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How Luigi’s Flying Tires Ranks With Other Short Lived Disney Attractions

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Buonanotte, Pneumatici Volanti. ©Disney
Buonanotte, Pneumatici Volanti. ©Disney

Luigi’s Flying Tires is closing forever on February 16, 2015. The attraction opened on June 15, 2012. The TouringPlans Math and Science Department has informed me that the length of time between those two dates is 976 days. That big of a number may have seemed like a lot when I was a child, but as an adult I can tell you that it is, in fact, not. How does that rank with other notoriously short lived Disney attractions?

1. Tomorrowland Boats aka Phantom Boats – Disneyland – 331 days*

The Phantom Boats have the honor of being the first attraction removed from Disneyland. This simple ride was made up of small four-person boats in a lagoon (where the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is currently located) that were motor powered, and unbelievably, controlled by guests without guide rails or cast members. Information is sparse on this particular attraction, which is why there is an asterisk next to the total number of days. The Tomorrowland Boats ran for approximately three weeks in 1955, but then is August of the same year they were renamed to “Phantom Boats.” The attraction was closed again in October, 1955. The Phantom Boats made a short return in the Summer of 1956 but were then retired for good.

2. Superstar Limo  – DCA – 337 days

It’s safe to call Superstar Limo Disney’s biggest theme park flop of the modern era. In the concept stage of Disney California Adventure this strange dark ride started life as a roller coaster similar to what we now know as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As budgets were cut the stretch-limo-racing-through-Los-Angeles theme was kept, but changed to a wacky dark ride where you’re a new movie star in town that is trying to avoid the paparazzi. Do yourself a favor and check out a ride through video on YouTube because it’s insane.

TouringPlans Math and Science Department

3. Discovery River Boats – Animal Kingdom – 487 days

Discovery River Boats was a transportation ride that may have been the victim of bad timing and bad luck, rather than being a bad attraction. When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened there were… not very many rides to experience. Anything that was in the park that could have a line, did have a line, including the Discovery River Boats. Legend has it that guests were waiting in very long lines for the attraction, only to find out that it was a simple transportation ride that took guests from one section of the park to another. This did not sit well guests and the complaints poured in. Disney tried to revamp the ride by bringing small animals on board for a little show and tell but that change was short lived and the boats were closed for good.

4. Journey into Your Imagination – Epcot – 708 days

Epcot originally had a great ride called Journey into Imagination. It was a beloved and wonderful attraction. Also, its mascot, Figment, sold millions of dollars in merchandise each year. But then in 1998 Disney and its sponsor Kodak decided it was time for a change. When the new Journey into YOUR Imagination opened in 1999 the original ride’s main characters Figment and Dreamfinder were removed. Beyond that it was universally hated and a huge flop. The attraction closed again in 2001 to add Figment back in and is still running to this day. To make a long story short the current version of the ride is still awful. It is so bad, and I wish I was making this up, but in one point of the ride a skunk farts in your face.

5. Junior Autopia – Disneyland – 784 days

The Junior Autopia is one of four, yes four, former Autopia attractions at Disneyland (including Fantasyland Autopia, Midget Autopia, and the original Tomorrowland Autopia). Junior Autopia was added in 1956 because the original was very popular, and the Junior version was made to accommodate younger/shorter drivers. The attraction was closed in 1958 to make way for Fantasyland Autopia.

6. The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow – Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 700 days

I don’t know of any way to sugarcoat this so I’ll come right out and say it, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow was the worst attraction in Disney’s worst American theme park. Our staff had this to say when the attraction premiered: “For one thing, guests are instructed at various points to chant, roar, and stomp their feet in order to vanquish each threat, as if the entire audience were three-year olds taking part in a Dora the Explorer meets Pirates of the Caribbean episode.” Ouch. I almost didn’t include The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow on this list because it had the look and feel of a temporary attraction. On the plus side, the projection mapping special effects were very impressive, you just had to get through a bad show to see them.

7. Rocket Rods – Disneyland – 858 days*

Some may say it was crazy to replace the slow moving and beloved PeopleMover with a high speed thrill ride, but Disneyland did exactly that in 1998. Rocket Rods were meant to be the centerpiece attraction of Disneyland’s New Tomorrowland but constant breakdowns and technical problems caused Disney to retire the ride after a couple of years. To this day the ride track can still be seen throughout Tomorrowland making it a highly visible failure with no replacement in sight. I used an asterisk again here because near the end of the attraction’s life it was closed but Disney insisted to media that it would reopen some day.

8. Luigi’s Flying Tires – DCA – 976 days

Opinions among Disney fans on the internet for Luigi’s Flying Tires are mixed. Some found fun in bumping other tires, or racing around the tire yard. Others did not like it or found the controls too confusing to give it a second chance. I think it’s safe to say that there was some hype surrounding this attraction when it was first announced. The ride system was based off of Flying Saucers ride from Tomorrowland which had gained a mythical status over the years. Rumors have spread ever since the ride opened in 2012 that guests satisfaction ratings were low. Whatever the problem may be is debatable, but something did not click with park guests. Here at TouringPlans we’ve observed that Luigi’s wait times have plummeted since opening, while other DCA attractions remain consistent. Disney is fixing the problem and will debut a new ride in it’s place in 2016.

9. Sinbad’s Seven Voyages – Tokyo DisneySea – 1823 days

Forgive me if I sound hyperbolic, but Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage is one of the best Disney attractions on the planet. That makes its original version, Sinbad Seven’s Travels, an interesting subject. The scope and scale of the current version of the ride was present in the original, but something was missing and Sinbad Seven’s Travels was a flop. The current version, Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage, is charming, beautiful, has epic soundtrack from Alan Menken, and starts a much friendly and endearing version of the Sindbad character.

10. Flying Saucers – Disneyland –  1826 days

Flying Saucers were basically the same ride as Luigi’s Flying Tires is today, with the exception of having to rely on 1960s technology. Because of this the attraction suffered from frequent downtime. Also like Luigi’s, the Saucers themselves were hard to control. Disney did keep the Flying Saucers open for about 5 years. Like I said before the Flying Saucers had a mythical status among old and young Disneyland fans. I’m curious to see if this still remains after the failure of Luigi’s Flying Tires.


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Guy Selga Jr.

Disneyland writer for TouringPlans.com and co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. Also a Disneyland local and appreciator of Disney theme park history. Twitter and Instagram: @guyselga

22 thoughts on “How Luigi’s Flying Tires Ranks With Other Short Lived Disney Attractions

  • Fascinating research, Guy! Thanks for an interesting read.
    How long did that Stitch Stage Show in Tomorrowland (MK WDW) last? Anyone?

    • Thanks! I believe the Stitch show lasted less than 2 weeks but I chose to not include any stage shows in the list because there’s been so many and most are hard to find exact dates for. Plus many of them are only meant as temporary/seasonal shows.

  • Maybe not really short lived…But changed. The ExtraTERRORial Alien Encounter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExtraTERRORestrial_Alien_Encounter

    Opened then closed for retooling to make more scary. Then closed because it was too scary and replaced with the much hated Stitch.

    I saw the ‘scary version’ and yup it was pretty intense.

    • Agreed. Alien Encounter – scary version was awesome, but really only once since after that you’d know what to expect. Stitch is just terrible. The odd thing is, I swear Alien Encounter actually rotated. I don’t really get the set up in that room if there’s no movement to the seats. I can’t wait for the day that they just tear it down!

    • That is true. Alien Encounter had a fascinating history.

  • What is considered a closing date? Because Superstar limo was listed as “under refurbishment” for 2 years after it’s last official day

    • For Superstar Limo I’m unclear about when exactly Disney officially gave up and considered the ride dead, so I went with the last day of operation.

  • My husband and I tried Luigi’s Flying Tires last year when the rumours started that it was going away – we had never bothered before. The ride was so terrible that we ended up having a fantastic time. We were so pathetic at trying to get our tire moving that I couldn’t stop laughing at the ridiculousness of it. In the end, I belly-laughed for the entire duration of the ride and was in a great mood for the rest of the day.

  • I’m old enough to remember the Flying Saucers as a kid. I was excited when the Flying Tires were announced, but I’ll never get to ride them. Is there something about the new attraction that made it worse than the Flying Saucers?
    I’m hoping the concept isn’t dead, and perhaps it will reappear, in either Disneyland or WDW.

    • We went at rope drop one morning when Carsland had just opened and waits regularly exceeded 45 minutes by mid-morning. You basically sat on the giant tire and moved so incredibly slowly. It was not like bumper cars where you could move fast and run into people hard or anything fun. It was a completely underwhelming experience and so I’m glad we didn’t wait in any line for it.

    • This is a guess on my part but looking at video and talking to people who experienced both said that the Flying Saucers were quicker and more responsive. On the flip side Luigi’s tends to be slower and not responsive.

  • Watched the Superstar Limo video. I . . . just . . . what. Who in the world approved that mess?!

    • I had to watch it too. The best part of the video is when you can hear the guy recording it say “kill me, please kill me” at the 2:36 mark! LOL!

      • It’s really fascinating isn’t it? Some good, heard working people probably spent a lot of time creating that Superstar Limo and it turned out to be such a turd.

  • Okay, am I the only one who thinks that the Legend of Jack Sparrow sounds a lot like that Enchanted Tales with Belle? I have never been to it, only watched youtube videos on it.
    Am I missing something when I watch these videos? Is it really people just telling the story and participants holding props and shaking or moving them when instructed to?

    • No, but Enchanted Tales With Belle is aimed at 3-6 year olds. Jack Sparrow trends a little older.

    • That Jack Sparrow thing was truly awful. Imagine being ushered into a room with absolutely no sense of where you should be standing…should we let little kids up front? Should we just stand like sardines? It literally was a pointless letdown and waste of time. Then it was over and you walked out. It was as if no one had thought about the “attraction” at all when they developed it.
      Enchanted tales with Belle is brilliant. There are amazing special effects and an intimate story telling that anyone can participate in. Then the kids get to have a picture taken with Belle. It was a highlight of our last trip.

  • Viewliner?

    Superstar Limo has got to be the worst Disney ride ever; certainly in my experience, makes Stitch look like a masterpiece. Surveys at the time showed people thought there wasn’t enough to do in DCA, yet their overall satisfaction level was Higher after SSL closed.

    Rocket Rods: almost fun while very nearly pointless.

    • So number 3 should be the Viewliner at 446 days (6-26-57 to 9-15-58). A train made from a car, imagine that.

      • Thank you, I can’t believe I forgot about that one.

  • Need to check your math and dates in the first paragraph.

    • Correct. The starting date is June 15, 2012, and not June 15, 2015.


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