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.