80s, Attractions, Quick Lists — April 25, 2012 10:17 am

6 Theme Park Attractions Closed For Good

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If you visited Disney’s EPCOT park in the 1980s, you experienced the future. Unfortunately, they’ve re-tooled and re-vamped attractions so many times that the nostalgic appeal is forever gone. Discussing this topic with several people, I found that everyone has a favorite “gone forever” theme park attraction. Here are six theme park attractions you will never experience.

6 – Phantom Theater (Kings Island)

Phantom Theater was Kings Island’s answer to the Haunted Mansion at Disney parks.

Visitors shuffled through this haunted theater, catching glimpses of ghosts. Chills ran down the spines of everyone who attended. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Actually, what seems to make this ride memorable to most people is how it broke down over the years. As mechanical ghosts broke, the park took their sweet time to fix them. This resulted in even scarier headless, armless, jittery robo-ghosts. Now, that is frightening!

The ride has been re-tooled as a Scooby-Doo ride, followed by a generic ghost blaster theme after Hanna-Barbera characters were removed from the park. Prior to the Phantom Theater theme, it was a Smurf voyage… which may have been even scarier.

5 – Delta DreamFlight (Magic Kingdom)

Delta sponsorship?  Who says Disney is nothing but commercial propaganda?
Despite the Delta branding on everything, this was one of the most enchanting rides in the park. It was almost a secret ride, being overshadowed by popular adjacent attractions. Delta DreamFlight was a ride through the history of flight, featuring some great sight gags. While exiting the attraction, an 80s synthesizer-heavy song featured such insightful lyrics as “Delta welcomes you back from your DreamFlight, the fantasy flight of your life / Once you’ve taken a DreamFlight, the earth’s an inspiring sight.” Truer forced-rhymes couldn’t be said. Too bad the ride was completely re-tooled into a Buzz Lightyear attraction, which is not nearly as inspiring.

4 – Son of Beast (Kings Island)

Goodbye, Son of Beast.

Perhaps the only sequel ride in existence, Son of Beast was the follow-up ride to the popular roller coaster The Beast. So famous, in fact, that R.L. Stine took a small departure from the Goosebumps series to write two books about the original ride. Unfortunately, for Son of Beast, the rider experience was met with mixed reviews.  Originally, the coaster had a loop, but was removed. A few years later, the ride was shut down permanently. After sitting quietly for a few seasons, park officials finally brought the ride down to make way for something new.

3 – Ghostbusters Spooktacular (Universal Studios)

Who you gonna call? Well, not the Ghostbusters anymore.

Ghostbusters Spooktacular was kind of a two-for-one attraction. Visitors walked through the iconic Ghostbusters firehouse and, in the lobby, were called upon as volunteers for an interactive show hosted by Louis Tully. After that, everyone was rushed into a theater where the final scene from the first film was re-created live on stage. The special effects still boggle my mind today. As an added bonus, the gift shop featured pretty much every Real Ghostbusters toy ever made.

So, why did they close this one down? Someone thought Twister would prove to be a more enduring movie franchise to have in this attraction’s location. To add salt to the wound, guests still walk through the former Ghostbusters lobby to get to the Twister…Ride it Out stage. Looking closely, one can still see remnants of the previous attraction. The Twister ride is not at all interactive. It’s just watching some dust whirl around while water sprays in your face. The sad thing is Twister…Ride it Out has been a park attraction longer than Ghostbusters Spooktacular ever was.

2 – Horizons (EPCOT Center)

If you enjoy retrofuturism, this was the ride for you.
Even in the 1980s, Horizons felt campy and dated but that was part of the charm. Loading in an automatic vehicle, passengers are taken on a journey that would have impressed anyone at the 1964 World’s Fair. One gag featured a robot cleaning up spilled milk, another ironically mocked the future based on a 1950s perspective. The visuals ranged from hypnotic and psychedelic to downright creepy. An instrumental version of the Delta DreamFlight theme carried visitors through portions of the ride. Horizons offered guests the opportunity to choose their own ending to the ride, a rare innovation even by today’s standards.

1 – Back to the Future: The Ride (Universal Studios)

The best part of a time travel ride? You can market it to never go out of style!

This was pretty much the ride of my dreams. An eight-seater DeLorean flies through time, carrying passengers on a race against Biff. Back to the Future: The Ride completely captured the Universal Studios sentiment of “ride the movies”. Everyone is still pretty shocked this was replaced with a Simpsons ride. Despite being a staple attraction at the park, some executive’s official comment on the closure was “Who wants to ride something based on a 20 year old movie, riding a 25 year old car?” Yet, the Twister attraction is still open.

If you still want to experience Back to the Future: The Ride, there are plenty of fan-made videos online covering what it was all about. If that’s not enough for you, save up some yen because the ride hasn’t been officially closed down in Universal Studios Japan… yet.

Honorable Mention – World of Motion (EPCOT Center)

Look out for that crappy 90s Corsica!

This is sort of the car equivalent of Delta DreamFlight. Automatic cars took passengers through the history of the wheel to tomorrow’s vehicles. After the ride, guests were dumped off at TransCenter, which showcased prototype cars of the future.

Did we miss your favorite closed attraction?  Tell us about it in the comments below!


  • “Who wants to ride something based on a 20 year old movie, riding a 25 year old car?” Yet, the Twister attraction is still open.

    The executive who said this is probably the same that opened the Twister ride and was probably canned for being a fool, leaving behind a crappy ride.

  • So bummed to have missed the Back to the Future Ride, as Well as the Jaws ride.

  • Another good attraction that should be mentioned is Knott’s Bear-y Tales.

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