Vote of the week: Which original Walt Disney World attraction do you miss most?

September 29, 2011, 9:00 PM · Forty years is a lot of time, but most of the attraction you would have found at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom on that opening day in 1971 are still operating today.

Life Magazine cover photo of the opening of Walt Disney World
From the Life Magazine archive of classic Disney theme park photos

Obviously, the park's added many more attractions over the years - including Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. But with 22 more acres to work with that the original Disneyland (107 acres to 85), the Magic Kingdom's not had to close that many attractions over the years to make room for new adventures.

In fact, there are just five rides from Disney World's opening month that you won't find today in the Magic Kingdom (according to this opening-day map from Disney).

Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes - Paddle your canoe around the Rivers of America on a guided tour around Tom Sawyer's Island. You'll do the work, while your guides crack the jokes. My favorite? "Over yonder you'll see a popular sight - Fort Sam Clemens. Can anyone tell me the connection between Fort Sam Clemens and Tom Sawyer's Island?" The canoe host will pause for a moment while some literate guest explains pen names and such, then stare incredulously at him/her before replying: "No, you library-loving city slicker. The connection is a bridge!"

The Mike Fink Keelboats - Another trip around the Rivers of America, except this time you don't need to "stroke, stroke, stroke." You'll ride on the Bertha Mae or Gullywhumper while your host points out the highlights around the river, often telling many of the same jokes you might hear on the canoes. The ride closed in 1997, after the Gullywhumper capsized at Disneyland.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride - This is one of two rides you can still experience at Disneyland in California. (The canoes is the other.) Based on the classic "The Wind in the Willows," Mr. Toad's Wild Ride earned the love of a generation of somewhat sarcastic fans for being a Disney ride in which you, literally, ended up in Hell.

Skyway to Fantasyland and Tomorrowland - The "sky buckets" provided high-in-the-sky aerial views of the Magic Kingdom, but Disney closed all of its skyways in the 1990s, a decade in which cost-cutting claimed many older rides around the Disney empire. The Magic Kingdom's closure in 1999 came months after a fatal accident claimed the life of a park maintenance worker.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Walt Disney World's version of Disneyland's submarine ride put the Anaheim original to creative shame. Instead of unthemed subs on an expedition to the North Pole, here you rode with Captain Nemo in a scaled-down recreation of the Nautilus itself, visiting not just the Pole but what might have been the lost continent of Atlantis, in a much more detailed storyline. Today, the old 20K sub lagoon's been filled in and is the work site of the new Fantasyland expansion.

In addition to those rides, two of the parks' opening-day shows are no longer part of the park - The Mickey Mouse Revue, which was shipped off to Tokyo Disneyland, and the Diamond Horseshoe Jamboree, which fell victim to 1990s cost-cutting. (The Main Street Cinema's gone now, too.)

Many other attractions have come and gone during the past four decades, including the Swan Boats, Magic Journeys, Legend of the Lion King, Mission to Mars, Alien Encounter, If You Had Wings/Could Fly, Delta Dreamflight, several CircleVision movies, Timekeeper and the entire Mickey's Birthdayland/Starland/Toontown Fair. Several others have changed their names. (A great source for a virtual revisit to the Disney World of yesteryear is Widen Your World. Check it out sometime... when you've got hours to spare. You'll need them.)

But which one, of those now-gone original five rides, do you miss most? Or, if you never experienced them, which one sounds like the one you'd most wish for the chance to ride?

I'm sorry that I can't be in Florida tomorrow for the 40th anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World. (Perhaps ironically, I'll be at Disneyland that day instead. Disney's throwing a big Halloween media event that day, and since I live in California I'm going to stick close to home. How strange would it be if Disney's largest media event on the day of WDW's 40th birthday actually turns out to be at Disneyland?)

If you visit the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, I'd love to see your photos and trip reports. If you email them to me at, I'll share them with the rest of the Theme Park Insider community in a post this weekend.

Finally, if you - like me - can't make it to Orlando for the birthday this weekend, but are still in the mood for a Disney fix, might I suggest downloading a copy of "Stories from a Theme Park Insider"? Our eBook includes 40 stories about life working inside the Magic Kingdom, from me and other Theme Park Insider readers. Stories from a Theme Park InsiderAt just $3.99 for Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad it's a "fantastic read for a WDW fan," according to reader reviews.

Unlike some other books in this genre, "Stories from a Theme Park Insider" doesn't dwell on life outside the parks, or wallow in the debauchery of 20-something cast members. Sure, there are some embarrassing moments (I will never again wear a "Randy" nametag), but the book is really just a fun celebration of life working in a wonderful theme park.

So, in that spirit of celebration: Happy birthday, Disney World!

Replies (23)

September 29, 2011 at 9:08 PM · I put 20,000 leagues because it was so unique and I remember being mesmerized just watching it when I was young. No other park had anything like it at the time.

Mr. Toads would be the second place for me of what is on the list. I also miss "If you had wings" that was in the Buzz Lightyear spot, and of course "Snow White's Scary Adventures (too soon?)..... but loosing both of those made way for new rides that I also enjoy too. I wish they would not have taken so long to do something with the 20,000 leagues space after it closed. I also hope one day they will utilize the submarine ride system for something in the Florida resort again like they did at Disneyland. Maybe do something with the subs at Animal Kingdom?

September 29, 2011 at 11:53 PM · There really needs to be an "all of the above" choice. All five were great and greatly missed
September 30, 2011 at 12:00 AM · Mr Toad takes first place for me, followed by a tie between 20000 Leagues and The Skyway.

I still love the original toad in Disneyland, but the was just something about the 2 track WDW version that made it special (and I am not referring to the painting of the naked lady that hung in the pub scene).

One attraction I really miss that opened a few years after the park was the House of Future Living, which was a short diversion that occupied the Speedramp that takes you out of Space Mountain. It was a blatant commercial for RCA products, but it was a fun blatant commercial for RCA products.

September 30, 2011 at 4:07 AM · I sincerely miss all of these attractions. I do believe in the old saying that you never change a winning team and this applies to all of these. What you have to ask yourself is :
" Have the attractions that replaced these been any better or significantly improved the Park ". Certainly the newer attractions keep things fresh and there aren't too many that are poor in any way but sometimes the older attractions aren't bettered by their replacements.
For my money , and if I have to pick one , it has to be the Skyway. It was unique and provided an excellent vantage point for views of MK that current visitors won't ever get to experience.
September 30, 2011 at 7:29 AM · Not necessarily original attractions but I miss these:

Alien Encounter
If You Had Wings - nostalgia, Soarin' is much better
Snow White - oh wait that's still there for now.

September 30, 2011 at 7:59 AM · 20K easily. Just remember how awestruck I was at the notion of going underwater in a vessel. Granted, you technically weren't fully submerged, but only sitting at the lower level. Still it was totally thrilling. Miss that ride everytime I go.
September 30, 2011 at 10:43 AM · Sadly, I never visited any of these attractions at WDW, but I choose Mr. Toad just because the world needs more dark rides.
September 30, 2011 at 10:52 AM · You have it screwed up. The main attraction to be killed by Disney was the Diamon Horseshoe Revue -- that is REVUE! It was closed in Sept. 1986 after being put together by Walt Disney and Wally Boag at Disneyland in 1955. It played to pack houses up to the final day. Sadly the picture on Life magazine was not reshot on the 40th with the living cast memebers -- I was one of them and the now management of Disney has forgotten the many that spent hours of over time with no pay to operate and build the theme park.
Bev Bergeron
September 30, 2011 at 11:20 AM · 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea was one of my favorite rides at Walt Disney World. I hated to see it close. It was also fun to get a good look of the lagoon from the Skyway and see the subs move around the track.
September 30, 2011 at 11:28 AM · The original Disneyland saloon show was called the Golden Horseshoe Revue. The Walt Disney World show (which also was launched with Wally Boag), was called the Diamond Horseshoe Jamboree.
September 30, 2011 at 11:48 AM · I'll be there! And will offer up PLENTY of pics!

I have been on all of the aforementioned rides.

Sort of related to this topic: My cast member pals are all keeping their "eyes and ears" open awaiting word on the final day for "Dumbo's Flight" -- which will close in lieu of the dueling Dumbo attraction slated for the Fantasyland expansion.

September 30, 2011 at 11:44 AM · For clarity, I only experienced the WDW version of these rides, but I'd have to pick 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, as I've always had a fascination with underwater adventure and I loved this ride as a boy and still found it fun as a recent college graduate years later. I don't miss the line queue, however. Mr Toad's Wild Ride would be second, but that doesn't compare to my love of Snow White's Scary Adventure in the darkride arena.
September 30, 2011 at 1:30 PM · I should note that the Finding Nemo ride at Disneyland uses the ride system from the original Submarine Voyage, and is the closest thing to the 20K adventure available to US Disney theme park fans today.
September 30, 2011 at 3:18 PM · I would have to vote for 20K also. It was a very unique ride that will probably never be duplicated due to the tremendous costs associated with it. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is a close second.
September 30, 2011 at 3:43 PM · I never got to ride the Skyway, but I would LOVE to get a bird's eye view of the park!
September 30, 2011 at 5:56 PM · I picked 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea as well. I live in Florida so I am a little jealous that Disneyland in California still has both the Submarine Voyage(even though it's been re-themed to Finding Nemo, but they still have it) and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride because those two attractions are quite nostalgic. I know its pretty impossible for the 20,000 Leagues attraction to return to Magic Kingdom as the spot where it used to be is going to be occupied by the new Little Mermaid attraction being built, but they could've replaced the soon to be closing Snow White's Scary Adventures with Mr. Toad instead of a Princess meet n' greet. As for the Skyway, I do miss it a little as it did provide some nice views and made it easy to get to and from two of my favorite Magic Kingdom attractions(Space Mountain and It's A Small World). The Keelboats i've completely forgot about, but I do miss the canoes as i remember seeing them when i was little, but wasn't able to ride them and by the time i was old enough, they had been removed. Oh well, I am glad at least one of my all time favorite Disney World attractions ever(Captain EO)did return and I see it every time I visit. Thank You to Disney for that.
September 30, 2011 at 10:39 PM · I've never ridden any of these but:
I'd go with 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea because it seems like the most creative/unique attraction of the group.
I'd probably put the Skyway second although I can still ride it at Busch Gardens.
The Keel boats/canoes might be fun to try once but besides adding some atmosphere to the park-a good thing-they don't serve much purpose.
Mr. Toad is a track ride-nothing too creative about any of the ones in Fantasyland other than the differences in theme.
If I could pick any retired MK attraction, however, I'd go with Mickey Mouse Revue (which was recently retired in Tokyo).
October 1, 2011 at 5:41 AM · Although not as impressive as the Skyway, Astro Orbiter provides a nice view of the park as well although it is limited to that area of the park.
October 1, 2011 at 6:19 AM · Hey it's Amy - I'm typing this from my iPhone and I don't remember my login but I'm right in front of the castle waiting for the special show or announcement. The park maps today look like ticket books and the inside has the original map with the old attractions on it. They gave out free 40th buttons at the turnstiles. Will comment again with more when it happens - according to cast members there is a huge announcement being made either this morning or tonight. :)
October 1, 2011 at 8:58 PM · Rob, I had forgotten how boring the line for 20,000 was. It was one of the most unique attractions, but the line que was pretty terrible (back and forth..... back and forth). I'm glad Disney got better about that as time went on.
October 3, 2011 at 5:52 PM · I am surprised that most people picked 20000 leagues under the sea! For me Mr. Toad MK version will always be my favorite Fantasyland (any fantasyland) ride. It was fun, creative, surprising and simple. It is a proof that you don't need hundreds of millions to build a nice attraction.

I really would like to see a 2.0 version of it, with the trackless ride system used in Tokio's Pooh ride (also scheduled to be used in the newFrance's Ratatoille ride).

October 4, 2011 at 1:50 AM · I have not been to WDW since 1980 (I know it's been a while!) However, I have a few distinct memories from that trip. First 20k, second some kind of boat ride that had elephants with water coming out of their trunks. Then I remember the Hall of Prsidents and Country Bear jamboree. What a fun time to be there!
October 5, 2011 at 6:37 AM · I LOVED 20K. Really wish they still had that.

What i really loved about Disney was all the recorded voices, seemingly from the 50s. I especially remember this from the People Movers. it just made everything feel homey and hearkened back to a simpler time. I am not doing a very good job describing, but i loved the old voice overs/narrations. And i loved the kitschy old rides, like the Mars ride.

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