Walt Disney World's most endangered attractions
Universe of Energy/Ellen's Energy Adventure, Epcot
The Epcot Center that opened in 1982 purported to explore the sciences in an intelligent way, and this pavilion was a perfect example of that promise. The roof is crowned with a glittering field of solar panels that partly power a dazzling seating system of six, 97-passenger mobile slabs that turn a theatre into a gliding ride. But as the attraction is sponsored by ExxonMobil, it virtually ignores solar and alternative fuels to pump up the merits of the oil industry. The fact it is narrated by 15-year-old filmed segments featuring Ellen DeGeneres (then an ABC star) and the largely forgotten '90s personality Bill Nye the Science Guy makes it even more dated. Waits of a mere five minutes are the norm. These combined deficits predict a gut renovation in the not-so-distant future.
Swiss Family Treehouse, Magic Kingdom
This ingenious concrete-and-steel walk-through castaway camp was built to impress in 1971 for the opening of the Magic Kingdom, with 300,000 hand-attached vinyl leaves and a working waterwheel system that sends fresh water from room to room. But people no longer recall its movie inspiration, a 1960s smash hit. The 14-story Tree of Life that was built for the opening of Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park in 1998 makes the Swiss Family Robinson's home a sapling in comparison and California's Disneyland converted its own Treehouse to a more relevant Tarzan theme in 1999, so the writing may be on the treehouse wall Further undermining its future, the tree requires refurbishment every three to five years and the design flouts modern accessibility codes by requiring the navigation of 116 stairs and catwalks. It may not be long until this charming but cumbersome attraction ceases to exist in its current form.
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, Magic Kingdom
This 20-minute lesson about how appliances will rescue the nuclear family from drudgery is a genuine artefact from a period of consumer optimism in American history, having premiered with General Electric sponsorship at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. The novel show system places the audience on a ring that rotates past four stationary stages stocked with Audio-Animatronic actors, yet people stay away in droves from this misogynistic chestnut. In 1973, it was booted from California's Disneyland for poor attendance, and now this antique spins in Orlando, where waiting more than five minutes is rare. Such low numbers would doom any other attraction, but since Walt is on record as having adored this one, and because it is billed (in a stretch) as the longest-running theatrical show in the United States, it has been permitted to remain in a forlorn corner of Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland -- for now.
Journey into Imagination with Figment, Epcot
Catch it now, because since Epcot's opening, Imagineers have struggled to make this dark ride click. In this third try, the talent is not to blame. Eric Idle appears as a Dr Nigel Channing, a scientist at "The Imagination Institute" while Figment, a fan-favourite, kid-friendly mascot created for the park, serves as the mischievous spoiler. The fault lies in a delivery deemed so low-budget and uninspired that riders can usually walk on without a moment's queueing. Kodak yanked its 28-year sponsorship of the ride in 2010, and any sponsor-to-be is unlikely to take kindly to this albatross of an attraction, sending it into Disney history in favour of Imagination 4.0.