Disney Theme Parks Wiki
If You Had Wings


June 5, 1972


June 1, 1987



Designer & Manufacturer

WED Enterprises

Vehicle capacity


Ride length



Eastern Air Lines

If You Had Wings was one of the original attractions at Walt Disney World. It was a two-person Omnimover dark ride in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, sponsored by Eastern Air Lines. The ride featured travel destinations throughout the Caribbean and elsewhere, all of which were, in keeping with the ride's sponsorship, serviced by Eastern. The ride had an eponymous theme song by Buddy Baker.


If You Had Wings was located across from what was originally Flight to the Moon but later became Mission to Mars. It was free, when admission tickets were required of rides in the park. The attraction was an undisguised promotion for the then-giant Eastern Air Lines. Eastern's initial investment in the ride was reportedly $10 million.

The ride was a four-and-a-half-minute dark ride based on Disney's Omnimover system. The ride moved at a leisurely pace throughout. It was structurally similar to the Disneyland attraction Adventure Thru Inner Space, which might be considered its predecessor; both were designed by Claude Coats. The theme music was written by Buddy Baker with lyrics by X Atencio.

In 1987, Eastern withdrew its sponsorship and the attraction closed on June 1 of that year. Eastern itself would go out of business just four years later. Although remembered affectionately by many, a fan website devoted to the attraction notes, "If you can't remember the public uproar surrounding the closing... one possible reason is that there was none."

It is worth noting that as an original part of WDW, If You Had Wings met the standards of the park's creators, not far removed from Walt Disney himself, who shared a well-defined vision for the character of the park. As such, even though it was not one of Disney World's main attractions, IYHW was part of an elite group, many of whose members are now lost to history.

If You Could Fly


June 6, 1987


January 3, 1989



Vehicle capacity


Subsequent to the closing of IYHW, Disney removed all references to Eastern, changed the name of the ride to If You Could Fly, and re-opened it on June 6, 1987. The sets and films were intact, but the theme music had been replaced. For many fans of the ride, the absence of the infectious original music had taken much of the fun out of the attraction, and the opening scene, which originally had a film about Eastern, had been replaced with footage of flying birds. On January 4, 1989, If You Could Fly was permanently closed.

Attraction Description[]

The ride began with a vaguely-simulated "takeoff" in which the ride ascended a slope, while projections of animated silhouettes of seagulls and airplanes swept past on the walls, enhancing the feeling of motion and gently suggesting flight. Riders passed through a series of colorful theater-like sets with embedded small screens looping rear-projected short filmed scenes, while their cars swiveled on their bases to afford good views throughout. In all, thirty-eight 16mm projectors were used in the attraction. The scenes showcased various Eastern destinations and appealed to potential tourists with straw-hat markets, fishermen, limbo dancers, steel drum bands, and more. Many scenes had their own special sound effects. The omnipresent theme music featured a chorus of singers tunefully chanting,

If you had wings, if you had wings,
If you had wings, had wings, had wings, had wings.

The music did not succeed in masking the clicking of the hidden projectors, which was clearly audible throughout most of the ride.

The following locations were represented: Mexico, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas (where a tropically-attired traffic cop blew a whistle to direct a flock of flamingos in one direction, pedestrians and vehicles in the other), Jamaica (where the ride's only 35mm projector showed a pod of bathing-suit-clad young people clambering up the rocks at Dunn's River Falls), Trinidad, and New Orleans (where shadows of blowing jazzmen flickered on the wall). Eastern Air Lines had, not coincidentally, a vested interest in travel to all of these places.

Having viewed this sequence of site sets, riders entered the speed room, an ellipsoid onto the interior of which were projected snippets of first-person movies of an airplane taking off, a train, water skis, motorcycles, airboats, and a few other scenes. The clips were projected on the walls by a 70mm projector. The ovoid screen encompassed the viewers' peripheral vision. Furthermore, the vehicle reclined in the speed room, and a breeze was blown on riders. The wraparound images, in combination with the motion and reclining angle of the vehicle and a blast of air, arguably constituted an early attempt at virtual reality. The images were to some extent blurry and distorted, unlike Disney's sharper Circle-Vision 360 technology; it rather resembled the fuzzy Cinema 180 shows featured in many contemporary amusement parks. Nevertheless, the projection effect combined with the motion of the ride produced a genuinely exhilarating sense of speed, and the long, egg-like shape of the room allowed plenty of time to experience the effect.

The speed room was followed by the mirror room, where two more 70mm projectors produced images of snow-covered mountains appearing on large screens and were reflected in enormous floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and the music became a wordless symphonic swell of harmonies.

Riders "descended" after exiting the mirror room, and the buttery baritone voice of Orson Welles assured riders:

You do have wings.
You can do all these things.
You can widen your world.
Eastern: the wings of man.

At the time of the ride's inception, "The Wings of Man" was the slogan of Eastern Air Lines. In later years, this passage (spoken by someone other than Welles; perhaps Disney vocal warhorse Peter Renaday) ended with the less grandiloquent, "Eastern: we'll be your wings."

Soothed by these concluding bromides, riders disembarked to an area containing an Eastern Air Lines reservation desk. Agents stood ready to assist riders, presumably inspired by what they had just experienced, with travel arrangements. Few seemed to take advantage of this opportunity.

Sources & External Links[]