When it comes time to make your touring plan, there is no doubt you will include well known attractions like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, or the NEW Frozen Ever After. But not every attraction is a headliner. For every Mountain, there is a Mad Tea Party or Voyage of the Little Mermaid. And we need them. Why? Because the steamy heat of central Florida can cause more than one kind of meltdown during your magical vacation. When that happens, you need a place of retreat. Somewhere without a 75 minute outdoor queue. A chance to sit, relax, and cool off. What you need are these 3 outdated attractions. We are here to celebrate 90s fashions, movies your children don’t care about, and some “interesting” thoughts on energy and climate change.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure
Let me be clear by stating that Ellen’s Energy Adventure rates just above Stitch’s Great Escape for my least favorite spot in Walt Disney World. However, when it’s 96 degrees outside with 96% humidity, the dated 1996 film inside this attraction gets a lot more appealing. With little to no wait, and the longest ride time in Walt Disney World, this attraction is worth considering.
Inside the Universe of Energy, you can enjoy a 45 minute air conditioned respite from the summer heat. The attraction begins with Ellen DeGeneres appearing across several giant screens in the pre-show theater. There are only a few benches located at the back of this area. Be prepared to stand during the short 5-minute introduction to the ride.
Next, the audience is loaded up into 6 large ride vehicles, each holding up to 97 passengers. Due to the attraction’s age and lack of popularity, chances are good your ride vehicle will not be full. That means your party can usually choose a row and spread out. Now we come to the reason you will want to put up with a 20 year old script from Ellen and Bill Nye the Science Guy: you can sleep right through it! Kids, or shameless adults can stretch out in the long rows and take a nice nap. The vehicles crawl along the track through the primarily dark space of the attraction’s interior. If you can tune out the sound of dinosaurs and the beep, beep, beep of Jeopardy, you can sleep for the next 35 minutes.
If you happen to love this attraction, be sure to ride the next time you are in the park. Rumors are swirling that Ellen and Bill Nye will soon be just as extinct as the Audio-Animatronic dinosaurs on the ride. Click here to read how this Universe may soon be home to a different Galaxy!
The Great Movie Ride
Going back in time even further, you can find an opening day attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios called The Great Movie Ride. While this attraction opened in 1989, the movies represented inside are much, much older! Turner Classic Movies may consider them some of the best of all time, but chances are most riders won’t be familiar with Footlight Parade, The Public Enemy, The Searchers, or Tarzan the Ape Man (1932 version). Even so, this can be a great way to cool off on a blistering summer day.
To ensure you have a pleasant experience on The Great Movie Ride, here’s a few things to take into consideration. Unlike Ellen’s Energy Adventure, the wait times here can creep over 30 minutes. This is not a headliner attraction like Toy Story Midway Mania! or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and you shouldn’t wait for it as such. Go when the wait is 20 minutes or less. The guided tour through cinema history takes 22 minutes, but don’t expect to power nap. The ride is more fast paced at times than Ellen, and includes some scenes that may be frightening to young children (or my wife). A well timed hand over the eyes or ears will do wonders.
The update in 2015 to the pre-show and ride film finale have made this a better attraction. It probably won’t top your Touring Plan list, but when the line is short you’ll be glad you spent some time in the a/c with the audio-animatronic versions of silver screen celebrities of yesteryear.
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
We finish our look at outdated attractions with one dating all the way back to the 1964 World’s Fair. Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a window into the mind and heart of the man himself. This theater in the round provides 21 minutes of cushioned, air-conditioned nostalgia. The Audio-Animatronic family inside presents 4 scenes chronicling progress made in America from 1904-1993.
The attraction has a rich history, from the World’s Fair, to living in Disneyland from 1967-73, and finally moving to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom in 1975. While the show has been updated several times since, the last major renovation came in 1993. Ironically, the show’s final scene has not progressed in the past 23 years. What remains is a 90s version of a generic new millennium. Unfortunately, the technology in every audience member’s cell phone far surpasses anything found in the final scene.
Still, life long Disney fans like myself find comfort and hope in the optimistic view presented by the patriarch John and his loyal dog Rover. Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress handles large crowds well, making it a great stop when the sun is high and the crowds are large. A 20 minute trip down memory lane will help cool you off and have you singing “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”
Honorable Mention – Hall of Presidents
We can thank the election cycle that this is the one attraction at Walt Disney World that is constitutionally required to be updated every four to eight years. Still, Hall of Presidents is basically the same attraction it was when it opened during the Nixon administration. With shows every half hour, your only wait will be for the next occurrence. And the displays in the waiting area are a better way to spend your time than waiting in the heat.
The new (well if you consider 7 years ago new) narration from Morgan Freeman is great (seriously Morgan Freeman should narrate everything ever). The seats are comfy. And the size of the theatre means you’re not going to be shoulder to shoulder with your fellow guests.
While it’s not yet on Disney’s calendar, expect Hall of Presidents to go down right before the 2016 US presidential election and reopen the following summer. The previous closure was October 31, 2008, to July 1, 2009.
What attractions do you use to beat the heat?