We’ve seen some wild things over the years in Disney World (remember when Cinderella Castle was turned into a giant pink birthday cake for the 25th anniversary?).
Although there have been so many sights that we will never forget in the parks, there’s Disney entertainment that has been lost to time. With all the new lands and the giant Epcot Transformation, many guests don’t realize that Disney has hosted some delightfully strange shows and attractions over the years.
And, we’re taking you back through time to look at the greatest things you could do in Disney World that people have forgotten about!
Build Your Own Roller Coaster
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Space Mountain are great and all, but wouldn’t it be WAY cooler to build your own Disney coaster?? Well, you actually could in Epcot! Innoventions didn’t just house the Character Spot, but it was also a dwelling place for the Sum of All Thrills.
The roller coaster simulator attraction was the first ride at Innoventions and ran from 2009 to 2016. Guests could use a computer program to make the drops, loops, curves, and turns of a coaster track. Once you completed building your roller coaster, you could choose to make it a bobsled, jet aircraft, or coaster experience for “riders.”
After you’ve named your creation (please share what you named your coasters in the comments!) and were given the green light from “coaster safety professionals,” you were able to climb into a robotic arm that simulated your roller coaster! That means you were able to feel all the twists, turns, and upside-down parks that you built into your track.
If you were lucky enough to experience the Sum of All Thrills during its seven-year run, we absolutely think you deserve to use those bragging rights to say you created your own roller coaster in Epcot.
What’s going to happen to Disney World’s 50th anniversary with all the closures? This is what we think!
Pose with a Ninja Turtle
Disney’s Hollywood Studios wasn’t always the name of this theme park (and it definitely didn’t feature so much Disney IP). Previously, Hollywood Studios was called Disney MGM Studios, where the attractions and entertainment were all based on the most popular aspects of the film industry.
Since the parks paid homage to the best and the brightest in Hollywood at the time, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were brought in as one of the BIGGEST cartoons in the 1980s and 1990s.
While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made an entrance all crammed on top of a car (still a bit confused on how they all fit), they would perform a show with April O’Neill on vocals. The amped-up 80s style music gave the Turtles a chance to show off their ninjitsu moves and they WORKED that stage.
Guests could meet all four of them afterward, so it was a pretty cool photo-op. Although we’re sure that there must have been some little kids who probably weren’t big fans of how massive they must have been in person!
Ace Ventura: Hollywood Detective
Oh, you thought the unique shows in Hollywood Studios stopped there? Nope, there’s more, folks. Disney MGM Studios also had an Ace Ventura: Pet Detective show and meet-and-greet. While this might seem just as random as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ace Ventura was a big pop culture icon at the time because of Jim Carrey’s omnipresence in film.
After a very dramatic climb from the roof down to the stage, Ace would be interviewed about his detective work, time in Africa, and more as he gave hilarious answers.
But, the best part was the actor who played him. While following the footsteps of Jim Carrey seems like a very difficult task, the actors did a phenomenal job channeling Carrey’s energy into the character (and even made you believe he was Carrey at a few points of the show!).
However, the Ace Ventura: Pet Detective show didn’t last very long — it only ran a few months over the span of 1995 to 1996. All we can hope for is that for Hollywood Studios’ next big anniversary, we could maybe see some of these old characters make their way back into the parks to celebrate! 😉
Dinosaurs Roamed Animal Kingdom
Wait, we’re talking about Disney World, right? Even though Universal Orlando has just re-opened and you can meet Blue the Velociraptor again in Jurassic Park, Disney used to have its own raptor named Val!
A character named Professor Parker Woodson would lead a brightly colored raptor around Animal Kingdom back in 2014! While Professor Woodson was a real person, an actor would operate Val in an all-black bodysuit.
If you looked at it from the best angles, the puppet looked pretty awesome. But, if you looked at it straight on or too far to the side, you could see the person underneath A LOT more. The dinosaur quickly turned from scary and impressive to pretty cheesy once you found the “soft spot” of Val’s costume. 😉
Although Professor Parker Woodson and Val left soon after they debuted, this wasn’t the first time we’ve seen a dinosaur in the Disney Parks. Back in 2003, Lucky the Dinosaur appeared in Disney California Adventure before moving to Animal Kingdom and Hong Kong Disneyland.
Lucky was the first free-roaming audio-animatronic in the parks who was extremely life-like with the ability to walk, move his head and tail, blink, and have “conversations” with guests. Lucky was SO cool that he could even sign autographs! Dr. Woodson also accompanied Lucky in Animal Kingdom and Hong Kong Disneyland.
However, Lucky would frequently break down since he was only a prototype. Disney moved him back to have a permanent home at Walt Disney Imagineering in California, where he’ll still make appearances from time to time. Since dinosaurs are “extinct” in the parks, we’ll just have to settle for riding the Dinosaur ride instead!
Ride the Back of a Giant Ant
You might think that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land are big deals, but the Honey I Shrunk the Kids franchise was where 👏 it’s 👏 at, friends. Whenever you visited Hollywood Studios, you could go on an adventure in the interactive Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Play Set (before jetting over to Epcot to see the Honey I Shrunk the Audience film).
The Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Play Set that was built to seem like Wayne Szalinski had shrunk everyone down to a minuscule size (like smaller than a fly kind of tiny!). You’d be able to explore giant grass, climb through leaves, and even slide down an oversized film canister. (Kids, “film” is what we used in cameras before they became digital. …And “cameras” were…oh never mind.)
There were also multiple bugs placed around the area to show exactly how tiny you were supposed to be. You could even climb on the backs of giant ants for an iconic photo-op (thank goodness it wasn’t a fire ant or that could have been a disaster!).
While kids absolutely LOVED the playset, it ran for 26 years from 1990 until 2016 and was dismantled to make space for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Although we love Batuu, we miss being able to explore the wild world like we never have before at a teensy tiny size.
Disney World showcases some wacky entertainment every once in a while, and that’s one of the reasons we love the parks. The totally weird things end up becoming some of the most memorable experiences in the parks that amuse us (and now you, too) for years to come. Since next year is Disney World’s 50th anniversary, we are so excited to see what strange things the big 5-0 brings us too!
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What are some of your favorite Disney attractions from the past? Let us know in the comments below!