I love amusement parks. We've been over this. I used to design my own as a hobby. I always hated games like Roller Coaster Tycoon because I found them so limiting in their options for park and ride designs. One of my favorite elements of heading to southern California for two weeks each summer when I was a kid was the fact that there was no shortage of people willing to take us kids out to a theme park or three. I considered myself pretty good friends with Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, and (later) Six Flags Marine World, Great America, and even Universal to an extent. But obviously, as time marches on, parks change. Rides and shows come and go. And eventually you do a quick web search to check in on your old friends and realize they're not quite the same as you remembered. And sometimes, those changes hurt.
With that in mind, here are my Top 7 Defunct Disneyland Rides
DISCLAIMER: Major thanks to Yesterland.com for helping jog my memory. It's an awesome site with a plethora of trivia tidbits. For example, did you know that there was once an intimate apparel shop on Main Street complete with an animatronic figure named the Wizard of Bras who would teach you the history of underwear? True story.
#7: Motor Boat Cruise
Okay, to be honest, there was never anything all that exciting about this ride, but without it my list was topping out at six. Before they closed it for good, I remember there was a period where Disney converted a large section of Fantasyland into a Disney Afternoon stretch. That meant lots of Duck Tales, Tale Spin, and Rescue Rangers pictures were thrown up, and there were maps and stamps you had to collect and shows and whatever. Anyway, the only time I actually remember riding this ride, it had been half-heartedly converted into a Gummi Bears ride as part of that transition.
Couldn't find an embeddable video of the ride itself, so here's all that's left. I believe they closed it down to make something cool, like Mikey's ToonTown or something.
#6: The Skyway
This was a pretty fun way to get all the way across the park without walking. Basically, you sit in a bucket and ride from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland suspended from a wire. You even went straight through the Matterhorn mountain, which was awesome. Though it would frequently get stuck. That was disconcerting. Especially on windy days. Nevertheless, it was fun. Though undoubtedly dangerous. I think some guy jumped from the skyway and then tried to sue the park, so they shut it down.
I fond an embeddable vid, but instead I'll just provide this link to a better one that features an underscored version of A Whole New World underneath the video. Cuz it's kinda awesome.
#5: Mission to Mars
Mission to Mars was an update to what I believe was an original park attraction, Mission to the Moon. It was probably pretty boring, and even by the time I rode it it wasn't nearly as technologically advanced as pretty much anything else there, but I think even then I found its lack of coolness to be cool. Basically you step in and wait for the next mission, you get briefed by some animatronic scientists, then you go sit in this huge circular room with a portal (round TV screen) at the top and the bottom of the room. Your rocket takes off (I don't remember if the seats shook or it was my imagination) and you can see Mars getting closer in the top screen while Earth gets smaller on the bottom one. And after you go to Mars, you come back and the process reverses. That's pretty much it, I think.
It's now a pizza place. Here's what the entrance used to look like from when I remember it:
#4: Country Bear Jamboree
Yes, this is the show they based the movie off of. I never saw the movie. I don't care to. I know who the real Country Bears are. I believe the full name was the Country Bear Jamboree Vacation Hoedown, but I don't think we ever called it anything but Country Bear Jamboree. I think we caught the show every time we went, even though it never changed. Walt Disney just loved robotic performers, didn't he? My favorite part of this show was always the moose, elk, and buffalo heads on the wall. A very creative show. Some great characters. And the audience always had a blast, every time I saw the show.
It's now a Winnie-the-Pooh ride. It's okay.
The People Mover (Through the World of Tron!) was basically a ride designed to get you excited about all the other rides. So you pretty much got a fairly relaxing tour of Tomrrowland and got a sample of all the rides, and for some reason that was the coolest thing to me. Also, C-3PO! And, before Kingdom Hearts 2, this ride was everything I knew about Tron.
After shutting this ride down, they tried to put something new in it. I never got a chance to ride the Rocket Rods, but they didn't last long. Now it's just empty space. The video quality here isn't great, but you'll get the idea.
#2: Submarine Voyage
I think part of the charm of this ride was that I figured out the trick. You were in about seven feet of water the whole time, yet it felt so much like you were actually diving deeper. This effect was achieved by shooting jets of bubbles past the portholes in the submarines at appropriate times. Other than that, it was more animatronics, and you got everything from sharks to mermaids to giant squid to an awesome sea serpent at the end. Plus, you were riding in a submarine! I mean, how cool is that? Now the line for this line was ALWAYS long because it took so long to unload and load each sub, but it was pretty much worth it. Ultimately, however, this ride was dated, even when I was young, so they closed it. It's a Finding Nemo ride now, which is a pretty good update. They even reference the original quite a few times in the new ride, so well done, Disney.
"Captain, we shouldn't report this in the log, should we?" "No. Nobody would believe it anyway..."
#1: America Sings
Okay, this is the one I'll never quite forgive Disney for getting rid of. This show was awesome. Again, it was Walt's love of Animatronic performers taking center stage. The entire theater rotated between sets. It was awesome. I have vivid memories of the whole audience clapping alone with "Yankee Doodle" during each blackout. It's a lightning-quick musical revue--like 30 or 45 seconds per song--but it's really thorough and fun. I'm only posting the first part of it on here, but do yourself a favor and find the rest.
Most of the cast is in Splash Mountain somewhere or other, so I'm glad they're still finding work, and the rotating building is now the Innoventions exhibit. Which is not nearly as awesome. Hard to believe that out of the three musical animatronic shows from my childhood, the Tiki Room is the one that survived. (No disrespect to the birds who sing words, mind you)