Over the forty-plus years since the the resort first opened, Walt Disney World's attraction line-up has changed significantly. Multi-million dollar new rides and shows have been added, as well as three whole theme parks. In the same vein, a number of attractions have been ripped out and replaced, never to be seen again. We took a detailed look at more than 50 such attractions in this series of articles. Look closely, though, and you can still find traces of these long-lost attractions. Disney's Imagineers often add in little tributes to past rides when building new ones, but they are not always obvious or "in your face". Here are 10 such tributes to look out for on your next visit to Walt Disney World!
10. Star Tours' Captain Rex returns for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
The original version of Star Tours was a huge hit when it opened at Disneyland in 1986, with a clone being installed at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 1989. The simulator-style ride took guests on a madcap tour of the Star Wars universe. At the helm of the Starspeeder 3000 spacecraft that riders boarded was Rex, an inexperienced droid who quickly lost control of the situation.
When Star Tours was closed in 2010 to be upgraded to Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Rex was not handed his old job back. Indeed, the new attraction is actually a prequelto the original, and sees the more recognizable C-3PO take the helm of a Starspeeder 1000. Keep an eye out in the queue line, though. At the security checkpoint where humans and luggage are scanned, off to the left is a familiar droid. The RX-24, better known as Captain Rex, is marked as "defective"...but you can still hear some familiar (if distorted) audio.
9. There's a "hidden Nautilus" outside Under The Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid
One of the original attractions at the Magic Kingdom was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage, which took the basic concept of Disneyland's Submarine Voyage, expanded its scale and added a storyline based on the 1954 Disney movie adaptation of Jules Verne's classic tale. The ride could accommodate 12 submarines, with the tank sprawling across a large area of Fantasyland. The ride entertained Walt Disney World guests for more than two decades, before being shuttered on September 5, 1994. The submarines were eventually dismantled, with many of the parts being sold off to collectors.
Fast forward to 2012, and Disney was installing dark ride Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid on the same site as part of the New Fantasyland makeover. As you queue through the grotto for the new attraction, take a close look at the rockwork and see if you can spot this subtle, but very detailed, carved tribute to the old submarines. There's another even more subtle tribute to the old ride in Under The Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid - but you'll be hard-pressed to spot it. When the submarine ride was closed, Disney's Imagineers bottled up some of the water from the lagoon. 18 years later, the water was poured into Ariel's Grotto.
8. Mr Toad and Moley appear in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Another clone of a famous Disneyland attraction, Mr Toad's Wild Ride was part of the Magic Kingdom's opening day line-up. The dark ride was based on Disney's adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, and the many near-misses with scenery made it very popular. There was an outcry when it was torn out in 1998 to make room for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Not all traces of Mr Toad are gone, however. As you pass through Owl's home, look out for a picture of J. Thaddeus Toad handing a deed over to Owl. Flat on the floor to the right is another picture, this one of Winnie the Pooh greeting Mr Toad's good friend Moley.
7. Mr Toad's "Grave" can be found outside the Haunted Mansion
Poor old Mr Toad. Despite the pictures in the Winnie the Pooh ride, it seems that Disney really did kill him off. In the Pet Cemetery outside the Haunted Mansion over in Liberty Square stands a statue that bears a striking resemblance to the amphibian. NOTE: Mr. Toad went AWOL from the Haunted Mansion for a few months. He now seems to be back!
6. The remains of the Discovery River Boats are on show at Disney's Animal Kingdom
On its opening day in 1998, Disney's Animal Kingdom featured only a handful of actual rides. One of them was the Discovery River Boats, which were intended to transport guests from the Safari Village to Asia. On their way, guests would be treated to views of animatronic dragons and other props from the mythical Beastly Kingdom. Unfortunately, Beastly Kingdom was dropped from Animal Kingdom's opening day line-up, and ultimately cancelled altogether. Riders hoping for an experience similar to the Magic Kingdom's Jungle Cruise were instead left looking at bland, featureless riverbanks. Six months after making their debut, the boats were renamed as the Discovery River Taxis, in order to emphasize their nature as a transport-only attraction. In 1999, another rebranding saw the taxis become the Radio Disney River Cruises, with the boats being repainted in bright colors and Radio Disney music being piped in. The attraction remained very unpopular and was closed for good.
The Discovery River Boats' docks, however, remained. Both have been used for character greetings, with the Asia dock being renamed as Upcountry Landing.