Today in Disney History, 2017: Two Classic Rides Closed Forever

Britta StephensBlog, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, News

The Great Movie Ride left Universe of Energy Right

On August 13th, 2017, not one, but two of our favorite attractions shut down forever: The Great Movie Ride and Universe of Energy.

As a Disney fan, I’ve had my heart broken when it’s time to bid farewell to a favorite attraction, experience, firework show, or parade (Main Street Electrical Parade, I’m looking at you). 

And if you are a ride-or-die Hollywood Studios and EPCOT fanatic, you’ve been down this road more times than you can count. 

The Great Movie Ride

Debuting along with Disney MGM Studios on May 1st, 1989, The Great Movie Ride stole our hearts with its lighthearted delightful charm from the start. 

This beloved piece of Disney history took us on a 22-minute tour of 1930s Hollywood with films like The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, and Singin’ in the Rain. 

mary poppins on the great movie ride

With The Great Movie Ride, you could go on the set of Hollywood classics. Photo by Cliff Wang

Not surprisingly, this attraction (which was originally set to be named The Great Moments Movie Museum, but that doesn’t really roll off the tongue…) was sponsored by Turner Classic Movies, who also produced the short film played at the end of the ride. 

the great movie ride sign

The Great Movie Ride was a great name for this attraction! Photo by Cliff Wang

And speaking of authenticity, this attraction features almost fifty Audio-Animatronics of iconic movie stars.

Some of the replicas even have wigs made from human hair—whoa!

The cherry on top of the Hollywood sundae is that it was housed in a full-scale replica of the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. 

The Universe of Energy Featuring Ellen’s Energy Adventure

When launching this fun attraction which features Bill Nye and time travel, the biggest hiccup was getting the animatronic for Ellen Degeneres just right.

There was some major scuttlebutt that the replica looked nothing like her, so the opening was delayed until it was remedied. 

universe of energy at epcot sign

The Universe of Energy at EPCOT. Photo by Brett Svenson

True to Disney fashion, there was also an easter egg, or rather, ear-ster egg, in this attraction that made MGM fans wax nostalgic.

In the second video segment, when a man drove a car past the church, we can glimpse the shadow of the Earful Tower. 

A little way to always keep the past close to our hearts. This attraction is also about 15% solar-powered—Disney literally practices what they preach!

The Future is Bright!

For those of us who have already experienced Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, we know just how special, classic, and even nostalgic brand new attractions can be.

Marquee for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway

Marquee for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Photo by Courtney Reynolds

The Great Movie Ride will never be forgotten and it lives on in the same iconic real estate as its successor, with the same tear-jerking feels and warm fuzzies that came before. 

We all need a little unadulterated, wholesome happiness right about now, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will take you on an adventure filled with best buddies, laughs, and true love! 

As much as we miss The Universe of Energy, it is about time we had a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction (without having to hop a plane to the West Coast).

Cosmic Rewind coaster concept art epcot

Go on an epic adventure with the Guardians of the Galaxy in EPCOT’s new coaster! Concept Art Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

From the concept art to the sneak peek construction for this ride, the coaster looks absolutely out of this galaxy and I can’t think of a better home for this attraction based on one of my all-time favorite films than Future World in Epcot. 

Disney gives and Disney takes away, but it always leaves us speechless with wonder and childhood delight.

From the hidden nods to attractions long gone to the anticipation of what is to come, there is always a future on the horizon at Walt Disney World. 

So, we have to take these losses with the expectation that we take anything in this world. It may leave us, but we will always have the memories. 

And, years from now, you may be standing in line for Guardians of the Galaxy telling your kids about Ellen’s Energy Adventure, or about how you got to be in a gangster (or cowboy) movie.

Which do you miss more? The Great Movie Ride or Universe of Energy? Let us know over on our Facebook page!

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About the Author

Britta Stephens

Britta Stephens is a contributing writer for WDW Magazine, Disney blogger, hairstylist, and dog mom x2. The first book she ever read was Hans Christan Anderson’s The Little Mermaid and she's been a fan of Disney endings ever since. When she’s not fostering kittens, she can be found reading literature from a dog’s perspective and singing the opening of The Lion King to her greenhouse plants.