Two iconic and "old school" Walt Disney World attractions shut down over the weekend. Ellen's Energy Adventure played it's final Jeopardy at Epcot on Sunday while the Great Movie Ride took it's last curtain call over at Hollywood Studios. Here at WDWorld Traveler, we remember these two legendary attractions as only we can.
1. Stupid Judy
Ellen's Energy Adventure's absurd Jeopardy dream sequence and preposterous premise in general was a thing of beauty. Something that could have only been cooked up in the 90's, Ellen's neighbor Bill Nye the Science Guy chastises her for not caring about energy while watching her old rival Judy (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) appear on the Jeopardy game show. The wackiness of it all is encapsulated in the moment when Ellen declares her nickname for Judy: "Stupid Judy." You can relive this moment forever thanks to this TeePublic shirt.
2. Ellen's Epic Nap Adventure
Ellen's Energy Adventure clocked in at a remarkable 45 minutes. This fact alone makes it no shock that the ride is being replaced to suit our current low-attention-span society. What will be missed by many Walt Disney World faithful was the long nap afforded by 45 minutes of air conditioned darkness and, on particularly uncrowded days, long bench seating. (Appropriate for a ride that's entirely a dream sequence during a nap.) So yes, Epcot's most comfortable nap is now gone. It's probably all for the better as equally long naps can be had at the American Adventure and Mark Twain is less likely to cause mid-nap nightmares than an Allosaurus. Slightly less.
3. Wacky Celebrity Crossovers
If you are looking for a reason beyond shortening attention spans to blame for the closure of these two classic attractions, blame Disney's new love of profitable IP synergy. And I'm not talking about the simple Eisner-era synergy of opening an ABC Commissary restaurant. No, Disney's new mantra is to not invest any money in any kind of new rides, shows, or attractions without having an already-proven profitable piece of intellectual property behind it. It makes good business sense. Why have two attractions in prominent positions in your parks headlined by a bunch of properties that don't make your company any money? Bill Nye the Science Guy isn't starring in any action movies and the Wizard of Oz and most of the movies featured in the Great Movie Ride aren't even Disney pictures. And yes, I know Ellen stars in a very profitable Pixar franchise but this was ELLEN'S Energy Adventure, not DORY'S Energy Adventure. Putting Mickey and the Guardians of the Galaxy into their spots is a smart business move. All that having been said, I will certainly miss seeing audio-animatronics recreations of the likes of John Wayne and Alien. I will also greatly miss Alex Trebek, the unsung hero of Ellen's Energy Adventure, as long as the wild and wacky Willard Scott and Michael Richards cameos.
4. Gratuitous Movie Placement
You know that rant I just went on about Disney putting their own IP into attractions? It came off as just plain gratuitous in the Great Movie Ride and I love how everyone just kind of nods and goes along with it because "cool! Mary Poppins!" You've got scenes and references to the Wizard of Oz, The Godfather, Singing in the Rain, and Casablanca alongside...Mary Poppins and Fantasia. Because, of course you do. I also love when the narrator calls Mickey Mouse one of the greatest film stars of all time. Mickey. Big star of exactly zero actual films. Shorts, made for TV specials, and 1/6th of Fantasia don't count. It all just reeks of Disney refusing to make the ride without including two of its own movies. Not saying that I blame them either. It was just so glaringly and eyerollingly obvious.
5. The Fact That TCM Isn't Even Carried By Disney Resorts
The TCM sponsorship of the Great Movie Ride is one of the strangest things that Disney has done in recent years. Yes, it makes perfect sense. But it is also just strange since Disney is all about not promoting other companies' crap anymore. Yet here we had a non-Disney-owned cable network getting a prominent role in a headline attraction. Then the coup de grace comes when you get back to your Disney resort at night, turn on the TV, and find out TCM isn't even carried. It would be like walking out of Club Cool and finding out that they only sold Pepsi. Just for laughs, here's Disney photography aficionado Tom Bricker's overly optimistic view of the TCM sponsorship from 2015, complete with this sentence: "I’m really enthusiastic for the future of Great Movie Ride." Oh and speaking of ironies...
6. The Last Ever Ellen's Energy Adventure Ride Broke Down
I'm not making this up. On the last ever ride taken through Ellen's Energy Adventure, the ride system broke down and people had to be evacuated. The CM's, taking to heart the last day policy of "screw it," just let people wander around the dinosaur diorama for awhile taking videos and selfies with the animatronics. I'm not wholly convinced that this wasn't done on purpose (it's a little bit convenient that the ride happened to break down with all 6 cars in the dinosaur room) but I'm also not going to let some logic get in the way of a great story. It was a fitting ending to a ride that never really fit in. And speaking of breaking down, here's a video of some grown men breaking down (in tears) on their last ride ever on the Great Movie Ride.