In more than 40 years of Walt Disney World history, many classic and beloved attractions have come and gone, leaving Disney fans with fond memories of the past. But these memories needn’t be the only way by which fans can remember cherished rides as an Orlando area business offers a chance to see and even purchase instantly recognizable pieces of these extinct attractions.
Located in Winter Garden, Fla., around 15-20 minutes north of the Magic Kingdom, Theme Park Connection buys and sells Disney items, often receiving pieces of Disney history that may have otherwise been thought of as lost forever. After years of sitting in a private collection, this week Theme Park Connection received props from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Horizons, and the original Journey Into Imagination. And as soon as I found out, I had to rush over to see (and hold) these familiar pieces, documenting them from all angles in the video and photos below before they are soon sold to the next collector.
Video: Props from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Horizons, and Journey Into Imagination
(Full disclosure: Though Theme Park Connection is currently a sponsor of our podcast, I was not paid for this article and their podcast sponsorship does not influence my thoughts here.)
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Though Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride still exists at Disneyland in California, the better version of the attraction shut down at Walt Disney World in Florida in 1998. It was always one of my favorites and it’s always a treat to get up close to any items pulled from the ride before it closed.
The pieces from the ride on display at Theme Park Connection are “cutouts” of Mr. Toad, Mr. Rat, and Mac Badger, along with a fully-sculpted devil from the attraction’s hellish conclusion.
Many of these devils were made for the ride and each sell for thousands of dollars whenever collectors decide to let them go. Most recently, one sold for $8,000 at a Profiles in History auction. Here’s what they looked like while still in the ride:
(Photo from Walt Dated World)
Much as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was one of my favorites at Walt Disney World, Epcot’s Horizons was always one I looked forward to visiting with each trip to Orlando. The long, slow-moving Audio Animatronics-rich dark ride closed in 1999, replaced by Mission: Space. But during its 16 years at Epcot, Horizons entertained audiences with a trip through the past and future of living. Several noteworthy props from the ride that I thought I’d never see again are currently on display at Theme Park Connection, for sale to the highest bidder.
Near the beginning of the ride, a tribute to George Melies classic silent film “A Trip to the Moon” presented riders face-to-face with the man in the moon, complete with a spaceship that had just crash landed in his “eye.”
This spaceship is the prop that I had a chance to photograph yesterday, tucked away in a private collection since the attraction shut down years ago.
Further into the ride, Horizons showed off a future that never was but was dreamed to be in the form of Neon City. The highly-stylized scene featured flat set pieces and props, outlined in vibrant colors. One of the women featured in the scene is at Theme Park Connection.
Though this particular prop was a bit hard to see in the ride, I believe it is the silhouetted figure seen in the still image below.
As Horizons portrayed potential future living situations, it suggested that underwater living could one day be possible. An underwater craft was prominently featured in one scene and has now made its way to Theme Park Connection as well, parked outside their store.
Here’s a look at that craft in the ride:
The grand finale of Horizons gave passengers a chance to choose their own ending: travel through space, across a desert, or underwater. These scenes were projected onto a screen directly in front of guests, creating a flight simulation of sorts. The desert scene featured a futuristic manned aircraft flying through. This detailed, rather heavy model is now at Theme Park Connection.
On the ride, it was featured both on the button to choose the desert scene as well as during the scene itself:
(Horizons images from Martin Smith’s Horizons tribute video)
Journey Into Imagination
A form of Journey Into Imagination still exists at Epcot, but it’s far from the classic version fans remember and wish would return. The original version of the ride starring a little purple dragon named Figment featured many design elements that have since been lost in the attraction’s many “updates.” But a sign featuring Figment that hung high overhead, greeting every guest that stepped into the then-colorful Imagination pavilion, has returned from the Epcot graveyard to Theme Park Connection.
Though I don’t have a photo of this sign in place in the ride itself, it was indeed part of one of the most beloved Epcot attractions of all time – before it was turned into one of the most disliked. Fortunately for Disney fans, owning a piece of Disney history like this can help in hanging onto those fond memories.
While these props and many others are currently on display at Theme Park Connection, they don’t anticipate they’ll stick around very long, with many interested buyers already inquiring about prices. Each of these items is expected to fetch several thousand dollars, but they’re free to see (while they’re still there) at their store.
More information about Theme Park Connection, including directions and store hours, can be found at ThemeParkConnection.com.
More photos of props from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Horizons, and Journey Into Imagination: