Filed under: Walt Disney World (FL)
I’m always looking for new perspectives and information to bring you from Disney World, but sometimes an idea falls right into my lap. This happened last week when strolling through Tomorrowland with my hubby. He innocently turned to me perplexed and wondered aloud, “Why do you think everyone hates Stitch’s Great Escape so much? It really isn’t that bad.” Of course, I was horrified by this sacrilege. Any respectable member of the Disney community knows Stitch’s Great Escape is an abomination second only to, perhaps, Captain EO. I immediately asked him how he could say that after experiencing ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter? His response was just a blank stare. It was then I realized that he didn’t grow up on Disney like I did and didn’t remember anything other than what was there today. It made me wonder what it must be like to walk through the parks without remembering Dreamflight, World of Motion, or even Doug Live! So today I thought we’d do a little time traveling at the site of Stitch’s Great Escape for those who weren’t able to experience it through the years for themselves.
If you hopped into the Wayback Machine and set it for little over ten years ago, when you emerged you’d find a very different attraction in this location. ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter opened when I was a teenager, and perhaps that is a big part of the reason I remember it as the coolest attraction ever! The setup as far as the queue, pre-show, and main seating area have always been the same, but, wow, was the experience different! The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter queue had televisions setup with a welcome greeting from an alien company, X-S Tech. During this announcement the aliens informed us that one lucky person from the audience would be teleported to the alien planet to demonstrate their technology! With this exciting information in mind, the crowd proceeded to the pre-show area to see how it worked on a cute, little alien name Skippy. (Spoiler: it didn’t work too hot.) Next we moved on to the main show where at the last minute the aliens choose to send one of them to us instead of the other way around. The change in trajectory in such a hurry meant that they accidentally routed through another planet, sending a carnivorous, winged alien to our chamber instead. The fun began when beast broke out, and everyone spent the next ten minutes in pitch black darkness! The harnesses that fit over your shoulders were used to puff hot breath on your neck, hiss, and play bone crunching sounds. Of course, at the end they were able to get the beast under control, but only after it had eaten a few people! If you never had a chance to experience this in person, it is certainly worth some YouTube time! It was a very unique attraction for Disney!
Going back another ten years you’d find a very different and more educational experience, Mission to Mars. I wasn’t quite a teenager when this one closed,so my memories are vague. I remember it wasn’t a ride we did often, and I had to beg my Mom to take me because she said it was boring! 🙂 From online research it looks like the pre-show area was interesting with an audio animatronic interacting with a live cast member. It seems like I would remember something like that, but I don’t! I do remember the main show area where a large, round screen in the floor and on the ceiling made it feel like you were blasting into space while your seats rumbled. Once you’d made it to “Mars,” real images of the red planet would be displayed and facts read about what NASA had discovered. This attraction was created with assistance from NASA, and I remember thinking what I was seeing was amazing! (Of course, this was long before the days of getting photos of Mars on your smart phone!) The ride ended abruptly with an emergency landing back on Earth and an offer to fly again any time. Mission to Mars has also been documented on YouTube, and as an adult I admit it is a little boring but worth looking up for historical purposes!
While Mission to Mars proudly held this space for twenty years, there is a barely documented attraction that resided here for a few years prior, Flight to the Moon. The major flaw with this attraction was that it opened two years after man had actually landed on the moon! Understandably a fictitious moon landing was not a great draw after seeing the real thing. From everything I’ve read, the script of this attraction sounds similar to Mission to Mars, and the building setup was identical. Sadly, I’ve never found any video footage of this long extinct attraction. Tragically, it was closed before I was even born! If anyone remembers this attraction, I’d love to hear about your experience.
And with that our tour comes to an end. I hope you had fun time traveling with me. Do you have fond (or not so fond) memories of these past attractions? Did you read about something here today that you were never able to see in person? Is there another spot at Disney you’d like to know a little more history about? I’d love it if you’d share your thoughts in the comments below! And, as always, thanks for reading!