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What Happens to Disney Attractions When They Close?

Repurposing of Disney attractions

Cranium Command

Image: Disney

Sometimes attractions are closed only to be used for some other, usually unrelated, purpose. If you’ve ever visited the festival center during the Epcot International Flower and Garden or Food and Wine Festivals for instance, then you’ve stood right outside of Body Wars and Cranium Command. Guests are able to stand right where the entrances to these attractions once stood while learning new gardening skills or sipping on wine. It is rumored that some of the remains of the Wonders of Life attractions are still standing behind the walls, and that they have only begun to be taken apart in recent years. If any pieces are salvageable we may see them up for auction some day, but an educated guess tells me that these pieces may just unfortunately be tossed.

Backstage storage

Little Red

Some remnants of former attractions end up in storage backstage, which may in fact be the most peculiar place for them to end up. In Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s backstage facilities for example, cast members may see the truck holding Little Red from the previous version of Kilimanjaro Safaris. When Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade closed, the floats could also be seen from backstage. 

Another fascinating backstage area with former attraction pieces is located in one of the lots by the Magic Kingdom, where ride vehicles like Jungle Cruise boats, merchandise carts, themed garbage cans and more have been known to reside. Since backstage areas like this one are off limits to guests, some Disney fanatics have taken to Google Earth to check out what props might be hidden behind the walls in the parks.

Perceptions of closed attractions

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Image: Disney

In most cases, attractions tend to become more popular among guests when they close (similar to how celebrities often become more popular following their deaths). There have also been rare cases where guests have fought to keep attractions from closing-- such as what happened when the closure of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was announced and large scale protests took place online as well as outside of the attraction.

Mr. Toad’s closure is also likely what has prompted Team Disney Orlando to give guests more notice for when an attraction is set to close. The announcement for Toad’s last day was only made public one week in advance, leaving many guests unable to make travel plans and feeling as though they missed out on a last chance to ride a favorite attraction.

During all of the years that the Maelstrom was opened, hearing someone say that it was their favorite attraction in the park was uncommon. However once it was announced that the ride would be closed, and replaced with a Frozen themed boat ride of all things, fans turned out in full force claiming their love for the Maelstrom. Though a number of factors probably contributed to this overall change of attitude (disdain for yet another Frozen takeover, movie characters in World Showcase, or simply the ride closing) more people seemed to have “loved” the Maelstrom only once they found out that it was closing.

What about the cast members?

Toy Story land concept art

Image: Disney

One of the most common misconceptions about attractions closing is that the cast members who work there will be out of work, but thankfully this is not the case. When a cast member works at a ride or show at Walt Disney World, their role is in Attractions, not in whatever specific ride or area they currently work in. At any given time, a cast member may be “Attractions Host Ad/Lib” meaning Adventureland or Liberty Square, but this is always subject to change (especially if the cast member works at a show or is trained in more than one area).

If business needs call for it, a cast member may check his or her schedule to find a random day of training at another location. If training for the different location is not needed, he or she may randomly be “deployed” or temporarily relocated to a different location. It all depends on where cast members are needed at any given time, and thankfully cast members are always needed. Cast member hours may be cut depending on business need, but this would apply exclusively to part time and seasonal cast members (and not full time cast) just like it would in any other non-Disney job.

Brittany at Lights, Motors, Action!

Image: Brittany DiCologero

Generally when an attraction closes, cast members are moved to a different location or in some cases they may even be asked for their preference. When Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show closed in 2016 for instance, cast members were asked to choose between Toy Story Midway Mania or Star Wars (meaning the Launch Bay until the new Star Wars section of the park is opened). As upsetting as it is for an attraction to close for guests who loved it, the pain is even worse for the cast members who worked there-- and thankfully they will never need to worry about losing their jobs on top of losing their attraction “homes.”

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I was a WDW College Program cast member in Fall 2000 and I took a backstage tour of the Carousel of Progress. When we toured the basement... there were audio-animatronics leftover from Horizons at EPCOT. My guess is they would be reused somewhere in CoP.

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