Walt Disney World Never Built
by Chuck Mirarchi
DIS Contributing Columnist
Walt Disney was a man of ideas, endless ideas. Moreover, if he had endless cash flow, every feasible idea he dreamt up would have become a reality. Fortunately one of those ideas did – Walt Disney World.
Either with my family or with friends, I have been visiting Walt Disney World since February of 1972. From that very first visit, the World seemed huge to me. Today, with the four parks, assorted resorts and other activities, the World is enormous.
Discarded ideas fill The Disney Company's trashcans and archives for every park and attractions at Walt Disney World. However, while a concept may not fit a given project at a given time, Disney knows the value of holding on to good ideas and using them when the time is right. Walt of all people understood that best - "Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it's done right." It is just at Walt Disney World the right idea does not always mean "right now."
ONCE UPON A TIME IN A FAR AWAY LANDTypically, everyone loves the "good" characters or the Disney heroes such as Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Cinderella, and Snow White. Until recently, it was not cool to like the Villains. Now not only do guests want to have their picture taken with Maleficent, Lady Tremaine and the Stepsisters, Captain Hook, Jafar, and others, but now the Disney Villains have their own Mix and Mingle Show during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Parade. In fact, a few years ago Disney considered giving the Villains their own theme park.
Dark Kingdom was being proposed somewhere on the Orlando property. In contrast to The Magic Kingdom, Dark Kingdom not only was to have had attractions based on Captain Hook, Ursula, and other Disney villains, but its own iconic symbol. The Park's centerpiece was to have been Maleficent's castle. This still could be a very viable, fun, and exciting park with the potential for some spectacular thrill rides and attractions, but with the recent acquisition of Marvel this park may just be too far in the abyss.
Also under consideration was Shadowlands, a new land in The Magic Kingdom. Contrasting with the Disney Heroes in Fantasyland, the Disney Villains and the Shadowlands section would have been located directly behind Tomorrowland. One of the reported attractions was to have been an Ursula the Sea Witch ride, which would have been a 'spinner' ride similar to Dumbo. Another reported villain attraction was Bald Mountain or Villain Mountain. It was to be either a log flume ride or rollercoaster on the former 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction site.
Over at Epcot, most of their lands that never came to fruition were to have been found in the World Showcase Pavilions. There were a few Future World lands including a Movie Pavilion, Project Gemini, and Space Pavilion.
Originally, Epcot's Future World would have had the Movie Pavilion, also known as Great Moments at the Movies, located between The Land and Journey Into Imagination pavilions. Guests would have entered the show building, hidden behind a giant painted movie backdrop, through a recreated entrance of an old-fashioned cinema. Although an odd choice for Epcot, The Movie Pavilion seemed to have been on its way until Universal announced they were going to build a Universal Studios theme park in Orlando. Michael Eisner decided to beat them to the punch. He announced they would build the Disney-MGM Studios, and transfer the Movie Pavilion to the new park as its signature attraction. Now known as The Great Movie Ride, it is at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
According to Jim Hill, Disney was planning to undertake an incredibly ambitious project, completed by 2006, on revamping all of Epcot's Future World. The first big change was that the name Future World would be a thing of the past and Discoveryland was going to be in. The theory was that Disney found it difficult to keep the future, well in the future. Gone would be the concrete, the big bold color scheme, and high-tech feel and in its place would be trees, hundred and hundreds of trees, thereby turning Epcot's concrete jungle into a lush green space. It is rumored that the total revamp was going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million. In addition, when Paul Pressler, former head of Disney Parks and Resorts, heard about the cost he told the Imagineers he liked the plans, but not the budget. He would greenlight the project, but on a reduced scale.
So, what was proposed? Well for starters, Spaceship Earth would be renamed The Ball. The dark ride would have gone from a travel through time to "Time Racers," merging time-lapse photography and other types of technology to give guests the impression they are speeding through time. Directly behind The Ball would be the ride's post-show area – the Global Neighborhood. Another change The Ball would have created was how guests entered and moved around Epcot. The left side would be closed off, as it would have been the pre-show and queue area for The Ball, and all guests would have moved counter-clockwise into the park.
The first attraction to the right would be a revamped version of The Living Seas. It was to have been re-themed around Ariel and other characters found in The Little Mermaid.
The lush, landscaped gardens currently next to The Land would have been a rainforest with an inverted roller coaster weaving its way through the entire space. Soarin' was to be located at The Land but on the west side of the pavilion instead of its current east side location. The only difference would be the film. Soarin' Over the World, would have flown guests over a variety of Earth's terrains and not just California.
Just before the Imagination Pavilion, which was not going to change, guests would have encountered a Hedge Maze. As they worked their way through the maze, guests would find interactive stations and activities. On the opposite side of Spaceship Earth was not only GM's Test Track, but also Jr. Autopia, a kid-friendly, safer version of Test Track for those guests who were either too young or didn't meet the height requirement. After Test Track were Mission Space and Ellen's Energy Adventure. Both appeared to have remained intact. The Wonders of Life pavilion would have eventually closed for a future, undetermined attraction.
The middle section of Future World (Discoveryland), is currently Innoventions East and Innoventions West. Those pavilions would have been razed and in their place would be six separate buildings: Home of the Future, Internet Cafe, Cool Stuff, Future Mart, Robot Restaurant, and Leading Edge.
So what did make the cut? The Living Seas did get a makeover, but it was themed to Finding Nemo and is currently The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Soarin' was built, but on the east side of The Land and currently shows flying over California terrain only. To make Future World more kid friendly, Kidcot was added. Finally, the Wonders of Life pavilion is still empty, but used as a special events venue for the Flower and Garden Show, the Food and Wine Festival, and other Disney and non-Disney events.
In the 1990's, a Space Pavilion, a Hollywood-version of space, was planned to replace the Horizons Pavilion. There were many theories why Horizons closed including GE was no longer a sponsor, its dated appearance, and problems with the roof. Instead of a Space Pavilion, complete with aliens and Space Walk, a single-track rollercoaster, Mission: SPACE took its place.
Of course, Epcot had a number of other country pavilions planned for World Showcase that never came to be including Denmark, Switzerland, Soviet Union, Brazil, Costa Rica, Africa, India, Iran, Israel, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Scandinavia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
There have been rumors that The Walt Disney Company was planning to add another country. Spain was the front-runner, however recently a Disney Public Relations representative told Allison Walker of CF 13 News, "(Disney) is not planning on adding a new country."
In 1994, with the exception of signing on the dotted line, Denmark was all but a done deal. It would have included a recreation of the Tivoli Gardens, a Ferris wheel, carousel, as well as a canal ride through LEGO miniatures of world landmarks. The plans eventually fell through. Claude Coats, who designed the settings and themed shows for a number of World Showcase pavilions, also drew up the plans for Brazil and the Philippines. Equatorial Africa was all but going to be the centerpiece of World Showcase, but because of a lethal combination of politics and money (or lack of it), the Africa pavilion was pushed back so much that it was scrapped all together. The only remnants of it were pop-up vendors selling their wares. Eventually many of those plans were incorporated into Animal Kingdom. The Iran pavilion was also well into the planning stages with a dark ride through Persian history and an authentic bazaar shopping area, but when the Shah of Iran lost power in the Islamic Revolution the Ayatollahs lost interest in a theme park.
The Israel Pavilion was also close to finding a home in World Showcase. According to an October 8, 1999 article by Julia Goldman, in j. weekly, "Visitors to the gold-hued building that houses the Israel exhibit at Epcot Center's Millennium Village are warned that 'Journey to Jerusalem,' the eight-minute video that is its centerpiece, 'is a mildly turbulent simulator ride.'" She continues to say, "In fact, while the exhibit makes no explicit mention of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, there is no doubt that the exhibit inextricably links Jerusalem with Israel and that Israel intended that message to come across loud and clear.â€¦They also hear a disclaimer that says the exhibit is sponsored by Israel's Foreign Ministry and 'is based on their perspective.' Israel paid $1.8 million toward the exhibit's $8 million price tag."
According to The Neverland Files there were plans in 1982 that explored the addition of the Netherlands, then Denmark, and Scandinavia, before the focus was narrowed down to the 1988 addition of Norway. Additionally, artwork for a Poland pavilion was shown at an Art of Disney Architecture exhibition.
Located between China and Germany, the Soviet Union was to rise up sometime in October 1999. In the February 11, 1990 travel section of The New York Times, Michael Eisner said, "the company is in preliminary negotiations with the Soviet Union for a Soviet pavilion at Epcot Center." The Russia Pavilion would be dominated by a recreation of Red Square, the onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, an multi-media attraction, "Russia - The Bells of Change." It would have combined Audio-Animatronic characters, animated sets, film, and a live actor. There was also a new ride-through attraction inspired by one of Russia's best-loved folk tales, "Ivan and the Magic Pike." However, because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, its economic downslide, and the subsequent horrors committed by the Communist regime, the pavilion was scrapped. Recently, Jim Hill wrote, "Well, what a difference a decade makes. Russia's economy is booming right now. And given that this country's rapidly expanding middle class has lots of disposable income ... That makes the Soviets (more importantly, their offspring) a prime target for the Walt Disney Company."
As mentioned earlier, the latest country to garner a lot of chatter is Spain. From a 2001 blog post, "EPCOT Centerâ€¦will open a Spanish pavilion. The project was presented in Madridâ€¦ by officials from the Spanish Economy and Treasury Ministry and The Walt Disney Company Iberia." The new pavilion will "spread the image of the Spain of today in the United States, providing insight into its traditions, culture and products, and improving its position in the world." Moreover, The Walt Disney Company in EPCOT Center: A Pictorial Souvenir (1982) wrote, "Take a spectacular journey through Spain by film to little known and out-of-the-way vacation Edens. [sic] A ride attraction captures the country's passionate heritage and spirit in her arts. In a waterside restaurant, indulge in tapas, or Spanish-style finger food – a blend of varied ingredients but suitable to simple tastes. And browse the market places of striking contrast, from pueblo village to aristocratic opulence."
Further evidence that Israel, Equatorial Africa, and Spain were close to being constructed was the fact that there were billboards posted around World Showcase announcing the "future site" for each of these pavilions.
Switzerland was another greatly debated country pavilion. Originally planned to be next to Italy, its biggest draw would be its ability to give Epcot a Matterhorn-style thrill ride similar to Disneyland. Coincidentally or not, these two countries share the same mountain in the real world). In a May 4, 1989 Sentinel article entitled, 'Swiss Approve Epcot Pavilion 'Matterhorn' Would Be Included," Adam Yeomans writes, "A model of Switzerland's most famous mountain may be built as part of a new pavilion at Disney World's Epcot Center under a proposal tentatively approved Wednesday by the Swiss government. The construction of a 164-foot-high reproduction of the 14,700-foot-high Matterhorn is part of the Swiss government's plan to build a pavilion at Epcot. It would be the 12th nation represented in Epcot's World Showcase. Cabinet members meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, agreed that the Swiss government would pay $10 million toward the cost of a new Epcot pavilion if the nation's private sector matched the government funding, according to Swiss vice chancellor Achille Casanova."
Although discussed and planned, the United Arab Emirates pavilion would have included a Flying Carpet ride and the Venezuela pavilion was to have had an aerial tram ride through a rainforest, a waterfall, and a high rise built into a cliff. However, neither made it any further than the planning stage.
Epcot's planned attractions, many of them tied to these never-realized pavilions, included a simulated bullet train ride through the Japanese countryside, Meet the World show, and a Mount Fuji roller coaster thrill ride for Japan. For Germany, there was a planned Rhine River Cruise attraction. It was to have focused on German folklore, much like the Mexico and Norway rides. According to the Walt Disney Company's 1976 annual report the ride was to be "... a cruise down Germany's most famous rivers -- the Rhine, the Tauber, the Ruhr and the Isar. Detailed miniatures of famous landmarks will also be seen, including one of the Cologne Cathedral." Though the building was built, Disney did not complete the ride construction by opening day. Disney said it was to be part of a "phase two" expansion. However, any phase two expansion projects would be allowed only if a host country funded it. Because of lack of funding, today the ride building is used as storage for floats, a workshop and cast member rehearsal space. Its main entrance hall is now the dining area for the Biergarten.
When Disney-MGM Studios, now Disney's Hollywood Studios, opened there were a few extra planned lands including Mickey's Movieland, Muppet Studios, Roger Rabbit's Hollywood, and Sunset Boulevard. As mentioned earlier, a movie pavilion was originally planned for Epcot, but then the Studio park project came about.According to a Disney Crew publication in 1990, Mickey's Movieland was to be "A replica of Disney's original Hyperion Avenue Studio, where guests will encounter whimsical, hands-on movie making equipment where they can live out their own motion picture producing fantasies." Mickey's Movieland would have also included an assortment of audio-animatronic figures, Mickey Mouse shorts, and classic movies, and the history of movie making.
A planned Sunset Boulevard area did come to fruition, but not entirely in its original form. Opening in July 1994, it was the first expansion at the Hollywood Studios.The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, a thrill ride based on the classic television series, and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, an indoor dark ride roller coaster, did materialize. Sunset Boulevard also included two outdoor amphitheaters for live stage shows: the covered Theater of the Stars, currently featuring Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, as well as homage to the Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, home to Fantasmic!
What didn't make it into Sunset Boulevard was Roger Rabbit's Hollywood complete with working Red Car trams, Maroon Studios, a recreation of the cartoon studios in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which would have included a Benny the Cab ride, Baby Herman's Runaway Baby Buggy Ride, and a Toontown Trolley simulator. That location is currently the home to the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.
Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit, and the film's other characters initially did play a large part of the Disney-MGM Studios. As you exited the Backlot Tram Tour, you entered into the Looney Bin, which had an ACME Warehouse theme from the movie including movie props, the actual Dip Mobile, as well as cutout plywood characters that you could stand next to for photo ops, as I did next to Jessica Rabbit. Roger Rabbit was also in The Magic Kingdom as part of the Spectromagic parade. Roger was the conductor on the Silly Symphony float. When Spectromagic returned Roger did not. Disney and Dreamworks/Amblin Entertainment shared ownership of Roger and friends, but because they were unable to reach a working agreement on the characters use, they disappeared from the parks.
Even though there are Muppets located in Hollywood Studios today, they are nowhere near the level they were supposed to have been. Before Jim Henson's death and subsequent Disney/Henson-family fall out, Muppet 3-D was to have been a minor attraction next to what was planned, The Muppet Movie Ride. Some say this attraction would have been more amazing than Tower of Terror. It would have at least been as technologically advanced and as complicated at Tower of Terror. The Muppet Movie Ride would have been a spoof of The Great Movie Ride, but told through the eyes of the Muppets.
Naturally, the area also needed some sort of dining option. That building was built along with Stage 1 Company Store and the It's a Wonderful Store shop. The restaurant, which would have been know as The Great Gonzo's Pandemonium Pizza Parlor, is now the home to Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano.
The latest park constructed is Disney's Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom focuses on three very broad classifications of animals: those that exist today; those that did exist, but are extinct, and those that existed only in legend and mythology.
There was one section of Animal Kingdom that was never built and two other areas that were, but were renamed. Genesis Gardens was originally to be the main entrance of Animal Kingdom, but because the Imagineers felt the name had too much of a Biblical connotation it was renamed The Oasis. The other area that was built, Rafiki's Planet Watch, was originally called Nature Land.
The one land that was planned and laid out, but never built, was Beastly Kingdom (possibly spelled as Beastly Kingdomme). It was supposed to have been dedicated to animals of legend and mythology including dragons, unicorns, and other animals of myth. However, due to budget constraints in 1994, Beastly Kingdom was shelved and Camp Minnie-Mickey was built as a temporary tenant. Joe Rhode, Animal Kingdom's lead designer, hoped to have Beastly Kingdom built as Phase II. The artwork for the land was even included in Walt Disney World's 25th Anniversary book Since The World Began.
Beastly Kingdom was to have featured mythical animals such as unicorns, dragons, and sea monsters, as well as realms with good and evil creatures. The evil side would be dominated by Dragon Tower, a ruined castle home to assorted creatures including bats, and a treasure-hording, fire-breathing dragon. They would enlist the guests' help in their scheme and whisk them off on a thrilling roller coaster ride through the castle ruins. The climax of the ride would be an encounter with the dragon himself, resulting in a nearly barbecued train of guests.
Neverland Files says that Dragon Tower is probably the most "unique amongst the never built Disney attractions" due to the fact that it was built, but not at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Part of the budget cuts included staffing. Therefore, some of the Imagineers were laid off and hired by Universal to work on a new venture, Islands of Adventure. In the former Lost Continent section, a suspended dragon rollercoaster, Duelling Dragons was constructed. With the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the coaster has been rethemed asDragon Challenge.
The good side of this land would be home to Quest of the Unicorn, as well as the Fantasia Gardens attraction, a musical boat ride through animal scenes from Disney's animated classic, Fantasia.
There are still pieces of Beastly Kingdom that are in today's park. They include: the parking lot contains a section named "Unicorn," a silhouette of a dragon appears in the Animal Kingdom logo, a dragon-shaped stone fountain near Camp Minnie-Mickey, and a detailed dragonhead statue sits atop one of the ticket booths at the park's entrance. Other minor attractions included a Billy Goat Bridge.
Even though some still hope that Beastly Kingdom has a future at Animal Kingdom, it seems unlikely. In the October 6, 2000 edition of Orlando Business Journal, Joe Rhode said, "We had a vision and now it's become a place holder. We have all kinds of ideas and not all of them fit with the theme of Beastly Kingdom. I'm not even convinced there will be a Beastly Kingdom."
A Queue of AttractionsWalt Disney World's four parks also had their share of attractions that either never made it off the page or did, but became something else.
The Magic Kingdom had a number of attractions that were created either in theory or on paper. Some of those include Donald's Boat and a Duck Tales ride planned for Mickey's Toontown Fair, Fantasia Gardens (a re-theming of the Swan Boats), an Enchanted Snow Palace (a dark ride through a magical snow world), Flying Saucers (a resurrection of a Disneyland original and strangely enough was to have been in the gutted Carousel of Progress), and Snow White Mountain (a kiddy rollercoaster through the Seven Dwarfs Mine. Snow White's Scary Adventure was going to be re-themed to another animated classic).
There was also a fast-paced, flying rollercoaster planned for Adventureland called Fire Mountain. Actually, Fire Mountain had been synonymous with two never built Disney rides; one in Adventureland and the other in Fantasyland (Bald Mountain). According to The Neverland Files, when 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea closed, Michael Eisner had asked two different Imagineering teams to create a thrill ride for the area. They came up with Bald Mountain and Fire Mountain. Eisner liked both concepts and decided to put Bald Mountain in Fantasyland and Fire Mountain in Adventureland.
Fire Mountain would have either been located between Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain, or south of Pirates of the Caribbean, requiring the Jungle Cruise to be modified (as the Grand Prix was when Toontown was built). Guests would initially sit as they normally would in a coaster, but just as the ride began the seats would rotate the guests so they were horizontal and facing downward. The ride would have been themed to be an active, South Seas volcano. Elements of these attractions may have been incorporated into various Disney parks overseas.
Thunder Mesa, originally located where Big Thunder Railroad currently is, was to have been, according to a 1970 Walt Disney World Preview Book, "tower(ing) high above dense pine forests, offering a spectacular panoramic view of Frontierland."
This attraction, although it seemed more like its own land when it was proposed, was the creation of Imagineer Marc Davis. This attraction was so well developed that it could easily be built today. According to extensive research conducted by Jim Hill and Widen Your World the Thunder Mesa complex would have been a towering structure in Frontierland. Similar in feel to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but wider and denser, Thunder Mesa would have extended from where the Briar Patch shop is currently located to north of Big Thunder.
The attraction would have included a runaway mine train ride (which eventually did happen), hiking trails, a pack mule ride, and a boat ride, which some have referred to as the most famous Disney ride that was never built, Western River Expedition.
According to Jim Hill, Thunder Mesa and the Western River Expedition was supposed to be the next phase after the initial park opening. It was decided this phase would happen around the fifth anniversary of the park's opening for a number of reasons including: allowing the construction crews to get the Magic Kingdom's other attractions up and running, 2) operating revenues could help offset construction costs, and 3) it would encourage repeat visits to the park.
There were a number of factors that contributed to Thunder Mesa / Western River Expedition's eventual demise, but one of the biggest were those pesky pirates. When Walt Disney World opened one of the first things guests were asking was when the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was going to open? Although a popular attraction at Disneyland, Disney executives were not planning one for Florida because they felt that guests didn't want to see pirates in a state where they were many years ago. However, due to guest demand and lower construction costs, Card Walker instantly green-lighted a Pirates of the Caribbean attraction for Walt Disney World. Since Pirates and Western River Expedition were both boat rides, Marc Davis' well-thought-out attraction was slowly fading into the sunset.
According to Widen Your World, Imagineer Tony Baxter's model for an adaptation of Thunder Mesa's mine train would spread across most of Thunder Mesa's footprint. It sat in WED's model room and was known only by WED staff until Card Walker first saw it in spring of 1974. However, the 1972 annual report, published in early 1973, told of a fleshed out attraction almost exactly as it would be built (under the name Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) in 1979 for a 1980 opening. Moreover, even though it was billed as a "step toward the completion of Thunder Mesa," anyone familiar with that attraction's scope would rightly wonder how the rest of Thunder Mesa would figure into the arrangement. The train ride was supposed to have sat OVER the Western River Expedition; certainly, no one was going to slide a boat ride underneath a series of stone bluffs built at ground level.
Baxter, not wanting to alienate WED heavyweight Marc Davis by rolling out a concept that would completely kill the WRE, did have a plan for that. â€¦ he envisioned Big Thunder Mountain sitting side by side with a show building (encased in rockwork) that would have contained the WRE.Granted, this seemed a bit like an afterthought, but in many ways, it was the most practical approach for giving the train ride maximum free run as a thrill ride while salvaging what would have been a fantastic boat ride. However, that hardly mattered, because Davis had already formed an opinion that he would carry with him the rest of his life, namely that he was upstaged and a project very close to his heart was the victim. Actually it wasn't that simple, but there's no doubt that the eventual green lighting of Thunder Mountain for Florida – without the separate WRE structure - was the symbolic snuffing of the WRE's candle.
Other near misses for the Magic Kingdom included a Pueblo Indian Village planned as part of Thunder Mesa, a re-themed Tomorrowland called Discoveryland, and Volcania, which was to be a Jules Verne mini-land for Adventureland. There were also at least two restaurants: the Astronomers Club planned as a transition restaurant between Main Street U.S.A. and Tomorrowland and Tortuga Restaurant, a pirate-themed character dining restaurant that would have possible replaced the El Pirate Y el Perico Restaurant.
Over at The Hollywood Studios guests would have ridden through Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers (an enhanced motion vehicle ride through the streets of Chicago in the 1930s), Hotel Mel (a precursor to the Tower of Terror, but based on things from the mind of Mel Brooks), The Nightmare Before Christmas Ride, a Silent Film Stunt Show, and a Villain Ride, a possible replacement for The Great Movie Ride.
There was also going to be a restaurant based on the magic of David Copperfield. I know this because I was involved in the planning of the restaurant. There was to be a location in New York City and after that opened the Walt Disney World location was going to start construction. Guests would enter the restaurant, like the stretching room at The Haunted Mansion, go into a library, and exit into another part of the building. The main dining room would have various magic acts happening all around the diners including making them disappear, as well being sawed in half. However, because of cost overruns on the New York City project, they ran out of money and eventually both the NYC and Orlando restaurants were scrapped.
Animal Kingdom has a laundry list of attractions that never materialized including an animal carousel, which was to be not only a three-leveled merry-go-round, but also an early-proposed park icon. Other attractions included a Dinosaur Safari, Ice Age Expansion, Insect expansion, a dark ride about a cartoon panda, Pangoo's Adventure, The Excavator, a wooden rollercoaster ride planned for Dinoland USA, and Tiger River Rapids, which was a precursor to Kali River Rapids and would have been an Asian boat safari that would have been as large as the Kilmajaro Safari. Before A Bugs Life was chosen as the show for the Tree of Life; The Lion King was being considered. Also planned for the Tree of Life was Wonders of Nature. There was even a nighttime show planned for Animal Kingdom, a Japanese Lantern Parade called Rivers Of Light. Disney also planned to create a huge waterfall that would have separated Africa and Asia and guests would walk through a cave beneath the falls.
As far as shops and restaurants, the Tree of Life was also to have had a restaurant in its space before the Its Tough to Be a Bug show. Beastly Kingdom also had a few planned restaurants including Loch Ness Landing and Mother Goose's Cottage.
As you can see, Disney Management and Imagineers always keep Walt Disney World in a constant state of evolution. As an Imagineer once said in an interview, "Things we are dreaming up today, guests may not see for three or four years." And regardless that some of these ideas were in the planning stages and other may have been rumors or brainstorming ideas, there is always the possibility that one or more of these ideas may find their way – in one form or another – into a future Disney attraction. Here's to the future!
Walt Disney World
The Neverland Files
Jim Hill Media
Orlando Business Journal
EPCOT Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow, Harry N. Abrahams, 1982
Since The World Began: Walt Disney World The First 25 Years, Jeff Kurtti, Hyperion, 1996
Widen Your World
You have really interesting blog, keep up posting such informative posts!
This was an amazing article, although I have heard of a few of these there were also a lot I never heard about. I consider myself a huge Disney fan, and it was great to add this knowledge to my brain :)
This article is fantastic! My family and I LOVE Disney World; we go every year (I'm 20, and when we go in May, it'll be my 40th time!), so if I wasn't a walking, talking Disney encyclopedia before, I am now! Thank you for writing this!
| Michael Smith
Great article. I remember some of these either from rumor or working there. Ultimately, it saddens me that some of the great ideas never were built.
Excellent article. I love envisioning the endless possibilities that the parks can inspire. I would still (after all these years) love to see a resurgence of Mr. Toad in Disney World. If not in Magic Kingdom, maybe Animal Kingdom would be a good place for him? Or a Toad Hall restaurant?
WOW! A terrific article. I enjoy reading details of WDW that are unfamiliar to most people. I am a huge Disney fan and enjoy having these details to share with others when they head to the parks for their journeys(sometimes being their first visits) as I play "tour guide." Thanks for all the background information of what is and what could've been.
Thats awesome to learn all of this information! I had no idea what could have been. It's kind of sad to see all the cool rides they could have built. It was a very detailed article, and so cool of you to take the time to write this! I love it! I'm a disney freak, and thought i knew all there was to know about disney.... you proved me wrong!
| Herman Goodman
I found this entire article to be extremely interesting. There's a lot more that goes on behind the scenes than the general public, me included, is ever aware of. Seems cost rules the world, even Disney's. Thanks for the insight.
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- Mickey's PhilharMagic refurb extended - The end date has been moved from September 19 to the 28th. The attraction will go down September 8.
- Enchanted Tiki Room going down for refurb in late September - The Magic Kingdom attraction will be closed from 9/27 - 10/3/2014.
- Two Epcot New Year's Eve dining events released - More New Year's Eve events are yet to be released.
- Blog - Beyond Aulani
- Updated operating schedule for monorails - The monorail will have a different operating schedule than normal as an automation upgrade takes place.
- Charging stations for electric vehicles added to Epcot parking lot - Disney has added four Level 2 ChargePoint charging stations to the Journey parking lot at Epcot. Electric vehicles will be charged $.35 per kw/h, with a minimum charge of $1.50.
- Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets sold out on 10/31/14 - Tickets are still available for all other dates.
- New Move it! Shake it! Dance and Play it! Street Party to debut at Magic Kingdom this fall - Stitch and Phineas & Ferb will join the party and Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy will ride on top of giant gift boxes. The soundtrack will feature remixed classic party songs and guests will vote for one of three current hits to be played.
- VIDEO: What's New at Aulani - Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa has many new offerings. Quick service at Ulu Cafe, kids splash zone at Keiki Cove, two new pools, and much more.
- MagicBands can now be purchased without ticket media - The bands are now available for purchase across property.
- Changes to boat schedules at Downtown Disney - Schedules have been changing recently due to construction.
- Blog - The Good and Bad of the "Muppets Most Wanted" Blu-ray
- Ultimate Day VIP Tour available at Epcot Food & Wine Festival - This daylong tour begins at the Festival Center's VIP Lounge and includes champagne, a beverage tasting, six-course tapas-style lunch, wine, private backstage tours, time on Epcot attractions, food and beverage pairings with Disney chefs, VIP seating at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, and reserved seating for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks spectacular.
- Blog - New Golden Oak Outpost Menu is Waffle Fry Heaven
- Sunrise Safari at Animal Kingdom ending 12/28/14 - This tour is exclusive to Animal Kingdom Lodge Kilimanjaro Club Level guests.
- American Idol Experience to close August 30 - No plans have been announced for the space.
- Florida residents save $40 on Cirque du Soleil tickets - Through September and October, Florida residents will save $40 on adult Cirque du Soleil tickets purchased at the box office.
- VIDEO: The Refurbished Capt. Cook's at Polynesian Resort - After a long refurbishment, Capt. Cook's has reopened at the Polynesian Village Resort. Major changes include artwork in the seating area, a new menu, no more ordering off of touch screens and the tragic loss of the Dole Whip self-serve machine.
- American Film Institute at the end of Backlot Tour to close - As of August 17, the American Film Institute Showcase exhibit at the end of the ride will be closed. This exhibit features props and costumes from various films. The gift shop will also close.
- D23 Expo 2015 tickets are now on sale - Tickets for next year's D23 Expo are now on sale. The D23 Expo will be held August 14-16, 2015 at the Anaheim Convention Center.
- Constantine the Frog to attend Villains Unleashed! event - The "Muppets Most Wanted" villain will be at the Stage One Company Store location near Muppet*Vision 3D.
- Blog - Polynesian Resort's Capt. Cook's quick service restaurant reopens after refurbishment
- Golden Oak Outpost now serving specialty waffle fries - This walk-up stand is located on the backside of Frontierland on the walkway to Adventureland.
- Tower of Terror On-ride videos available with Memory Maker - After riding The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, a video of the guest's ride will be added to their My Disney Experience account. This video is only available to guests who have purchased Memory Maker.
- Win a 2 Night / 3 Day stay at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin! - Answer 3 questions about the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin on our contest page for a chance to WIN!
- Great Irish Hooley Festival to be held at Downtown Disney - "Hooley" is Irish slang for party or celebration. Celebrate with food, drink and dancing.
- Update coming to My Disney Experience - make dining reservations 20 minutes in advance - A new update will allow guests to make same day dining reservations only 20 minutes in advance.
- Performance times updated for Night of Joy - Disney’s Night of Joy is a hard-ticket event at the Magic Kingdom that features contemporary Christian performers.
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Polynesian Resort Lobby - Lobby Waterfall - Take 5 Minutes to Relax at the Polynesian Resort.
- Blog - Haunted Mansion Merchandise Continues to Materialize
- Refurb scheduled this winter for the Haunted Mansion - The attraction will be closed from 12/1 - 12/19/14.
- Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It Street Party reduces number of performances this month - Performance times will be 5:40 and 7:00pm on August 12, 13, 19, 20 and 29, 2014. Concrete work taking place on Main Street will limit the number of performances on those days.
- It's Tough to be a Bug refurb extended until 9/27 - This attraction was originally scheduled to reopen August 11, but will instead stay closed through September 27.
- Yankee Trader shop refurb extended through December - The shop is becoming a Haunted Mansion gift shop.
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Adventureland - Swiss Family Treehouse Exit - Take 5 Minutes to Relax at the Magic Kingdom.
- Big Hero 6 characters coming to Walt Disney World - A specific date and location for the meet and greet has not yet been announced.
- Frozen Summer Fun extended at Disney's Hollywood Studios - This celebration has been extended through September 28.
- Top 5 Experiences at Walt Disney World That Don't Cost a Thing! - Walt Disney World can be a very expensive place — between park tickets, hotels, parking costs, meals and snacks, it all adds up very quickly. That’s why it’s important to remember that there are several fantastic experiences at Walt Disney World Resort that don’t cost a thing!
- Club Villain dance party planned for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - This will take place at the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland.
- Blog - New Disney Parks Inspired Coffees from Joffrey's
- Updated list of restaurants that accept Tables in Wonderland - Tables in Wonderland members save 20% off of all food and beverage purchases at the participating Disney restaurants.
- Video: Disney Park Bench - Polynesian Resort Dock - Polynesian Resort - Take 5 Minutes to Relax at Polynesian Resort Dock - Polynesian Resort
- Epcot After Hours Wind Down extended through November 9 - Stick around after IllumiNations for an evening at one of 4 exclusive lounges featuring food and beverages from award-winning Epcot chefs and sommeliers.
- Blog - Review: "Guardians of the Galaxy" combines humor, action, and a stellar cast to become the perfect summer blockbuster
- All-Star Music food court closes for refurbishment - The Intermission Food Court will be closed 8/1/14-12/20/14 for refurb.
- New events added to Epcot International Food & Wine Festival - Late Nights LIVE! and new Premium Package events added.
- Astro Orbiter rehab extended by one week - Originally scheduled to end September 19, the ride will now reopen September 28.
- Food & Wine Festival Premium events now available for booking - This includes seminars, signature dining experiences and other special events.
- Changes coming to Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It Street Party? - An update is rumored for this parade later this year, possibly around October. Possible changes are new music; Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald moving to the top of the floats; and Stitch joining the fun. Sebastian, Lumiere, and The Mad Hatter will leave the parade.
- During pool rehab, Polynesian guests will have free admission to Blizzard Beach - Originally, the resort guests were just going to be given one-day tickets to the water park, but that has been changed. They will now have complimentary unlimited admission to Blizzard Beach during their stay at the Polynesian.
- List of restaurants participating in the 2015 Disney Dining Plan - This list will be updated as more restaurants are added. Epcot and Downtown Disney restaurants don't normally finalize their participation until later in the year.
- 2015 Magic Your Way Disney World packages released! - A Walt Disney World package is a resort room and theme park admission. The Disney Dining Plan may also be added.
- Happy 15th Birthday to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith! - The attraction originally opened its doors at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 29, 1999.
- Victoria & Albert's will no longer accept Tables in Wonderland - This begins August 1, 2014.
- Summertime Pals Ink & Paint Cel release - This limited release will be available at the event, or pre-order by September 25 at 5:00pm EST.
- Haunted Mansion merchandise shop coming to Magic Kingdom - The former Yankee Trader shop will become a Haunted Mansion merchandise location in the near future. The decor will be inspired by Madame Leota and will carry items from the Haunted Mansion Authentic program, such as apparel, home goods, souvenirs and more.
- Merchandise Events and Artist Appearances/Signings for August - List of authors and artists coming to the theme parks for signings and merchandise releases.
- List of characters updated for Villains Unleashed! event - Over 50 Disney villains will be taking over the park until the 13th hour!
- Beginning today, PhotoPass print packages are no longer offered table-side at character meals - This includes Chef Mickey's, 1900 Park Fare, 'Ohana, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show and Tusker House Restaurant.
- Disney Visa cardholders can book Food & Wine Festival events early - Disney Visa cardholders can book special events two days earlier than the general public - on July 29 and July 30 from 7:00am-11:00pm EST.
- Tables in Wonderland adds blackout dates for several restaurants - The Tables in Wonderland program offers Florida Residents, DVC members and Annual Passholders 20% off of all food and beverage purchases at the participating Disney restaurants.
- Information on Holiday sleigh rides at Fort Wilderness - This horse-drawn "sleigh" ride is a fun way to celebrate the season.
- Marketplace menus for Epot International Food & Wine Festival - List of menu items for the marketplaces set up around World Showcase.
- Rehab planned in November for Magic Carpets of Aladdin - The Magic Kingdom attraction will be closed 11/10 - 11/21/2014.
- Food & Wine Festival Special Dining Experiences released - Bookings for these experiences begin July 31.
- 10 Places to Wait Out a Thunderstorm at Walt Disney World
- Disney Castaway Cay Challenge added to Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Runners who are registered for any of the Disney races (5K or longer) during the Weekend have the option to complete the Disney Castaway Cay Challenge when sailing on the Disney Dream February 23-27.
- Fantasia Miniature Golf Course rehab planned off and on for the next two weeks - Gardens Course closed 7/22-7/25/2014, 7/28-8/1/2014, 8/4-8/8/2014. The Fairways will still be open.
- Blog - I Can Go The Distance: Deciding is one thing, registering is another
- Save up to 30% on a Room Only reservation at Walt Disney World! - Valid for stays most nights 10/4/14 - 11/25/14 and 11/29/14 - 12/23/14.
- 2015 WDW hotel discount released for U.S. Military - Valid for stays most nights 9/28/14 - 10/3/15.
- All 3 remaining weekends sold out for Harambe Nights - July 26, August 2 and August 9 are sold out.
- Annual passholder discount for Spice Road Table - Through 9/17/14, Annual Passholders can get a 30% discount on their bill.
- 2015 Military Ticket Discount info released - Members of the military can purchase 4-day Magic Your Way tickets with Park Hopper option for $177 each.
- Changes to reservation times for Wishes Dessert Party - Reservations are all being set for 6:00pm, no matter when Wishes is taking place. The dessert party will actually take place one hour before Wishes.
- Frozen Summer Fun Premium package is sold out for all remaining dates - This package gives guests at Frozen Summer Fun Live reserved viewing for several events.
- Wild by Design tour to be discontinued after 9/26/14 - This tour takes place at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
- Fantasy Football Convention coming to ESPN Wide World of Sports - The convention will give attendees access to ESPN talent, a live fantasy football draft and more.
See AllDISNEY NEWS STORIES
- Popular EPCOT acts to depart this Fall
- Wet 'n Wild employee trapped in pool; now in critical condition
- Star Wars mobile game app released by Disney
- Disney contract approved by part-time employees
- Citation banning whale trainers from water will not be appealed by SeaWorld
- Disney cancels 2014 Festival of the Masters art show
- Radio Disney to shut down stations and lay off employees
- Disney proposes new contract for part-time employees
- SeaWorld announces new habitats for killer whales
- "Frozen" behind-the-scenes special coming to ABC
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Today's Theme Park Hours
Epcot Future World:
Epcot World Showcase:
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9:00 - 9:00
11:00 - 9:00
9:00 - 9:30
9:00 - 6:00
10:00 - 6:00
10:00 - 6:00
Extra Magic Hour Evening: Epcot FW