Picture a beloved Disney parks ride. What images first come to mind? Do you think of the thrills of Big Thunder Mountain, the chills of the Haunted Mansion, or the spills of the Mad Tea Party? The Disney parks are king when it comes to memorable rides, but there's more than mouse ears and pixie dust going on in these attractions.
Certain Disney attractions are moving pieces of history and impressive technological feats. Others have hidden secrets casual visitors might not have noticed. Well, we're here to look behind the scenes of our favorite rides. Strap in and hold on tight as we uncover 10 hidden details behind Disney park rides.
10 An Ever-Present Classic
Every theme park seems to have a carousel and Disney makes no exception. The Prince Charming is one of the most famous and most beautiful of its species and has existed in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom since 1971. Though it's only been a part of Disney since then, the carousel itself is much older.
The actual carousel was built in 1917 but bought and refurbished by Disney in 1967. This makes it the oldest attraction in the park. Since its creation, the machinery has been repaired and refitted to fit Disney's fairytale theme. Hard to believe it still looks so brand new.
9 Living in the Space Age
While we're on the subject of historic rides, let's up the thrill and talk about one of the world's most beloved rollercoasters, Space Mountain. This incredible coaster is practically the face of Tomorrowland, and has been swinging through the stars since the '70s, and hasn't stopped since.
The ride has been running since the park opened, making it not only one of the parks oldest rides, but the oldest rollercoaster in Florida. It might be stuck in the space-age, but it's still thrilling guests of all ages. Talk about shooting for the moon.
8 Disco Yeti
Expedition Everest is one of the largest, most intense rides in any of the Disney parks. If the steep climbs and backward drops don't elicit enough of a thrill, the yeti will. Easily one of the freakiest things Disney has ever built, the yeti is a fur-covered nightmare. But there's one factor that might take the edge off.
At one time, the yeti was the most impressive animatronic Disney had ever made. Unfortunately, the creature began having technical problems sometime after the ride opened, resulting in the yeti freezing mid-performance. Disney's solution? Put the yeti under a strobe-light to create the illusion of movement. It worked, and the term "Disco Yeti" was born.
7 Ghosts of the Machines
When Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars, the Star Tours ride got an updated overhaul, featuring new animatronic droid characters in the ride and queue area. What the more casual visitors might not know about is Disney's habit of recycling some of their tech. Nothing goes to waste at the house of mouse.
If one walks through the loading bay before getting into the ride, they'll notice a team of small droids. What they might not notice is that these were once birds in the retired America Sings attraction. The change? Their exteriors were peeled off in favor of their robotic appearance. They even still have their bird-like feet.
6 Small World, Big Population
Love it, hate it, avoid it at all costs, one can't deny the fact that Disney's It's a Small World is not only one of its most popular attractions, but a feat of technology as well. The Disney Imagineers knew what they were doing when they constructed this ride of many nations, but just how detailed did they get?
Those of you disturbed by dolls, puppets, or automatons might want to skip this ride because Small World is home to over 240 animatronic puppets. Each figure is regularly maintained like any other attraction with excruciating detail. It takes a dedicated hand to keep this classic attraction running.
5 Quartet in the Crypt
"Grim Grinning Ghosts" is one of the most popular songs in the Disney Parks, even the puppets of Small World can't compete with this tune from the tomb. Upon a typical ride through, one will probably just chalk it up to another dose of Disney magic. But there's something extra special about those singing busts.
The busts aren't just characters created for the ride, but a replication of an actual singing group, The Mellomen. Jay Meyer, Thurl Ravenscroft, Verne Rowe, Bob Ebright, and Chuck Schroeder were used to create the effect and perform the song. Now they live on as members of the Swinging Wake.
4 Speeding Through Epcot
When it comes to Epcot, two popular attractions divide Disney fans. On one side, there is the ever-popular Soarin' attraction that takes you for a flight around the world. On the other side, we have Test Track, an attraction where riders build their car of the future and send it speeding through a simulation course.
Both are wonderful rides, but Test Track has one major advantage. Epcot's Test Track is the fastest ride in all the Disney parks. The cars can reach up to 65 miles per hour, faster than any other moving vehicle in Disney, outside of the shuttle buses of course.
3 With or Without U2
Disney Hollywood Studio's Rockin' Rollercoaster has some of the most jamming tunes in all the park. Thanks to some awesome accompaniment by Aerosmith, the ride really knows how to rock out. That being said, the ride was almost singing a different tune.
Before Aerosmith was signed up to play a gig with Disney, the ride was originally going to feature the band U2. Given the band's different sound from Aerosmith's we can imagine how different the coaster would have been. Perhaps moving us in mysterious ways? We can only dream of the ride we might have ridden.
2 Terror From Beyond the Stars
Before Stitch crashlanded in Walt Disney World, his space station was once home to a less friendly breed of alien visitor. At one time, there was a ride at Disney World that could only be described in one word: scary. That ride was ExtraTERRORestrial: Alien Encounter.
The attraction was essentially a hostile encounter with a horrifying alien monster who had an appetite for human flesh. Sounds perfect for something under the Disney name, right? The ride was ultimately deemed too scary, closed, and replaced by our favorite blue troublemaker. We'll take Stitch over that sci-fi slasher any day.
1 The Skull and Bones
What sounds entirely like some urban legend cooked up by an overzealous Disney fan is actually 100 percent true. It would appear Disneyland has an especially strange little secret. Yes, Virginia, there is a human skull in the Pirates of the Carribean ride.
Don't be alarmed, there's no shady dealing or horror story going on here. The skull was donated to Disney legally and securely. The skull has since become a popular subject amongst fans of the ride, and one of the most searched for features of the entire attraction, no bones about it.