As we’ve spoken about in the past, to some fans of Disney’s parks and Imagineering the company’s unbuilt attractions are just as, if not more, beloved than those that have been built.
Today we’re going to take a look at four potential Walt Disney World attractions — one in each park — that were cancelled for various reasons before work on them even began….
Magic Kingdom’s Fire Mountain
While the title of most famous unbuilt attraction in Magic Kingdom’s history likely to goes to Marc Davis’ legendary Western River Expedition, it’s not the only mountain that was once planned to join the Vacation Kingdom’s metaphorical range. In the late 1990s, Walt Disney Imagineering was kicking around several concepts for new E-Tickets to bolster the lineup of Walt Disney World’s first park, one of which was known as Fire Mountain.
Planned to tie into the the upcoming film Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the large ride was planned for the Adventureland portion of the park. Guests would walk down a new path carved out between Pirates of the Caribbean and newly rerouted Jungle Cruise only to discover a massive volcano – inspired by the film’s Vulcania location – with a basecamp at the bottom. The attraction was to be set after the film, and its story would be based around the film’s Preston Whitmore taking guests on a tour of Atlantis by traveling there through the volcano.
Fire Mountain’s ride system was meant to be a hybrid of a traditional roller coaster and a hanging coaster, with the vehicles switching from one type of track to another mid-ride. This revolutionary ride system would have instantly made Fire Mountain the Magic Kingdom’s most thrilling attraction, however it wasn’t meant to be.
There are two major reasons the attraction never came to be: The first is that Atlantis: The Lost Empire was a box office disappointment upon its June 2001, which hampered several planned projects tied to the film, including Fire Mountain. The second was the dramatic tourism downturn that occurred following the September 11th terrorist attacks, which led to massive budget cuts and ended any hope Fire Mountain could move forward either with a new storyline or a different spin on the Atlantis concept.
EPCOT’s Mount Fuji
From one Walt Disney World park’s unbuilt mountain to another, let’s focus on EPCOT’s mythical version of Mount Fuji.
For decades, there have been rumors and allegedly on-and-off plans to add a scale replica of Mount Fuji to the World Showcase Japan pavilion. According to most plans, the massive mountain would rise above the back of the pavilion, dominating not only its skyline but that of the entire back section of the park, creating a visual counterpoint to Spaceship Earth.
There are two main attractions that have been rumored to be housed within the potential Mount Fuji. The first would a be a tubular roller coaster, similar to Disneyland’s Matterhorn, which would weave in and out of the mountain while featuring encounters with characters from Japanese folklore.
The mountains other potential attraction was planned to be a simulator ride that would mimic a bullet train trip through Japan. Perhaps the most interesting element of this ride is that it would allegedly included an encounter with the legendary “King of the Monsters” Godzilla, who Disney would have licensed form the Toho Corporation.
While there is no concrete reason way World Showcase has never received a Mount Fuji – and no, there’s no real evidence that Kodak stepped in to stop Disney have having a ride “named after” their rival Fuji Film – it would seem that a lack of budget has doomed the thematically appropriate attraction time and time again. Surprisingly though, the potential Mount Fuji bullet train wasn’t the only time Imagineers toyed with having Godzilla in a Disney park.
Hollywood Studios’ Creatures’ Choice Awards
In the early years of Disney’s Hollywood Studios – then known as the Disney/MGM Studios – the park’s massive success combined with its small attraction count meant that there were many potential attractions designed for the park that never saw the light of day. These varied from ones based on Roger Rabbit and Dick Tracy, to one of the strangest concepts Imagineering ever cooked up: the Creature’s Choice Awards.
The Creature’s Choice Awards was meant to be large-scale animatronic show – allegedly on par with EPCOT’s American Adventure – that would be focused on a faux-awards show celebrating horror film monsters. The show would have been hosted by an animatronic Eddie Frankenmurphy (voiced by Eddie Murphy) and featured appearances from Elvira and Godzilla, the latter of whom would star in the show’s fiery climax when he would “burn down the house” while accepting a lifetime achievement award. Yes, really.
While Michael Eisner and Jefferey Katzenberg allegedly adored the Creature’s Choice Awards concept, Frank Wells was supposedly wary of its potential expense and the lifespan of its topical references. Eventually, the attraction was scrapped in favor of development of a thrill ride, which would eventually become the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
Animal Kingdom’s Quest for the Unicorn
There’s perhaps no more well-known unbuilt Walt Disney World land than Beastly Kingdom, the realm of dragons, knights, and mythical creatures that was originally planned as a cornerstone of Animal Kingdom. The land’s major attraction was supposed to be the Dragon Tower-themed roller coaster, however arguably the most interesting attraction scheduled for the land would have been the Quest for the Unicorn hedge maze.
As we’ve explained in the past, the maze was supposed to be “a walkthrough attraction known as The Quest of the Unicorn. The large maze would have featured numerous “magical” encounters, and culminated with an encounter between guests and a “life-size” realistic unicorn animatronic.”
While the description might sound a bit dry, the attraction was supposed to be ahead of its time. Guests would need to locate golden idols throughout the maze, and only once they gathered them all would they be able to discover the unicorn, predating the type of interactive attractions that dominate theme park design today, Furthermore, the unicorn animatronic itself was meant to be highly technologically advanced, moving and breathing realistically and supposedly able to interact with guests thanks to infrared beams in the grotto where it would be housed.
Quest for the Unicorn, like the rest of Beastly Kingdom, was initially scheduled to be an opening day part of Animal Kingdom. However, budget issues led to the land being moved to the park’s second phase. That said, numerous hints were placed throughout the park alluding to the land and its dragons, and the Camp Minnie Mickey area – which was built on the land planned for Beastly Kingdom – was purposely built in a temporary manner, so it could easily be torn down.
Unfortunately, the years following Animal Kingdom’s opening came and went without any official word on Beastly Kingdom. Rumors abounded that the land had been canceled after Disney realized that many fired imagineers had taken Beastly Kingdom’s design to Universal Studios and incorporated it into the design of The Lost Continent at the Islands of Adventure theme park, however these have never been substantiated.
Whatever the case, the land set aside for Beastly Kingdom was eventually used for Pandora: The World of Avatar, likely ending any hope that any of the land’s attractions will ever be coming to Animal Kingdom.
These are just some of the many unbuilt attractions in the archives of Walt Disney Imagineering.
Join the AllEars.net Newsletter to get the free list of our ranking for Magic Kingdom rides! Click here to get started!
Which of these do you think would best benefit the park it was supposed to be built in? Let us know in the comments below.