YouTube Allows Disney Nerds to Relive Extinct Theme Park Attractions

By Matt Novak on at

The Disney nerd community recognised a sad anniversary yesterday. It’s been 20 years since the ride Horizons closed at the Epcot theme park in Walt Disney World. But there was one bright spot. People were able to share home videos of the beloved “extinct attraction” on YouTube.

Some of the videos that were being widely shared yesterday include this one from a user named Al C and this one from Kim A. Pedersen, both shot on videotape. If you ever got to ride this paleo-futuristic classic, these videos are quite a nostalgia trip. And if you never got to ride Horizons before it closed on January 9, 1999, then now is your chance to see what all the fuss was about. Of course, it’s not exactly like being on the actual ride, but we’ll take what we can get.

As I’ve written before, Horizons was one of the best theme park attractions ever built.

Eagle-eyed viewers should pay attention at the 6:50 mark in Al C.’s video and the 3:30 mark in Kim Pedersen’s video where you can see the May 14, 1958 Disneyland TV episode “Magic Highway USA.” And while YouTube doesn’t have smell-o-vision yet, anyone who had the pleasure to ride Horizons before its closure will definitely instinctively smell oranges during the futuristic farm scene.

But it’s not just Horizons. YouTube has all kinds of videos from rides that are no longer with us. Some are home videos for rides like the 1990s version of Journey into Imagination or Epcot’s Food Rocks, which closed in 2004. The “Norway ride,” as my family used to call it, is also featured in plenty of videos on YouTube. Sadly, the Maelstrom boat ride died just a few years ago to be replaced by a Frozen-themed attraction.

Others videos are well-edited episodes like the ones from Defunctland. The Patreon-supported Defunctland has some fascinating looks at the Back to the Future ride (RIP) at Universal Studios, Body Wars at Epcot, forgotten Disneyland attractions, and Captain EO. There’s also an episode about the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride that, while boring in my opinion, still manages to bring out some strange pangs of nostalgia for me. Funny how that works.

Yes, YouTube’s algorithm is broken and the video-sharing site is probably contributing to the radicalisation of angry teenagers by the far right. But if you know what you’re looking for, YouTube still has some great content.

Also, check out Martin's video about Horizons.

Enjoy it while it lasts, fellow Disney Parks nerds.