Five Lost Disney World Rides from River Country to Mars
Plaza Swan Boats
A slow moving attraction, the Plaza Swan Boats took riders on a leisurely float around Disney World's waterways. From 1973-1983 the bird-shaped boats docked outside Tomorrowland, across from what's now the Tomorrowland Terrace. Open seasonally, the 17 minute guided boat ride originally featured only female operators, before going co-ed after a few years. The boats were known to constantly break down, and the ride likely closed due to excessive operating costs.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Based on the Disney film "The Wind in the Willows," Mr. Toad began whipping riders around in 1971. Passengers were driven through Mr. Toad's world on runaway "jalopies" that made sudden turns and seemed to drive full speed into obstacles. Luckily, through Disney magic, the obstacles would move just in the nick of time. The ride closed with seemingly no logical explanation in 1998, amid much protest by Disney fans. It was replaced with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
River Country is not just one attraction, but a waterpark located at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground along Bay Lake. The first of Disney's waterparks, this old-time swimming hole opened in 1976. It featured four water slides, a tube river, nature trail and sand-bottomed lake with swings and rope climbs. One contributing factor in River Country's demise was that its water came from Bay Lake and did not meet city standards. Adding to the park's woes, bigger and newer Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach lured guests away, while heated water allowed them to be open longer. Sadly, River Country closed in 2001 and still sits in disrepair.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Disney World's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is the sister ride to Disneyland's Submarine Voyage. Its premise differs, however, as it was based on the Disney movie of the same name, not a real life marine voyage. Beginning in 1971, guests boarded Captain Nemo's submarine for simulated trips through various underwater seascapes to the lost continent of Atlantis. The ride closed suddenly in 1994 for a number of reasons: constant breakdowns, loading difficulties, long lines and high maintenance costs. After the ride was filled in, it was home to the Fantasyland Character Festival and later a Hundred Acre Wood playground. The area is now part of what will be the expanded Fantasyland.
Mission to Mars
When this attraction opened in 1971 it was known as Flight to the Moon. With the assistance of NASA, it was updated in 1975 and the destination changed to Mars as man had been to the moon years before. After a briefing in Mission Control, guests were seated in a circular theater, aka spaceship. Screens on the ceiling and floor offered views outside the spacecraft, while moving and vibrating chairs simulated the feeling of a moving spacecraft. After the attraction closed in 1993, the theater was refitted to house ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, which was then replaced in 2004 by Stitch's Great Escape based on the movie "Lilo and Stitch."
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