King of the Theme Park Graveyard: Round one, day one
Published: May 5, 2008 at 10:29 AM
We continue to need photos for these old attractions, as well as others in the tournament. Please e-mail graveyard [at] themeparkinsider.com and many thanks to the TPI readers who have sent in photos already.
Back to the Future (Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood)
Just closed last year, these attractions, based on the popular Michael J. Fox movies, placed you in eight-passenger flight simulators, made up to look like the film's DeLorean time machines. You "flew" in front of a massive, Imax-style screen, as you chased bad guy Biff Tannen through time to reclaim his stolen DeLorean.
Soap Box Racers (Knott's Berry Farm)
This Arrow coaster featured four side-by-side tracks, upon which you "raced" other riders, all in coaster cars fashioned after Soap Box Derby racers. Top speed was only 30 mph, but fans said that this ride fired your imagination at 100 mph-plus.
This GE-sponsored Omnimover ride stood on the site of the current Mission: Space. Horizons offered a early '80s view of the future, after first taking a look back at visions of the future from the past. Highlights included the orange-scented farm of the future as well as the then-innovative opportunity to choose your own way to travel back to the 20th century (by land, sea or space).
Cranium Command (Epcot)
Loaded with late '80s pop culture references (Hans and Franz, anyone?), this mix of film and animatronics taught you about the central nervous system, through the eyes of a young boy. Literally. The show's still there, in Epcot's Wonders of Life pavilion, but shuttered indefinitely. Like the hypothalamus ("blink, blink, breathe, breathe, day in, day out, never a 'thank you,' never a 'job well done'") it just doesn't seem to earn much respect.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom)
Well, it wasn't 20,000 leagues - just a lap around the old Fantasyland lagoon - and your Jules Verne-inspired subs never did descend under water below window level, but many riders loved this tour recreating scenes from the classic Walt Disney live action film. Poor hourly capacity and inaccessibility to wheelchair guests ultimately doomed the ride, and Disney filled in the lagoon, which is now the site of a Pooh-themed toddler play area.
Drachen Fire (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)
Here's TPI's Russell Meyer's take: "The coaster was a pretty cool ride with some of the most unique combination of elements on any coaster ever built. You went up the lift and straight into a corkscrew (kinda like the one after the first loop on Anaconda), and a high speed dive into a trench. Then you went into the Batwing (or cobra roll as it is known now). Then you went through the MCBR, and before 1994, there was a diving corkscrew (later removed for a straight piece of track) and up through a cutback (kinda like a dive loop) and through a final corkscrew before ending with a vicious 540 degree helix into a trench."
Journey Into Imagination (Epcot)
Yes, this ride still exists. But it ain't the same. Fans clamored for the original dark ride from Epcot's Imagination pavilion to be included in this tournament. It's initial replacement, the universally despised Journey Into Your Imagination, remains the lowest-rated ride in Theme Park Insider history. But the original, with its impish Figment animating the journey, provided a welcomed touch of Disney whimsy in a Future World that was just too... educational for many early Epcot Center visitors.
Adventures Through Inner Space (Disneyland)
Hop aboard your Omnimover "Atom-mobile" and prepare to be shrunk down to molecular size by the Mighty Microscope for a journey through the human body. This Tomorrowland ride, on the site of what is now Star Tours, was sponsored by chemical company Monsanto, which pitched its many products the unload area. Looking back, the ride screams "cheese," but when I was a kid, I totally, completely and utterly bought in. And adored every moment aboard.