Defunctland's VR amusement park revives a long-dead Disney ride

Obviously, nobody's in a rush to hit the theme parks these days. But if you're feeling the Disneyland itch after being cooped up for months, you can now ride a long-forgotten attraction from the comfort of your desk—no queuing required.

Over on YouTube, Kevin Perjurer's Defunctland has been busy cataloguing classic, often long-dead theme park rides and attractions. Shortly after the channel debuted in 2017, Perjurer teased Defunctland VR, a project that'd let you pop on a headset and experience these shuttered rides for yourself.

Three years of relative silence later, and Defunctland's first attraction is open for business. First opened in 1971, Disney World Orlando's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea has been fully rebuilt in Perjurer's virtual park, sporting audio pulled from the original ride. The sub itself is fully functional, right down to flip-down chairs you can sit on to peek out at the aquatic animatronics through the window.

While intended as a neat little VR showcase, Defunctland VR is also fully playable in 2D, with a spacious little pre-ride lobby area to explore. The whole thing can also be experienced through a 360° YouTube video.

As it stands, Defunctland VR is a neat little historical artefact. But I'm more excited by the promise of what it could become—a museum-like collection of dozens of defunct old rides, keeping the experience of riding their real-world counterparts alive long after they hit the scrapheap. 

“We are continuing to develop more attractions for the project. We’re hoping to bring rides from all sorts of theme parks and give them new life,” Perjurer told Polygon. “A surprising amount of people told us personal stories of loved ones they used to experience this ride with, and how getting the chance to ride it in VR brought back memories not just of the ride, but of their friends and family.”

Hopefully, we won't be waiting another three years for the next ride to open. Defunctland VR is available to download for free via a link in the YouTube description.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.