We remember some retired Walt Disney World attractions for their revolutionary ideas or innovative layout and presentation, while others bring about feelings of nostalgia. If You Had Wings, which took flight in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom from 1972 to 1987, definitely falls into the latter category.
When Walt Disney World opened in October 1971, Tomorrowland was not complete, and the company looked for attractions to fill in certain spaces. Eastern Airlines came on board as a sponsor, and the Imagineers developed an attraction that fit their new sponsor perfectly.
If You Had Wings bore the stamp of Claude Coats, one of the Imagineers famous for his work on Disney’s “dark rides.” This dark ride combined Disney’s new Omnimover ride system (think Haunted Mansion) with Coats’ innovative design, filmed segments, and three dimensional sets to inspire guests to travel the world – presumably on Eastern Airlines.
Really, If You Had Wings couldn’t be simpler, but thanks to Coats, all the elements worked together to create an experience that was more than the sum of its parts. As one writer puts it:
There were no moving props or animated figures, but the ride was still very alive. This was due in large part to Claude Coats’ gift for staging. His talents gave the ride a strong sense of atmospheric plausibility.