Journey into Imagination

The 1980s was an era of change for Disney theme parks, with the debut of Epcot and a "trendier" image under new CEO Michael Eisner. Let's take a look at the attractions that resulted.

There were three underlying themes in many of Disney's new attractions in the 1980s. The first was a focus on new technology, especially at Epcot. The second was an attempt to be "cool", and to attract teenagers and young adults. Finally, there was little focus on actual Disney characters - instead, outside brands were licensed in.

Some of the resulting attractions are still in place today, but many are long gone. Let's take a look back at some of the Disney attractions from 1980s that have since been consigned to history.

10. Delta Dreamflight (Magic Kingdom)

Delta Dreamflight

Image: Dave Hahner

Using Disney's classic Omnimover dark ride system, Delta Dreamflight opened in 1989 in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland area. Sponsored by Delta Airlines, it offered a simplistic overview of the history of flight, employing audio-animatronic characters and projection effects. Highlights included scenes from 1930s Tokyo and Paris, as well as a trip through a jet engine.

The ride continued to operate until 1998 (being renamed as Take Flight when Delta's sponsorship ended). It was replaced by Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.

9. Wonders of China (Epcot and Disneyland)

China Pavilion
Image: Benjamin D. Esham, Wikipedia

The China Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase hosted a Circle-Vision 360 show when it opened, dubbed Wonder of China. This showcased various Chinese landmarks, as well as the country's people and culture. It ran from October 1982 to March 2003, when it was replaced by Reflections of China.

Filming the movie was not trivial. 40 laborers had to carry a 300-pound camera to the top of Huangshan mountain for one sequence.

8. Superstar Television (Disney's Hollywood Studios)

When Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) threw open its gates in 1989, it was deliberately designed as a "half-day" park. This meant that it only hosted a small number of attractions, despite commanding an entrance fee equal to that of Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. Among these was Superstar Television.

Sponsored by Sony, this saw a handful of guests being "cast" in a series of classic shows such as I Love Lucy and The Golden Girls. The magic of bluescreen technology was used to superimpose the guests on the screen, while 1,000 audience members looked on. The show survived until September 1998, and the building now hosts the American Idol Experience.

7. Horizons (Epcot)

Image: Wikipedia

Opened a year after the rest of EPCOT Center, Horizons was another Omnimover dark ride. In this case, guest were whisked past scenes showing visions of the future, in what was essentially a sequel to the Carousel of Progress. It included scenes focused on commnications, energy, transportation, physiology and man's relationship with the environment.

Horizons operated until January 1999, when it was closed to make room for Mission: Space.

6. Magic Journeys (Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disneyland)

Magic Journeys

Magic Journeys was an opening day attraction at EPCOT Center, and was situated in the Journey Into Imagination Pavilion. It also ran at Disneyland for two years from 1984, before being removed from both parks to make room for Michael Jackson's Captain EO. That wasn't the end, though - it made a comeback in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland Theater in December 1987, where it continued to play until December 1993.

The film offered a look at the world through the eyes of a child, following children as they flew a kite, rode on a carousel and visited the circus. The catchy pre-show song, Makin' Memories, is probably still stuck in the heads of many 1980s Disney guests.



Is it sad that I taught my daughter the music of Kitchen Kaberet by watching Youtube videos? She's 14 now and will still occasionally pop off with "veggie - fruit!"

What about the World of Motion, which was replaced by Test Track

Surely the Castle Mystery Tour in Tokyo DL would count if only because only in the 80s would Disney conceive an attraction where the ultimate villain was The Black Cauldron's Horned King (man I hope they kept that AA figure somewhere...)

I miss Kitchen Cabaret and Cranium Command

Call me old school but I much prefer the original O Canada film compared to the update released a few years ago. Love Martin Short, but it just lost that spark even though they kept some of the original clips. Never should have redone the theme song, either.

View More Comments

Add new comment

About Theme Park Tourist

Theme Park Tourist is one of the web’s leading sources of essential information and entertaining articles about theme parks in Orlando and beyond.

We are one of the world’s largest theme park guide sites, hosting detailed guides to more than 80 theme parks around the globe.

Find Out More About Us...

Plan Your Trip

Our theme park guides contain reviews and ratings of rides, restaurants and hotels at more than 80 theme parks worldwide.

You can even print them.

Start Planning Now...