Don’t get us wrong — we LOVE Disney World. We’re there every day, and we still get a little teary-eyed when we walk down Main Street, U.S.A. and see Cinderella Castle. Disney World IS our happy place!
But at the same time, there have been some things that Disney World has done that left us scratching our heads and asking, “What gives, Disney?” We’ve seen some pretty ridiculous things happen at the parks over the years, and some were so outrageous that we’ve totally forgotten about them!
Some of these were really fun, others…pretty darn weird or downright not good ideas. Let’s take a trip down Disney World Memory Lane as we look at the 12 most ridiculous things that you forgot ever happened at Disney World.
Back in 2016, Magic Kingdom opened up cabanas for guests in Tomorrowland. Yep. Cabanas like you’d rent poolside in Vegas (or some Disney hotels, but you get what we’re saying!). Those cabanas cost a whopping $649!!! These were basically just large boring tents with some tables and seating, along with charging stations and storage trunks that locked. Oh, and those guests got customized ear hats, too.
Each cabana could seat up to 8 guests and came with a mini-fridge with soda and water, some snacks (chips), and one novelty ice cream snack per guest. You could also order from a special Tomorrowland menu (which cost extra) and have a personal server bring your food to you. That’s a LOT of money for a Mickey bar, a Coke, and a tent!!!
But is that worth almost $650?. It seems like it wasn’t because this idea didn’t last very long. If you’ve been to Tomorrowland recently, you’ll know there are NO cabanas there and there haven’t been any since, well, 2016.
Birthday Cake Castle
In 1996, Disney World celebrated its 25th anniversary and turned Cinderella Castle into a gigantic Pepto-Bismol pink birthday cake. And yeah, some guests loved it (::raises hand::), but many first-timers? Not so much. For families taking their first (or possibly only) trip to Disney World, they expected the famous blue and gray castle at the end of Main Street. Instead they got…well:
Those picture-perfect castle shots with your family were a bit…out there while it looked like this! Even worse, the castle STAYED LIKE THAT FOR TWO YEARS! That said, years later, it’s something special (and rare!) to have a castle pic in front of the giant cake!
At least the castle makeover for the 50th anniversary is something a bit more fancy and less baked good related (and still basically the same castle we know and love)! But if you loved the birthday cake castle, just know this — you can get a MagicBand with the birthday cake castle on it!
Imagine finally getting to Disney World. You’re SO happy to see Cinderella Castle in all her glory then…you see this. The castle has been vandalized with toilet paper and graffiti! Nope, it wasn’t some pesky high schoolers breaking into the park in the middle of the night. It was Stitch! In 2004 when Disney debuted Stitch’s Great Escape — the castle was done up like Stitch had vandalized it.
That certainly made for some interesting photos — but it only lasted a day, at least! Wanted posters for Experiment 626 (AKA Stitch!) were all over Main Street, too! But still, imagine getting to Disney World and having that one day at Magic Kingdom to get that perfect castle shot and seeing this! 😳
The Cranberry Bog
Believe it or not, the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival used to feature a REAL cranberry bog sponsored by Ocean Spray. Because who doesn’t want to put on some waders and walk through knee-deep cranberry bog water? (Okay, we totally wanted to AND we totally DID — we’ll admit it was probably one of the best things we ever experienced!).
Normally, the bog had a wader-clad Ocean Spray cranberry expert in there happy to answer all your cranberry-related queries. But when WE got to get IN it, it was for a special media event IN THE BOG. They served food and beverages to be consumed WHILE IN THE BOG. Like there were tables set up IN the bog and everything. WILD!
For normal daytime visits, this was a really unique opportunity to learn about the process of harvesting cranberries. We loved checking it out each year. The cranberry bog was a star at several EPCOT Food and Wine Festivals before it unceremoniously just…stopped.
The Muppets Break Into Disney World
Okay, The Muppets are cool and everything, but back in 1990, they LITERALLY broke into Disney World (Animal BLASTS through a turnstile), and then they spent a lot of time running from a security guard (that would be CHARLES GRODIN as the daft guard!!) and getting into other mischief. You can even see the old Omnibuses that went around World Showcase in EPCOT!
This was a special that aired on the Magical World of Disney on TV. Keep your eyes peeled and you can even spot a young Raven Symoné and a Splash Mountainless Frontierland! Thanks to RetroWDW for the amazingly restored footage!
Time to talk about Barbie. Yep, the same dolls your kids might be playing with or you played with as a child. What does Barbie have to do with Disney? For a few years — a lot!
There was once a show at EPCOT called The Magical World of Barbie. We kid you not. That show played regularly at the American Gardens Theater. It was as full of ruffles, spandex, big hair, and PINK as you’d imagine. But wait — there’s more! Barbie also used to drive around World Showcase in a pink glittery stretch limo. Yep.
Barbie may not seem TOO out of place in Disney World following her appearance in the Toy Story films, but this was long before that! This ran from 1993 through 1995. The show wasn’t terribly popular (even though you could MEET Barbie and Ken after the show!) and eventually was canceled.
Ace Ventura Show
If you thought Barbie showing up at Disney World was a little weird, just you wait until we tell you about the Ace Ventura Show. No, really! For one year (1995-1996), Disney’s Hollywood Studios (then known as Disney MGM Studios) hosted the Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Show AND Meet-and-Greet.
Because nothing says Disney like Ace Ventura, right? Ace Ventura was wildly popular when it came out and Disney wanted to capitalize on that. Disney didn’t own the rights to the film or character — Warner Brothers did — but were able to get the licensing rights to have the show in the park. Ace would actually climb around and interact with the Streets of America section of the park during the show. And, of course, you could meet him afterward. 🙂 This might be one of the most ridiculous things we’ve ever seen at Disney World!
The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management)
In 1998, Disney decided to change the beloved Enchanted Tiki Room at Magic Kingdom. The new attraction was called “The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management).” Although the attraction still featured the birds we all love and enjoy, Zazu from The Lion King and Iago from Aladdin tried to come in and take over.
Disney fans new and old pretty much universally…didn’t like this. The new attraction lacked much of the charm of the original. The Tiki Room may not be the most popular ride in all the parks, but it was beloved by many. This version pushed the reason guests loved the Tiki Room — the birds — to the side in favor of the feathered sidekicks from Disney’s animated films. Plus, the characters in question were just kind of annoying. This version of the Tiki Room ran until 2011 when a small fire in the attic closed it down. It reopened later that year in its original state. Sorry Iago and Zazu, it was time to go.
Journey Into Your Imagination
Let’s talk about another ride that got an “update” that guests just didn’t like. Figment is a beloved part of EPCOT’s history. He was created — literally — on the original Journey Into Imagination ride where guests followed along with the Dreamfinder as he created a “figment” of his imagination. They took us along with them as they came up with wondrous ideas focused on art, science, and creativity.
In 1999, Journey Into Imagination became Journey Into YOUR Imagination and lost — quite literally — every little charming bit of the ride. The new attraction gave Figment a lesser role AND completely got rid of Dreamfinder.
Needless to say, guests hated it, and it was revamped in 2001 into Journey Into Imagination with Figment. This is the version you can ride to this day. Figment was back as the star of the attraction, but, alas, Dreamfinder never returned (and we’re still salty about that). Instead, Figment went from a child full of creativity and wonder to more of a misbehaving prankster. It’s still a step up from the YOUR Imagination ride, so we’ll give it that.
Discovery River Boats
Disney never quite figured out what to do with the Discovery River Boats at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. These boats, established in 1998, were meant to be a boat ride that would take guests past every land of the park via its waterways, while the captain pointed out various points of interest. He would also occasionally bring animals on board to teach guests about them.
But that was it, guests ended up expecting more from the cruise. Disney tried to liven it up in 1999 by calling it the “Radio Disney River Cruise” — the boats played commentary from Radio DJs. But that still wasn’t enough to get guests to want to ride it, and, eventually, Disney scrapped the boats later that year.
Caribbean Beach Resort Made Guests Eat In A Tent
In 2017, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort was undergoing a massive renovation. That construction closed the resort’s only bar, Banana Cabana, as well as its only table-service restaurant, Shutters. So the resort set up a makeshift dining area IN A TENT with a buffet.
That isn’t the ridiculous thing about the whole situation, though. Because you might expect that Disney guests would pay less to stay at the Caribbean Beach during all this upheaval, right? Well, they didn’t — the resort continued to charge the same room rate that it did before guests were basically forced to dine in a tent there.
Even more silly, if you wanted to get smaller grab-and-go type items you were directed…to a hotel room. They converted a regular ol’ guest room into a makeshift food location. It was…odd. Thankfully it was also short-lived.
We’ve seen grab-and-go locations pop up in unique spots during construction but IN an actual hotel room was a unique one!
What do you think? Any other weird, wild things in Disney World’s past we didn’t cover? Don’t worry, we know we didn’t mention basically all of the other wacky stage shows in Hollywood Studios in the early 90s (it was a different time, y’all). If you happen to be at Disney World when something unique is going on, don’t be bummed out it’s not perfect. Just remember — one day years later you might look back and go, “WOW. I was there when… .”
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What do you think is the most ridiculous thing Disney World has ever done? Let us know in the comments!