A few weeks ago, on a super EXTRA hot Florida day, I spent some time in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom exploring the nooks and crannies I’d ignored on prior visits. On my journey I passed Stitch’s Great Escape with a less than five minute wait and thought to myself, “why not catch the next showing,” so I detoured and headed inside for the pre-show.
Nothing had changed. Details such as the DAMP smell of the room and the old Magic Kingdom attraction odor were all too familiar to me. Then I stood there as the robotic tech went through his bit about the capture of a level three, which would be Stitch, and I wondered why ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter had to die…
…and why Stitch’s Great Escape still lives???
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the ExtraTERRORestrial change to Stitch’s Great Escape. The story line of Stitch was left shallow with an attraction that did the same. It took to the original essence of ExtraTERRORestrial and diluted it to an impostrous experience.
Photo: Magical Fanaticism
While on the attraction I reminisced about my first time on it when it was ExtraTERRORestrial and how viscerally, enthralling yet terrifyingly addictive it was. What was interesting was that I still somewhat enjoyed the terror and heart-pounding experience of Stitch’s Great Escape because of what I knew it once was and also the fact that it still could make theme park goers, both young and old, petrified.
ExtraTERRORestrial produce special effects unlike any attraction of that time. The technological goal was to provide an immersive, sensory overload experience with the following techniques:
- BINAURAL SOUND
- Effect that the alien is moving around
- Human screams and alien heartbeat heard in a stomach curling manner
- Sound of alien breathing close to you
- Warm moist air to feel as if alien is breathing directly on you
- Water sprinklers to give the blood and drool effect from the alien and it’s prey
- TEXTILE TUBES
- Hot air blown through to give the effect of the alien licking your head
As you can see the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter sounded fully immersive and completely stunning, but the actual experience was way better and is hard to explain in words.
Let’s take a look at the differences between Stitch’s Great Escape and ExtraTERRORestrial.
Stitch’s Great Escape!
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
|Opened November 16, 2004||Opened June 20, 1995 to October 12, 2003|
|Takes place in Galactic Federation Prisoner Teleportation Center||Takes place in Tomorrowland Interplanetary Convention Center|
|Overview of prisoner classification in pre-show||Guests introduced to an X-S robot known as Simulated Intelligence Robotics (SIRS) who demonstrate the painless teleportation technology using a little alien named Skippy in the pre-show|
|Notified of Level 3 prisoner to be beamed into the Center||Guests head into chamber to view teleportation demo|
|Guests then head into teleportation chamber||X-S Tech is supposed to teleport a single guest, but decided to teleport himself leading to him being diverted to an unknown planet|
|Prisoner beamed in through smoke to reveal Stitch||A towering, winged carnivorous alien is beamed inside the tube located in the chamber, but escapes shortly after|
|Power disabled by Stitch||The power goes out and guests feel the creature breathing on their neck and the alien’s drool dripping on them|
|Guests feel, smell, and hear Stitch moving rapidly around the chamber, complete with his burps||Power comes back on and the creature is driven back into the broken tube|
|Once power is restored, Stitch battles the laser cannons and escapes to Walt Disney World||Overpowering of the tube causes the alien to explode and guest are abruptly released from the seat with the X-S Tech still missing|
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter Experience
Stitch’s Great Escape Experience
- George Lucas worked on the project
- Featured Tyra Banks, Tim Curry, Jeffrey Jones, Kevin Pollak and Kathy Najimy
- Original designs for the attraction was an experience based on the Alien series of films with a possible title of Nostromo, after the ship from Alien
- Closed in 2003
- Alien Encounter was proposed for Disneyland for the project Tomorrowland 2055, but was scrapped
- A game within DisneyQuest at the Walt Disney World Resort was called Invasion! An ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
- In the video title screens before the pre-show video, there was an ad for an upcoming lecture called “Mission To Mars: Fact Or Fiction?” This is was a joke about the Mission To Mars attraction that Alien Encounter replaced.
- The light that shined down on the audience wasn’t an animatronic robot, but a real human
On September 21, 2016 it was announced that Stitch’s Great Escape would be going from daily operation to seasonal operation, depending on attendance. This is probably a sign that the attraction is heading to extinction solidifying the death of the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter and it’s legacy.
Check out the websites below for more information on the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter history:
- Analysis of the Closing of ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
- Retrospective of ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
- In Memoriam of ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
- Rumored Attraction to Replace ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!