Cult Classic

If you’ve read my work here on the blog, or if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, or if you’ve ever talked to me in person, then you’ve probably noticed that I mention one particular attraction a whole bunch. I mean, like an absurd amount.

Really, if you’re also a follower of other Disney fan accounts on social media, you’ve probably noticed that lots of other people also talk about this defunct dark ride too. It’s been a long time since it closed, and people still discuss it with a nearly cult-like fervor.

I’m talking, of course, about Stitch’s Great Escape.

Just kidding.

I’m talking, of course, about Horizons.

Now, you might find yourself nodding in agreement here because you too miss this classic EPCOT Center attraction. Or perhaps you don’t understand what the fascination is with some old ride, so you’re just rolling your eyes (like my wife, who’s probably wondering why she has to edit yet another post about it [Accurate. —ed.]).

With this post, I’m actually aiming to reach those who are unfamiliar with Horizons. Those who never got the opportunity to ride it, and who (even if you did) might wonder why people go on about it so much. If you do know and love Horizons, you’re of course welcome to follow along as well and wax nostalgic as we go down this path. My goal here, though, is to try to explain this obsession a little bit so that us fans don’t just all look crazy. It may or may not help.

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I don’t have any pictures of Horizons, sadly, so please enjoy this (weirdly oversaturated) photo of Spaceship Earth instead.

Horizons opened on October 1st, 1983, and was sponsored by General Electric up until it closed in 1994. It was reopened in 1995 (without a sponsor), because both World of Motion and Universe of Energy were closed for renovations at the time and Disney management didn’t want too much of Future World closed all at the same time. It was finally shut down for good in 1999, to make way for Mission: SPACE. Since then it’s garnered an impressive following across social media, perhaps unlike any other defunct attraction, and there are websites dedicated to its memory. Some have created computer-generated ride throughs, and there’s even a decent amount of fan-made merchandise out there too.

The roughly fifteen minute ride was narrated by a husband and wife who were “from the future”, and were showing guests what their daily life was like. They brought you through an undersea city, a terraformed desert, and even a space station where people lived and worked. Finally they showed us their high-tech urban home. Throughout the journey guests met other members of the narrators’ family, which tied everything together. There was an underlying story thread about everyone needing to be on time for a birthday party, and towards the end of the ride the entire family got together for the celebration–a young boy sat in a living room with his parents, while other members of the family sang happy birthday from holographic video phone screens (sure, we now have phones in our palms that can access almost any bit of information you could dream of, but they’re not holographic). In the final moments of the ride, a touch panel lit up in the ride vehicle, offering a choice to each guest. There were three options: desert, space, and undersea; guests would pick one, and a majority rule determined which ending that vehicle would view on a screen.

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What does Carousel of Progress, at Magic Kingdom, have to do with Horizons? Well, it’s widely accepted that Horizons was a “sequel” to Carousel, and that it featured a future generation of the same family. The song “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” even briefly appeared in Horizons (playing on a radio), too.

So why does this attraction, out of all of those that have come and gone over the years, retain such a rabid fanbase?

Let’s take a step back, for just a moment, to get a sense of what EPCOT Center was in olden days (i.e: the 80s). It was wildly different from the Magic Kingdom; There were no rides based on movies, no roller coasters, no parades. The slow dark ride attractions that made up Future World each had a particular focus: World of Motion offered a history of transportation and a look to what might be coming down the road, Universe of Energy showed a (loooooong) look at different power options, and Spaceship Earth invited guests into the giant “golf ball” to learn about communication. Each attraction was intended to showcase the past, present, and future of its respective topic. While designed to inspire and educate, they were also intended to entertain and as such were done in the signature “Disney” style with lots of humor and fun. They even had great theme songs (go up to any fan of EPCOT Center, say the words “it’s fun to be free”, and see what happens). It was Disney for nerds, a theme park for those who–like Walt Disney himself–were futurists. People who appreciated looking forward, and back, and who wanted to do so with sea serpents and sleeping monks tossed into the mix.

Most of those old EPCOT Center attractions are long gone now, or have been renovated into shadows of their former selves (cough–Journey Into Imagination–cough). Some of them, like World of Motion, still retain a pretty strong fan base themselves. None, though, seem to be as adored and missed as Horizons.

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It could be said that Disney profits off of our nostalgia by continuing to release Horizons-themed merchandise. It could also be said that we keep buying this stuff whenever they do. Thus, the circle of life continues…

All of the attractions were fun in their own ways (OK, maybe not Universe of Energy). In a sense, though, Horizons was the culmination and combination of every other idea that Future World offered. Rather than focus on just one specific topic, Horizons instead showed guests how all of the respective ideas of the other attractions–transportation, communication, agriculture, etc–could come together in one incredible look at the future.

Horizons boiled down all of the concepts presented by the park and demonstrated how they could serve as inspirations for a possible tomorrow. It showed a future that looked to be something out of a science fiction story while still being completely plausible. To many people, that vision was extremely powerful. It’s not just what it showed, either, but how it showed it. It wasn’t dragging on with the science of how any of it would work, it wasn’t preachy about how we’d need to fix the world to get there, it wasn’t showing things so fantastic that they stopped being realistic. It was just a family from the future, taking guests on a little tour through their everyday life, and there was something simply incredible about that.

Let’s not forget, too, that the folks who keep the fandom alive now were much younger in the Horizons days. When it closed in 1999 I was in my early 20s, and when it first opened I would have been somewhere around third grade. I basically grew up seeing this inspirational vision of tomorrow. Especially as we all grew up, and the world seemed to keep going in the opposite direction from this possible future (and, I suppose, as we developed more cynicism than we had as kids), Horizons was something to cling to. Something to showcase what could happen, even if reality was consistently proving otherwise.

The world kind of sucked, and as we got older we were able to see that much more clearly, but this ride at a theme park still showed us what the future could be. It gave us a bit of hope. I think that, at its core, is why so many of us still hold on to Horizons. Why we keep this fandom going on social media, why we talk about the attraction fondly, and why we wish that it was still around. Because as things around us just seem to get worse everyday, we could simply use that fifteen minutes of inspiration. We could use that journey through time, where a friendly couple takes us through a plausible–but ever less realistic–future.

There’s another reason, I think, for the ongoing Horizons fandom. At the Destination D expo in November of 2016, Bob Chapek stated that the plans for EPCOT would make it “more Disney, timeless, relevant, and family friendly”, and some of us recalled when we already had all of that in one attraction. It was Disney in the way that it portrayed things, with lots of humor and a storyline rather than just an impersonal look at future possibilities. It was timeless, since the future is something that we’re always working towards. It was absolutely relevant–the concept of working together towards a brighter tomorrow never really stops being so. It was family friendly, since it was a slow dark ride rather than the thrill rides that seem to be taking over the park, and it was fun and entertaining and had ideas presented to all ages. So while the current Disney management continues to strip away everything that made the park special (well, I did say that we developed more cynicism as we got older), some of us have been holding on even harder to what made us fall in love with it in the first place. It’s becoming a collection of future-themed rides with only the loosest of themes, and some of us fondly and sadly miss when it was a park full of inspiration. Horizons has, in its way, become a focus for that–a rallying cry for fans of EPCOT Center even though (or perhaps especially) because we know those days are long gone.

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I genuinely enjoy Mission: SPACE. I think it’s a fun attraction, the interactivity is cool, and I suppose it’s inspiring in it’s own way. It stands where Horizons once was, though, so I still sort of resent its existence.

If you never got the chance to experience Horizons, well… you could try checking out ride through videos online, but I don’t think that it would be the same. You might get an inkling of how special it was, though I suppose now it would seem quite dated (there was a whole bit about the microprocessor as an exciting new technology that would revolutionize everything) and the narration will likely come off as a bit cheesy nowadays. It was definitely a product of its time, and unless you were seeing it as a kid in the 80s I don’t know if you’d be able to really get it.

If you did go on Horizons, though, you likely understand and agree with everything that I’ve said here. If you miss this ride like so many people do, you may have read all of this with a nostalgic tear in your eye. Seriously, we should have a support group or something.

All these years later, some of us are still inspired by Horizons. Though the ride itself is long gone, it instilled in us a hope for the future. Even when things seem pretty bleak in the world, we remember undersea cities and living on space stations and think…

“If we can dream it, we can do it”*


 

*Right, so I know that I’m just killing my nice dramatic ending, but I have a side note/public service announcement that I need to add here. That quote? It’s often attributed to Walt Disney, but in fact it was written by Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald specifically for Horizons. It’s probably one of the most mis-quoted things in all of Disney fandom. So now that you know this, the next time you hear someone credit Walt with “if we can dream it, we can do it” you can tap them on the nose with a rolled-up park guide map and firmly say “NO”. It’s the only way they’ll learn.

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Inspirational Adventure

I don’t consider myself a big American history buff. Sure, it’s kind of neat to think about people throwing tea into Boston harbor or having Old West duels at high noon during the Gold Rush or whatever, but it was hardly my favorite subject in school. Which is probably much of the reason that, when I would wander around the World Showcase at EPCOT, I generally skipped the show at the America pavilion. On a recent visit, though, my wife and I did opt to check out the American Adventure. I honestly only vaguely remembered it, and she had never seen it.

Neither one of us really knew what to expect, and we certainly didn’t anticipate how much we’d both enjoy the show.

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The entrance to the American Adventure show is right in the middle of the pavilion, between a quick-service burger restaurant and a gift shop. Which, if you stop to think about it, just sounds really American. 

I think that many people just walk on by this particular attraction, seeking out flashier and more “interesting” experiences. I’ve definitely been one of those people. Heck, with the new Guardians of the Galaxy live show right across the way (don’t get me started on all of the reasons I don’t think that belongs in World Showcase), I could see the loud music and exciting pyro drawing folks away from the entrance to the American Adventure. That’d be a shame, though, because the attraction really does have a lot to offer.

Before you even set foot in the theatre, there’s lots to experience in the lobby (the pleasant, air conditioned lobby). As you walk around, you’ll see beautiful artwork representing different points in American history painted by Disney Imagineers, including Disney Legend Herb Ryman. There are also different flags from throughout American history hanging in the lobby. So even before you’re settling in to watch the show, there’s lots of cool stuff to see.

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This new exhibit, featuring Native American art from around the country, wasn’t open yet when I was there recently (but it should be soon, and may be by the time you read this). I absolutely want to check it out the next time I’m there. This type of exhibit is really important, in my opinion, to the World Showcase as it offers a look at cultures and histories of the world.

While you’re waiting to go upstairs to get into the theatre, you may get a special preshow in the lobby as well–the Voices of Liberty. This amazing a cappella group sings various folk songs from American history, dressed in period costumes, and can be found throughout the day performing their fifteen minute set before guests enter the main theatre. Even if you have little interest in the American Adventure itself, stopping into the lobby to hear them sing can be a nice bit of relaxation with a cool live performance. The Voices of Liberty are worth seeing even without going into the theatre, and taking a few minutes to sit on a bench and get a respite from the weather while listening to beautiful singing is hardly the worst thing ever.

Once you get into the massive theatre (seriously, it’s huge) it’s time for the American Adventure!

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Around the theatre are statues representing the different spirits of America: adventure, compassion, freedom, innovation, etc. The show highlights these aspects, going beyond just individual points in history to showcase the drive that led to them. 

The American Adventure opens with Ben Franklin and Mark Twain, chatting together and setting up the story of America. From there, the show unfolds in a combination of animatronics, video, and music. Each scene tells a part of the country’s history, from the Revolutionary War to more modern times. In addition to Franklin and Twain (who act as sort of narrators) there are animatronics of other noteworthy figures like Susan B. Anthony and Will Rogers.

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Many different parts of America’s history are portrayed through animatronic characters, including women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony.

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The show doesn’t shy away from some of the darker periods in our past, including a particularly moving segment during the Civil War about two brothers on opposite sides.

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Rosie the Riveter makes a brief appearance during the narrative. 

One of the things that struck us when we watched the show was just how incredible the sets are. Some really massive pieces rise up from the stage, only to slowly lower back down after a scene and get replaced by an equally gigantic set. The technology involved in this is very impressive, with a large specially-created device called the “War Wagon” moving the pieces around underneath the stage. Even if you’re not wrapped up in the narrative of the show, you should at least be able to appreciate the Imagineering that went into making it all happen.

By the way, you can get a look at the inner workings of the show on the Backstage Magic tour in EPCOT. We haven’t done that one yet ourselves, but seeing behind the curtain of the American Adventure is high on our list of reasons to do so.

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This set is just one of many large pieces that rise up to take the stage during the show. This scene deals with the Great Depression, with animatronic figures and even some rainfall.

Above and beyond the impressive technical aspects, though, the fact is that the show is good. It boils down major moments in history into digestible chunks, using a combination of music and video as well as the animatronic characters to tell stories from throughout history. Whether it’s Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir sitting atop a mountain talking about the importance of protecting natural resources, or a group of workers discussing the Great Depression, the script keeps moving and doesn’t allow one part to drag on too long and lose the audience. As someone who (as I mentioned before) doesn’t really get into American history that much, I don’t find the show boring at all. If anything, making a show about historical figures that doesn’t drag is an even more impressive feat of engineering than any of the set pieces!

The story may be about America, but it also has adventure right there in the title, a point that is worked well into the narrative. The entire experience is uplifting and inspirational, with a strong focus on the great things that we’ve accomplished and the spirit of those who have helped shape the country. Even when dealing with more depressing subject matter like war and poverty, there’s a sense of an unstoppable spirit. It tells a story not necessarily just of what has happened over the last couple hundred years, but one of innovation and determination. Whether it’s doing so with animatronic representations of historical figures, video, music, or all of the above, the attraction showcases an American beyond what can be seen in the daily news or the situations of any one particular era. For citizens, it goes beyond all of that to tap into a patriotic pride, and for those visitors from other countries it offers a glimpse into what that pride really means.

I think, especially in this age of political turmoil, a show that takes a step back to highlight the bigger picture–the “story” of America–is more important than ever. Perhaps that’s why I appreciate it now more than I ever have.

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The show uses video as well as the set pieces and animatronics to tell the story. I want to point out this particular scene, too: while the animatronics may not be as fluid as some newer figures in other attractions, Ben Franklin climbs stairs here! That’s an impressive feat, and supposedly one that took Imagineers a lot of work to create.

It seems like people tend to skip this one, or at least it rarely comes up when talking about attractions at EPCOT, and that’s a shame. I get that the concept of watching a half-hour-long show about American history while on a Disney World vacation may be an odd choice, and that (especially when traveling with kids in tow) folks may gravitate towards different experiences. In fact, with new shows like “The Muppets Present Great Moments in American History” over at Magic Kingdom, there are even ways to scratch that history buff itch in ways that involve comedic puppet characters rather than animatronics of real people, which many folks (myself included) may prefer. Enjoying the American Adventure means possibly taking a step out of the “theme park” comfort zone.

To walk on by this one, though, is to miss out on a few different things: it’s simply a really good show, it uses impressive technology that melds animatronics and multimedia in a way that only Disney can, and it’s also a pretty unique EPCOT experience. The original intent for the park was to inspire, educate, and entertain, and the American Adventure hits all three points. With attractions based on popular movies working their way into different World Showcase pavilions (regardless of whether they fit at all within the theme of the country. Again, don’t get me started), it’s very nice to see something really evoking that EPCOT spirit within the park.

The show runs roughly thirty minutes, which may seem like a long time for a theme park attraction, but the time is needed to do justice to the subject of American history. It doesn’t feel like it’s a half hour, either, due to the quick pacing of the show. It never spends too long on one scene before moving on to another era with another big backdrop. Sure, there are moments in which my attention would waver, but then one big set piece is gone and has been replaced with another and there’s a whole new huge scene happening on stage. I may not have really “gotten it” as a kid, but as an adult I can appreciate both the narrative and the Imagineering that went into creating the show.

It’s not a thrill ride in a speeding car, and it doesn’t have characters from a popular space movie singing classic rock hits, but the American Adventure is a great show that deserves a half hour of everyone’s time. Even if you’re not a huge history buff, the show is worth checking out at least once just to see how all of the moving parts tell the story. If you are into history, and/or you’re particularly patriotic, seeing these different moments come to life can be very inspirational and it’s cool to learn a bit about the events that shaped the country. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea (it certainly wasn’t mine for quite a long time), and it may not be something that you go out of your way to see every time you’re at EPCOT, but it’s an adventure that everyone should experience.

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If nothing else, the American Adventure show is a place to be entertained while sitting inside a nice air-conditioned theatre. It’s a half hour escape from the oppressive heat or the pouring rain (and since it’s Florida, both of those could be happening at the same time).

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Adventures of a Cast Member

As I’ve mentioned probably a thousand times before, I used to be a cast member at the (then) Disney/MGM Studios park. It wasn’t for a very long time, but it was still a pretty cool to do. You can read all about how I became a cast member, what the experience was like, and how it ended with these links to parts one, two, and three.

Over the course of my stint as a cast member, I naturally encountered a variety of interesting situations, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of those tales. Most of them were just random little moments that I thought were neat, and there are a couple in here that (I hope) can act as lessons as how not to act when you’re a guest at a Disney park.

So hang on to your hats and glasses, because this… well, you know the rest!


Animated Conversation

One of the attractions that I worked most frequently was the Magic of Disney Animation. At the time, this offered guests a tour through an animation studio: they’d start by watching a short film (starring Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite) about how animation was created, and then they’d go into the studio where they could see people drawing and creating new Disney animated features. It was a pretty cool experience, in my opinion.

The animators worked on a different schedule than the park, though, and they often left at around five in the afternoon. After that, we’d just be showing guests a bunch of empty desks where the animators usually worked. It was less interesting. Since we still wanted to show something, though, the lights in the studio were kept on so guests could see the desks and equipment. We (the attractions hosts) would head down after closing to turn everything off.

One night, while myself and a couple others were making the final rounds of the night, we came across a lone animator hunched over her desk. She was far enough back that we hadn’t even noticed her all evening. We were going to just pass by and let her work in peace, but she took off her headphones and invited us to stay and chat for a moment. As she had been working solo for a few hours by this point, she admitted that she was starved for a bit of conversation. She showed us what she was working on, which happened to be a scene from Mulan. She flipped back and forth between some of her drawings to show the movement, and described a bit about what was happening. The entire interaction was only a few minutes–enough for her to sit up from her work and take a quick breather before jumping back into it–but it was a very cool moment that has stuck with me ever since.

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One thing I regret not doing: Animation tour guides had a standing invitation to come in early and watch the “dailies” with animators (a showing of the latest work done on an animated feature). I never wanted to get up that early, but in hindsight it would have been an amazing experience.

This Means War

This isn’t one that actually happened to me personally, but rather a tale that was passed down to me by some of the veteran cast members at the Magic of Disney Animation attraction. Whether it happened exactly as they said, or it was embellished, or it was complete fiction, this was one of those “legends” that the old-timers loved to share with us eager young rookies.

The story takes place during shortly before the release of Beauty and the Beast. The animators had been hard at work on the film, and things seemed to be plugging along as expected. Then, unexpectedly, word came down from above that a song was being cut. This meant that the scenes going into and out of that song now had to be “fixed” to ensure that everything flowed smoothly. The animators had to work some crazy hours to try and get this all accomplished in the short time they had left. People were working late, coming in early, and keeping their noses to the grindstones (or, in this case, pencils to paper) to get the film done on time.

Have you ever been so exhausted, so stressed, and so overworked that things got… a little weird? According to those that shared this story with me, that’s exactly what happened. You see, the animators had the usual office supplies at their desks–including rubber bands and paper clips. Someone shot a rubber band at someone else. They returned fire. Soon, things escalated into a full-scale battle in the studio. Animators were ducking behind their desks and firing off paper clips at coworkers, rubber bands were flying through the air, and no actual animating was getting done. So, when the tour guides brought guests into the viewing area, rather than getting to see artists hard at work on the next great Disney movie they were instead watching people run around the studio like children.

One woman in particular (so said the old-timers) was very upset that she couldn’t watch the animators work and didn’t want to just see them playing around. The cast member running the tour apologized and explained that they had been working for days at a breakneck pace trying to get Beauty and the Beast done after some last-minute edits, and that sometimes even professionals need to blow off a little steam. Whether or not that calmed the woman down, I can’t say, but supposedly the animators did calm down and go back to work.

Having met some of the animators myself, I could totally believe that they’d use a rubber band battle to relieve stress, and having dealt with guests I could very easily see one getting upset about seeing that instead of people drawing. Is it true, though? Who knows. Is it a fun story? Absolutely.

Moving Right Along

I guess this is less of a “here’s a cool thing that I did while working at Walt Disney World” anecdote, and more of a “guests can be rude but also funny” story. I leave it to you to decide who was right and/or wrong here.

One part of working at the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show was standing in the theater as guests filed in, asking them to keep moving all the way down a row to make room for everyone. Some people listened, others didn’t, but it was our job to keep saying it into the microphone until people either did it or pushed past each other so the seats got filled either way.

One day, a family got about halfway down an aisle and sat down. Despite my polite requests that they continue to move, they just looked at me and ignored my instructions. When someone came up and wanted to get by them to take a seat further down the aisle, they would just pull their legs in a bit and expect the other people to sidle past. Part of the issue, though, was that these people were large. I’m not saying that to shame them for their body type in any way, I’m just saying that it made it harder for people to squeeze by in the narrow theater rows.

Another family was coming down the row, with the equally large mom in the lead. There was simply no way that she was going to be able to get around the ones that were sitting. I tried again, asking if all guests could please move all the way down to make room for everyone, and again I was ignored. The woman sitting down simply pulled her legs in a bit to allow a few extra inches of passage. The woman who wanted to get by, though, wasn’t having it. She very firmly, and very loudly, told the woman that “the man told you to move down, bitch!” The seated woman stood up almost immediately, and moved all the way down the row.

Now, I’m not advocating the idea of people getting upset with one another at the Most Magical Place on Earth. I’m definitely not advising people to loudly swear in front of kids (especially someone else’s). That being said, it’s possible that the woman was actually the physical embodiment of what I wanted to say at that very moment. It took a considerable amount of effort on my part not to start laughing into the microphone.

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Strangely, every “difficult” guest that I encountered was at Voyage of the Little Mermaid. I didn’t have that many issues overall, but it just wasn’t a thing that I experienced at Magic of Disney Animation.

Gag Reel

At the Magic of Disney Animation, effort was made by the animators and staff to make sure that the attractions cast members (like myself) were given the tools that we needed to really be good at our jobs as tour guides. This meant that we were occasionally given behind-the-scenes access to the studio so that we could learn more about the process of animation.

On one occasion, some of us were given a tour of the areas that guests didn’t see: offices, editing, and more, in a building separate from the attraction itself. We got to ask questions and get an idea of what else was happening at the Disney/MGM Studios beyond just being a theme park.

I honestly don’t recall very much from the tour itself, it’s been a long time since then, but there’s one part that stands out just fine–getting to see an outtakes reel from the Back to Neverland movie that we showed at the start of the attraction’s tour. Given that the short film starred Robin Williams, you can imagine what things were like when he started going off the rails and improvising. I don’t remember everything about it, other than Robin Williams being his usual brand of insane and Walter Cronkite just being the straight man and trying not to laugh, but I do remember it being hilarious.

Interestingly, I’ve never seen any mention of the reel since then. Even with the vast power of the internet, I’ve never come across a copy of it nor anybody else who has even seen it (this was long before social media, so I never kept up with my fellow cast members). Every now and again I check to see if it’s made it onto YouTube or something, I’d love to see it again and maybe share it with the world, but so far I’ve had no luck. It remains locked away in some animation vault somewhere, forgotten by all but those of us who were lucky enough to see it.

Close Encounter

Shortly before the Alien Encounter attraction opened, cast members were invited to a special sneak preview. So a couple friends and I signed up, and met up in the park that day to check it out.

They had us all line up down in the Utilidors beneath Tomorrowland, so that guests wouldn’t see a crowd in front of the attraction and assume that it was open. Then they filed us all in and we got to experience the Extra TERRORestrial before the general public.

My friends and I were… thrown for a loop by the attraction. None of us expecting how intense and truly scary it would actually be. We left there a bit stunned, talking excitedly about some of the things that impressed us and wondering about bits that didn’t. I’m sure that this advanced “screening” was in part to gauge an audience’s reactions to it, and for the most part we walked away impressed–if more than a little surprised that it existed within the family-friendly Magic Kingdom.

Funny fact: I think that’s actually the only time I actually saw the Alien Encounter attraction. It opened shortly after, but I don’t recall ever going back to it. When I left Walt Disney World it was a while before I had the opportunity to return, and when I did I had my young daughter with me so we avoided the more thrilling experiences. It closed not long after.

I’m glad I got the opportunity to see the attraction, as it’s definitely one of those random things that sometimes comes up when talking about Disney history, but I wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for being a cast member when I was!


This is just a small selection of memorable anecdotes, though there were lots more–both good and bad–from my time as a cast member. Getting to see Pocahontas early, hopping over to Magic Kingdom to ride Pirates of the Caribbean with fellow workers after our shift, and one night when I walked part of the Great Movie Ride after hours with the lights on all stand out as fun little moments. There were also angry guests (including one who called me some unkind things because I wouldn’t let him cut in line), long hours in the Florida summer heat, and a lot of stress.

More often than not it was business as usual, though (by which I mean making magic in Walt Disney World for guests from all around the world). There were good days and bad, fun and frustration, and experiences that I’ll never forget from my time as a cast member at the Most Magical Place on Earth.

 

 

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