Every Disneyland Ride at Risk of Permanent Closure

in Disneyland Resort

Mickey's Fun Wheel and Incredicoaster on Pixar Pier at Disneyland Resort's California Adventure

Credit: Brandi Alexandra via Unsplash

For better or worse, Disneyland Resort is always changing.

When Disneyland Park first opened in 1955, Walt Disney declared that it would never be complete “as long as there is imagination left in the world.” The Walt Disney Company has stayed true to Walt’s word and innovated not just Disneyland but all of its theme parks over the years, which has often meant tearing down and replacing existing attractions.

Mickey Mouse in the Paint the Night parade at Disneyland Resort
Credit: Jeremy Wong via Flickr

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In the past few years alone, Disneyland Resort has demolished Big Thunder Ranch to make space for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Walt Disney World Resort flattened the Streets of America to do the same, while both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland bid adieu to Splash Mountain so it could be replaced by the upcoming Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. All necessary sacrifices for the sake of progress within Disney’s theme parks – but what’s next on the chopping block?

The evolution of Disneyland

Some rides – such as “it’s a small world,” Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – are so synonymous with the Disney Parks brand that they can be presumed safe forever. However, as characters and films fall out of favor, and others take place, it’s only natural that the parks would evolve to meet this new demand.

While the likes of Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris are blessed with plenty of space to expand, other resorts – such as Disneyland Resort – are much more limited. Enclosed by the city of Anaheim, Disneyland Resort has to find creative solutions to make new additions to its two parks.

Pixar Pier at California Adventure
Credit: Disney

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In the past, this has meant tearing out the existing parking lot to build what is now Disney California Adventure. But as Disney injects $60 billion into its theme parks over the next ten years – and its existing land in Anaheim pretty much at capacity – the only way Disneyland can currently expand is by replacing what’s already there. These are the Disneyland rides most at risk.

Autopia

The Disneyland ride everybody loves to hate. Autopia is an opening day attraction, with versions also found at Magic Kingdom (where it’s known as the Tomorrowland Speedway) and Disneyland Paris. However, the Disneyland ride isn’t exactly beloved by parkgoers, who often complain about the noise, the smell of gas, and the lack of shade.

Guests drive cars on Autopia
Credit: Disney

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Tomorrowland’s biggest flaw is that it no longer feels like a reflection of ‘tomorrow.’ A ride based around vintage-looking cars in 2023 doesn’t exactly help that reputation. It also takes up a considerable amount of land, which could easily be developed into a new attraction (something Tomorrowland hasn’t received since 2011, and even that was just an upgraded version of Star Tours).

Disneyland Park wouldn’t be the first to cull its version of Autopia. Tokyo Disneyland (which referred to it as the Grand Circuit Raceway) and Hong Kong Disneyland have already axed theirs in favor of new attractions. Disneyland was previously also home to two other versions of the ride – Midget Autopia, Fantasyland Autopia (Rescue Rangers Raceway), and Junior Autopia – all of which are long dismantled. Considering how many guests admit to skipping it while visiting the park, this could be at the top of Disney’s ‘to-go’ list.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Also located in Tomorrowland, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage rarely seems like a priority for Disney. The underwater attraction – which sees guests journey under the sea with Nemo and friends – remained closed for a year after the rest of Disneyland reopened post-COVID lockdown.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park
Credit: Disney

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Eventually, the lagoon was drained, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage was repainted, a figure of Hank from Finding Dory (2016) was added, and the ride reopened. Despite its refurbishment, however, it’s been noted that the attraction is rusty and in poor condition, with The Orange County Register writing that “for a theme park that prides itself on perfection, the rust stains on such a high-profile attraction represent the height of what Disneyland calls ‘bad show.’

Guests gather around the entrance to Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
Credit: Ken Lund via Flickr

While the Finding Nemo (2003) overlay was added in 2007, the classic Submarine Voyage attraction first opened in Tomorrowland in 1959. Back then, it was one of Disney’s first ‘E-Ticket’ rides. Guests boarded ‘nuclear’ submarines that simulated the voyage undertaken by the USS Nautilus – which shares its name with the submarine in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) beneath the Arctic Ocean’s polar ice cap.

When the original Disneyland ride became outdated, it closed for nine years before it embraced Nemo. Guests agree that the ride is slowly creeping towards irrelevance once again, with some claiming they actively avoid riding it. This may put it on Disney’s hit list when looking for real estate for new attractions.

Donald flies through the air in Mickey's PhilharMagic
Credit: Disney

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Mickey’s PhilharMagic

Hopping over to California Adventure, there’s Mickey’s PhilharMagic, an enchanting 4D film attraction that takes guests on a whimsical journey through the magical world of Disney.

In this captivating experience, Donald Duck – in his true mischievous spirit – finds himself ‘borrowing’ Mickey Mouse’s iconic Sorcerer hat, leading to a series of unforgettable adventures within classic Disney movies. The lineup includes The Little Mermaid (1989), Fantasia (1940), Beauty and the Beast (1991), The Lion King (1994), Peter Pan (1953), Aladdin (1992), and, as of 2021, Coco (2017).

While the original opened in 2005 at Magic Kingdom, you can find duplicates of the attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris. California Adventure was the last park to receive Mickey’s PhilharMagic, with the show opening in 2019 in place of For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.

Donald Duck rides on the back of a colorful animal
Credit: Disney

Unlike its other locations, there’s not a great deal of work that went into adding Mickey’s PhilharMagic to the park. The theater has received minimal theming, meaning it very much feels like a temporary attraction. With the rest of Hollywood Land standing barren – and its convenient location next to Avengers Campus – fans have long slated it as the next in line for a renovation.

Goofy’s Sky School

While technically listed as a “coaster-style attraction,” Goofy’s Sky School is nothing short of traumatic. It’s a ‘wild mouse’-style ride with tight corners and sudden turns, which means it can be pretty painful – especially for adults.

Goofy's Sky School sign
Credit: Disney

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Found in the corner of Paradise Gardens Park, it’s one of the last vestiges of the original Califonia Adventure. It was once known as Mullholland Madness, and was otherwise an identical attraction until Disney decided Paradise Pier needed more characters. In 2011, it subsequently reopened as a ride inspired by the short Goofy’s Glider (1940).

Like a lot of the repurposed remnants of California Adventure, Goofy’s Sky School is showing its age. Its steel and concrete exterior also screams ‘eyesore’ more than it does ‘Disney Look.’ With the rest of the park mostly IP-ified over the past decade – and Disney’s other wild mouse coaster, Primeval Whirl, closed and demolished in 2020 – it only seems like a matter of time before this unpopular attraction goes the same way.

There were previously rumors that the ride would be enclosed and rethemed to Coco, which would make sense if Disney did decide to expand Pixar Pier into Paradise Pier Gardens.

Silly Symphony Swings

Speaking of Paradise Gardens Park, Silly Symphony Swings (previously known as Orange Stinger) is more carnival-like than the rest of Disney’s attractions. While that was the original theme of the area, California Adventure has ditched that idea over the past 15 years, meaning this ride looks a little out of place.

A girl riding Silly Symphony Swings at California Adventure
Credit: Disney

Like all swing rides, guests sit in metal seats that rotate at high speeds (and relatively high heights). Thanks to the Silly Symphony theming, they do so to music from the Mickey Mouse short The Band Concert (1935) while Mickey himself conducts from high atop the ride.

As Disney has previously proven during its refurbishment, the attraction can (like an actual carnival ride) be easily dismantled and removed when needed. If it isn’t replaced in the near future, a retheme to a popular IP seems inevitable.

Golden Zephyr

Another attraction inherited from Disney California Adventure 1.0. Unlike its neighbors, Golden Zephyr has never received a retheme. Guests board Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon-themed rocket ships that take them on a relaxing trip, similar to attractions like Dumbo and Astro Orbitor.

Golden Zephyr ride
Credit: Disney

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Its 1940s seaside boardwalk theming was perfect for the old vision of California Adventure but doesn’t gel with the park in its current state. It’s also incredibly impractical as it cannot operate at wind speeds over 10 miles per hour. Like everything else in Paradise Pier Gardens, it seems at risk of being enveloped by a Pixar Pier expansion – perhaps adopting another big IP like Toy Story – one day.

Jumpin’ Jellyfish

Located in (surprise, surprise) Paradise Pier Gardens, Jumpin’ Jellyfish is another Disneyland Resort ride that hasn’t changed since 2001. Seated in vehicles designed like jellyfish, guests are lifted 50ft into the air, where they can enjoy views of Pixar Pier before dropping back down to the ground.

Guests ride the Jumpin' Jellyfish ride at California Adventure
Credit: Disney

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It’s not Disney’s only version of the attraction. A second Jumpin’ Jellyfish can be found in the Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea, where it fits the land’s The Little Mermaid (1989) theme to a tee. At California Adventure, not so much. Again, a retheme or a replacement seems inevitable.

What’s your least favorite ride at Disneyland Resort? Let us know in the comments!

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