Disneyland is almost an entirely different park than it was on Opening Day. Everything in Disneyland has been replaced, refurbished, or removed since its opening. You can see Walt’s original vision for the park, but only in small, scattered pockets. Main Street U.S.A. looks nearly the same, and maybe the castle, but they have changed. And if we’re being honest, that may be for the better.
The Disneyland of 1955 was astonishingly bare-bones. Any photo from that time will prove it. It was flat and muddy. None of the foliage looks, well, natural. Most of the park’s monuments– the Matterhorn, Space Mountain, what have you– aren’t even there yet.That said, the Disneyland of 1955 had numerous attractions that didn’t last long before being replaced, refurbished, or removed (rest in peace, The Aluminum Hall of Fame). One of these attractions slightly outlived the others, a ride that few remember, and for good reason.
The Motor Boat Cruise to Gummi Glen
Image: Yesterland.comThe Motor Boat Cruise, originally the Phantom Boats, was an unthemed leisure ride between Autopia and Fantasyland. It traveled around a river traversing the forgotten “Fantasyland Hills,” a series of unfinished mud mounds that eventually filled in with bushes and trees. It closed without fanfare in 1993, but not without an awful 1980s retheme.The rethemed Motor Boat Cruise to Gummi Glen opened in 1991 alongside the Disney Afternoon Avenue. The ride took inspiration from the Gummi Bears television program that kept their cartoons relevant before the Disney Renaissance. While the “avenue” occupied the walkway between Fantasyland and it’s a small world, the Motor Boat Cruise served an appropriate purpose despite its off-to-the-side placement.
Image: DisneyPix.comBetween 1991 and 1993, the Motor Boat Cruise to Gummi Glen lured unsuspecting guests into a ride, somehow even worse than the original Phantom Boats. It was the absolute essence of Disneyland at its worst. Worse than Rocket Rods. Worse than the Superstar Limo.What changed in the retheme? They added plywood cutouts of the Gummi Bears characters. Plywood. Not outdoor animatronics, not even plaster statues. Plywood. Maybe an effort like that could pass inside a Fantasyland dark ride, but Gummi Glen looked unmistakably cheap under the open sun.Thank heavens the Motor Boat Cruise closed in 1993. It was wise to take that poor ride off life support and repurpose its funds for building Toon Town. The closure was surprising to none, but the fact that the Motor Boat Cruise lasted thirty-eight years is astonishing. Its longevity prompts the question– why does Disneyland hold onto outdated, uninteresting attractions like the Motor Boat Cruise for so long?
Nostalgia Over Innovation in Disney Parks
Image: DisneyThe farther the current Disneyland iteration reaches from its time under Walt Disney’s eye, the more executives may concern themselves with living up to his wishes. Disney’s “brand status” has stifled innovations in the name of nostalgia. For example, the Adventureland Treehouse might be a generic backpedal after shuttering the Tarzan theme. Disney has concerned itself with keeping Walt’s legacy that certain attractions that opened under his eye remain in operation where cutting-edge attractions could go…

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