What's Your Favorite Theme Park Attraction from the Past?

September 7, 2015, 11:03 PM · The Labor Day weekend closes the summer travel season here in the United States, and with it, many theme park attractions take their last bow not just for the season, but forever. Universal Studios Florida closed its Disaster! attraction earlier today, joining many other theme park attractions whose end has come.

In my Orange County Register column this week, I look back at 10 especially beloved former attractions from the theme parks in Southern California. I hope you'll take a look: Some favorite long-gone Disneyland and other theme park rides

Kong encounter at Universal Studios Hollywood
Photo courtesy Universal Studios Hollywood

My picks include the former Kong encounter at Universal Studios Hollywood (above), as well as other attractions at Universal, Knott's Berry Farm, and Disneyland. What are some of your favorite former attractions, either in the Southern California area or at parks elsewhere around the world?

Read Robert's List:

Replies (48)

September 8, 2015 at 1:25 AM · Horizons at Epcot. The future we should have built...
September 8, 2015 at 1:30 AM · I literally leave for Orlando tomorrow, I am so sad I couldnt ride Disaster one last time.
I would say Alien Encounter is up there for me, it was something so different and 'grown up' in MK
September 8, 2015 at 3:41 AM · I miss the Backlot Tours at DHS. Even if it was the poor man's version of the Studio Tour at USH, for me it was the embodiment of everything I liked about the Studios and what it meant to me. It's closing really does mean that DHS will never be the same park ever again. I also miss Snow White's Scary Adventures (at least I could still ride Disneyland's version next time I visit), Back To The Future, and Kongfrontation. Kongfrontation holds a special place in my heart as my (quite dramatic) introduction to the King Kong franchise, and those fond memories of all the awe and fear I had around this giant ape that held us captive above the streets of New York.
September 8, 2015 at 4:25 AM · the jaws ride at universal orlando just because it was funny and cheesy to a classic film
September 8, 2015 at 4:31 AM · back to the future and the jaws ride at universal orlando were chessy and brill
i only got to go onthe the back to the future ride once in 2006 before it became the simpsons
September 8, 2015 at 4:32 AM · back to the future and the jaws ride at universal orlando were chessy and brill
i only got to go onthe the back to the future ride once in 2006 before it became the simpsons
September 8, 2015 at 5:49 AM · I miss Snow White's Scary Adventure at the Magic Kingdom. Nearly jumped out
of my seat when the Queen turned around and it was the witch. Also miss Horizons
at Epcot. The smell of the oranges going when you got through the orchard
was awesome.
September 8, 2015 at 6:36 AM · Back to the Future was my favorite Theme Park attraction during it's run at Universal.
September 8, 2015 at 6:42 AM · Easiest question I will ever be asked. There are three. First is the ExtraTERRORestrial Encounter at Magic Kingdom, now known as the Stitch Attraction. The original was amazing, scary, and fun. The second is the House of Horrors at Universal Hollywood. Very sad that shut down, and I imagine the manpower to run it was just too great. The last is a blast from the past: The Spindle Top at Six Flags Over Texas. Basically a circular room that spun and the floor dropped down a few feet with you stuck to the wall.
September 8, 2015 at 6:54 AM · From the early 90's, I miss the part of the tour at "Disney's MGM Studios" where you got to see animators working. There was so much promise back then of what we could do. The year 2000 was so close and it felt like we could do anything. It's still bittersweet for me when I see the old specials showing those people hard at work.
September 8, 2015 at 7:20 AM · Adventure Through Inner Space and the People Mover. The original Pirates of the Carribean with the chasing women scene and no movie tie-in.
September 8, 2015 at 7:34 AM · Back to the Future all the way. The Simpsons is whiplash more than a ride.
September 8, 2015 at 7:35 AM · From Universal, I miss Back to the Future and Kongfrontation. There was also a screen test video attraction that put you in Star Trek, Jaws and other movies, and you got to make your own movie. The cool thing was that you didn't have to follow their script, you could totally wing it and then you got to buy the movie to take home. I also miss Mr Toad's Wild Ride from WDW. I hated that they closed it.
September 8, 2015 at 7:47 AM · Being only 19 years old, there's a lot of good stuff I've never gotten to see. Jaws is the only ride that no longer exists that I miss.
September 8, 2015 at 7:51 AM · It has to be Alien Encounter from Magic Kingdom, will such a creation ever exist again? Combining the talents of so many into a scary attraction. Maybe it wasn't placed well, which is what some say, however it was a nice distraction for older visitors.
September 8, 2015 at 8:03 AM · These answers are all true, from Kong to the backlot tour. Alien encounter for sure. When I went to WDW in 2009 I wasn't on this site and not on the up and up on attractions. I kept trying to figure out where that ride was that I had ridden 10 years prior with the aliens. Alas it was gone.
September 8, 2015 at 8:46 AM · At USF it's the original Kong and Jaws. But they're going to make it up to me with Skull Island.... so now if they could just find a way to re-boot Jaws :-)

At WDW I still miss Mr. Toad, but the ride I mourn the most is the original Journey into Imagination with Figment and Dreamfinder.

September 8, 2015 at 8:48 AM · i miss Back to the Future and Jaws at Universal and the old rides and shows in Epcot where Soarin' is now. Especially Cranium Command and Food Rocks.
September 8, 2015 at 8:50 AM · I miss Jaws and Back to the Future at Universal and I'm sad very little of the original park remains.

I also miss shows like Cranium Command and Food Rocks where Soarin' is now at Epcot as well as Journey Into Imagination with Figment.

September 8, 2015 at 9:07 AM · Of Course I miss the Magic Kingdom's classic '20000 Leagues Under the Sea'! I would prefer it over the entire new Fantasyland expansion anyday!
September 8, 2015 at 10:14 AM · I Loved Horizons at Epcot, World of Motion, and Imagination (original) Space Mountain (original) at Disneyland Paris,Jaws at Universal, and Alien encounter at the Magic Kingdom.
September 8, 2015 at 11:18 AM · Folks many of these attractions are not closed in other parks. Disaster is still on the tram tour in Uni Hollywood. Jaws and Back to the Future still exist (and probably better form) in Uni Japan. Snow whites Scary Adventures and Mr. Toads Wild Ride are still running in Disneyland!
September 8, 2015 at 11:38 AM · Jaws. Back to the Future. Horizons.
September 8, 2015 at 11:51 AM · In addition to all the classic Knott's stuff that's no longer there (most of which I liked), the park had a couple of more basic rides I miss, namely Tampico Tumbler and Perilous Plunge. Both of these were unique rides that were a lot of fun. For Disneyland, my favorite defunct attraction is probably the original version of Space Mountain. I also enjoyed Who Wants to Be a Millionaire simply because I used to be a fan of the TV show. At USH, there is Back to the Future but my favorite defunct attraction at the park is Terminator 2: 3D (yes, I know it still plays in Florida, but it's defunct in California so I'm counting it).

September 8, 2015 at 12:02 PM · Universal Studios Florida; King Kong
Magic Kingdom; Mr.Toad Wild Ride
Epcot; Honey i shrunk the audience (Please take out Michael Jackson)
Disney Studios; The hunchback of notre dame show!!!!
Busch Gardens; Gwazi
September 8, 2015 at 1:20 PM · There are so many things I miss - starting with the mule ride through the painted desert at Disneyland, Journey thru inner space (yes, I really thought my Dad and I were shrunk to itty-bitty size - I was an impressionable 5 year old), the Golden Horseshoe Revue (Mom and Dad made a point to get reservations every time we went to Disneyland), Tom Fink Keel Boats, The Carousel of Progress (a must do for Mom), America Sings. At Knots it's the mule ride (again), the animal farm and the Gravity Shack; oh yeah the Soapbox Racers - what a fun little ride. At Six Flags it's Log Jammer and El Bumpo - I'll let you all figure out which one that was.
September 8, 2015 at 2:09 PM · The two attractions/rides I miss the most are Horizons and Wonders of Life.
September 8, 2015 at 2:27 PM · My family and I live in CA and there are six of us, so a trip to Florida or out of the country is a financial long shot. The attraction I miss the most is 'The Country Bear Jamboree' at Disneyland. This was a classic attraction that I was fortunate enough to watch once, maybe twice. Replaced by another bear.... First name 'Winnie', last name 'The Pooh'. Nice little ride, but just not the same. My kids never got to witness the original, live show. My son who is now twelve was a big fan of the movie that came out while the attraction was being demolished. Not exactly the same, but every once in awhile I'll find a YouTube video of the classic Disneyland show and share it with my nine year old daughter. Good times, good times. Thank you for reading.
September 8, 2015 at 2:31 PM · People Mover at DL. What a view!
September 8, 2015 at 2:46 PM · Journey into YOUR imagination....just kidding lol!! Jaws for sure, snow white, Mr toad at wdw, countdown to extinction (NOT dinosaur), maelstrom, bttf and kongfrontation!
September 8, 2015 at 4:16 PM · Back to the Future, Kongfrontation, Horizons, the first Journey into Imagination, and oddly enough Delta Dreamflight.... I'd go on every one of those rides again with a gigantic smile on my face. Ive got to get to Japan for BttF once more.
September 8, 2015 at 4:42 PM · Body Wars in EPCOT's MetLife Wonders of Life. Also, how could we forget, Eastern Airline's If You Had Wings inTomorowland?
September 8, 2015 at 4:59 PM · 1.) Big Bad Wolf-BG Williamsburg
2.) The Skyway- MK (only because I had a nice memory on it)
3.) Eastern airlines flight -MK (I was little and loved it!)
4.) River Country
September 8, 2015 at 5:56 PM · So, I started with three attractions and then read the preceding comments which had me going, "Oh, yeah; that one, too!" So I'll try not to repeat.

Flying Saucers, all of Nature's Wonderland/Rainbow Caverns, Skyway at DL.
Luigi's Flying Tires, Maliboome at DCA.
Haunted Shack, Soap Box Racers, Knott's Beary Tales, Kingdom of the Dinosaurs at Knott's.
And stretching it a bit - Adventurer's Club, 8-Trax at Pleasure Island.

September 8, 2015 at 9:29 PM · Toad and Snow White from the Magic Kingdom. Ripping out classic dark rides should be illegal.
September 9, 2015 at 3:35 AM · The timekeeper.
September 9, 2015 at 5:48 AM · America Sings at Disneyland. Mountain Express at SFMM. (Can't remember the name of)the motorcycle style steeple chase ride at Knott's.
September 9, 2015 at 6:27 AM · The original Imagination ride and pavilion in Epcot was the best for me.
Great family memories and enjoyed the Kodak pre-show of family photos.
September 9, 2015 at 6:59 AM · Jaws, Kongfrontation, Body Wars, Horizons.

It's neat to see how consistent those come up for others too.

Oh, and the Magic Shop on Main St. USA. I know it's not a ride, but I still miss it.

September 9, 2015 at 1:11 PM · Horizons, If You Had Wings, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and World of Motion.

Looking beyond Disney, I loved Kongfrontation and Back to the Future at Universal Orlando.

September 10, 2015 at 1:52 AM · Disneyland Paris, Classic Bubbleworks at Chessington, and yes, Alien Encounter, a true one-off.

Am I the only one who enjoys Simpsons way more than I ever did BttF?

I wonder if there's ever been discussion of moving classic dark rides over to the Walt Disney Family Museum if/when they close. Obviously the infrastructure wouldn't support a Horizons or whatever, but it doesn't seem impossible that a Snow White or Mr Toad could sit there as an upcharge.

September 10, 2015 at 6:15 AM · I miss Jaws @ USF , actually composed an email to the powers that be and they responded! But you can't stop potter power
September 10, 2015 at 8:53 AM · I miss Mr Toad's Wide Ride and the Sky Buckets at Magic Kingdom
September 10, 2015 at 5:46 PM · Haven't seen this one yet--the original Star Tours. Sure, 2.0 is slick and fun, but the original made a huge impression on me as a kid and a Star Wars fan. I have huge nostalgia for Captain Rex and his 'first flight'!

Also, +1 for the Timekeeper

September 12, 2015 at 5:17 AM · Jaws. That's one they should really bring back. I think Jaws surpasses generations and still would be a very popular ride.
September 12, 2015 at 2:55 PM · Hands down.....Back to the Future.
September 13, 2015 at 1:18 PM · E.T. at USH, but I luckily get to ride in when at USO. If they get rid of that ride, I'll be so upset. Never got to ride Horizons even though I had the chance to back in the day when I was a kid but somehow our group missed out on it. Watched it on youtube videos and I am so insanely bummed to have missed that ride. It seems amazing and beautiful.

Also miss Kingdom of The Dinosaurs at Knott's. Was truly sad to see that one go, many memories on that one. And I cant forget the Peoplemover at Disneyland and Maelstrom at Epcot.

There's too many classics gone :(

Also what's the difference between Countdown to Extinction and Dinosaur? I thought there was just a small movie tie-in added.

September 13, 2015 at 2:46 PM · The Pirate Ride at Cedar Point. IT was spooky and cool!

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive