Monday, June 30, 2008

R.I.P. The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter

As a family that takes WAY too many theme park vacations, we're doing more than our fair share to keep tourism alive during this sluggish economy. This weekend, we returned to Disney World's Magic Kingdom, and naturally, I made a point of riding my long-time favorite, the Haunted Mansion, which stands as the foremost of the park's "dark" rides (including the Tower of Terror and Expedition Everest.) I never get tired of it. However, I have fond memories of a short-lived attraction that traumatized park visitors during the 1990s: The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.

I recall my first experience on this attraction, when my soon-to-be wife and I had no idea what it entailed. It quickly became the only Disney attraction that she refused to visit twice.

The attraction begins with a lengthy explanation of a new form of alien technology, one that, like the transporter on Star Trek, can be used to transport organisms across vast distances of space. The ride included the premise that Disney visitors would have a chance of witnessing this technology first hand--only something goes terribly wrong when the transporter's intended occupant becomes replaced by something with wings and an appetite for . . . people.

Not a ride, this attraction involved people sitting in several circular rows, all facing the platform that would eventually hold one of the most impressive--and frightening--animatronic figures I've ever seen at Disney. The obvious source of inspiration is H. R. Giger's Alien, but Disney enhanced this attraction with a number of clever effects, including the sensation of hot breath on one's neck when the creature escapes, as well as a splash of water that, in the dark, feels like the hot blood of the poor soul in the rafters who encounters the toothy alien.

Just a few years ago, Disney re-vamped the ride into something decidedly less disturbing based upon LILO AND STITCH. Each time I pass it, I regret that I can't experience the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter one more time. Fortunately, some crafty youtuber posted a video of the ride, which you can find by going here.


Anonymous said...

That stinks they should bring it back so what! Tower of terror and haunted is scary THEY should bribg it back the stitch ride is dumb!!

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention Ailen as inspriation for this ride. I miss this one too, and did some research one late night during my vacation time. Orginally, WDW wanted to design a ride based on Ailen called Nostromo, the ship from the first film (it was near the 20th anniversery of the film.) But, some sources said that some Disney execs were not hot for the idea (based on the nature of the film, and some cited the fact that MGM's Great Movie ride had a segment devoted to the film. (If you rode it, you saw Ripley hiding around a corner, with the ailen's tail coming out of a hole in the deck above; only to be surprised when the creature came out of the side wall or ceiling above the cars in the ride.) The incorporated some of the planned elements into this ride. Granted, I would have loved to see the Nostromo ride (I am a fan of the Ailen series up to a point); but, this attraction was the next best thing. Freaked me out, every time!