As the years roll on and attractions across the Walt Disney World Resort continually change and improve, some attractions always get forgotten or pushed to the side in the process. So, on this 50th anniversary year of the Magic Kingdom, I’d like to spotlight a few oldies, but goodies!
The Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World’s first theme park, opened in 1971, and since that time rides have come in gone. Some recent rides that have faded into the background include the Astro Orbiter, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, and the Country Bear Jamboree.
The Astro Orbiter is located in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom Park. Riders take an elevator up to the attraction which lies just above the People Mover. Once aboard, riders pilot a spaceship high above the kingdom, taking in views as far as the eye can see. Each spacecraft holds two passengers, lifts them up into the air, and orbits a “galaxy of planets while the sights and sounds of Tomorrowland whirl by far below.” I will admit, the round-and-round orbit offers spectacular views of the entire kingdom!
If you are looking for a relaxing break from the heat, Mickey’s PhilharMagic is an excellent forgotten attraction for that! Located in the older section of Fantasyland, right next door to Peter Pan’s Flight, this attraction offers a cool, 12 minute escape from the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom. After putting on Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat, Donald Duck “decides to try his hand at conducting the concert” when he’s drawn into a 3D adventure through many of your favorite Disney movies and songs. The classic songs include, “Be Our Guest,” “Part of Your World,” “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King,” and more. All of this is presented on a “150-foot-wide, 180-degree seamless wraparound screen.”
Our last stop in the Magic Kingdom is located in Frontierland. The Country Bear Jamboree, one of the original attractions from opening day (October 1, 1971) and “one of the very last attractions that Walt Disney personally helped develop,” is a sentimental favorite for any Disney lover! This show is a toe-tapping, hootenanny in the rustic theater of Grizzly Hall. You can “clap along as 18 audio-animatronics hillbilly bears play and sing during this 16-minute...cele-bear-tion.” Melvin the moose, Buff the buffalo, and Max the deer are my son’s favorite characters in the attraction, adding playful commentary to the fun-filled, country concert.
As we continue on our journey around the resort, our next stop is Epcot. While Figment is considered the mascot of Epcot, it seems strange that his attraction is so often forgotten; however Journey Into Imagination with Figment is often just that! Residing in Future World, the intent of this ride is to explore our five senses in the Imagination Institute; however, those five senses are instead tested when the mischievous Figment commandeers the ride and turns our senses upside down!
This last forgotten attraction of Epcot is a favorite of our family! The first ride I rode with my husband on our honeymoon, located deep in the heart of the Mexico pavilion, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros was inspired by the 1944 Disney film The Three Caballeros. Take a “cruise down the Rio Grande on a dark boat ride past some of the most famous sights and cities in Mexico” with Donald Duck and his friends, Panchito and José Carioca. On your way to the ride, you will enter the Mayan temple in the pavilion, view the Coco inspired exhibit “Remember Me!” - La Celebración del Día de Muertos that captures the beauty and spirit of the Day of the Dead holiday, and walk through a Mexican market under the “night sky”.
Our next forgotten attraction can be found if you follow the path to the roots of the Tree of Life, the centerpiece of Animal Kingdom! It’s Tough to Be a Bug! allows viewers to shrink down to insect proportions and become an honorary bug to “discover what it’s like to be a bug during this 3D film and live show” hosted by Flik from the Disney and Pixar movie A Bug’s Life. The attraction pulls you in and makes you a part of the action as you dodge flying quills, sniff a stink bug, and get sprayed by a termite!
To round out this adventure down memory lane, I wanted to mention forgotten attractions at each Disney World park, so our last forgotten attraction resides at Hollywood Studios. Though this park has had many recent additions and makeovers, one attraction that is often overlooked is Muppet*Vision 3D. Based on the original TV show, The Muppet Show, this attraction lets you take a seat in a perfect replica of the Muppet Theater to watch the 3D film featuring all your favorite characters - Kermit, Miss Piggy, and many more - and musical numbers with special effects on and off-screen! The film also includes the “final released film...directed by Jim Henson and the last to feature his voice as Kermit the Frog.”
While it’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest, Disney has always provided nostalgia for many guests. On your next visit, take a few minutes to enjoy a forgotten attraction or two. They truly are oldies, but goodies.