Welcome to Extinct Attractions. This week, we’ll be looking at an old Disneyland experience that had a recent revival at the park.
Last week, Disney Springs, the entertainment and shopping center of Walt Disney World reopened to the public, the first step towards reopening the entire resort starting July 11th with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
It’s still unclear when Disneyland Resort will reopen because California and Florida have taken different approaches to reopening their states, but with it clearly taking a longer amount of time to open in California, today seemed like a good day to look at a Disneyland attraction that had a bit of a resurgence this year.
On June 22, 1985, Videopolis opened near it’s a small world, with a unique conceit. What was a home for traditional theme park shows during the day would transform into a nightclub for up to 3,000 guests every night. Today though, we won’t be discussing the myriad of shows that the theater housed over the years, instead focusing on the nightclub aspect of the theater.
Michael Eisner had been CEO of Disney for less than a year when Videopolis opened, and the new experience was a perfect example of what Eisner would bring to the table. He realized that Disneyland wasn’t quite hitting the mark with teens and young adults that one would hope to see. Eventually, we’d see a bit more intense thrills come to the parks under his watch, but Videopolis was a great example of a cost-effective experience that appealed to this new audience they were trying to woo. They created a late-hours park pass that people could use to visit Disneyland specifically for Videopolis during the summer in a well-planned maneuver.
However, they almost immediately ran into an issue as Videopolis prohibited same-sex dancing. With two lawsuits within the first few months, that policy was quickly changed, allowing for everyone to have their freedom of expression on the dance floor.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video of the full experience of Videopolis (probably because everyone was having too much fun), but I found this preview online that showcases some of the key pieces of the experience, namely the 70 video monitors showcasing both MTV music videos and live feeds of people dancing. Guests would dance to both DJs and live music, similar to what we’ve seen at Tomorrowland Terrace and Hollywood Pictures Backlot for a few years now at the Disneyland Resort. However, none of those experiences could quite match Videopolis and the attention it got.
Videopolis even inspired a short-lived Disney Channel show that would film Top 40 bands performing at the theater. It was a bit of an odd choice because Videopolis was aimed at teens and young adults, but nonetheless it still managed to last for two seasons.
Unfortunately, things were not all hunky dory at Videopolis, where a series of gang-related fights in the Disneyland parking lot, that emanated from teens staying at Videopolis, led to the attraction’s closure on November 26, 1989. It was a rather unceremonious end for the attraction, but safety obviously needed to remain the priority. The day-time shows continued at the theater which retained its name until 1995 when it was rebranded as the Fantasyland Theater.
Luckily, the name Videopolis wasn’t quite done yet because the theater in Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris was given the name when it opened in April 1992. To this day, it is still called that, a fitting tribute to times past.
But an even more appropriate tribute happened January 29, 2020 when 80s Nite took over Disneyland for one night only. I wasn’t able to be there, but from everything I’ve heard from people who were, it was the best part of the whole experience, and I certainly hope it’ll come back for other parties in the future.
I love to dance and miss the old nighttime entertainment offerings, so I really wish I could’ve experienced Videopolis during any of its times in the park. Unfortunately, experiences like it will probably not be a part of the parks for a while as the company tries to combat the lost revenue from the last few months.
Well, that’s all for today, but in a couple of weeks, we’ll be talking about an attraction following these clues.
- This attraction was based on an 80s television show.
- This attraction featured water stunts.
- This attraction’s follow up is also a Universal stunt show.
Via No Guilt Disney
Thanks for reading and have a magical day!
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.