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Gaming History You Should Know – The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter April 9, 2017

Posted by Maniac in Gaming History You Should Know, Uncategorized.
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It’s Sunday and it is time for us to bring back our now weekly feature Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight the great work of content creators from all across the internet.  Today, we will be discussing something pretty special, a theme park attraction.  Let me tell you a story about ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, one of Walt Disney World’s most controversial and yet still fondly remembered rides over a decade after it closed for good.

Back in the mid-90s the then CEO of Disney, a man named Michael Eisner was bringing the company back from a near bankruptcy and into a whole new era of dominance.  Disney owned bi-costal theme parks, and while they were considered by many to be the finest theme parks in the world, Eisner felt they could be doing even better.  He wanted to build thrill rides that would appeal to teenagers inside the Magic Kingdom and had some bold ideas for making it happen.  In 1994, Disney unveiled their plans for what would become the scariest ride in the Magic Kingdom, the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.

This Sounds like a lot of information, but I have to admit that’s just a tiny sliver of the ride’s complete history for you.  I’ll let Rob from the YouTube Channel Rob Plays talk about the full history behind the ride.  Rob really did his homework and you can tell he misses the ride when you hear him talk about it.

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter went through several changes as the imagineers fine tuned it for the general public. I’ll let the guys from Park Ride History tell you more about it.  It’s a very detailed video which breaks down the ride’s history and even includes examples of the new audio which was added to improve the ride.

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter opened in 1995 and after such a massive promotional campaign, there was no shortage of people who wanted to ride it.  For those of you who didn’t get the chance to go on the ride while it was in operation, here’s a look at the full ride and preshow courtesy of Martin’s Videos.

The video is fantastic but video alone really can’t get across how scary it was to actually sit in one of those chairs.  After the ride opened to the public, everyone was talking about it.  How many people were people I knew talking about this ride?  Let me tell you something, I remember my sixth grade science teacher talking about it during class one day, and she had enjoyed it too!

What does this now defunct theme park ride have to do with gaming? In retrospect, a whole lot!  The same technology which helped make the ride such a thrilling experience is now very commonly found in home gaming setups.  The ride’s atmosphere was a lot more than what you saw when you walked in, sound played a big part in the experience. The creative use of stereo speakers built into the theater’s chairs could easily make a ridegoer believe a hungry, vicious alien was hunting them down.  Nowadays I don’t know any gamers who won’t play games without surround sound equipment of some kind, and speaker equipped gaming chairs can easily replicate that same type of setup!

One other thing to remember is both Rob Plays and Park Ride History talked about how Alien Encounter could have been an interactive shooting game similar to MIB: Alien Attack at Universal Studios Orlando.  We don’t know how long that design was in place, but it made me wonder if this experience could be replicated with modern VR headsets?

Now you’re probably going to ask me if I was lucky enough to go on the ride myself, and sadly the answer is no.  I visited Disney World in 1995, when Alien Encounter was just beginning operation, but I didn’t go on it. By this point the word was out just how scary this ride was, and thought I was way too young at the time to enjoy it.  I had heard stories later on about parents dragging their kids onto this ride, but my parents never forced me to go on it.  I planned to eventually check it out a few years later when I was older, but I didn’t go back to Disney World again until 2007, and by that point the ride had been replaced with Stitch’s Great Escape, one of the worst rides in the history of the park.  Take my advice, if you get the chance to go on a ride, take it because you’ll never know how much longer it’ll be around!

With Stitch’s Great Escape now getting put into a high capacity only phase, people have started to talk about what will replace it. I say they should bring back Alien Encounter. Disney still has nothing like it on any of their properties, and the demand is there from people who would take a trip to Florida just for the chance to experience the ride for the first or even next time!

What do you think Disney should do?  Post a comment below with your thoughts and thanks again to everyone who contributed to this article!