Farewell Alien

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Shortly after 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 12, the final 97 Guests (including some off-duty cast members) and a number of on-duty cast members entered the Tomorrowland Interplanetary Convention Center for the final show of ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

While not drawing the same size crowds as the final day of the park's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the show went out with an enthusiastic sellout. Screams, cheers, and applause resounded throughout the last show.

We will no longer be able to Seize the Future with X-S. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The ride had been playing to increased capacity throughout the final week, running both chambers on most days. While the crowds were not at capacity, they were much larger than had been seen in the attraction in quite a long time. On the final day, both chambers were in use until a late afternoon rainstorm dropped crowds and the attraction went down to using one chamber. The attraction was a walk-in the entire evening, while Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin ran with 25-minute standby times throughout.

No “Final Encounter” T-shirts. Just one rack of leftovers is all that remains of the Alien Encounter souvenirs, with Princess merchandise outnumbering Alien Encounter merchandise in the shop at the attraction's exit. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

As the 11:00 park closing time approached, people started to gather outside the queuing area. While waiting, I got to meet Nate from Doombuggies.com and some of his friends.

After the 10:55 show loaded, cast members announced that people could fill the queuing area for the final show. We moved in and waited for the doors to the Convention Center to open. At about five minutes after 11, he doors opened and we entered the first preshow. Many people were taking pictures or video as we watched the video monitors and waited for the second preshow.

The final 97 guests wait for admission to the Tomorrowland Interplanetary Convention Center. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

We entered the second preshow, and many in the crowd spoke the lines along with S.I.R. for the final time. At the end of the preshow, there was applause, as well as a few disparaging comments shouted out about Stitch. I hung back and waited to be the last guest to enter the chamber. One other person had the same idea, so we compromised by stepping in together.

The last group goes into the second preshow to see S.I.R. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The final show was loud with screams, cheers, and applause, and at the end, we all stayed and applauded the tearful thank-you and farewell speech given by the girl who had just played X-S Maintenance One. We said good-bye to the chamber (some of us physically) and four of us stepped out of the chamber together to be the last ones out… Since the others were off-duty cast members, I can probably claim title to Last Guest Out.

The chamber stands in an empty room after the conclusion of the final show. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter is now closed for good, beginning its 10-month makeover into “Stitch's Great Escape!” Disney has said that the new attraction is a “prequel” set shortly before the events of the hit Disney motion picture “Lilo & Stitch.” The family-friendly adventure in Tomorrowland will showcase the mayhem caused by the mischievous “Experiment 626”—a.k.a. Stitch—when first discovered in the Galactic Federation.

Entering Stitch's Great Escape, Magic Kingdom guests are recruited by the Galactic Federation Grand Councilwoman to provide additional security for a captured alien whose reputation for being extremely “difficult” has preceded him. Even so, authorities underestimate Stitch's capacity for playful disobedience, causing havoc to erupt with guests caught in the middle of the fun.

This concept art from Disney shows Stitch as the alien intruder for “Stitch's Great Escape!” Publicity photo Disney, 2003.

Stitch's Great Escape will feature some of the most sophisticated Audio-Animatronics technology ever developed by Walt Disney Imagineering.

According to a cast member who has seen some sketches, the chamber will be largely unchanged. The height limit will be removed, and the restraint system will now adjust all the way down to work with children of all heights. The new attraction will have Fastpass integrated into the queuing system.

We'll have to wait and see how the new attraction turns out, but there will be no more chances to “Seize the Future with XS.”