Recycled Walt Disney World Attractions

Friday, August 17, 2012

Phew!  It’s hot outside.  You just finished your 3rd bottled water in about 2 hours.  Instead of holding on to the bottle you look for one of those magical Disney garbage cans with two perfect holes towards the top where bottles fit into perfectly.  You know those recycle trash bins where every responsible Disney World guest should put there plastic bottles?  Eventually, that one plastic bottle gets crushed, cleaned, and remolded into a new plastic bottle for another guest to enjoy in the future.  Keep that thought right there for a second.  I’m going to switch gears.  Think of this concept with an attraction at Disney World.  Think of the times Disney World has taken a space, a building, or the guts of an attraction and reused it to save money, time, and resources of rebuilding a completely new attraction. 

If you think about all of the work that would be needed to build a new attraction in a space that’s already occupied by an old attraction it would be rather costly.  You’d have to demolish the old attraction and start from the ground up to build an entirely new attraction.  This means all new plumbing, electrical work, and foundation for a new building or space.  Also, think about the money that would be saved by recycling a building or space so it can be reinvested into the new attraction.  Would recycling an attraction make the new attraction better, or would that money just go back to Disney shareholders (or maybe a little bit of both)?    

The idea of recycling attractions got me thinking of some of the most obvious ones over the past decade.  Let’s take a quick look at a few that were the most obvious on sort of a trip down memory lane. 

The Fantasyland Theater – Magic Kingdom

Talk about recycling a theater.  This space was originally used for the Mickey Mouse Revue.  After several different iterations we are now left with Mickey’s PhilharMagic.  Before PhilharMagic this theater was used for an attraction called Legend of the Lion King.  Once the Animal Kingdom opened that attraction’s days were numbered.  It closed in 2002 to make way for Mickey’s PhilharMagic. 

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Yes!  Even resort spaces can be recycled.  What was once supposed to be the Legendary Years for Disney’s Pop Century Resort turned into classic Disney animation.  In 2001 Disney suddenly stopped construction on the rest of Pop Century.  For 10 years these hollow buildings stood empty until a few years ago when Disney started construction on them again reusing them for a portion of the Art of Animation Resort.  These buildings will be a part of the Little Mermaid section of the new AoA Resort.   

Parade Floats

Disney parades are attractions in themselves.  Over the years Disney has rethemed and created new parades in the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.  What remains consistent though is the reuse of several large floats that tend to carry characters and Cast Member Talent.  Probably the most obvious reused float over the years is the infamous giant castle float in the Magic Kingdom daytime parades.  This float made its debut in 2000 and has been around ever since. 

Stitch’s Great Escape – Magic Kingdom

This tomorrowland theater-in-a-round used to house the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.  A rather scary special effects show centered on a theater alien invasion.  This attraction closed in 2003 making way for a less scary Stitch’s Great Escape.  The theater setup remained similar even after Stitch opened in 2004 with the main center animatronic changing from an alien to the beloved Stitch.  Some guests love this attraction while others find it less than stellar. 

The Seas with Nemo and Friends – EPCOT’s Future World

In 2006 Disney rethemed it’s giant aquarium in EPCOT's Future World with a Finding Nemo layover adding new attractions surrounding the hit Pixar movie.  Before the Finding Nemo layover this aquarium was called The Living Seas.  Guests took a ride on a Hydrolator to Seabase Alpha.  Seabase Alpha was full of sea life exhibits and a ride aboard a seacab where guests could get views of coral reef and other sea creatures.  Today, the Finding Nemo omnimover attraction is where the seacab moving attraction used to be. 

These are only a few of the attractions and spaces that have been recycled at Walt Disney World.  Recycling attractions isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  When attractions get changed keeping the existing infrastructure in place can allow Disney accountants to reinvest the savings back into the new attraction creating a more positive experience for guests.  Some may argue that recycling attractions is Disney’s way of saving money to make investors happy.  We really don’t know what Disney does with the money they are saving by recycling attractions and existing spaces.  The answer could be a little bit of both.   Either way, we as theme park fans appreciate Disney’s ability to rapidly change attractions through recycling existing rides, shows, and spaces.  The time that is saved by recycling the attraction can have a positive effect on guests and lines in the theme parks. 

What are some of the recycled attractions you know or remember most at Walt Disney World?  Was your favorite attraction recycled into something different over the years?  Leave your comments below or on the official Studios Central Facebook page

Disney World is full of exciting attractions.  The next time you see an attraction under reconstruction try and keep an open mind as to why Disney is reusing certain elements.  In many ways, the reason is similar to why you put that plastic water bottle in a Disney recycle bin. 

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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