Home » 11 Infamously Flubbed and Failed Theme Park Attractions

11 Infamously Flubbed and Failed Theme Park Attractions

Everyone makes mistakes… But multi-million dollar ones?! When a theme park decides to invest in a new attraction, there’s very little they can do to guarantee that ride’s success. No amount of money or branding can promise you’ll make a fan favorite. Whether it’s risky technology, a questionable theme, or living in the shadow of a grander predecessor, we’ve collected eleven of the most famous flubs in the theme park industry, along with dates, costs, and even video evidence that they existed. Most are gone, but a few are still around, “delighting” visitors today.

Not all were bad! Some were just victims of their cirumstances. But, have you had a go on any of these flubbed additions? Were we wrong? Were some of these great attractions judged too harshly or even taken too soon? Tell us in the comments. And for select attractions, don’t forget to check out our “In-Depth” coverage for the details and lore behind some of these unique attractions.

11. Son of Beast

Image: WillMcC , Wikipedia (license)

Location: Kings Island (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Cost: $20 million (+ $10 – 15 million in renovations)
Lifetime: 2000 – July 2006; 2007 – June 2009 (8 years)
Video EvidencePoint-of-view video
Full Story: Lost Legends: Son of Beast

The Story: In 1979, Kings Island in Ohio took the world by storm, unveiling the massive roller coaster, The Beast. Covering 35 acres, the twisting, terrain-riding wooden coaster is infamous for the way it snakes through the Ohio park’s forests. In fact, you famously can’t see any more of The Beast than the track you’re currently on – it’s all hidden below the tree line and within tunnels. Even today, The Beast remains the longest wooden roller coaster on Earth at a staggering 7,359 feet and a ride time over four minutes.

When movie studio Paramount bought Kings Island in 1992, they brought a penchant for cinematic attractions (one of which is further along on this list) and that most dreaded feature of the entertainment industry: sequels. Sure enough, the new millennium brought a new kind of creature when the park announced Son of Beast, which would be the world’s tallest, fastest, second longest (leaving the length record to his father) and only looping wooden roller coaster in the world. Sound good?

Why It Failed: Plagued even during construction by broken contracts, bad press, and a time or two when portions of the coaster… well… fell over, Son of Beast was off to a rotten start. When the ride opened, it was the first (and so far, only) wooden coaster to top the 200 foot height level, clocking in at nearly 80 miles per hour. And yes, this is before manufacturers began developing those new smooth-as-glass hybrid wooden coasters that top the popularity charts today. Son of Beast was an aggressive thrill ride with unstoppable force and deafening fury. Its signature wooden loop proved to be the sturdiest and smoothest moment of the truly intense two-and-a-half minute ride.

In July 2006, a structural failure in the ride’s massive double-helix allegedly sent a jolt down the track, injuring 27 riders. The attraction was closed for the rest of 2006, re-opening in 2007 with new, lighter trains and without the signature loop (whose removal had more to do with the new trains than the safety of the loop itself). The ride continued to hammer away at guests until 2009, when a woman claimed to have suffered a burst blood vessel in her brain from the ride’s violent experience. It was shuttered once again, leaving the roller coaster community to speculate as to its future. Some expected the ride to re-open as is, while others believed new trains and serious re-tracking could do the job. By 2009, super-smooth conversions to old wooden coasters were in the pipeline for Six Flags’ roughest rides, so rumors of a similar treatment for Son of Beast ran rampant.

Image via @KingsIslandPR on Twitter.

Ultimately, the ride never re-opened. It was standing but not operating from 2009 – late 2012 when it was knocked down for good. Its spot is currently occupied by the highly praised Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coaster, Banshee. The coaster itself may not be well-loved or remembered, but it set a new standard for what a wooden roller coaster could do, and was sincerely an engineering marvel. The story of Son of Beast is so awesome, we wrote a complete in-depth feature on its unbelievable rise and staggering fall – Lost Legends: Son of Beast. Lesson to be learned: the sequel is never better than the original. No matter how big its budget.

10. Light Magic

Location: Disneyland Park (Anaheim, California)
Cost: $20 million
Lifetime: May – September 1997 (4 months)
Video Evidence: YouTube 

The Story: What exactly was wrong with Disney’s follow-up to the fabled and beloved Main Street Electrical Parade? Well, there’s half the answer – no parade could ever fill the shoes of the Disney classic, so Light Magic wasn’t a parade. It was a “streetacular,” made up of four huge float-like stages, which would glide down Disneyland’s parade corridor in total darkness. At key points along the route, the stages would stop and magically light up revealing classic Disney characters, projection, twinkling fiber-optics, music, and dancing fairies.

Why It Failed: The idea of stages that suddenly burst into light was clever, but choose the wrong spot and you’d see nothing but dark, motionless floats moving by. The fairy costumes made specifically for the “streetacular” had upturned noses, pointed ears, and harsh eyes that scared children.

And perhaps most egregiously, a very special “exclusive premiere” presented to Disneyland’s rabid annual pass holder population (costing $25 per person) turned out to be nothing more than a dress rehearsal for a parade that was not quite ready. Poor word of mouth meant Light Magic ran for only a few months, becoming a “$20-million dud” in the eyes of the Los Angeles Times. It lasted through the summer, promised to return in 2000. It never did.

9. TOMB RAIDER: The Ride / The Crypt

Image © Paramount

Location: Kings Island (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Cost: $20 million
Lifetime: 2002 – 2007 (TOMB RAIDER: The Ride); 2008 – 2012 (The Crypt)
Video Evidence: Point-of-view video and Travel Channel special
Full Story: Lost Legends: TOMB RAIDER – The Ride

The Story: Unusual among seasonally operating parks (usually strictly limited in their budget and reach), Paramount’s Kings Island near Cincinnati, Ohio set out to do something extraordinary with their 2002 addition: TOMB RAIDER: The Ride. Based on the action film starring Angelina Jolie, the ride cost $20 million and gave the park a themed attraction unlike anything its competitors could match. The ride’s queue – filled with relics from the films – passed through dark corridors, sliding walls, rolling doorways, and special effects, keeping the ride itself entirely hidden from view – even when riders were sat and strapped in!

Once the lights dimmed and a synchronized musical score kicked on, the massive 77-person, three-rowed vehicle (which looked and felt like a theatre until the ride started moving) would slowly creep forward and up, lifting to the eyeline of the 80-foot tall Hindu goddess Durga carved on the temple’s wall. As ancient crystals carved into fire and ice began to glow in her hands, the gondola would swing downward and flip through an upside down arc, rocket to the ceiling, stop inches from razor-sharp icy stalagtites, then flip downward and hold riders face-first over a pit of boiling lava. The three minute, dizzying flipping dark ride was on par with a Universal or Disney attraction, from story and setting to synchronized score and special effects. The experience was unlike anything else, and certainly far and above expectations for a seasonal theme park in Ohio. 

Why It Failed: Ingeniously, TOMB RAIDER: The Ride was really just a humungous version (twice as tall and holding twice as many people) of very typical carnival ride – a HUSS Top Spin – housed in a giant chamber with synchronized music, special effects, theatrical lighting, “lava” pool fountains, an 80-foot tall goddess, and a 60-foot volcano stretching up the back wall. After Cedar Fair (owners of Cedar Point) purchased all five Paramount Parks in 2007, the ride’s music, pre-show, and special effects were removed and it was re-named The Crypt. A third of the ride’s capacity was removed to allow for a more typical, nauseating Top Spin ride program, set in almost complete darkness to the sounds of jungle animals or techno music, depending on the day.

One season at a time, The Crypt got worse and worse until it closed forever in 2012. The details of Tomb Raider deserve a read, and we’ve got its entire life story recorded as part of our in-depth series looking at favorite lost attractions. To learn more about the secrets that awaited within one of the best themed rides ever (much less outside of Disney and Universal’s mega-parks), check out the complete in-depth story in Lost Legends: TOMB RAIDER – The Ride.

8. Tomorrowland 1998

Image: Disney

Location: Disneyland Park (Anaheim, California)
Lifetime: Roughly, 1998 – 2005 with some remnants today (7 years)

The Story: Each Disneyland-style park on Earth has a Tomorrowland, and all suffered from an unfortunate given: “tomorrow” always becomes “today.” In the 1990s, each park set off to correct for this error. Tired of predicting a future that always comes true, Tomorrowlands across the globe diverged to find more timeless styles. In Florida, Tomorrowland became a gleaming silver and white spaceport of alien languages, starships, neon signs, and mechanical palm trees. In California, the original Disneyland Park tried just the opposite: it left behind the sterile, metallic future of Florida in favor of a European, organic future: the entire land was painted in shades of gold, copper, and sea foam green. Iron-rich red rocks jutted from densely-planted hillsides, and a decidedly Da Vinci-style Astro Orbitor took its place at the front of the land, surrounded in rocks and wind sail towers.

Why It Failed: Disneyland’s New Tomorrowland 1998 tried very hard to emulate the beautiful, organic future developed for Disneyland Paris’s Discoveryland in 1992. The difference was that the new European overlay for Disneyland made little sense with its inhabitants: a new 3D “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience,” a tired re-hash of Epcot’s Innoventions, and Star Tours. What’s more, a generation who had grown up at Disneyland was speechless at seeing their beloved Space Mountain painted in dreary copper and rusted bronze.

In 2005, a new park president set out to replace all of the gold in Tomorrowland with the original whites and blues – a process that is almost entirely finished (except for the now out-of-place Astro Orbitor) and refresh the dated attractions once more. Rumors still swirl that a proper, complete, head-to-toe redo is in the works to completely revitalize Tomorrowland as 1998’s renovation attempted.

7. Superstar Limo

Image: Lyle Scott Photography, Flickr – All rights reserved, used with permission

Location: Disney California Adventure (Anaheim, California)
Lifetime: February 2001 – January 2002 (11 months)
Full Story: Disaster Files: Superstar Limo

The Story: When Disney’s California Adventure opened in 2001, guests were less than amused by its comic tone, exaggerated architecture, and thoughtless, irreverent style. While the whole park was decidedly lacking on the careful, thoughtful, celebratory style of Disneyland Park next door, one particular dark ride was singled out for its sarcastic tone and horrendous quality. Located in the themed-to-modern-day-Hollywood-yet-45-minutes-from-the-real-Hollywood Hollywood Pictures Backlot, Superstar Limo was a dark ride (the park’s only) based on a limo ride through the neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Built in the expectedly 1990s style of miserable cardboard backdrops, the ride was populated by Small World style dolls of C-list celebrities and ABC “stars” narrating your journey through Hollywood.

Why It Failed: Superstar Limo exemplified everything that was wrong with the original Disney’s California Adventure. Instead of transporting guests to an idealized place and time like Disneyland, the park and ride took you on a “zany” “edgy” journey through modern California past 2D, comic-book style locales. It looked cheap, it felt cheap, and it was cheap. It hardly lived up to the classic dark rides at Disneyland Park just a few hundred feet away!

It closed less than a year after the park opened, even with no immediate plans to replace it. The park was simply stronger without it! In 2006, a dark ride based on Disney & Pixar’s Monsters Inc. opened in its place, and in 2012, the land was given a much-needed 1940s overlay and renamed Hollywoodland as part of Disney California Adventure’s grand re-opening. We chronicled the in-depth tale in a standalone feature, Disaster Files: Superstar Limo

6. Drachen Fire

Image: Jeremy Thompson, Wikipedia (license)

Location: Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
Cost: $4 million
Lifetime: 1992 – 1998 (4 years)
Video Evidence: Point-of-view video
Full Story:
 Disaster Files: Drachen Fire 

The Story: Roller coaster enthusiasts know a whole lot about ride manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard, a Swiss firm responsible for many of the world’s most popular steel coasters including the inverted, Wing Rider, and Dive Machine models. The firm famously paired with Busch Gardens’ two parks in Florida and Virginia to create sibling style rides. When Florida got the inverted Montu, Virginia got its sister, Alpengeist. Same with SheiKra and Griffon.

In 1993, B&M opened Kumba in Florida, a multi-inversion coaster with an iconic loop around its lift hill. However, prior commitments with Six Flags to build the world’s first inverted coaster prevented B&M from building a sibling at the Virginia park. Arrow Dynamics, a popular manufacturer of the era, stepped in – even using B&M’s plans as a guide – to create a sister for Kumba at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Why It Failed: Arrow Dynamics, which has since gone bankrupt, is known (perhaps infamously) for its multi-loop coasters, which have a reputation for being uncomfortable. Arrow operated in an era during which computers were not used to build and bend track, often melting and arranging track on site leading to abrupt track transitions, unusual elements, and unexpected forces. Such, we can imagine, was the deal with Drachen Fire, their take on B&M’s ultra-smooth, multi-inversion Kumba. Even using B&M’s signature supports instead of their own usual style, Arrow built their best take on a B&M coaster with Drachen Fire, though it didn’t include the smooth transitions and tasteful pacing B&M is renowned for.

The ride originally included six inversions, including a corkscrew halfway down the first hill and a “cobra roll” – a B&M classic that Arrow had never used before and never used again after. Two years after opening, one of the ride’s corkscrews was removed to make the experience more comfortable. The ride closed in 1998 with plans to modify the coaster, though it never happened. Four years later, it was removed from the park. Today, the ride’s station is still used for a haunted house during the Halloween season, while the rest of the ride’s footprint is dedicated to a picnic area and part of the park’s Verbolten coaster. Looking for the full story? Check out Disaster Files: Drachen Fire for all the grisly details.

5. Journey into Your Imagination

Image: Disney

Location: Epcot (Orlando, Florida)
Lifetime: 1999 – 2001 (2 years)
Full Story: Disaster Files: Journey into YOUR Imagination

The Story: One of the dark rides that defined Epcot during its early years, Journey into Imagination was a unique omnimover-style ride through – you guessed it – imagination. Guided by a jovial original character named Dreamfinder and his faithful imaginary friend, the energetic purple dragon Figment, you literally entered imaginary landscapes to the tune of the Sherman Brothers’ “One Little Spark.” The ride carried guests through dreamscapes celebrating arts, literature, performance, and science as gateways to imaginative thinking. The ride was such a fan-favorite, it earned its own in-depth entry in our series Lost Legends: Journey into Imagination.

The ride, created by famed Imagineer Tony Baxter, was a fan-favorite with Dreamfinder and Figment becoming tied directly to Epcot’s identity. In 1999, the ride was completely re-done as Journey into Your Imagination, with a theme to tie into the new “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” 3D movie. The entire pavilion was unified into an “Imagination Institute” theme and the dark ride was re-cast as a journey through the institutes sensory labs. Dreamfinder, Figment, and “One Little Spark” were occasionally visible as mere cameos, but their time as icons of Epcot was over.

Why It Failed: While the original “Journey into Imagination” was probably in need of a new lease on life as the new millennium neared, turning the attraction into a sort of cold and lifeless scientific tour without its defining characters irked fans big time. As well, 6 minutes were shaved from the ride time by shortening the dark ride’s circuit, closing off half of the show-building entirely. The debilitating and sad story of the half-baked ride is forever saved in our Disaster Files: Journey into YOUR Imagination entry that’s a must-read for Epcot fans.

The ride closed as quickly as it had opened and, after seven months off, opened again in 2002 as the long-winded “Journey Into Imagination With Figment,” retaining the laboratory / Imagination Institute theme but including a more mischievous and off-putting version of the little purple dragon here and there. A dozen years later, fans still haven’t warmed to the unfortunate dark ride, and rumors persist that any day now, the entire pavilion will close to either get a new lease on life, or become another unfortunate loss like Epcot’s closed Wonders of Life and Horizons pavilions.

At this point, a closed pavilion may be preferable to a dated 3D film (be it Honey, I Shrunk the Audience or the currently-playing Captain EO) paired with a disliked dark ride that really only serves to kick Epcot fans while they’re down.

4. Walt Disney Studios Park

Image: Disney

Location: Disneyland Paris
Full Story: Disaster Files: Walt Disney Studios Paris

The Story: The mad dash to add a new gate to every Disney Resort during Eisner’s ill-fated Disney Decade of the 1990s meant almost everyone got the short end of the stick, with half-done, lazy parks lacking imagination, charm, detail, and attractions. 2001 saw the disastrous opening of the original Disney’s California Adventure next the original Disneyland, which was instantly disliked and ended up necessitating over $1.5 billion in fixing over the course of the first fifteen years. 2002’s Walt Disney Studios has fared even worse.

Click and expand for a larger view. Image: Disney

Why It Failed: Opened with nine (yes, nine) things to do (three rides and six shows… can you find them all in the map above?), the park was by far Disney’s smallest in terms of size and number of rides, yet commanded a ticket price equal to Disneyland Paris next door (with fifty attractions). An obvious money-grab, Walt Disney Studios languished.

Since opening, the park’s seen an influx of nicely dressed family flat rides, a spinning coaster, a tepid Toy Story Playland, and a version of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Still, Walt Disney Studios continues to fare poorly compared to just about any other Disney Park on earth. A sizable investment in the impressive looking new attraction and land based on Disney and Pixar’s Ratatouille did something to bolster the park, but it’s in need of a full, multi-billion-dollar rebuild in the vein of California Adventure if any lasting success is to be expected. And given Disneyland Paris’ finances, don’t hold your breath.

3. Rocket Rods

Intended as the centerpiece for Disneyland’s golden New Tomorrowland, Rocket Rods stalled. © Disney

Location: Disneyland (Anaheim, California)
Lifetime: May 1998 – September 2000 (Intermittant, 30 months)
Video evidence: Point-of-view video
In-Depth: Disaster Files: Rocket Rods

The Story: Besides Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and Innoventions, Rocket Rods was the only notable new addition to Disneyland for its much-touted New Tomorrowland 1998 (which didn’t end well – see #8 on this list). The attraction used an early version of the technology behind Epcot’s Test Track and California Adventure’s Radiator Springs Racers to send slot-car style vehicles blasting along an elevated highway high above Tomorrowland, darting in and out of the golden buildings and touring attractions from the inside. The queue made use of the park’s former Circlevision theatre, snaking around between the 360-degree screens that teased at transportation of the future, and of Disneyland’s past.

Why It Failed: The Rocket Rods’ early adaptation of Test Track technology left them fickle, with sensors often triggering and closing the ride for hours or days at a time. What’s more, the Rocket Rods replaced the leisurely and beloved Peoplemover, which had glided along the highways of Tomorrowland since 1967.

Walt envisioned his Peoplemover as a sincere prototype for future transportation, briskly and gently carrying guests through Tomorrowland and into a twisted highway of track over the Autopia and Submarine Lagoon. The Rocket Rods not only replaced the beloved Peoplemover, but did so poorly, navigating the same convoluted and iconic overhead track in a fraction of the time. A “thrill” ride, the Rocket Rods accelerated down straightaways before having to slow to a crawl at every un-banked turn in the track. The start-stop maneuver left the experience awkward and wore out tires daily.

The final nail in the coffin for the much-maligned New Tomorrowland, the Rocket Rods closed for good after two and a half years of downtime and frustration, promised to return in April 2001. They never did, and the ride’s queue turned into the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride in 2005. The Peoplemover track still sits above Tomorrowland, abandoned. The must-read obituary is forever recorded in our Disaster Files: Rocket Rods feature.

2. Universal Studios Escape

Official logo of the whole “resort” when known as Universal Studios Escape.

Location: Orlando, Florida
Lifetime: 1999 – 2002 (3 years)

The Story: One of the least well-known but most egregious flubs in the theme park industry came with the opening of Universal’s Islands of Adventure in 1999. Now recalled as a cutting edge park full of technological innovation and detail that meets and even surpasses even Disney’s best, Universal’s second park in Orlando was quite a mystery for its first year.

That’s because when it opened, the park was named Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. Of course, it was built next to the original Universal Studios Florida as part of the brand-new and much-advertised Universal Studios Escape (which will sound familiar to fans of Nickelodeon and Slime Time Live, which filmed there and famously ended each show with a shout-out to Universal Studios Escape).

So what is Islands of Adventure? Confused yet?

Why It Failed: Probably you can spot the issue. “Universal Studios Islands of Adventure at the new Universal Studios Escape” seemed to indicate that these “Islands of Adventure” were nothing more than an addition to the original park. The new park fared miserably in attendance despite having some of the most incredible rides of the era. Universal spent years trying to clarify what exactly Islands of Adventure was, until finally renaming everything. The second park became Universal’s Islands of Adventure, part of the larger Universal Orlando Resort.

It may seem obvious now, but remember that, aside from Walt Disney World, parks weren’t growing into what we would now easily identify as “multi-park resorts” at the time! Universal was inventing its own marketing via the “school of hard knocks.” Their eventual realization of the possessive “Universal’s” moniker and the “Resort” name for the entire complex was doubtlessly a helpful precedent for the many “Resorts” that sprung up soon after. Without Universal taking the brunt of that discovery, we might’ve ended up with “Disneyland California Adventure” at “Disneyland Escape!”

1. Stitch’s Great Escape!

© Disney

Location: Magic Kingdom; Orlando, Florida
Lifetime: 2004 – present
Video evidence: Stitch’s Great Escape point-of-view
Full Story: Disaster Files: Stitch’s Great Escape

The Story: Perhaps the most despised Disney attraction of all time, it isn’t necessarily that Stitch’s Great Escape is a horrible attraction (although, subjectively, it probably is). Or that it’s a misuse of technology (but it is). Or that it can’t live up to its predecessor (though it doesn’t). The issue is all of that and then some.

Just like Disneyland got a New Tomorrowland in 1998, Magic Kingdom opened a New Tomorrowland in 1994, based on a “real, working” city of the future. A sort of pop-culture, sci-fi alien spaceport, Tomorrowland had public transportation (Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover), a launch port (Space Mountain), and a nightclub (Cosmic Ray’s) that all existed in the same continuity. Near the entrance to the land along the stunning Avenue of Planets was the Tomorrowland Interplanetary Convention Center, then rented out by X-S Tech, a Martian technological company eager to show off its newest development: a teleportation pod. This beloved attraction, developed by Disney with George Lucas (of Star Wars fame), was the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.

In agreeing to witness X-S Tech’s demonstration to “Seize the Future,” guests were ushered into a pre-show room where an adorable fuzzy alien creature named Skippy would show off the teleportation technology on a small scale, simply being transported between two tubes at opposite ends of the room. Never mind that poor Skippy turns up in the second scorched, charred, and clearly in pain (a “dark side” Disney rarely showed)… on to the main chamber, where X-S Tech’s Chairman Clench will visit us from across the galaxy!

© Disney.

Strapped into chairs arranged in a tiered circle around a massive teleportation tube, the process goes smoothly. Until something stands in the way of the intergalatic beam. As the lights flash, the tube is filled with a disgusting alien creature somewhere between a spider, a grasshopper, and a lizard… with wings. The tube visibly cracks and shatters as the alien escapes into the audience. In pitch-black darkness, cutting edge sound and tactile effects let you feel the alien breathe on your neck and growl in your ear as blood splatters from a worker overhead on the catwalk and warm drool drips down your arm.

Subject to numerous re-writes and re-workings, the attraction was first not scary enough for then-CEO Michael Eisner, and then became too dark (for a brief time, a work-in-progress version had X-S Tech purposefully using humans as gineau pigs with its carnivorous alien). After half a year of soft-openings and testing periods, it opened for good in June 1995. If you want to know more about Alien Encounter, check out the must-read standalone Lost Legends: Alien Encounter that tells the full story. 

It closed after eight years in October 2003, and was re-opened just a year later featuring the comical dog-like alien Stitch from Disney’s 2002 film Lilo & Stitch. Instead of being scared for your life, Stitch burps chili dog in your face, spits on the audience, and jumps across your shoulders. It’s horrifying, just not in the same way as Alien Encounter. Skippy and his burned-self are re-used in the pre-show, but as two separate aliens, not with one as a disfigured version of the other.

© Disney.

Why It Failed: The precise failing point of Stitch’s Great Escape is impossible to pinpoint. It seems that everything executives hoped the attraction would have going for it turned out to disappoint fans. Alien Encounter was a genius re-use of the circular-seating Mission To Mars show, a uniquely dark story crafted by Disney and George Lucas (before they stumbled across the Forbidden Eye), and made great use of simple effects to create an experience that was good old-fashioned theatrical fun.

Replacing the unique alien with flavor-of-the-week Stitch and his chili dog burps seemed a cop-out. By keeping the gross-out effects and total darkness, but pairing them with a cuddly, comic creature, Disney created a ride that appeals to… well… practically no one. Too intense for kids, too slapstick for teens. It was clearly as hasty re-branding of an attraction deemed “too intense” for the Magic Kingdom. 

© Disney.

Unfortunately, the replacement of Alien Encounter rippled. The idea was to serialize Alien Encounter and export copies to Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland when their Tomorrowlands got their respective renovations. After horrified parents reacted negatively to Magic Kingdom’s (ignoring clearly posted signs and the word TERROR in the attraction’s name), those plans were dropped. The space earmarked for a copy at Disneyland (already outfitted with the circular seating) was instead turned into a pizza resaurant. It’s a shame – with rides based on Indiana Jones and Star Wars, Disneyland park has more in the way of “PG-13” attractions, and Alien Encounter would never have recieved such harsh criticism there.

So that’s how Stitch took control of one of the most interesting and retroactively-loved attractions Disney ever made and flubbed it. All the details are contained in an in-depth Disaster Files: Stitch’s Great Escape feature. It seems Alien Encounter will never get another lease on life, but at least Stitch’s Great Escape seems equally unlikely to ever be duplicated elsewhere.