5 More Attractions From Yesteryear That We Still Miss
Last week, we took a look at five our favorite Disney attractions which have gone the way of the dodo. As Walt Disney World gears up for its 50th anniversary, we thought we’d continue looking back with five more attractions that still make us get a little misty when we think of them.
The Backstage Studio Tour & Inside the Magic – Special Effects and Production Tour
The Backstage Studio Tour and Inside the Magic were once the premier attractions at Disney-MGM Studios (later Hollywood Studios). They opened on May 1, 1989. At the time, the park was designed to, “give guests an opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes during the making of a movie or television show.” The full experience lasted around two hours (at first), and consisted of two segments. The first was the Backstage Studio Tour. Guests were brought through production buildings highlighting costume and set construction. A special effects demonstration took place in Catastrophe Canyon, which featured simulated natural disasters. While on the tram, Guests also got to see the Golden Girls House. After this portion, Guests could move on to Inside the Magic – Special Effects and Production Tour. There, Guests would see special effects locations and traverse a catwalk above sound stages. They also visited the sets of a short Bette Midler film called “The Lottery,” and later the sets of the live action 101 Dalmatians. Like The Great Movie Ride, this was heaven for anyone who loved the magic of movies and television.
Kitchen Kabaret will be immortal because of four little words, “Veggie! Veggie! Fruit! Fruit!” The thirteen minute long show located in Epcot’s Land Pavilion was a spectacle of comedy and music that was strange, funny, and altogether enchanting. It blended entertainment with educution in a way that perfectly suited the philosophy of Epcot. The characters in the show were all Audio Animatronic. Through music and comedy, they taught about healthy eating and introduced the audience to the food groups. The characters were loved enough to have merchandise like coloring books and pins made of them, and the song “Veggie, Veggie, Fruit, Fruit,” remains popular nearly 30 years after the attractions closing (1994).
The show was originally sponsored by Kraft Foods and consisted of 28 total Audio Animatronic figures. One lucky character, the vaudevillian Mr. Eggz of Hamm and Eggz, would later appear in the Astuter Computer Review and Backstage Magic in Communicore.
Journey Into Imagination
Tony Baxter was the mind behind this beloved Epcot attraction. An Omnimover attraction, it carried Guests into the wonderful world of the Dreamfinder and Figment (the figment of imagination). The tiny purple dragon would quickly become one of the most beloved park characters. The voice of Dreamfinder was provided by the brilliant Chuck McCann (voice of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird for General Mills Coco Puffs and a voice actor who appeared in cartoons ranging from G.I. Joe to The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh). The attraction’s theme song, “One Little Spark” was penned by Disney Legends Richard and Robert Sherman, the duo responsible for beloved songs like “It’s A Small World,” “Feed the Birds,” “There’s a Great, Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” and “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room.”
One of the more curious facts about the attraction deals with the creation of Figment. He owes his existence to the show Magnum P.I. According to Tony Baxter, “I was watching Magnum P.I. on T.V. and he was in the garden and the butler Higgens, had all these plants and they were all uprooted. It was a mess. Magnum had been hiding a goat out there and it had eaten the plants. Higgens said, “Magnum! Magnum! Come out here! Look at this! Something has been eating all the plants in the garden,” And Magnum says, “Oh, it’s just a figment of your imagination. And Higgens said, “Figments don’t eat grass!” I thought, “There is this name, the word “Figment” that in English means a sprightly little character. But no one has ever visualized it, no one had ever drawn what a figment is…”
The Maelstrom boat ride attraction in Epcot’s Norway pavilion was a thrilling tour of Norwegian history, mythology and folklore. As the boats (which were built to resemble a 10th century warrior’s long ship) set course, travelers were told, “those who seek the spirit of Norway face peril and adventure, but more often find beauty and charm.” As the journey progressed, Guests encountered the god Odin, Viking villages, Nokken, and trolls. It’s a safe bet that most Guests remember the trolls more than any other element. It was those very creatures who cried, “Back! Over the falls!” This cry proceeded the boat hurtling backwards before stopping and plunging forward down a 28 foot drop (the only attraction in Epcot to feature a flume drop). Along with the trolls, Guests would also see a 10 foot tall polar bear, and an oil rig in the North Sea. Though it closed in 2014 to make way for Frozen Ever After, it’s easy to believe that the Viking spirits encountered on Maelstrom have found a happy home in Arendelle.
Though it’s a bit of conjecture, it doesn’t seem far fetched to say that Horizons is the most popular attraction ever closed at Walt Disney World. Built as a sort of sequel to the Carousel of Progress, Horizons explored the future. It explored how the future perceived by previous generations, the modern technology blazing the trail forward, and a vision of what may still come.
Imagineer George McGinnis was the principal designer of the attraction, which utilized an Omnimover system dubbed Horizons 1. The tour culminated in an interactive experience that allowed Guests to create their own future. According to McGinnis, “Marty (Sklar)…asked me to come up with a “weenie” (a Walt term for something that draws your attention) for the ending,” I developed the traveling screen concept, which allowed for guests to “Choose Their Future” by voting on touch panels. The choices were video simulations of travel through environments we had visited: Desert, Undersea and Space, ending up back at the FuturePort where our journey began.”
Horizons was a breathtaking experience that instilled a sense of wonder and possibility in everyone who embarked on the voyage. It remains an icon of Walt Disney World history which continues to inspire us to reach toward tomorrow.
In its half century of existence, Walt Disney World has created countless magical attractions, shows, and experiences. These are just a few of our favorites. To read about others, be sure to check out our new book, “50 Years of Walt Disney World Magic.” For more info on the book visit https://celebrationspress.com/product/celebrations-50-year-book/.