Disney Rides of Change: If You Had Wings to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

One thing that Doctor Disney thinks about a lot is the great number of changes that have come about to Walt Disney World from the time I was a small child and all the way up to today. Walking around the parks multiple times a week, there are so many memories that come rushing back to me and it makes me remember times gone by and also feel bad.

I feel bad because there are so many people that will never be able to experience some of the great things that I did back in the day. So, with each edition of “Disney Rides of Change,” a current attraction will be taken and looked at from inception in Walt Disney World all the way to what it is today.

You’re going to be surprised how many of today’s attractions haven’t been around all that long. Or it may shock you just how many changes have been made to the rides you love, but they are nothing like they originally were.

Up first is Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin which officially opened on Nov. 3, 1998. We all know what that attraction is, but it wasn’t what started out in that location. Going back to June 5, 1972, and the Tomorrowland of yesteryear was:

If You Had Wings

Beginning in June of 1972, this attraction opened up in Tomorrowland and it was an Omnimover dark ride that was sponsored by Eastern Air Lines. Imagine a lighter and friendlier version of the Haunted Mansion while riding in the exact same type of vehicle.

This ride essentially took you through riding on an airplane and simulated you being on one. You’d take off with seagulls and scenery zooming past you as you slowly went up an incline and “into the air.” You’d go from room to room, but you would feel as if you were flying through the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Mexico, New Orleans, Jamaica, and Trinidad.

The most memorable thing about the attraction was the theme song that would simply repeat, “If you had wing, had wings, had wings, had wings…”

If You Could Fly

On June 1, 1987, Eastern Air Lines ceased its sponsorship for the attraction at the Magic Kingdom and the name was changed to “If You Could Fly.” The theme song was taken out, but not a whole lot else was changed except for losing all references to Eastern. On Jan. 4, 1989, the attraction was permanently closed.

Delta Dreamflight

On June 23, 1989, the old attraction of If You Had Wings and If You Could Fly turned into a ride called Delta Dreamflight.

The same type of Omnimovers were used along with the same track, and actually, the ride was virtually the same with guests being taken on a flight simulator of sorts. The opening was really cool though as your Omnimover would go through a portion of an actual Delta 767 as if you were boarding it.

From there, you’d be taken through the world and seeing new scenes and even huge pop-up books to show fantastic travel locations and the history of the airplane.

This was another attraction that had a really great theme song and it still runs through my head from time-to-time.

In 1996, Delta stopped sponsoring the attraction and the name was changed simply to “Dreamflight.” This lasted only from Jan. 1, 1996 until June 4, 1996.

Take Flight

On June 5, 1996, the attraction was renamed to Take Flight, and all references to Delta were completely taken out of the ride entirely.

There were not a whole lot of other changes that went on inside the attraction, but the popular theme songs were changed once again. Let’s just say that guests who had feelings for the ride weren’t too happy and not thrilled with the somewhat shoddy refurb of the attraction.

Take Flight didn’t last very long and it was only open for less than a mere two years. On Jan. 5, 1998, Take Flight closed permanently and it was due for a major overhaul and refurbishment.

That leads us to where we are today with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin which opened on Nov. 3, 1998, and is still going strong today. It is one of the most popular attractions in the Magic Kingdom, but there is so much history to that ride space.

Yes, it makes sense that the ride needed to be updated and more futuristic and all that, but so much history is gone. It’s almost a sure bet that many of today’s generation wouldn’t appreciate the greatness of If You Had Wings or Dreamflight, but they will always be missed be the retro Disney purists.

At least there is one thing that was left alone…the Omnimover track inside of the building is essentially exactly the same as it has been for over 40 years now so there is a small bit of nostalgia left.

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