Not every creation’s a hit. Think about your favorite music artist. No matter how much you love them, you skip past a song or two to get to your jam. The same is true of actors and directors. You may adore most of their work, but there’s always a miss or two (or most of them lately if you’re Johnny Depp) on their IMDb page. Nobody’s perfect, and even legendary artists like Prince make a Batdance or two in their day.
Disney’s no exception in this regard. Even as the unquestioned masters in the art of theme park design, their Imagineers have had their fair share of clunkers. It’s an unavoidable fact of life that some great ideas don’t work out well in execution. Also, some less than great ideas work their way off the drawing board and into the theme parks for other reasons, most of which are budgetary.
With more than 60 years of park history and several facilities in operation, Disney’s performed major miracles simply by populating all their vacation destinations with quality attractions. Their hit-to-miss ratio is the gold standard, and nobody at Theme Park Tourist questions the talent of all the dedicated cast members involved with bringing rides into reality. Disney executives are nothing if not creative, and their willingness to think outside the box is exactly why they’ve earned a dominant position in the marketplace.
Still, we’d be remiss if we didn’t poke a bit of fun at some of the more…unfortunate decisions. Our favorite company has built some genuinely odd entertainment options over the years. What follows is a list of some of the oddest attractions in the history of Disney. It’s not park-specific, which means that anything at any Disney park ever is fair game. And let me be the first to say that there are some real turkeys on the list. In fact, ACTUAL turkeys are on the list at one point. That should pique your curiosity more than enough and so without further ado, here are 12 of the worst attractions in the history of Disney. Amazingly, a couple of them still exist in some form, although the names have changed for what you’ll realize are obvious reasons.
The Wizard of Bras
Okay, I’m confident that I have your attention. You’re likely wondering exactly how a Disney ride involving a lady’s brassiere would work. Well, Imagineers are brilliant enough to make this happen, I’m sure, but they never needed to build a ride based on bras.
Instead, The Wizard of Bras was a store right on Main Street at Disneyland. As Walt Disney planned to open the famous park, he faced a financial shortfall. One of the best ways to guarantee that his venture excelled financially was to populate it with plenty of stores certain of selling lots of high-end merchandise. One of his quirkiest choices as a business partner was Hollywood-Maxwell Brassiere Co. of Los Angeles, a popular intimate apparel store.
In the mid-1950s, nobody had deduced any of Victoria’s secrets yet, and while Frederick was starting to make his mark in Hollywood, he wouldn’t become a power player in lingerie sales for a while to come. Hollywood-Maxwell ran the bra game back then, and Walt Disney felt they were a perfect business for the Happiest Place on Earth. Draw what conclusions you will from that.
The mechanics of the deal were simple. In exchange for sponsorship of Disneyland, which meant a donation check to Uncle Walt, Hollywood-Maxwell Brassiere Co. of Los Angeles opened a shop on the right side of Main Street at Disneyland. Even today, if you entered the park and immediately saw lingerie in store windows, you’d feel momentarily disoriented…and you live in the internet era where some truly disturbing stuff is only a click away.
Imagine how opening day guests felt when they entered the Happiest Place on Earth, only to see Victorian corsets in the window of one of the first shops. Suffice to say that the incongruity of the store proved unpopular with 1950s theme park tourists. The Wizard of Bras closed within a year. It still maintains a bit of historical significance, though. The porch where it once resided has remained unused during the 60+ years that followed.
Why was there ever a porch, you ask? Two divergent opinions exist. The first is that Disney worried about the adult nature of the store. To hide it from the curious eyes of children, they added the porch so that only people of a certain height could look inside. The other philosophy is that Uncle Walt felt that men wouldn’t want to enter the store with their wives. Female undergarments aren’t something to purchase in mixed company, after all! If this belief is true, the porch was simply a sitting area for bored men waiting for their wives to finish shopping. And that’s a feeling that’s just as relatable today.
Don’t let the name confuse you. This wasn’t a water ride that ended with everybody happily soaked. Instead, it was a short-lived Epcot show based on another show at Tokyo Disneyland. The Japanese park hosted It's Magical: Tokyo Disneyland 10th Anniversary Spectacular, and American park planners took inspiration from the idea. They chose to stick Mickey Mouse on a platform and choreograph a dancing water display at the Fountain of Nations as he led a musical procession.
The entire show is one of the cheesiest things I’ve ever seen, and I watched entire episodes of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe as a kid. The outfits in the exhibition are some odd combination of space-age Coneheads tribute with Mickey Mouse Balloons tethered to the chests of some of the performers. Presumably, the location of the event close to Future World caused the exhibition’s organizers to display a heavy science fiction influence with the outfits.
Then again, one of the central faults of the show is its mixed themes. A dinosaur named TerrorsauX (although it’s really just a giant dinosaur head on a weirdly metallic exoskeleton too small for its own head) makes an appearance midway through the show. A dinosaur isn’t thematically symmetrical for Future World, the World Showcase, or anywhere at Walt Disney World other than Animal Kingdom.
That’s not even the worst incongruity, though. The villainess who tries to destroy Mickey Mouse in Splashtacular is named the Evil Alien Sorceress. In Japan, they pointedly selected Maleficent , but the American version dropped a Disney branded character in favor of the most generically named one imaginable. Oddly, they kept everything else about Maleficent including the sound effects for her voice.
Putting all the pieces together, Splashtacular was a show where Orchestra Leader and Master of Water Mickey Mouse fought against a Maleficent clone not named Maleficent who summoned a giant dinosaur head to stop him. How the dinonoggin could pull off such a feat is up for debate, as Mickey overcame his magical foe by harnessing the powers of music and dancing water.
As terrible as the show is – and you should watch the video above at least until the dancers sprout butterfly wings and/or steel stilts – that wasn’t even the worst flaw with Splashtacular. It also caused a midday bottleneck in the middle of the park. Perhaps the only shock here is that Splashtacular ever got made in the first place. Only seven months after its debut, everyone involved was ready to ditch Splashtacular. The only thing noteworthy about the entire exhibition is what followed. Disney added the Innoventions Water Ballet as a replacement, and a variation of it has stood the test of time. In your face, fake Malificent!
Bountiful Valley Farms
Do you want to spend valuable park time at Disneyland learning about agriculture? Do you want to examine multiple types of Caterpillar tractors? Does the idea of seeing fake instead of real cows appeal to you but you don’t want to visit Chick-fil-A? Would you love for your allergies to trigger while you’re already experiencing California heat? If you answered yes to many of these questions, Disney once had an attraction for you!
But they don’t anymore because nobody would want those things at a Disney attraction.
Bountiful Valley Farms was one of the many Disney California Adventure rides that debuted when the park opened its gates for the first time in 2001. While I hate to pick on a park I quite like, there’s simply no ignoring the fact that many of its earliest themed areas weren’t up to snuff by Disney standards. One of the worst offenders was the Golden State section, which attempted to sell Californians on California theming. Presumably, they wouldn’t have lived in the Golden State if they didn’t enjoy such sensibilities. What they wanted during a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth most assuredly wasn’t a history of agriculture. That’d be more of a Disney Iowa Adventure type of thing.
For whatever reason, otherwise brilliant Imagineers agreed that a Tractor Farm would sell people on their second gate at Disneyland. They also added Farmers Expo, a series of exhibits intended to educate guests on the complexities of agriculture. Think the early days of Epcot but with less exciting subject matter. Amusingly, one of the film exhibitions was for Crops That Flopped, which doubles as a metaphor for Bountiful Valley Farms itself. It was such an unpopular section that John Cougar Mellencamp would have needed to perform an entire Farm Aid to save it. Bountiful Valley Farms somehow lasted nine years, but that says more about the lack of viable options at Disney California Adventure than anything else.