Welcome to Disney Extinct Attractions. My name is Cole, and I’ll be shrinking down with you guys to the size of an ant for today’s journey.
Happy Thanksgiving! This Thanksgiving weekend gives us the opening of Ralph Breaks the Internet, the sequel to the 2012 film Wreck-It-Ralph. It is primed to open as the number one film at the box office this weekend, and I thought it was a ton of fun to watch when I saw it last night. What’s interesting about Ralph is that although he looms large, he actually appears quite small on video game screens, which leads us right into our first attraction of the day.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids opened in theaters on June 23rd, 1989 and spawned a new live-action film series that helped CEO Michael Eisner in his quest for the Disney Decade of the 1990s. While the Disney Decade never quite came to fruition, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids did its part to help the movement along with attractions like Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and Journey into YOUR Imagination. While these are the more-remembered attractions based on the Imagination Institute, today we’ll instead be looking at the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Movie Set Adventure, the very first Honey, I Shrunk the Kids attraction.
Opening in Disney-MGM Studios on December 17th, 1990, the attraction was more of an elaborate playset than anything else. However, with 11,000 square feet of area, it was not your run-of-the-mill playground that had a few slides and ladders here and there. Instead, it was a way for guests to enter the “set” of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and experience some of the things that the actors saw.
Throughout the way, guests could find Play Doh, giants ants, and a dog’s nose that they could touch and even climb on.
Of course, the entire area was geared towards kids and giving them an outlet to express themselves through play.
While the Movie Set Adventure was so simple, I really enjoyed how well the entire area was put together, with great details and theming everywhere. It really made you feel like you were super small and immersed in the film, which helped it stand out from other play areas that we’ve seen like the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail or even Pooh’s Playful Spot. It was over such a large area that there was also new stuff to look at, plus there were cast members at entrances and exits to ensure that no children could run away.
Crazy enough, the Movie Set Adventure actually lasted longer than any of the other attractions based on the film (unless you consider Journey into Imagination with Figment based on the film, which it is in a way). Closing on April 2nd, 2016 along with its land, Streets of America, it seemed like the right time to close. Guests no longer were excited by visiting a play area based on a 27-year-old film that didn’t age that well, so it was not a surprise to see it close up shop, especially with its replacement being Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. But luckily for you guys, if this article seemed too short, there is still more to be had, as we look at another attraction that shrank guests.
Our journey now takes us to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where Imagineering was trying to decide what to do with the Tree of Life to help it become more than a highly decorated tree. When plans for the Tree of Life Carousel fell through, Michael Eisner suggested Imagineering come up with a show using the characters from a bug’s life. Normally, one would say, “Oh that makes perfect sense because Disney is such a synergistic company, and the movie was successful.” But what makes this situation interesting is that Eisner wanted the show to open when Animal Kingdom opened on April 22nd, 1998, when the movie was not set to debut until November of that year.
Ultimately, Eisner’s wishes pulled through and it’s tough to be a bug opened with the park. Luckily, the Imagineers made the smart move and used characters from the movie, but in a simplistic way that you didn’t need the backstory of the film to understand the show.
it’s tough to be a bug was not for everyone, that’s for sure, but that was not the case for me. Almost all of my experiences with the attraction were positive and over in Disney California Adventure, where the attraction also opened on the park’s opening day of February 8th, 2001. Granted, I didn’t see it every time I went to the park, but each time that I watched it, I had a fantastic time because it was so cleverly designed in that it was a talent show all about bugs, not exactly what you expect from a Disney attraction.
To be honest, it is almost worth checking out the show before watching a bug’s life because it feels like a prequel to the film in a lot of ways. Each character is introduced, but not given enough of a backstory, so you are still left wondering who these characters are and what a movie about them would be like.
It’s impossible to talk about it’s tough to be a bug without mentioning all of the incredible effects involved. Some of them are really quite scary, with spiders dropping from the ceiling and a hornet stinging every guest in the audience. (I would always sit up for that one because the poke legitimately hurt.) Plus, there were simpler 4-D effects like water, sound, and even bugs crawling under your seat.
The best effect by far, though, was the Hopper animatronic. Standing nearly eight feet tall, Hopper had some pretty lifelike movements considering that he was both a bug and the animatronics were from 20 years ago. It’s one of my five favorite animatronics in the Disney Parks and truly a piece of art.
I would also be remiss if I failed to mention the hysterical posters scattered throughout the queue for the attraction. All of them were puns based on films like The Dung and I or Beauty and the Bees. Each of them made me chuckle every time that I saw them and made waiting for the show such a great time.
Sadly, this attraction’s time at California Adventure has come to a close along with the rest of a bug’s land. In fact, the most disappointing part was that the attraction closed on March 19th, 2018 without even giving guests a chance to visit it for the last time. The Disney Parks Blog retroactively closed it, leaving guests everywhere disappointed, myself included. Luckily, you can still experience it’s tough to be a bug in Walt Disney World, but I’ll miss having it so close by, even if Marvel Land is awesome.
Well, that brings everything to a close today, but here’s your sneak peek at what is coming next week.
- These shows were held in the same theater.
- These shows were shown exclusively at a park outside of the United States.
- These shows were based on Disney Animated Classics.
Thanks for reading and have a magical Thanksgiving!
Cole Geryak is a college Disney fan making his way through the world. He has ridden every single ride in Disneyland in one day, all while wearing a shirt and tie. Imagination is his middle name, and his heart truly lies in the parks.