Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Disney Lands That Time Forgot...

With all this talk about Disney cutting back, I thought it might be appropriate to reflect on what Imagineers have worked on in the past few decades. Remember that they're a house filled with many ideas and unfortunately the Suits haven't always bought what they've tried to sell them. So let's reminisce about what was proposed before and could someday be again(in some form)...

In no particular order:

Dark Kingdom

Also known as "Shadowlands," a theme park that was proposed as addition to Walt Disney World. It's never gotten far enough along to be approved, but this park would be a villain's theme park designed as a reverse of the Magic Kingdom. In this one, the Disney Villains are in charge and the center of the park was to have been Malificent's Castle. There was supposedly plans for a Captain Hook attraction, a Night on Bald Mountain roller-coaster ride, rides built around Ursula, Cruella De Ville and others. Personally, I would go crazy at this park were they to have given it the detail of Tokyo DisneySea.

Discovery Bay

A proposed new land for Disneyland in the late 70's. Discovery Bay was a Victorian place, a village or small town that was supposed to have cropped up in the north west around the turn of the nineteenth century. Imagine if Captain Nemo had escaped the disaster at the end of Leagues and had came across a mining town nestled in a bay in northern California in the middle of the Gold Rush. He and other reclusive inventors would have used the place as a base for experimenting and developing their ideas for a brighter future. The kind of place that Verne or Wells would have inhabited. An area where airships could be flown in seclusion(much like the Videopolis in Paris) or one could have dinner inside a luxury restaurant aboard the Nautilus(again, part of the original proposal for Discoveryland in Paris). Or you could have a Journey to the Center of the Earth ride... sounds familiar, don't it? Many of the concepts of "Discovery Bay" have made it into parks in Paris, Orlando or Anaheim. This land has also been talked about as a park unto itself. Some have suggested it could be one of the new theme parks proposed in Asia, but it's doubtful that this will be the Second Gate for Hong Kong.

Disney's America

Disney's attempt in 1993 to build a park celebrating the greatness of America which went down in flames a year later when preservationist and various interest groups began to protest the location of the park in Virginia. The design of the park, headed by Bob Weis(DCA's head Imagineer) was to be eight distinctly themed lands. The plans for Disney's America called for 8 distinctly themed areas:

A Native American Village depicting an accurate Native American village reflecting the tribes that were known in this part of the country. And also enjoy interactive experiences, exhibits and arts and crafts, as well as an exciting white water river raft ride that would have gone all around the area, based on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Civil War, based around a Civil War Fort would have plunged guests into a more turbulent time of American history, and adjacent to it, a big battlefield, where Civil War re-enactments and water battles between the Monitor and the Merrimac would have once again be fought.

Ellis Island, which moved into the 20th century, a replica of Ellis Island building where many immigrants came through, guests would have live the "immigrant experience" through music, ethnic foods and a great live show presentation.

State Fair Area which was going to show how even during the big Depression of the '30s, Americans knew how to entertain themselves. With folk art exhibits and a live show on baseball, guests could have enjoy, too, classic wooden thrill rides in memory of Coney Island.

The Farm, recreating an authentic farm where guests could have the opportunity to see different types of farm industries related to food production in addition to some hands-on experiences like milking cows and learning what homemade ice cream tastes like.

President's Square, which was a celebration of the birth of democracy and those who fought to preserve it. The Hall of Presidents of Walt Disney World would have moved to Disney's America.

Enterprise, representing a factory town, would have highlights American ingenuity and guests could have ride a major roller coaster attraction called the "Industrial Revolution" , traveling through a 19th century landscape with heavy industry and blast furnaces. And, on either side of the coaster, exhibits of famous American technology that have defined the American industry in the past, as new developments that will define industries in the future.

Victory Field, celebrating aviation where guests would have experience what America's soldiers faced in the defense of freedom during the world wars. It would have look like an airport area with a series of hangars containing attractions based on America's military fight using virtual reality technology. The airport would have serve also as an exhibit area of planes from different periods, as well as a place for major flying exhibitions.

Disney's MGM Studios Backlot

This attraction, which was kind of a hybrid park/mall was to be situated on 40-acre park in Burbank, near the Walt Disney Studios. Many of the rides and attractions that would show up in Disney-MGM Studios were included in this design(Great Movie Ride, ect.). Some believe that the park would have never seen the light of day and it was only proposed as a threat to Universal Studios plans to open a version of their Hollywood park in Florida.

Edison Square

This new "land" for Disneyland would have been an expansion to Main Street USA designed as as side street that was themed around the addition of electricity into American homes. Would have featured a statue of Thomas Edison, and a stage show about harnessing electricity.(The Carousel of Progress would borrow from this plan).


Sounds kind of familiar to you guys that have read the latest "Blue Sky Buzz", eh? This was also known as "Roger Rabbit's Hollywood" at times and would have a 30's Hollywood theme that included representations of Walt's famed Hyperion Studios among others, located between Main Street USA and Tomorrowland. The side of Space Mountain facing the land would have been converted into the hill with the Hollywood letters on it. It would have featured The Great Movie Ride from Disney's Hollywood Studios and Dick Tracy's Crimestoppers along with several other attractions.

Liberty Street

This was an additional side street off of Main Street in Disneyland that would have been a side street expansion to Main Street USA themed around a New England town circa the American Revolution. It would featured themed period shops, The Hall of Presidents, a beautiful bay scene, and recreating many famous American landmarks(much of this idea would come to fruition at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Liberty Square).


A new land addition to Disneyland that was based on Greek and Roman myths, it would focus on classic creations, Hercules was supposedly an idea floated around as one of the center attractions. Some of the ideas for this land were discussed as a possible theme park of its own, many of the ideas from this would influence the proposed land in Disney's Animal Kingdom that was known as "Beastly Kingdom."

Lava Lagoon

After designing the elaborately detailed Euro Disneyland park, WDI wanted to expand the Resort into a real resort that didn't just have a park with a bunch of hotels. Planning to create a European version of Walt Disney World, the guys in Glendale planned to create a water park as beautiful as the theme park they were just completing. The Imagineers came up with a Polynesian themed attraction that was built beneath a glass dome to handle the weather of Paris. Of course, once Euro Disneyland has such a bad first year the project was shelved. It would never see the light of day.

Beastly Kingdom

This was to be the third themed area of the new animal park that Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde was planning on opening. It's original intend(lost now to many) was to focus on: The actual design was animals that are extinct(Dinosaurs), animals that are living(those alive today) and animals that were fantasy(the stuff of myths and legend). As a cost cutting measure, Michael Eisner chose to cut this land to keep the budget down and instead put in a "meet and greet" area know as Camp Minnie-Mickey. The land would have had all sorts of elaborate rides and shops with two "E-Tickets" that explored fantasy. One would be a good ride known as "Quest for the Unicorn", while the other would be a foreboding roller-coaster that was a dark ride know as "Dragon Tower." There were plans(hopes) to add the attraction at a later date. It would eventually get shelved like so many other rides. If the economy stays good and WDW continues the good times over the next few years we may see a new version of it come to life. If you look at the logo for DAK you'll notice that it has a dragon on it to reflect that part of the park which was to be built.

Mineral King Ski Resort

To be located within a subalpine valley in southern Sequoia National Park, this project was to be an elaborately themed ski resort unlike anything before it. One of Walt Disney's last projects, Mineral King was to look like an old Alpine lodge resort that blended in with the surroundings of the beautiful nature that this valley offered. The Country Bear's Jamboree was going to play a part in this entertaining people. When the project was canceled in the 70's because of environmental concerns, those ideas moved on to become part of the parks.

Tomorrowland 2055

This was going to be the much hyped about retheming of TL that Tony Baxter and others planned on doing to give a new experience to the dated look that the area was becoming. It involved an elaborate show at where Innoventions is and would have turned TL into something out of the Star Wars cantina. The area would be teaming with detailed creations that Imagineers wanted to use to create the impression that you were in an alternate future. The cost of the project continued to rise until Michael Eisner, dealing with the fiasco that was Euro Disney started to cut back funding for the park. What we got was Tomorrowland 98, which was a very pale and anemic layover that resembled little of what WDI had planned on doing to this cherished part of Disneyland(a future article about TL 55 is coming).

Port Disney

A proposal known as the "Long Beach Project," that was to be located near the Queen Mary that would feature aquatically themed rides based around the ocean, seas and exploration. The project would have a terminal for the yet to be finished Disney Cruise Line, 300 slits in the marina, five ocean related resort hotels and a theme park called, what else: Disneysea in which the center icon would be "Oceana," a giant bubble-like structure that would have been the water equivalent of Spaceship Earth in EPCOT. Some believed that this was a park proposed just to intimidate Anaheim into ponying up more to have the Second Gate built there. It finally went down in flames after a couple years, but luckily for us parts of it were resurrected to form the basis for Tokyo DisneySea.


This West Coast version of EPCOT was to be built where DCA now resides. The limit of land would have made the majority of the park resemble the World Showcase section of EPCOT, only instead of individual countries there would be a focus on the "Four Corners of the World", with the Americas Corner, the European Corner, the African Corner and the Asian Corner. It would feature at its center a Spaceship Earth that was gold instead of the silver one we're all familiar with in Florida. Alas, it was not to be and went down in flames under the weight of the Euro Disneyland mess... and from it arose DCA and the mess we've been left with. Ahem...


Anonymous said...

"If the economy stays good and WDW continues the good times over the next few years we may see a new version of it come to life."

What fantasy world are you living in? The economy is in the crapper and I think it's going to be years before we see anything new happen in the parks that hasn't already been announced. And people need to give up this Beastly Kingdom idea. It's not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

With a 5.5 percent unemployment Mike, the economy is not in the crapper. The government considers 5 percent to be what is known as "sustainable unemployment", meaning most are considered those not wanting or willing to be employed.

Add that to the fact that some states have less than that, Utah and couple others having below 4 percent doesn't sound like the economy is going into a tailspin anytime soon. That being said, it has went down. It happens. Everything goes in cycles.

And WDW hasn't announced that they're getting Mermaid, so that right there is one that we'll be getting here in Florida. As for BK, it is still a possibility. DAK is the one bright spot at the resort and there are many Imagineers I've talked to that say the plans for it have been dusted off and played with. Honor's right. If things don't go disastrously over the next few years there is a good chance we'll get a variation of it.

Anonymous said...

out of all the ideas honor mentioned Beastly Kingdom seems the most attractive to both Disney fans and Imagineers. It the one thing most talked about next to WestCOT, and DAK could benefit from it.

Anonymous said...

Gas is the highest it's ever been, and apparently it's going to keep increasing. Airfare is soaring through the roof, sometimes up 300% for some airlines. Airlines are charging an arm and a leg for everything now: seats, extra baggage, soft drinks. The dollar is incredibly weak as well. It's fact that the economy is insanely weak right now and probably won't get better for a while. And I think by the fall Disney is going to see park attendance suffer. Sure they'll see revenue from foreign tourists who are going to take advantage of the weak dollar. But let me tell you if I hadn't booked my June Disney trip months ago I certainly wouldn't be going.

Keep dreaming about Beastly Kingdom, because that's the only way it will ever happen in the next few years. In your dreams.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you can predict the future Mike. While your at it, could you tell me next weeks lottery numbers?

As for Beastly Kingdom, if it does happen it won't be showing up next year, it would more than likely take a few years. Honor talks about how it could be possible down the line, not tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Beastly Kingdom's demise was a great disappointment to me, and is one of many reasons I was so glad to see that fathead Eisner go. It was a great idea, and one that deserved to be developed.
Without Beastly Kingdom, AK as a result turned out to be nothing but a damn zoo. Last time I visited WDW I went to AK only once, and that was to ride the Yeti attraction, and I was out of luck because it had broken down (something it does quite a lot, as I understand it). AK could get closed tomorrow and I wouldn't miss it. If I want to see a good zoo, I'll stay here and visit St. Louis', which is the best in the world.

Marjorie said...

In my fastasy world of Disney, the villians theme park is an easy #1, and Beastly Kingdom a close second. I'll be quite happy if at least one of the two ends up existing.

Anonymous said...

Mythia reminds me of Terra Mytica in Spain: