).
I’m just happy I got to experience it again in 2011 when it briefly returned to Epcot following the death of the King of Pop.
Honey I Shrunk the Audience
- Ride Opened: November, 1994
- Ride Permanently Closed: May, 2010
Oddly enough, what took over for Captain EO in 1994 was Honey I Shrunk the Audience—and I loved this far more than Captain EO (and that’s saying something, as I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan).
In my eyes, this was arguably Disney’s best 3D attraction that they ever created. I found it to be incredibly effective, as it took the great concept from the “Honey” film to make everything around you (as an audience member) scary and intimidating.
One thing that you might have forgotten about this attraction was that, while the 3D effect was, well, very effective, it was the other sensory elements that really sold the illusion that you (as the audience) had been shrunken down to the size of an insect.
In fact, I always loved the part of this attraction where whenever other (much larger) characters would walk or run near you on-screen, the audience’s seats would bounce up and down (as if the large feet vibrations shifted your body to and fro).
It was an incredibly successful way to convey your lack of size and weight in the attraction, and combined with the elements of 3D and even some water effects (like dog slobber getting on you—yuck!), this attraction holds a spot in my heart as one of the best Disney has ever produced.
Unfortunately, Honey I Shrunk the Audience closed in 2010 and was replaced by (ironically enough) Captain EO (when Captain EO returned briefly to Epcot following the death of Michael Jackson.
- Original Ride Opened: March, 1999
- Original Ride Changed: December, 2012
Listen, I totally know what you’re going to say here. You’re yelling at the screen saying “Michael—Test Track is still at Epcot. Have you lost your mind?”
Well, my friend, you’re 100% correct. Test Track is most definitely still alive and well at Epcot. However, in my eyes, the revamped version of Test Track is highly inferior to the original, which had a strong focus on putting you into the shoes of what it would be like to be a crash test dummy.
I know the bones of the original Test Track is still there, but I find this ride’s newer version (which asks you to create your own vehicle on a digital screen) to be largely devoid of the original attraction’s personality.
Yes, Test Track still goes fast and is still a thrilling ride. But I think it’s desire to ditch its crash test dummy backstory (which includes also eliminating great elements of the original ride) in favor of a Tron-like aesthetic, is a major step in the wrong direction.
- Ride Opened: July, 1988
- Ride Permanently Closed: October, 2014
This water ride opened in 1988 and closed in 2014, when it was replaced by the Frozen Ever After attraction. Maelstrom had a Norse Mythology theme, featuring Odin and Viking imagery. The shoot-the-chute style Viking ship cars moved through Viking-themed scenery, taking riders on an adventure through mythology.
This ride came with a fun twist when you ran across some angry trolls, which caused the ride to move backwards before eventually righting itself and plunging into the stormy sea. Personally, I love rides with surprises like this, and it’s a shame to see any of them go.
Funny enough, it took me countless trips to Epcot before I even realized Maelstrom even existed! Despite being a relatively small ride, I often kicked myself for not discovering it sooner.
- Ride Opened: October, 1989
- Ride Permanently Closed: January, 2007
The Wonders of Life pavilion at Epcot used to host the Body Wars motion simulator ride, an educational journey through the body. At the start of the ride, you boarded a vehicle that would shrink you down to size so you could take part in a rescue operation inside the human body.
I always adored this ride, and I’d argue that Body Wars is one of the most underrated Disney World rides of all time. I felt this was a better and more exciting attraction than the original Star Tours (both very similar in concept and execution).
And while I don’t think Body Wars reached the heights of the Back to the Future Ride at Universal Studios (which was huge at the time), I think Body Wars was the perfect ride for Epcot: thrilling and educational.
Body Wars ride closed in 2007.
Sum of All Thrills
- Attraction Opened: October, 2009
- Attraction Permanently Closed: September, 2016
Now this attraction lets you custom-design your own virtual roller coaster experience using a touch screen and simulator technology. You could use the touch screen to choose the height and speed for your ride, then add in other features like dips and turns.
Then, the robotic simulator would recreate the design using sight, sound, and movement. How cool is that?
Sum of all Thrills closed in 2016 after its sponsorship agreement ended, as part of a bigger plan to re-vamp Epcot.
- Ride Opened: October, 1983
- Ride Permanently Closed: January, 1999
Did you love Horizons as much as I did? If not, let me tell you why this ride was amazing.
The thing about Epcot that I always loved, even as a kid, was its ability to be forward thinking about the future and also hopeful about the future. I think Horizons captured the spirt of both of these themes perfectly.
Horizons was a dark themed ride that debuted in the 1980s and endeavored to show us what life would be like in the future thanks to the advancement of technology and the evolution of human beings and our use of energy and transportation.
This ride always felt like a blend of two attractions I enjoy: Spaceship Earth and The Carousel of Progress. And just like those rides, you walked away from Horizons not scared for what the future might bring, but excited for how the advancement of technology might mankind closer together.
Sure, it was a bit “pie in the sky.” Yes, it was a bit “idealist.” But to me, that’s what made Disney World great.
And that’s why Horizons is a downright classic.
Closed Disney Rides in Animal Kingdom
- Ride Opened: March, 2002
- Ride Permanently Closed: July, 2020
This time-travel themed roller coaster used to be part of DinoLand U.S.A in Animal Kingdom. It opened in 2002, and sadly closed down in 2020 (and was demolished a little over a year later).
The dual-track looping coaster took you back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth, with a storyline similar to the nearby Dinosaur dark ride (which is, thankfully, still in operation!).
Now I won’t go crazy here—this wasn’t the best Disney World ride ever made. But I thought it was a relatively low stakes roller coaster that provided bigger than expected thrills. It wasn’t a huge coaster (thankfully for me), but I always appreciated that everyone in the family could experience this one and walk away with a smile on their face.
Disney Rides Closed Permanently in Disneyland
- Ride Opened: August, 1961
- Ride Permanently Closed: September, 1966
This long-gone vintage Disney ride was a Tomorrowland feature back in the 1960s, and I am disappointed it didn’t hang around long enough for future Disney fans to enjoy. This bumper-cart style ride gave each person their own flying saucer, which used air cushion technology (similar to a game of air hockey).
Floating around in a bumper flying saucer sounds, well, kind of amazing. Props to you if you were one of the early Disneyland guests that got to experience this in the 1960s.
Luigi’s Flying Tires
- Ride Opened: June, 2012
- Ride Permanently Closed: February, 2015
Now Disney did try to bring back similar tech to the Flying Saucers when Luigi’s Flying Tires opened in Disney California Adventure in 2012. Unfortunately, the highly anticipated vision for this ride didn’t quite go to plan and it ended up closing in 2015 after a surprisingly short run compared to many other Disney rides.
Luigi’s Flying Tires used tire-shaped bumper cars as its hovercrafts of choice. You drove the tire by leaning in the direction you wanted to go for two minutes of bumper-car style fun.
Sadly, this ride faced similar challenges to the Flying Saucers attraction (even all those years later), with the aerodynamics just not working the way engineers envisioned. Even if it didn’t work quite like it should’ve, I can’t help but wish they’d been able to salvage the tech because hovercraft bumper cars is such a cool idea!
- Attraction Opened: June, 1956
- Attraction Permanently Closed: November, 1994
Now Disneyland’s Skyway was the original Skyway, opening in 1956 as the very first attraction in the US to use the aerial ropeway design. The Skyway featured impressive views of the park, including the Matterhorn ride, which was designed to be a part of its path.
Sadly, this Skyway closed in 1994 due to stress cracks in the metal that weren’t easy to repair. The Fantasyland station portion of the ride remained intact until its 2016 demolition, which signaled the official end to the Disneyland Skyway.
Rocket to the Moon (Mission to Mars)
- Ride Opened: July, 1955
- Ride Permanently Closed: November, 1992
When Rocket to the Moon opened in 1955, this ride featured a space exploration trip to, well, the moon. However, that soon felt out of date after the United States landed on the actual moon! Due to this, the ride’s engineers swapped out the moon landing for Mars and rebranded the ride as “Mission to Mars” in 1975.
This ride featured a pre-show where you learned about your mission. Then, you boarded your spacecraft, which was actually a circular theater with vibrating seats and special effects to simulate space travel.
While the Mission: Space ride in Epcot has a similar theme, its more intense special effects make it less accessible for those prone to motion sickness and migraines. In fact, I’ve only ever rode the tame version of Mission: Space because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my day at throwing up (which I saw an unfortunate woman doing near the park’s exit during my last trip to Epcot).
Jedi Training Academy (Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple)
- Attraction Opened: October, 2006
- Attraction Permanently Closed: November, 2018
Who among us hasn’t dreamed of training as a Jedi? For a while, that was a real option in Disneyland with the Jedi Training Academy, which later became the Trials of the Temple experience. This experience let you sign your children up to go through a training session with a Jedi master, including wearing a Jedi robe and wielding a lightsaber.
In both versions of the experience, trainees got to face off with villains from the Star Wars franchise, then receive a diploma for completing their Jedi training. Sadly, Disneyland stopped offering the Jedi Training show in 2018 (its counterpart in Disney World shuttered in 2020).
Closed Disney Rides Are Never Forgotten
While it’s certainly okay to feel sad about the many Disney rides closed permanently on this list, I think it might be healthier to be happy and thankful that they existed at all. There are so many corporate hoops to jump through just to get theme park rides greenlit, let alone for your favorite ride to endure for decades in a given park.
So what are your favorite Disney rides that are closed forever? Did I miss any ride on this list that is you love? Feel free to leave a comment below or tell me your thoughts on my Countdown to Magic Facebook page!