When it was first introduced to the world, Walt Disney said of EPCOT that it would “be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed.” Although he was talking about something hugely different from the EPCOT that would eventually be built, he was correct in his statement as EPCOT, as with all Disney parks, continues to change through the years.
Sadly for park lovers such as myself, embracing these changes also means saying goodbye to beloved favorite rides, shows, and attractions. However, thanks to park patrons past and the miracle of YouTube, these attractions need not be lost to us forever. So pop on some Mickey Mouse ears, grab yourself some snacks, and settle in for a nostalgic trip to the EPCOT of days past with 12 videos of now lost attractions.
This rather self-explanatory 4D ride was based on the popular ’80s/’90s movie franchise Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and was one of few EPCOT attractions to appear in other Disney theme parks (Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris). In the attraction, guests visit a theatre to attend the Inventor of the Year Award Ceremony, during which a number of inventions go wrong causing the audience to be almost squashed, dropped, and eaten by a snake. The attraction closed in 2010 to make way for the brief return of Captain EO.
Kitchen Kabaret was an unusual vaudeville-style show starring animatronic singing food which was sponsored by Kraft. It was designed to teach kids about the food groups but mostly succeeded in teaching everyone that singing food is intensely creepy. The attraction closed in 1994 and was replaced by Food Rocks, but the space it occupied is now occupied by the wildly popular Soarin’. I defy anyone to watch this weird show and not walk away singing “veggie, veggie, fruit, fruit.”
Cranium Command was a cinema show in which soldiers–Cranium Commandos–led by General Knowledge, were charged with “piloting” the brains of humans, in this case, a 12-year-old boy named Bobby. The audience, seated inside Bobby’s head and seeing through his eyes, watched as a young soldier named Buzzy attempted to navigate Bobby through an average day while Bobby’s various organs called out the problems they were facing and how to solve them. The ride was closed in 2007 and is still in existence but no longer operational.
An omnimover dark ride, this General Motors sponsored show taught guests about the history of transportation from the invention of the wheel to modern (by 1982 standards) cars. The ride closed in 1996 and was replaced by Test Track, which has itself received a substantial makeover in recent years bringing the pavilion up-to-date with modern technology.
In this simulator ride at the Wonders of Life Pavilion which also housed Cranium Command, EPCOT guests went on a Fantastic Voyage-style adventure where they were shrunk down to microscopic size and attempted to observe the human body’s response to a splinter. An accident causes the ship to fly through the heart, lungs, and into the brain, taking riders on a tour of the body. The ride officially closed in 2007 but was rarely operational for many years prior. The building which housed Body Wars is now mostly used for storage and occasional special events.
Housed in the Mexico pavilion, this gentle boat ride similar in some ways to It’s A Small World sailed past La Cantina de San Angel and took riders on a trip through the history and culture of Mexico. The ride still exists but was rethemed in 2007 as The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. The ride also contained a song that will stick in your head for the rest of the day, all together now, “welcome mis amigos to friendly Mexico…”
Another attraction that still exists in some form, The Living Seas was converted into The Seas with Nemo and Friends in 2005. The original attraction invited guests to visit SeaBase Alpha where they would watch a movie about the oceans, travel down a “hydrolator” (a fictional underwater elevator) beneath the sea, then board omnimover SeaCabs which traveled along a clear tunnel through an enormous aquarium. Much of the attraction still exists today, although in 1986 there were no projected animated clownfish hanging out with the real aquatic creatures.
Another rare ride situated in World Showcase, Maelstrom was a flume ride located in the Norway pavilion. The ride took guests on a tour of Norway’s landscapes and myths, meeting trolls, polar bears, and passing an oil rig on its final drop. The ride was closed amid much controversy in 2014, to be rethemed as Frozen Ever After.
Easily one of the most bizarre attractions to grace any theme park ever, Captain EO was a 3D film which starred Michael Jackson as a spaceship captain tasked with bringing a gift to “The Supreme Leader” (Anjelica Huston) who lived on a rotting planet of metal and garbage. Eo’s gift is a song and, through the power of ’80s synth music, technicolor costumes, and choreographed dance routines, he and his crew are able to unlock “the beauty hidden inside” The Supreme Leader, her henchmen, and her planet. It truly has to be seen to be believed. The attraction originally closed in 1996 but returned to EPCOT between 2010 and 2015 as a tribute after Jackson’s death.
Opened in 1982, Universe of Energy had guests sit in large vehicles and travel through various scenes which taught them about energy production, along with a huge scene featuring animatronic dinosaurs. The attraction was replaced by Ellen’s Energy Adventure which starred Ellen alongside Bill Nye, The Science Guy and had Ellen attempting to win a nightmare game of Jeopardy where every question was about energy. Ellen’s Energy Adventure closed in August of this year to make way for a new Guardians of the Galaxy themed attraction.
Horizons occupied the building which now houses Mission: Space. The attraction was an omnimover dark ride which served as a sequel to the Magic Kingdom’s Carousel of Progress and it showed guests a variety of positive visions of the future along with showcasing our relationship with the sea, land, air, and outer space. Horizons allowed guests to choose which ending they wished to see by pushing a button in their ride vehicle: the space station, desert farm, or undersea research base. The attraction closed permanently in 1999 and was demolished shortly afterward.
By far one of the most beloved EPCOT attractions, Journey Into Imagination introduced guests to Figment, the small purple dragon who has grown to become the park’s unofficial mascot. Figment (as in, a figment of your imagination) was created to give kids an original character at the park where Mickey and company were, at the time, banned in order to give EPCOT its own distinct personality. The ride, yet another omnimover, had guests join Figment and the Dreamfinder as they collect dreams and ideas which help them create new things and learn to use their imaginations. It also featured one of the most catchy tunes in the park. Ready for another sing-a-long? “Imaaaaaginaaaaation! Imaaaaaginaaaation!” The original ride closed in 1998 and has gone through two new versions, neither of which have matched the popularity of the original.
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