Nuggets of Wisdom

Friday, April 20, 2012

WTF Friday: The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter

Walt Disney World is known as the “Happiest Place on Earth” for providing families fond memories with rides such as “It’s A Small World,” “Pirates of the Carribean,” and “Space Mountain.” But not every ride was a happy one. In fact, one nightmare-fuel inducing ride possibly caused children to piss themselves in fear whenever they saw a Disney World commercial.

No, I’m not talking about the Haunted Mansion.

Not talking about the Tower of Terror either.

The ride I’m referring to is ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (or simply “Alien Encounter”). You probably never heard of it because it was only open for less than a decade, having opened in Magic Kingdom’s Tommorowland from 1995 until 2003; and considering how intense the ride was, it’s pretty easy to see why it was so short-lived.

The story behind the ride is that an alien corporation is demonstrating its new (and untested) teleportation system on earth. Guests are brought into an amphitheater centered around a glass teleportation tube. Once seated, they have their molecular structures analyzed to determine who would be best suited for teleportation; but before anyone can be chosen, the leader of the corporation decides to teleport himself to earth instead. Things go awry when, halfway through the teleportation process, the leader is sent to another planet and a towering carnivorous alien creature is beamed to earth instead.

As can be expected, the alien creature escapes, the lights go out, and the guests are trapped with an alien creature seeking to devour their flesh. A mechanical worker manages to return electricity back to the teleporter, only to get eaten by the alien, his blood splashing onto the audience below. The alien is eventually lured back into the tube where it is destroyed. And with that, the ride is over (and the children are left with nightmare fuel for the remainder of their childhood).

I remember going on this ride once—and once was enough! Even at age ten, this ride made me want to crap my pants—literally! (I had to use the restroom moments after the ride. Thank goodness I didn’t really stain my shorts!) The seats vibrated as the alien ran around the theater behind you, and the safety harnesses sprayed water and blew hot air that made it feel as though the alien was breathing on your neck. And then there was the water splashing on you from above as the mechanical worker was eaten alive. Think about that for a moment: this is a Disney ride where someone dies! No wonder the warning for the ride claimed it wasn’t suitable for children under 12!

The good news (or bad news, depending on whether or not you liked the ride) was that the ride closed in 2003 and was re-opened as “Stitch’s Great Escape,” a more kid-friendlier version with Stitch instead of a scary-as-hell Ridley Scott ripoff. Despite its short run, the ride had garnered a cult-following, possibly because it was the darkest ride at Walt Disney World to date. Just goes to show you Disney is capable of some serious shit.