Concept Art and Descriptions of 64 Never-Built Disney Theme Park Attractions – Part Three
WDWNT’s March Madness tournament for 2020 is about to begin (you can read all about it and how to play along for prizes here), so we’re giving you a refresher course on Disney theme park attractions that never made it off of the drawing board. This next piece will cover the “Disney’s America” bracket below. Here are 16 famous Disney rides, shows, and more that were never built:
Fire Mountain – The Magic Kingdom
Fire Mountain was to be located to the side of Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland and would have been the so-called “weenie” that drew guests deeper into the land. This attraction was going to be a combination of a standard roller coaster and a flying roller coaster, which meant at one point the ride would change from a track below guests to a track above, and the vehicles would have guests lying facedown in an attempt to mimic flying like a bird. The mountain would be a gigantic volcano with the crew from Disney’s Atlantis setting up a base camp just outside, fitting right in with Adventureland’s story. Guests would fly and soar through and around the volcano with molten lava and dark and scary theme. There was an idea Fire Mountain would be the beginning of an expanded area of Adventureland. As costs soared, the decision was made to make it only a flying coaster– and then sadly, Fire Mountain was completely shelved.
We uncovered much of the ride’s concept art and history in a Back to the Future LIVE show some time ago, which you can watch in full below:
The Great Muppet Movie Ride – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The Great Muppet Movie Ride is an abandoned concept for an attraction at the Disney-MGM Studios. The attraction, which was meant to parody the park’s own Great Movie Ride (which Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway now does in a completely different fashion), would have brought guests through a variety of set pieces in which the Muppets attempted to recreate scenes from classic movies, such as Frankenstein and Peter Pan.
Plans for the ride, which would have complemented Muppet*Vision 3D in a new Muppet Studios section of the park, were abandoned after the merger between The Walt Disney Company and The Jim Henson Company fell apart.
Time Racers – EPCOT
Heading back to Project Gemini at EPCOT, even Spaceship Earth was set to be replaced as part on this overhaul. The entirety of Future World was to be renamed Discoveryland (the same name used by a land at Disneyland Paris).
Time Racers would have taken over Spaceship Earth. The existing, slow-paced Omnimover dark ride that occupied the interior of the building would have been ripped out. In its place would have been a steel roller coaster that would be racing past scenes from different periods in time. It would, then, have retained the essence of Spaceship Earth, but would have been aimed squarely at thrill-seekers rather than families. At certain points, the coaster would have even blasted in and out of the Spaceship Earth facade, forever changing the park icons look.
The Industrial Revolution – Disney’s America
The Industrial Revolution was a steel roller coaster that was planned for Disney’s America theme park in Virginia.
The land was simply called “Enterprise,” a factory town showing off America’s Industrial Revolution. This land’s main attraction was a steel and inverted-type roller coaster barrelling through a steel mill. The ride’s climax would have been a “narrow escape from a fiery vat of molten steel.”
The inverted roller coaster would’ve been Disney’s first. While zooming and dangling through a steel mill, riders would have experienced intense heat.
Island at the Top of the World – Disneyland Park
Disney planned but never built a new land called Discovery Bay, which would have contained a reproduction of the Hyperion airship protruding from a recreation of Captain Brieux’s hangar. Sections of the design for this land was used in Disneyland Resort Paris’ Discoveryland area. Some of the land allocated for Discovery Bay was subsequently occupied by Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
The centerpiece of the entire land was an attraction based on The Island at the Top of the World. This attraction would have been one of the most amazing attractions to ever exist as you traveled aboard the airship Hyperion to the Arctic. Here, you would stumble across the remains of the lost city of Astragard, a place where mythical creatures lived in abundance. The ride would have combined film, miniatures, and Audio-Animatronics to great effect.
Critter Country 500 – Disneyland Park
Concept art for this attraction has been released from Kirk Hanson, showcasing a very different attraction for these bears instead of the beloved musical show. This ride would have been located in Disneyland where The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction is currently, this replacing the Country Bear Show instead.
Henry and Sammy the raccoon look like they would be your broadcasters for the race.
Gomer the beloved piano player would be in charge of steering this contraption for the race instead of tickling the ivories.
Ted swapped his corn jug for helping his vehicle that slightly resembles an outhouse. Some serious Wacky Races vibes…
Baby Herman’s Runaway Baby Buggy – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
“Baby Herman’s Runaway Buggy Ride” would put guests on the set of the new Roger Rabbit/Baby Herman cartoon, “Tummy Trouble. As you made your way past Baby Herman’s trailer, you would hear that the diminutive star is inside that trailer & he’s throwing a tantrum. Baby Herman would be saying things like: “That sequence is far too dangerous for a star like me to perform, Raoul. You better go hire some stuntmen to take my place in that scene.”
The next thing you know, this cartoon’s frantic director is walking up to you & your party in line, asking you if you’d like to take Baby Herman’s place in the picture. To shoot a brief scene for the movie that’s perfectly safe. That really shouldn’t be any problem at all. Before you really have a chance to think this question over, you would suddenly find yourself in Maroon Studios’ wardrobe department. Where you’re being fitted for a giant baby bonnet. And the next thing you know, you and three of your close, personal friends are being loaded into an over-sized baby buggy.
The ride itself would been a dark ride like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but careening through a hospital.
The Enchanted Snow Palace – The Magic Kingdom
The Enchanted Snow Palace was an unbuilt attraction planned for Fantasyland at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom in the late 1970s, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.
It was primarily the brainchild of Imagineer Marc Davis and conceived as a musical adventure set to the Nutcracker Suite journeying though the icy kingdom of the Snow Queen featuring frolicking penguins and polar bears, walruses, “Snowball Men” and other creatures, before arriving in the Snow Queen’s court.
The concept was shelved sometime after 1977 as Disney’s priorities became focused on developing thrill attractions as well as constructing EPCOT Center. The unbuilt attraction would be briefly profiled in the D’Frosted: Disney’s Journey from Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen bonus feature on the Frozen Blu-Ray release, which notes a striking resemblance between Marc Davis’s Snow Queen and Elsa. A slideshow presentation of Marc Davis’s artwork with music was also presented at the 2014 Destination D event for D23 Members.
Mickey’s Madhouse – Disneyland Park
Dumbo’s Circusland, which was on the drawing boards at Imagineering before Toontown was conceived, featured “Mickey’s Madhouse”, essentially a “wild mouse” roller coaster in a dark ride environment, set in the world of early black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoons. Ward Kimball, one of Walt’s legendary Nine Old Men, was involved in the planning of the prospective land.
Denmark Pavilion – EPCOT
There were efforts to bring a Denmark pavilion to EPCOT Center involving LEGO. One thing that is known about the pavilion is it would have features some kind of miniature replication of the Tivoli Gardens. Other plans included for the pavilion to hold a few flat rides, like carousels and ferris wheels. These would have been the only flat rides in the park giving the pavilion something exclusive in the park.
The flagship attraction of Denmark would have featured LEGO. It would have been a boat ride, but beyond that, it isn’t really known what the story or theme would have been beyond LEGOs.
Fort Wilderness Fun House – Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
A wild Marc Davis idea, the fun house was a walkthrough attraction envisioned for the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Your hosts were the original builders of the hotel, Jasper and Maude. Jasper is meek and mild mannered and a “tinkerer” who has created many of his own “inventions” and additions to the hotel, including the whirligigs that abound on the roof of the building. Maude is a heavy-set, strong lady who likes her pet chickens very much, and is a hero-worshiper who has named many hotel rooms after her idols.
The entire “hotel” is filled with Maude’s chickens who roost wherever they feel like it. These chickens cluck, squawk, sing and talk – depending on their mood. All over the hotel, these hens provide gags and comments on the various experiences. Each room has its own character in terms of the design and function within the hotel. In addition, a number of rooms are named after Maude’s famous guests, Paul Bunyan, Ichabod Crane, Johnny Appleseed, etc.
The overall feeling of the hotel is that there was a genuine attempt at creating the best “hotel” ever – but that in the building of it, things were not completed to exacting specifications. If it looked good to Jasper and Maude, they nailed it down and painted it.
Professor Marvel’s Balloon Descent was a transportation ride that would have taken guests from Discovery Bay to the proposed Dumbo’s Circus Land at Disneyland.
A Birthday Wish for Sleeping Beauty – The Magic Kingdom
For the Sleeping Beauty experience in New Fantasyland that was cancelled, that entry point happened as Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather prepare to celebrate Briar Rose’s 16th birthday, smack dab in the middle of the action from the original film. Guests would’ve been treated to all sorts of interactive fairy magic inside the cottage, with Aurora herself as the guest of honor.
Fireworks Factory – Disneyland Park
A shooting gallery based around “shooting fireworks” at targets intended for Discovery Bay. It instead became a restaurant at Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World.
Thames River Cruise – EPCOT
This looks like it would be similar to the Living with the Land boat system. There is not much information known about this proposal, but it would have provided guests with an alluring experiencing, allowing riders to sail along the River Thames and explore historic sites and landmarks such as the Tower of London and the Palace of Westminster, which would feature a replica of Big Ben. The ride experience actually compares a lot to cruising along the real River Thames in the United Kingdom, but on a much smaller scale. The Thames River Cruise ride never really progressed beyond the planning phase.
The centerpiece of Disney’s Animal Kingdom was originally due to be a unique carousel ride.
A more traditional ride was considered as the centerpiece of the park: a multi-level animal carousel.
If you’ve enjoyed this series on never-built Disney theme park attractions, make sure you check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4 for the full, 64-attraction list, and don’t forget to tune in to our WDWNT March Madness 2020 tournament starting this Thursday at 9:00 PM on WDW News Tonight! Got a favorite never-built attraction you’d like to root for? Register NOW for WDWNT’s March Madness (sign-ups end at 11:00 PM on 3/11) and play along to win some fabulous prizes!