I Miss...

by Steve Russo, staff writer
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Nostalgia is a funny thing. It didn't exist for me in my early years but began to rear its head as I entered my 30s. Now with each passing year it seems there are more fond memories than ever. Admittedly, I think human nature has us embellishing the positives and glossing over the negatives of any memory. To make my point, the next time you feel nostalgic for the 1970s, go back and look at the clothes.

Nostalgia also comes into play with Walt Disney World. I know that I often smile when reflecting on memories of past trips or recalling an amusing anecdote that typically involves me screwing something up... much to the delight of my family. But it also applies when I recall a few things that are no longer there—attractions, restaurants... even specific items.

Walt Disney once famously said "Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world." That's a wonderful notion and one that I'm certain we all applaud—and it applies to Walt Disney World as well. Just in the last ten years, the World has rolled out Wishes, Mickey's Philharmagic, Mission: Space, Soarin', Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Expedition Everest... to name just a few. Then there's the in-progress-and-opening-soon Fantasyland expansion. We Disney fans have a lot for which to be thankful.

Unfortunately, progress often brings change and at times we appreciate the new—while simultaneously lamenting what's passed. Nostalgia creeps in and we find ourselves missing what once was but is no more. Case in point: Soarin' is probably my favorite attraction, but I still miss the Food Rocks/Kitchen Kabaret attraction that gave its life so Soarin' could exist. Would I trade Soarin' to bring them back? Not on your life but I miss them just the same.

With that said, what attractions or items are on my "I miss" list? I have fond memories of many bygone attractions, but let's begin with a somewhat odd choice...

Seabase Alpha and the Hydrolators

I view the upgrade from The Living Seas to The Seas with Nemo and Friends as a positive change. Nevertheless, when I visit Nemo I'm often reflecting wistfully of what it displaced. If you visited in the 1980s–'90s, you'll remember the Living Seas as not a single attraction but a series of shows.

It began with a brief, introductory sequence projected high on the walls in a circular room. You were then ushered into a theater for a longer film that explained how the oceans were formed. I can recall "the deluge" where there was so much rain and rushing water depicted, half the audience needed a restroom break as soon as the film ended.

After the film, in order to bring the guests to the viewing areas, the Imagineers needed a way to place you into the ocean—more specifically, the ocean floor. Enter the Hydrolators—three 20 passenger elevators that transported guests on a 30-second trip to the ocean floor. This was simulated with a shaking floor while pushing water upward behind a glass wall, delivering the impression of swift downward movement. While this effect was providing visible and tactile evidence of descent, electronic monitors offered scientific evidence that you were indeed traveling to the bottom of the ocean.


A Hydrolator. Photo by Disney.

Allow me to digress for a moment. There is an urban legend that claims a woman once sued Disney, claiming eardrum damage from the pressure change during her rapid descent in a hydrolator at The Living Seas. Supposedly, Disney's lawyers transported the judge and jury to Epcot, took them into a hydrolator and operated it with both doors open—revealing that there is no actual descent. This evidence caused the judge to dismiss the case on the spot.

That's a cute story but one that I believe is highly unlikely to have actually occurred. I would expect any attorney worth his or her salt could get that claim tossed without needing an Epcot field trip.

At any rate, I miss the film and the hydrolators. They were part of the show that set the stage for the aquarium viewing in the pavilion—part of the "story," if you will. Evidently, they weren't a necessary component but I miss them just the same.

Beaver Tails

Can you remember the first time you told friends that you had eaten a beaver tail? This particular treat was available at Trapper Bob's kiosk outside the Canada pavilion in Epcot, and in fact contained no actual animal parts (thank goodness). Beaver Tails were fried dough flattened to resemble a beaver's tail. While tasty on their own, it was best to complement them with one of the available toppings that included Chocolate Hazelnut and Sugar, Strawberries and Whipped Cream, and Apples and Cinnamon.

In 2005, Beaver Tails were no longer available, and I've yet to learn why. I miss them.

Comedy Warehouse

I know Pleasure Island had its fans and its detractors and I'd be the first to admit it wasn't for everybody. However, my family and I are huge comedy fans and we truly enjoyed attending several shows at the Comedy Warehouse during each Disney vacation.

The Comedy Warehouse was based in improvisation and relied heavily on audience suggestions and interaction along with a tremendously talented cast. The beauty of that setup is that no two shows were alike and it was common for folks (like me) to exit a show and jump right back in line for the next one. The Warehouse was an adult venue and served alcohol but the very talented actor/comedians were always mindful they were "at Disney" and never allowed the jokes to cross the "PG" line. In fact, they would often have a little fun at Disney's expense.

Alas, the Comedy Warehouse, along with the Adventurers Club, was closed a few years ago in order to prepare the area for Hyperion Wharf (see my recent Park Peeves column for my opinion there). Here's one fan who wishes Disney would bring it back. I miss it.


The cast at the Comedy Warehouse. Photo by Sue Holland.

The Imagination Pavilion

Ah, there's so much to miss here. Let's begin with the original ride, Journey Into Imagination: a dark ride that used omnimover technology. Guests followed the Dreamfinder and his friend, Figment, on a journey through imagination. The first few minutes of the attraction kept your ride vehicle moving in front of Dreamfinder and Figment as they flew in his Dreamfinder vehicle. His vehicle and yours were in sync so it was, essentially, a stationary scene. I'm still not certain how the Imagineers pulled that one off. I'm betting someone out there knows how the technology was used to create that effect but I think I'd prefer to remain amazed.

I have fond memories of that attraction and the infectious song, "One Little Spark." I know there's an Eric Idle rendition on the current ride—and I like Eric Idle—but I still prefer the original.

Once you exited the ride, you could spend time in the Image Works. Yes, I know it's still there but trust me... what's there today is a shell of the many hands-on exhibits that were presented on the second floor of the pavilion. I can recall easily spending 30-45 minutes interacting with the displays there. I still can't figure out why it was shut down—but I'd venture cost was involved.

The third part of the Imagination triad was the 3D film (Magical Journeys, Honey I Shrunk the Audience and now... Captain EO) but... before you entered the theater, there was the pre-show. I truly miss True Colors. It was a hauntingly beautiful song that accompanied a Kodak slide show containing some the most stunning slides I've seen—the audio and video together conveying the essence of "imagination." I never, ever tired of that show and I'm saddened today that I never recorded the whole show. I miss it.


The Imagination pavilion. Photo by Steve Russo.

Tapestry of Nations

I agree that the World Showcase promenade was never really designed to accommodate a parade. I'm aware of the logistical difficulties it presented. I've also heard, and can appreciate, the horror stories of injuries that accompanied cast members supporting those large puppets while dodging high winds, children and aggressive guests.

Knowing all that, I still miss the Tapestry of Nations parade. In my Disney collection is the Millennium CD, which offers the soundtrack to Illuminations as well as that wonderful Tapestry of Nations music. "Ayla, Wayla, Ayla, Wayla, Ayla. Way-o-Way." Anyone that hasn't heard it is now questioning my sanity but... if you're a fan like me, I'll bet you're singing it.

I wrote that phonetically by the way. I've read the song has no real words—just sounds to mimic a language and convey emotion while the puppets do their thing. Regardless, I miss it.

Superstar Television / Monster Soundstage

Can you remember when Disney's MGM Studios—now Hollywood Studios—offered attractions that actually took you backstage to see how film or television show productions worked? OK, it was a brief glimpse but an entertaining one and provided a bit of insight into the types of things that were being done to bring entertainment to us.

One of my lasting memories from Superstar Television was when my wife and I appeared in an episode of Golden Girls and I totally messed up my one speaking line. Somehow, "We don't want to wear out our welcome" became "We don't wannaweahoudaweckom."

I know American Idol has its fans (I'm not one of them) and I can understand how it replaced Superstar Television. I don't agree with it, but I can understand it. But I'll probably never get another shot at TV stardom.

Regarding the Monster Sound Show... Sounds Dangerous? Really?

Horizons

Here it is. I'll close with the granddaddy of all that is missed at Walt Disney World—Horizons. It's been closed since 1999 and legions of Disney World fans still speak reverently about this attraction.

Let me say that I loved Horizons but I think the passing of time has created an ideal that never really existed. Horizons offered a trip through what was envisioned as a possible future. Sights, sounds, and smells combined to treat the guest to a look at what life might be like as we colonize the deserts, oceans and outer space.

I loved Horizons for its story but I admit that it offered me something that I'm a sucker for—the sense of flight—not unlike what Soarin' does for me. There was a segment where the ride vehicle passed through an iMax type screen and, if you timed it right, you'd be treated to a wonderful scene of flying over planet Earth, through the atmosphere, and then over New York City. The sensation of flight was real and I always thought that segment alone was worth the price of admission.

Horizons has been replaced by Mission: Space. Space is technically superior and offers its riders a different type of glimpse into the future—one with a few thrills thrown in. Do I miss Horizons? Certainly. I wish it could co-exist with Mission: Space but wishful thinking gets us nowhere. But I do miss it.

So... that's my list of a few of the things I miss at Walt Disney World. Reality, and progress, tells me this list will be forever growing and that's both good and bad news. Good because Walt Disney World, as Walt said, will "never be completed" but I'm certain I'll lament the passing of more personal favorites as they're ushered out to make room for the next big attraction.

I stayed away from a few more obvious choices, predominantly at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Who among us doesn't long for the days when we could see real animators working on real films as a part of the Magic of Disney Animation tour? Or see the filming of real television shows as part of the Backlot Tour? Or... any others? What's on your "I miss it" list?

Comments

  1. By mkelm44

    Great article Steve- I'm mid 30's and think back on how "the World" has changed. I agree with you that Philharmagic, Mission Space, Everest, etc are great additions, there are a few things that I wish would return.

    I was never a adventurers club fan, but I did love that Pleasure Island existed. I admit it was probably better in its incarnation as a ticketed area (as opposed to the free admission that I feel lead to its downfall) but I enjoyed that there was an "adult" area in the park. I always remind people that adults are parts of family too and that especially after a day in the park its good to have a place to kick back sans kids if that's what you want. Pleasure island was that place- a place to have some laughs, listen to some music, and order a drink or two without feeling completely out of place and/or taking a break from kids.

    Tapestry of Nations is another I liked- it was larger than life and a lot of fun. The huge puppets, the rolling drums- these are things you only would see at Disney World, which is something I love about visiting. There was something cool, even as an adult, to get a handshake from a 20 foot puppet and be impressed by the artistry of it. When combined with the illuminations fireworks, it made a really entertaining 2 hour block that capped off a good day at Epcot.

    A couple you didn't include but which I miss is Timekeeper (92-2004) with Robin Williams. Buzz Lightyear is a lot of fun in that same spot, but it was just a really fun show (even if you had to do the 360 theater stand/lean). Robin Williams was a lot of fun and it fit well with tomorrowland well. Also, Cranium Command/Body Wars/Wonder of life pavilion. Another couple of enjoyable shows with a good kid friendly education aspect to it. I know it gets used as event space for the food and wine and flower and garden festival space, but the other 2/3 of the year nothing is going on.

  2. By ChoEarfan1

    Having been a Guest at WDW since the week after opening day, there is only one attraction that I truly miss: 20,000 Leagues! I know the subs leaked, the line was slow, it was hot and all the other complaints but this was hands down my favorite attraction. I have fond memories as a youngster of my first ride on the Nautilus and BELIEVING we were really going under water!

    Don

  3. By mwalter

    My only memory of Superstar Television is from our first trip to WDW as a family in summer 2001. I was picked out of the crowd to be in a scene from Home Improvement, playing the part of Al. It was a hoot. I only wish they made recordings of the scenes available to the participants, even to purchase as I would have bought one for sure.

  4. By Drince88

    Quote Originally Posted by mkelm44 View Post
    A couple you didn't include but which I miss is Timekeeper (92-2004) with Robin Williams. Buzz Lightyear is a lot of fun in that same spot, but it was just a really fun show (even if you had to do the 360 theater stand/lean). Robin Williams was a lot of fun and it fit well with tomorrowland well. Also, Cranium Command/Body Wars/Wonder of life pavilion. Another couple of enjoyable shows with a good kid friendly education aspect to it. I know it gets used as event space for the food and wine and flower and garden festival space, but the other 2/3 of the year nothing is going on.

    I don't remember what was where Buzz Lightyear is - but Monsters, Inc is where Timekeeper was.

    TOTALLY agree about Cranium Command. I was very fortunate and had one last trip when they were opening the pavillion 'at busy times' and got to see Cranium Command one last time, knowing that it was likely to be the last time.

  5. By srusso100

    Quote Originally Posted by Drince88 View Post
    I don't remember what was where Buzz Lightyear is - but Monsters, Inc is where Timekeeper was.

    TOTALLY agree about Cranium Command. I was very fortunate and had one last trip when they were opening the pavillion 'at busy times' and got to see Cranium Command one last time, knowing that it was likely to be the last time.

    Before Buzz was If You Had Wings, Dreamflight, etc.

  6. By carolinakid

    I do miss Pleasure Island. 8 Traxx was always a must do for my boyfriend and me on those nights when the parks close on the early side. I agree a lot of PI's problems started when they started the free admission.
    I also have a soft spot for Mr Toad, Horizons, If You Had Wings, Circle Vision 360 in Tomorrowland, the Skyway, Superstar Television, the Studios' original Backstage Tour and Animation Tour and the Plaza Swan Boats!

    I also miss the Adventureland Veranda!

  7. By josephbandrews

    Quote Originally Posted by carolinakid View Post
    I do miss Pleasure Island. 8 Traxx was always a must do for my boyfriend and me on those nights when the parks close on the early side. I agree a lot of PI's problems started when they started the free admission.
    I also have a soft spot for Mr Toad, Horizons, If You Had Wings, Circle Vision 360 in Tomorrowland, the Skyway, Superstar Television, the Studios' original Backstage Tour and Animation Tour and the Plaza Swan Boats!

    I also miss the Adventureland Veranda!

    The Skyway--we talk about that EVERY time we see it in old pictures/lithographs...Good one.

  8. By Pammer

    Great article as usual, Steve! I remember my hubby & I participating in a Cheers segment in the Superstar Television attraction many years ago, and we both LOVED the Monster sound show with Martin Short and Chevy Chase...totally hilarious! Drew Carey and his Sounds Dangerous show was a replacement where I think Disney really missed the boat, all because Drew had a TV show on ABC at the time.

    I love Disney music (I'm listening to Subsonicradio.com as I type this), especially that Millenium CD...Tapestry of Nations and IllumiNations together? FANTASTIC!

    Count us as big fans of the Comedy Warehouse too...we would do the same thing, exit one show and get in line for the next!

  9. By DisneyGator

    I can't say I miss the hydroculators - they seemed to just slow everything down. And I still like the Imagination pavillion as is.

    But, man oh man, do I ever miss those Beaver Tails. Those were incredible. I still remember strolling by Canada and a couple actually from Canada came to us and said we had to try the Beaver Tails. Especially with "real Canadian maple", or so they said. So we got one with chocolate and maple - it was the best treat I've ever had. Period. And then it closed by the time we could return. Heartbreak City, dude. Miss that place a lot.

  10. By danyoung

    Steve, I completely agree with almost everything on your list. As I was reading it I kept needing you to acknowledge Horizons - glad you finally did. I think my favorite bygone attraction would have to be the Timekeeper. I finally got the soundtrack from the web onto my mp3 player, so I can relive the show from time to time. There's also a pretty good version of it on Youtube.

    The only thing on your list that wasn't on mine was the beaver tails - not because I didn't like 'em, but because I never got the pleasure (and now never will . . .).

  11. By worldlover71

    Going way back, I still miss the Mickey Mouse Review from the early days of the Magic Kingdom. I only saw it once in 1979 when I was 7 but I loved it and was very dissapointed that it was gone (to Tokyo) when I went back in 1986. Now that it's no longer in Tokyo, I'm holding out hope that the Three Caballeros figures might someday find their way to the finale of the Grand Fiesta Tour. It's a longshot but a guy can hope.

  12. By DisneyDreamer100

    It's been great to see your articles back on Mouse Planet, Steve. I, too, miss the original Journey into Imagination attraction and Image Works - both were really great. I also really miss World of Motion in Epcot, and my kids are already mourning the loss of Mickey and Minnie's houses at MK.

  13. By srusso100

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyDreamer100 View Post
    It's been great to see your articles back on Mouse Planet, Steve.

    Thank you. That's so nice of you to say.

  14. By gointowdw

    Steve- while I consider myself a traditionalist in many ways I also see the need for change. I don't have any great recollection of Horizons, but if it was still there, I do wonder how it would play in 2012. An attraction that provides a glimpse into the future, when the future is rapidly changing before our eyes, is a tough thing to keep fresh. Think about it- the hard-to-believe video phone of the Jetsons is now here via Skype and FaceTime. You can unlock doors and turn on your house lights from your smartphone wherever you are. What can an attraction like Horizons present to us that isn't already here?

    Regarding Hollywood Studios- again due to technology which is available to the masses, I don't think as a society we are as impressed with the behind the scenes movie magic, as we were even 10 years ago. One can find several youtube videos or watch "How Its Made" for some insight. On the Backlot Tour, seeing the facade of the Golden Girls house is no big deal anymore.

    Yet rides like Peter Pan and Small World remain popular. From my perspective, that's because you know it's a fantasy world experience. You suspend your disbelief going in. No one believes they are actually flying through London, but it's fun to imagine you are. Same holds for the thrill rides- I know I'm not really in a old haunted hotel on Tower of Terror, but for just a few minutes I can pretend I am.

    Thanks as always for your great articles.

  15. By MousePaul

    Thank you for such a good article (and topic) I certainly miss the original Journey into Imagination as well. I was always the highlight of my trip to Epcot! Something about it just grabbed me. I thought it amazingly fun and innovative. What is so sad in this case is that it has been replaced by such an inferior ride. Nothing like downgrading! So un-Disney like and I am such a big fan. I do miss the Adventurers club and I only went there twice. I am surprised this type of club didn't take off elsewhere, but I believe it needs Disney to keep it legit. Would love to see this brought back somewhere in Disney.

    So a new recent "I miss" is the 'coming down backward' show at Spaceship Earth. Sure the graphics are cute and the technlogy they showed in many ways is here, but maybe thatis the point. Can't the imagineers dreams become reality? Seems so perfect. Plus too dark - loved the color and lights.

    Missing Disney (as a whole) as I write this ...better go see Mickey soon.

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