Disney fans – Amanda Gadd was feeling nostalgic and leery of change as one of her favorite rides at Disney was closing permanently.
So she did what you do when you want to remember something forever. She bought a T-shirt.
Instead of a quiet goodbye, Disney has released limited special merchandise this month to mark Sunday’s end of the Great Movie Ride and Ellen’s Energy Adventure, which have both existed, in some form, since the 1980s in Orlando.
In other recent ride closings, such as Disneyland’s Tower of Terror or the holiday night show The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights flickered its last light in Orlando — Disney also sold specialty collectible items, playing off nostalgia.
Disney would not make merchandising executives available for comment, but it said in a statement that it sometimes offers unique merchandise to help visitors “commemorate special moments in our parks.”
The farewell merchandise appears to be unique to Disney parks.
A SeaWorld spokeswoman said the company could not recall a time when they offered limited special merchandise for a ride or attraction that was closing.
For Universal Studios, “We are always reviewing ideas for new merchandise, but we’ve not yet created anything in this category,” a spokesman said.
Before, it was hard to find anything representing the Ellen and Great Movie rides until their closing created more attention, said Matt Roseboom, editor and publisher of Attractions Magazine.
“If your favorite ride is the Great Movie Ride, before the closing, you really had nowhere to buy anything,” said Roseboom.
“It’s a great opportunity to buy something to represent their favorite ride.”
He said he saw the new merchandise as both a revenue generator but also as a way for fans to get closure and say a proper goodbye.
The Great Movie Ride and Ellen’s Energy Adventure are casualties of a major expansion as Disney announced a slew of new rides last month at the D23 convention.
Ellen’s will be phased out for a “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride while Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, a ride that has state-of-the-art 3-D effects without attraction-goers having to wear glasses, will replace the Great Movie Ride.
Great Movie Ride first opened in 1989 at Hollywood Studios while the original Universe of Energy began in 1982 until it got the Ellen makeover in 1996 at Epcot.
After booking a spontaneous vacation before the new school year started to celebrate her birthday, Chicago-area high school teacher Jennifer Alessi shopped for memorabilia, something to invoke the memories of Ellen’s Energy Adventure.
Sure, it lacked the thrills of a roller coaster or any mention of “Frozen” for the children who knew every line of every song.
But Alessi viewed it as an educational ride that still brought joy and also was a good escape from the brutal Florida sun.
Alessi, 33, scanned the rack devoted only to Energy T-shirts, priced at nearly $30 a piece, in an Epcot souvenir shop. Nearby, Energy travel mugs were on display at the cash registers.
Gadd, 33, a cardiovascular specialist from Orlando, also bought a Wishes shirt when the fireworks show was phased out in May to make room for a new night-time attraction,
She was such a Disney devotee, her left side of her body was a hallmark to the company.
A tattooed rose from “Beauty and the Beast” marked her arm, a tattoo of Princess Aurora from “Sleeping Beauty” on her leg.
“We are kind of fanatics,” Gadd said.
She caught herself. “Not kind of. We are fanatics,” Gadd said, sounding proud, after she visited the park Wednesday with her boyfriend, Nicholas Cappelletti, for what was likely their final Great Movie Ride journey.
Afterward, they visited a shop where Gadd bought a red T-shirt that said “The Great Movie Ride, That’s a wrap, August 2017.”
There weren’t many shirts left.
“I don’t want the ride to be forgotten,” she said.