In addition to the onstage areas where guests can access today, there are many parts of Walt Disney World that are too exclusive for guests to visit or are simply left as artifacts from the past. Enthusiasts like me can only dream about visiting these locations in their current state, although that definitely doesn’t stop some people from trying. These are what I think would be the coolest places to explore:
The Odyssey is located to the left of the Mexico pavilion between Future World and the World Showcase at Epcot. Until the early 1990s, it was a quick service restaurant with a character performance on stage. It remained closed for a while but, today, it is often used as an event space. It maintains that vintage Epcot feel to it and it’s definitely a place to go if you have the opportunity.
Before Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened, Discovery Island was the main way to discover wildlife in Disney World. Situated in Bay Lake near Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground, the island was only accessible by boat and required a standalone admission ticket. Guests could explore the island where they would find various species of birds and animals.
Discovery Island closed in 1999 and many of the animals were transferred to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The island is inaccessible today but you may be able to catch a glimpse of it from the shores of the nearby resorts.
ImageWorks at Imagination
The second floor of the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot used to feature music and art-related exhibits until it closed in 1998. After riding the classic Journey Into Imagination, guests would visit the second floor of the pavilion to experience the exhibits. When the ride was revamped in 1998, the second floor closed while some similar exhibits were created on the ground floor to become the ImageWorks: What If? Labs. Nothing replaced the attractions on the second floor though – the staircase was simply roped off and the escalator locked behind a gate. Although they’re not operational, many of the original attractions remain there in some form. In some cases, a tour guide on the UnDISCOVERed Future World tour may bring guests upstairs but consider yourself lucky if you get that chance.
The Adventurer’s Club
Unfortunately, I never had an opportunity to visit the Adventurer’s Club before its closing along with each of the other Pleasure Island clubs in September 2008. Unlike the other clubs at Pleasure Island, the Adventurer’s Club was unique in that it had an entire back story, which included interactive performers throughout the club. The club had many traditions, such as its greeting and official drink – Kungaloosh! – and a fireworks display directly above the club to welcome the nightly new year’s celebrations.
The exterior of the Adventurer’s Club is still intact on Pleasure Island and it’s pretty neat to see from the outside. Some of the artifacts and props that used to be inside the club have been moved to other Disney Parks locations, such as D-Street at Downtown Disney.
The Siemens Lounge at Spaceship Earth
While most of the original corporate lounges at Epcot have been converted to offices or event space, the lounge at Spaceship Earth is proudly used by its sponsor, Siemens. Of all the Disney corporate partners, Siemens is probably the most substantial. In addition to Spaceship Earth, Siemens also sponsors Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot, The Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (under its Sylvania division), Project Tomorrow at Innoventions, “it’s a small world” (as Sylvania) at Disneyland Park, and the ABC Studio SuperSign in Times Square. It’s no surprise that Siemens employees are given this exclusive lounge. Just like the other corporate lounges in Epcot, the Siemens Lounge at Spaceship Earth offers complimentary refreshments to its visitors and comfortable places to relax. While it would seem like a prime viewing location for Illuminations, the lounge is actually only opened in the mornings and afternoons, most likely because it is staffed by Siemens employees and often used for corporate events.
Cinderella Castle Suite
The Cinderella Castle Suite is pretty much the ultimate place that any Disney guest wants to be. The legend is that the original plans for the castle included an apartment for Walt Disney on the upper level of the castle. Since he died before construction of the Magic Kingdom began, however, those plans were abandoned and the space was used for various operational purposes over time. In 2005, the company finally renovated the space and turned it into a beautiful suite fit for a princess. And, well, you’ll probably have to be a princess if you want an opportunity to stay there. Throughout the Year of a Million Dreams campaign, which began in 2006, guests could actually win an opportunity to stay in the suite for a night. Since the campaign ended, the only guests staying in the suite have typically been celebrities such as Kevin and Danielle Jonas and Tom and Suri Cruise. D23, the official Disney fan club, offered a couple exclusive opportunities to visit the suite over the past couple years but those definitely did not include an overnight stay.
Have you visited any of these former attractions or exclusive Walt Disney World locations in the past? Let us know in the comments!