Though they may seem like untouchable monuments to childhood joy that must provide the same thrills from one generation to the next, Disneyland and Walt Disney World are more like living organisms that occasionally grow and change—often depending on which hugely valuable licenses Disney happens to own. Two fans of Disney World’s Epcot park know this all too well, so when they realized that one of their favorite rides might soon be shutting down forever, they decided to document as much of it as they could. Dangerous Minds has a big write-up on their story, and it turns out that their mission required a lot more creativity and daring than they probably expected.
The ride in question was called Horizons, and it took guests on an animatronic-based trip into the year 2086 with a little car that rode on a track through various scenes—like Pirates Of The Caribbean, but set in the home of the future. Horizons was very popular in the ‘80s, but by the mid-’90s, Disney realized that people were more into “exciting” and “fun” rides instead of informative and educational journeys. Horizons opened in 1983 and shut down in 1994 without any prior notice or warning. A year later, though, Horizons was reopened, and the aforementioned Epcot fans—Dave “Hoot Gibson” Ensign and Ed “Thunder Chief” Barlow Jr.—came up with a plan to take photos and videos of every scene on the ride.
Accomplishing that required them to bypass Horizon’s security—though it turns out there wasn’t any—and risk their lives by hopping off of the carts and walking around on structures that weren’t really designed for human people. The Dangerous Minds piece goes into the various adventures they had getting around the ride, but the guys eventually became such experts on Horizons that they could essentially freely roam the place right up until it closed permanently in 1999.
Now, thanks to the wonders of the internet, Hoot and Chief have uploaded some of their videos to YouTube so future generations really can appreciate the old thrills: