When Disney Closes our Favourite Rides

Hollywood Studios Backlot Tour Hollywood Studios Backlot Tour

Nostalgia (definition): a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past

From two Ancient Greek words (my degree, I’m obsessed!) – “nostos” (νοστος) meaning a return home, and “algos” (ἀλγος) meaning pain. Essentially homesickness. And don’t we Disney addicts always feel that way when we’re not in Disney? A wistful sense of longing to be back in the place we love?

So when Disney closes down our favourite rides, it feels like a betrayal. Unfortunately at the moment, it feels like a lot of our old favourites are closing down.

Ben and I have had lots of discussions recently about what it means to us when these attractions close. They tend to affect me a lot more than they do him, and I think that’s because I’ve been going to Disney since I was 6, whereas his first time was only 6 years ago.

For me, going to Disney means revisiting my childhood and feeling that familiar sense of nostalgia. The excitement of getting on board your favourite ride, hearing a familiar tune, smelling the “Disney water” (does anyone else get this?!). When I found out from D23 2017 that Great Movie Ride and Ellen’s Energy Adventure was closing, it felt like a part of me was going away. Sounds dramatic, I know, but it’s like hearing that your childhood home is going to be demolished, and you don’t get a chance to visit it again.

But I understand it’s all about evolution. WDW came into being in 1971. Can you imagine what it would be like if it had never changed since then?

Disney needs to keep drawing new customers in – they can’t survive on just staying nostalgic for people that visit time and time again. Fortunately Disney manages to keep the magic for young and old, new and returning visitors. Nevertheless, these are a few things that have recently disappeared that I’ll really miss from my Disney childhood:

Disney's Hollywood Studios photo diary - Disney Days blog

The Great Movie Ride & Backlot Tour

The Great Movie Ride and Backlot Tour for me summed up what Hollywood Studios was all about. In fact, what MGM was all about – but that’s a story for another day!

To me, Hollywood Studios was a park that took you slightly out of the Disney experience and behind the scenes of how your favourite movies and shows are made. You got to see real animators in action at Backlot Tour; you saw the ropes and pulleys that make the scenes of Indiana Jones look real; you got to see sets being reset and actors being directed. Even Ben was put out when Backlot Tour got closed down as it was to us the defining feature of a “backstage” park.

The Great Movie Ride closing was another blow to Hollywood Studios for me. It’s one I wasn’t overly excited about as a child, but did still enjoy. As you got older and grew with the ride, it stopped being a bit of a boring, slow mover with a bit of action mixed in, to one that gave you an overview of what Hollywood Studios was all about: the inspiring stories, people and sets behind the great movies of our time. It served for me as an introduction to Hollywood Studios. Being at the front of the park, the iconic Chinese Theatre is one of the first things (now the Sorceror’s Hat has gone) that guests see and do. After walking down Hollywood Boulevard, experiencing the sights and sounds of the actors and streetscapes, many people went straight into the Great Movie Ride and experienced riding through the movies and being a part of them, before heading out into the rest of the park with this in their heads.

It was announced at D23 2017 that it is to be replaced with Minnie and Mickey’s Runaway Railway, based on old and new Mickey shorts. I love the sound of this, but I’ll be sad not to have what was once an old-fashioned look at the movies.

Hollywood Studios Backlot Tour Earful Tower

Hollywood Studios – updates

Aside from the two above, we’ve also seen Streets of America disappear, the name change in 2008 from MGM to Hollywood Studios, the Magic of Disney Animation made way for Star Wars, the Sorceror’s Hat went, the Earful Tower disappeared and the scrim to hide construction went up. Not to fear as Disney also announced the creation of a brand new Star Wars area and an expansion of Toy Story Land.

It feel like Hollywood Studios is branching off in a new direction. Rather than giving guests an insight into the working background of movies, we’re now getting a celebration of movies as they are. I know that the new Star Wars area will be amazing, and I know that the new rides will be just as, if not more, exciting than those that have closed, but currently the park feels a bit…dead. Sorry, but true! When we visited in May, we barely spent half a day there and had done almost everything (lucky, because queue times were short!). And it will feel even more so now that Great Movie Ride is shut. It felt more like Construction Land than anything. Roll on the new openings!

Ellen's Universe of Energy - Epcot

Epcot - old photos

Ellen’s Energy Adventure

Ellen was massively outdated – I know! But it doesn’t mean that it’s not one of the more hard-hitting closures for me in recent years. My sister and I used to get super excited to ride “Ellen’s Dinosaur Ride” and would end up feeling sleepy towards the end, watching the bars from the radio tower radiating slowly outwards as you pulled into the final section of the ride. The theme tune to Jeopardy will always be subconsciously tied to that ride in my head thanks to Disney.

It reminds me of the days we used to trail around Epcot in the blazing sun, collecting stamps on our masks around World Showcase; the giant Mickey hand on Spaceship Earth; when we tried to catch the lights that made the fairy dust along the floor; jumping in the water fountains that came magically from the ground.

It was old-fashioned and slow. Ben got bored of it; one of our family friends fell asleep on it. Children now probably don’t care about it when they could have ridden Test Track twice in that time.

But it symbolised Epcot of my childhood. It’s what Epcot – the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow – was meant to me: a celebration of human achievement, technological innovation and international culture. Teaching us about energy in the form of a game show, a dream and dinosaurs. Fortunately when we rode it this year, we’d heard the rumours so I’d prepared myself that it could be the last time I’d ride it – and it was true!


Maelstrom got an update last year: it became Frozen Ever After. It made complete sense. Frozen is so super popular and Epcot, in general, is kind of old-fashioned. It immediately drew the young back to the park.

But we used to beg to go on Maelstrom. Even though the queue area was super boring and it didn’t have any big splashes. We loved the excitement of the boat looking like it was coming through a wall, the magic and mystic of the trolls around every corner, and the Norway film at the end. I’ll never understand quite why I loved Norway so much more than any other of the countries, but the film at the end just summed it up so well – I’ve always wanted to visit the real country because of it.

I understand the updates, but I’ll definitely always miss that ride.

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