20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was one of my favorite rides at Disney World when I was a kid! I stumbled upon this #tbt picture and that got me wondering about why the ride was closed.... in it's place is the new Ariel Ride of New Fantasyland, but apparently the ride was closed in 1994, shortly after the last time I rode it! I had no idea it was closed that long ago!
And wait, there's more! Apparently, there is an homage to the old ride "hidden" inside the new Little Mermaid ride.... according to the Disney blog from 2012:
Many of you may recognize that the area occupied by the new attraction was formerly the location of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, an attraction that closed in 1994. Here’s the surprise: Before 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was dismantled, our Imagineers saved some of the attraction’s water in carefully labeled bottles and kept them safe at their Florida headquarters for the past 18 years.
There's a cool video of them adding the water to the new ride, too! Check it out!
As for my initial question, why was 20,000 Leagues closed? I'm still not entirely sure, but the unofficial 20,000 Leagues tribute site has this to say:
There are many rumors as to why the 20K ride was closed. Some say it was because of its very high maintenance costs, others because it was difficult for the handicapped to access, and yet others because the spotty air conditioning sometimes let it get too hot inside the subs and people would faint. Of course, it was fear of the giant squid that sent those people down, not the heat. The giant squid was too much for weak people to take and that's why they closed the ride.
Last but not least, according to wikipedia, two of the three surviving submarines were sunk for snorkeling at Castaway Cay (Disney's private island for cruise guests) and the third is part of the back lot tour at Hollywood Studios! Something to keep my eye out for on our next trip!