ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter was a science fiction horror themed attraction located in the Tomorrowland section of the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Officially opened on June 20, 1995, the attraction served as a replacement for the aging Mission to Mars attraction. A co-production between Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm, the attraction was aimed at a darkly humorous science-fiction experience that used binaural sound to achieve many of its effects.
The attraction contained a detailed back story, in which guests were invited to see a demonstration of advanced teleportation technology. After watching a pre-show, guests sat in a circular theater, where an alien menaces them. The attraction was closed permanently on October 12, 2003 and was replaced by Stitch's Great Escape!, which used much of the same technology and set pieces from the former Alien Encounter attraction.
Connection to Alien
The original concept of the Alien Encounter attraction was intended to be heavily based on the Alien series, particularly the 1979 film, Alien. Using the story and settings from Alien as a starting point, the Imagineers originally intended the attraction to be named Nostromo, after the space vessel, USCSS Nostromo, from the film. Furthermore, the alien was planned to be the titular Alien, and X-S Tech was going to be the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. This idea was scrapped for two reasons: First, it was deemed too frightening for a Disney attraction. Second, the Alien series were rated R. This contradicted a rule-of-thumb that Disney attractions are supposed to be based on either G or PG.
As a result, the name Nostromo was taken out entirely and an original monster was created for the ride and the company was renamed to X-S Tech. Nevertheless, Disney had acquired the rights to use Alien, and thus used it in The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios, which featured a scene aboard the Nostromo where a frightened Ripley hides behind a wall while the Alien pops out of the walls and ceiling to growl at the audience.