The 10 best tributes to past Disney attractions in today's Disney rides

Theme park guests explore the grand opening of the New Fantasyland area at Walt Disney World on
Theme park guests explore the grand opening of the New Fantasyland area at Walt Disney World on / FLORIDA TODAY file via Imagn Content

Disney park fans have long become used to the "Easter Eggs" of attractions. The most common is the "Hidden Mickeys" that fans love to look out for. There can also be mentions of some Imagineers and movies as well. However, it's become common for a current Disney park attraction to pay a special tribute to the attraction it replaced. 

They can be subtle touches, little nods to the past, often in a code guests have to figure out. Some of them can be more obvious, and part of the fun is to see how Disney remembers the past. While it's sad for Disney fans to see a great attraction go away, at least Imagineers manage to make it live on in some form in the current rides. Here are ten of the best past tributes to Disney attractions in current rides to keep an eye out for and a great throwback to what once was. 

10. The Cosmic Rewind to the Universe of Energy's Past

Kicking off with the newest Disney attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is packed with subtle tributes to the long-gone Universe of Energy attraction. One pipe has "ELN E=MC," mentioning Ellen DeGeneres and energy. The other says "ALX DINO," referring to Alex Trebek and the dinosaurs that were once the main draw of the pavilion.

Also, the old pavilion logo can be seen on a database, and Star-Lord quotes one of Ellen's lines in "The Ding Dang." It's fitting the Guardians have a Universe of Easter Eggs for their former occupants. 

9. Imagination's Dean

Imagineers rarely admit mistakes, but one they cop to was the terrible 1999 remake of Journey Into Imagination. Getting rid of Dreamfinder and Figment (once the mascot for EPCOT Center) and trying to make it an "educational" ride was a poor idea. They did bring back Figment but not Dreamfinder himself.

But he still has a presence, as guests can see when they pass by the offices of the Imagination Institute. One door clearly is marked "Dean Finder" as guests do hope someday Dreamfinder makes a full comeback to the ride. 

8. Mickey and Minnie's Moving Ride

Since the opening of what was once the Disney-MGM Studios, The Great Movie Ride was a mainstay of the park. This attraction brought fans into scenes from classic movies and still had a good following until it was closed in 2019. It was transformed into Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, a great hit.

Of course, Mickey had to pay tribute to the former attraction. In a scene showing various movie posters, one says, "The Great Moving Ride" with a chorus line of dancers. So while fans miss the original Movie Ride, this inventive experience is still worth it. 

7. Mission Space's old Horizons

Few classic EPCOT Center attractions are as loved as Horizons. This fantastic omnimover ride through futuristic settings retains a following today, and many say the park hasn't been the same since it was replaced by Mission SPACE. Thankfully, the attraction does have a few easter eggs for Horizons fans.

The most notable is that as guests walk past the huge centrifugal wheel in the queue area, the Horizons logo can be seen at the dead center. Also, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has a bit of Star-Lord wanting to ride Horizons, unaware it's closed. It seems even he misses that beloved past attraction. 

6. Mr. Toad hands over the deed

To this day, Disney fans deeply miss Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at the Magic Kingdom. The classic attraction closed down in 1998 to make way for the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Fans still wish Mr. Toad was there, but in a way he is.

Keep an eye out in the scene where the honey pots flow through Owl's house, and there's a portrait of Toad handing over a deed to Owl, thus passing the torch to his new attraction. There's also a statue of Toad in the cemetery of the Haunted Mansion, and so he's not fully gone from Disney World.

5. Pooh's Fellow Bears

Orlando isn't the only Disney park where Pooh supplanted an old attraction. At Disneyland, this version of the Pooh ride took the place of the long-running Country Bears Jamboree. The popular show had AA bears, moose, and other animals entertaining guests with songs.

In this version of the Pooh ride, when passing by the Heffalumps section, look up at the right time, and you can see Melvin, Buff, and Max, the three mounted animal heads, on the wall. They don't sing like they did in the Jamboree, but they show how Pooh pays tribute to what came before him. 

4. Test Track shows the past World 

World of Motion was an original EPCOT Center attraction, an omnimover ride with Audio-Animatronics showing fun takes on the history of transportation. It closed in 1994 to make way for Test Track, which didn't open until 1999. Test Track itself has undergone some changes since, but it has a few tributes to its former home.

First, a few signs (such as exit one) contain part of the original World of Motion logo. Also, while guests are generally going too fast to see it, a sign on the big raceway ramp says "FN2BFRE." This means "Fun To Be Free," the original pavilion's theme song. It's good to see these past Motions still around today. 

3. Snow White's Past Adventures

For a long while, Snow White's Scary Adventures lived up to its name as an almost terrifying ride for kids. Disney toned it down over the years but still had a sinister vibe before it was closed down for the new Fantasyland.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster is a fun ride for fans, but notable is that as you pass the main cottage exit, you can peek inside and see the original AA dwarves playing in a recreation of their home. So it's a good combination of the past and present Snow White attraction for today's fans. 

2. The Nautilus Rises in Little Mermaid

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a long-running attraction in the Magic Kingdom but also a nightmare to maintain. So Imagineers were happy it was shut down in 1994, although it took until 2012 to finally pave over the lagoon and build the extension for Fantasyland.

The Little Mermaid ride does pay tribute, however. As guests walk through the outdoor grotto, they can see an outline of the Nautilus sub carved in the rocks. There's also a squid-shaped weather vane, so there are reminders of the lost sub attraction here. 

1. Star Tours' original pilot

When Star Tours debuted in 1987 at Disneyland, the plotline was Rex (voiced by Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Rubens) would take guests on a wild trip through space, culminating in a battle at the Death Star. It was transformed in 2011 into the ride fans know now that shifts up different Star Wars locations with every ride. 

However, Rex still pops up in this as the queue area has guests walking past a variety of AA droids at work. Amid the bags of luggage is Rex, a little rough around the edges but still there to be a good throwback to this beloved ride.