When Walt Disney announced his plans for the enigmatic “Florida Project,” one of the things that excited him most was the sheer size of his plot of land in Central Florida. While Disneyland has always been and will always be one of the great theme parks on the planet, its relatively small size will always limit the Imagineers' creativity when designing new and exciting attractions. They often look for ways to improve or replace old attractions in such a way that each one earns its spot in the park – there's no room for a waste of space.
This is not the case in Orlando.
The size of Walt Disney World allows its attractions to be reviewed to a slightly lesser standard. That doesn't mean that Disney World's attractions are worse in any way – it simply means that Imagineers are less aggressive about replacing attractions, because there's less of a premium on real estate.
The result of this is that there are a few attractions at Walt Disney World that, despite taking up a relatively large footprint, simply fail to make good use of it for entertaining and accommodating guests. And, even in this failure, don't seem to be in any imminent danger of being replaced.
Let's take a look at five attractions and locations whose square footage vastly outweigh their true quality.
(Note: You'll notice that not one of Disney's Hollywood Studios' attractions appears on this list. That's not because they're above criticism, but rather, that park is currently in the process of undergoing an overhaul. The attractions that do waste space there are, for the most part, disappearing.)
1. Odyssey Restaurant
I'm listing this first for a few reasons, but most notably, this is the location that Disney could simply tear down tomorrow without anyone really being upset about it.
The Odyssey Restaurant opened in 1982 and technically falls in Future World if you like to get technical about these things. When it was open, it served your usual Disney fast food fare, and even offered a Chuck-E-Cheese-style character meal of sorts in the late '80s and early '90s. There was first aid, restrooms, and other such services on site – all before the restaurant closed in 1994.
And, ever since, it's just kind of … stood there. Occasionally, Disney puts it to use as a location for seminars at one of their festivals or for corporate rentals and things like that, but on the whole, the Odyssey Restaurant has, since 1994, mostly been a big ol' waste of space.
Think about it: That spot between Test Track and Mexico is one of the more highly-trafficked areas in Epcot. It serves as a transition between Future World and the World Showcase, and it provides an awesome storytelling opportunity. Even architecturally, the building remains interesting after all these years – even though its mostly dormant.
Disney could put this spot to use as either a fine dining location or as another attraction, and it would be far less frustrating to see. Or, perhaps, they could have put an Arendelle pavilion there and spared all of the Malestrom angst. But I digress.
2. Tomorrowland Speedway
For such a simple attraction, the idea of Tomorrowland Speedway is kind of hard to wrap your head around. It's not a bad ride, per se, but it isn't the greatest ride – and, notably, the draw of it wears off somewhere around the age of 10. At that point, it simply becomes a confusing site: “We're in the future, and yet the future is powered by gasoline and rubber tires?”
However, for those under the age of 10, the Tomorrowland Speedway offers the rare chance to get behind the wheel of a car and experience a facsimile of the freedom of the road.
And so, perhaps more than any other attraction on this list, the problem with Tomorrowland Speedway isn't so much the attraction itself as it is the amount of space that it takes up. If you eyeball it on Google Maps (a fantastic pastime for any Disney fan), you'll see that it takes up an area only slightly smaller than the New Fantasyland expansion. That's a lot of space – space that could be used for any number of other attractions, giving Disney the ability to expand an otherwise small land.
Yes, there's a grand tradition of these types of rides at Disney's parks, going all the way back to Autopia at Disneyland. However, we're now living in a time where cars like these seem not only anachronistic, but downright destructive to the planet. Disney can do better with that space – especially for an area ostensibly about “Tomorrow.”