It occurred to me recently that, as fond as my memories are of practically anything Disney-related, the Disney Parks are not wholly without unhappiness. No, quite the contrary. It was at one of these so-called “happiest places on Earth” that the Duck was subject to something very unpleasant indeed…traumatic even. But how could this be? How could a place filled with Disney characters and parades and fireworks, a place where even murderous pirates sing jaunty tunes, ever have a sinister side to it? Heck, even the 999 resident ghosts are specifically described as “happy haunts”, proving that Disney is indeed a joyous place for the living and the dead!
But nay, my friends, I speak the truth. There was a time when the Disney Parks were a very unhappy place for this particular Duck. Well then, where did this sad tale of woe take place, you must be asking with barely hidden disbelief? Why, dear readers, the culprit responsible is none other than…Disney World’s Tomorrowland.
With my obligatory, self-indulgent intro out of the way, let’s jump right in. Many years ago, there was an attraction called Alien Encounter. There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of it because it actually closed in 2003 after less than a decade of operation. When I visited this particular attraction, it was with my Duck Parents, and I was barely the minimum required age, if that.
What, Disney attractions have height restrictions, if anything, not age restrictions! Well, yes, but this one was different, and that was the first sign that not all was well. Squawking and quacking my disapproval, I was assured that it wouldn’t be as scary as I feared. It was Disney World, after all! This was a happy place! Mickey Mouse lives here, for crying out loud! Or something like that. East Coast United States Mickey, anyway.
As you wait, you are treated to a little demonstration where a rather unconcerned robot teleports a strange alien creature named Skippy between two tubes. Skippy is, as expected, not too happy about this, and who could blame him, as we soon find that he doesn’t fare particularly well once the process is complete.
Oh, and that robot. He just doesn’t care about anyone. That robot. What was that you were saying about this attraction definitely, absolutely being duckling-friendly? Why am I even here? I want to go ride something pleasant and jovial now! Please?
Well, Skippy’s unfortunate venture through the mysteries of not-sufficiently-tested science was the least of my worries. Because it was now my turn for unfortunate events to transpire. For the main show, you sit in this circular room, and…you know what, there’s no need for me to go into detail because I’ve provided a far more effective video below. For the sake of this post, let me just summarize. A frightening monster is accidentally teleported inside the large glass tube situated in the middle of the room. This certainly very dangerous creature is none too pleased (pfft, neither am I, my flesh-eating friend; I’m not supposed to be here, either), and after a short time, it breaks free.
The room is quite dark at this point, and people in the audience begin to scream as the alien creature skitters around the room, breathing down our necks, and the like. Of course, this horrifying display is all thanks to special effects, but even so, it mattered not, for this Duck was absolutely terrified. Rarely have I ever been so frightened as that short span of time at Disney World. Happiest place on Earth? Bah, the motto lies! It lies!
Video by Youtube User: ExpertVacations
While my dad admitted afterward that it was a scary show indeed, my mom remained completely unperturbed. Apparently this was one of the least interesting experiences of her life, and she had spent the entire time, despite the screaming taking place all around us, absolutely bored. She must have nerves of steel considering the ride was actually closed because it was far too frightening for younger audiences. I kid you not. So it wasn’t just me being a wimp.
I am happy to say that, despite such an unpleasant experience at what is otherwise a delightful place, I hold no grudge against this ride…show…thingy. My emotional scars have since healed, and now that I am able to look back at Alien Encounter from the safety of Youtube, I can now safely say that the attraction was very well done. Frankly, it is kind of a shame that it’s gone, even if its removal was completely understandable.
Alien Encounter has since been replaced with Stitch’s Great Escape, which is all the more shocking considering the great differences between both shows (I never actually saw the latter in person, just on Youtube, but boy is it weird seeing Stitch in place of that alien monstrosity that haunted my ducklinghood). And apparently this particular patch of Disney World doesn’t have the best of luck because Stitch is supposedly going the way of Alien Encounter to be replaced by…a Wreck-It Ralph attraction? What in the world?
Oh, and before I go, I have one more tidbit of info for you. Did you know that the alien in Alien Encounter was originally supposed to be the xenomorph from the Alien movies? If that had been the case, I probably would have died from fright right then and there. That’s it, I’m joining the ghosts in the Haunted Mansion. I hope there’s still room for one more!
So yeah, thanks for listening to me…um, reading about my harrowing experience at a very unlike place. And now it’s time for your feedback, dearies. Who here remembers visiting Alien Encounter? And if you’ve never seen it, do you think it would have scared you? Don’t be shy. There’s no shame in being frightened by a large and deadly alien menace.
A Duck Encounter is So Much Less Terrifying