Bad news for Lilo & Stitch fans: the Magic Kingdom attraction based on the movie is closing its doors, at least part-time. Disney has announced that Stitch’s Great Escape! will soon become a ‘seasonal’ attraction. It will only open based on attendance, likely during peak seasons.
Stitch’s Great Escape! opened on November 16, 2004. It’s located in the Tomorrowland section of the Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World resort.
It’s always been a bit of a weird attraction. Though it’s based on one of Disney’s most adorable and beloved films, Stitch’s Great Escape! is arguably the scariest thing in the entire park.
Welcome to the Great Escape
Guests are recruited at the attraction to become prison guards for the Galactic Federation. After a comical introduction and training on how to be guards, a Level 3 prisoner is beamed into the chamber. Shoulder harnesses come down, trapping the audience members in place. When the smoke clears, the prisoner is revealed to be Stitch, the blue koala-like alien star of Lilo & Stitch.
As you might expect from a name like Stitch’s Great Escape!, Stitch soon escapes his enclosure and runs amok. Hoses and pumps in the shoulder restraints make the audiences members feel as though Stitch is running through the room, touching and tickling them. At one point he even swallows a rotten chili dog and releases an epic burp. The audience gets a full blast of the foul smell in their trapped state.
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
Most of the reason that Stitch’s Great Escape! is so frightening is that it’s not an original concept. The entire attraction is simply a redressing of the previous attraction in that space. From 1995-2003, it was the home of the even scarier attraction, ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.
The basic setup for ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter was the same. Instead of a comical adventure with Stitch, though, guests encountered a horrific winged alien. Much of the attraction took place in total darkness, which made the entire experience even more terrifying. Guests were warned before entering that the attraction was intense and not intended for children under the age of 12.
At Disney World, No One Can Hear You Scream
Ironically, the original concept for the attraction could have been even scarier! In the beginning, it was called Nostromo, after the doomed spaceship in the 1979 science-fiction horror film, Alien. The entire experience would have been modeled after Alien, with the titular xenomorph appearing as the escaped alien.
Wisely, the designers realized that an Alien attraction would be way too frightening for Disney World. Not to mention the fact that all Disney theme park attractions are based on G or PG rated films only. Of course, since that time Disney has expanded to create attractions based on PG-13 films like Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, and the Marvel films.
So what does the future hold for Stitch’s Great Escape!? Well, it’s not good. If attendance is not strong enough to keep the attraction open all year, Disney is probably not going to keep it there for much longer. The odds are that plans are already afoot to replace it with something more attractive.
So if you’re a fan of Stitch’s Great Escape!, you’d better hurry to get one last experience before it’s gone forever.