Six Amazing Disney Attractions That Were Never Built
Over the years, Disney theme parks have left plenty of ideas on the table. Many of them were terrific, and we’re worse for their not being developed.
Others…well, Superstar Limo might have had some competition for the worst Disney attraction ever. In fact, we’re even going to talk about that one today.
Here are six Disney attractions that the parks never built.
Atlantis Re-theming of Submarine Voyage
Did you ever watch Atlantis: The Lost Empire? I swear it’s a movie that exists, and you can find it on Disney+.
I can’t find my old review from back in the day, but I saw it in theaters and think I gave it something like a B/B+. It’s…fine, just not top-notch Disney. Or even middle notch.
Well, in the years leading up to the Atlantis movie, Disney executives had grand plans for the film franchise, including a theme park attraction.
Disneyland Imagineers would have rebooted Submarine Voyage with a theme based on Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
Then, the movie came out in theaters and disappointed at the box office so much that the head of Disney’s animation division acknowledged it was a miss.
Obviously, Disney wasn’t about to tie the theming of a beloved 1950s attraction to a failed movie.
So, park officials waited until another opportunity presented itself. That happened in 2003 when Pixar’s Finding Nemo dazzled.
So, if Atlantis: The Lost Empire had done better at the box office, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage wouldn’t exist today.
You do still visit Atlantis on this ride, though! It’s the area with volcanic activity.
When the Diagon Alley expansion opened at Universal Studios Florida, Disney historians couldn’t help but wince.
A fire-breathing dragon towered over the land from his perch on top of Gringotts Bank.
— Hedgehog's Corner (@hedgehogscorner) February 25, 2018
Imagineers took this idea from Disney; In fact, some of them had worked on the original plans before Michael Eisner gutted the Imagineering team.
When these theme park designers took a job at Universal, they borrowed some of the plans for Beastly Kingdom, a themed land that never got built.
Eisner had run out of money while constructing Disney’s Animal Kingdom. So, he delayed the Beastly Kingdom land until phase two…which never happened.
Ergo, Disney’s grand plans for a Dragon Tower roller coaster fell by the wayside.
This dragon would have intimidated guests on the roller coaster, just like the one at Universal does now.
In fact, before that happened, Universal built a now-defunct coaster called Dueling Dragons that aped other ideas from Dragon Tower.
Some Disney fans – including me – remain pretty bitter about this turn of events.
Imagineers would have built the world’s largest audio-animatronic for Dragon Tower. We could have had a life-sized, moving dragon!!! Ah well.
Hilariously, Disney had planned another attraction based on Atlantis: The Lost Empire. But, unfortunately, the failure of that film really blew up years of park planning.
This attraction, a roller coaster called Fire Mountain, would have anchored Adventureland at Magic Kingdom.
This section of the park never had an E-ticket attraction after Pirates of the Caribbean’s early-day buzz.
As you’ll see, park officials have contemplated possible additions here for decades now.
Fire Mountain would have towered above Vulcania, the Mysterious Island from the works of Jules Verne.
Yes, that’s also a place at Tokyo DisneySea, something that comes up with the next failed attractions, too!
Anyway, guests would have ridden a roller coaster through Volcano Mountain, one so spacious it would have forced a re-routing of Jungle Cruise!
Alas, when the movie bombed, this dream died…for a time.
By the way, a funny anecdote here that isn’t totally confirmed is that Disney CEO Michael Eisner canceled this project for a different reason.
Some suggest that he’d intended it to combat the impending debut of Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
However, when Eisner visited this theme park for the first time, he realized Islands of Adventure was such a creative mess that it posed no threat to Disney.
As such, Eisner spent the money on other projects.
Simpsons fans know this phrase all too well. In the legendary Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie episode, cartoon fans grow highly annoyed.
The episode teases the arrival of Itchy and Scratchy and their new friend, Poochie, at a fireworks factory.
Alas, Poochie is so irritating that they never reach that destination, which leads to his eventual death on a return trip to his home planet.
Believe it or not, The Simpsons had inspiration for this phrase, and it came from their future owners, Disney.
During the late 1970s, Tony Baxter planned an entire themed land called Discovery Bay! And this place came quite close to becoming a reality!
Imagine a 19th century San Francisco teeming with steampunk elements, and you’ll get the idea. If that sounds familiar, it should.
Disney effectively built this at Tokyo DisneySea at a later date.
The American version would have featured a ride called the Fireworks Factory. It would have worked as a 1970s version of Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters.
Riders/players would have shot “fireworks” at objects. So, Disney planned it as a shooting gallery attraction disguised as a ride.
Alas, the sudden decision not to proceed with Discovery Bay killed any hope for this attraction, which was multiple theme park generations ahead of its time.
The Moana Roller Coaster
Easily the newest attraction on this list, the potential Moana roller coaster rumor created quite the stir a few years ago.
As a movie, Moana captured the hearts of Disney fans. You can track this by checking the Trending section on Disney+, where it’s usually in the top 20.
Park officials understandably wanted to capitalize on the movie’s success. As such, they returned to an old idea, the Fire Mountain coaster!
Yes, Disney wanted to construct a fourth artificial mountain at Magic Kingdom. This one would have looked like an active volcano.
I guess you could have called it Te Fiti’s Island. Riders would have explored this breathtaking volcano while zooming up and down the tracks.
Basically, Disney would have thrown out the planned Atlantis tie-in from the early 2000s and added Moana instead.
Rumors persisted that Disney might build an entire hotel on this side of the park, one with a private entrance to Adventureland. It could have tied into the Moana ride.
Alas, Disney prioritized other projects, figuring different parks needed more attention than Magic Kingdom, the world’s most popular theme park.
Even now, I hold out hope that Disney might circle back to this premise, though. A volcano roller coaster with a Moana theme would sell plenty of tickets!
Rock Candy Mountain
Imagine a Candy…land, only as an entire mountain.
That was the plan for Rock Candy Mountain, a ride that Walt Disney initially approved!
Imagineers would have constructed a glossy mountain that looked like it was full of transparent rock candy.
Yes, the whole man-made facility would have looked like a big blog of sweet treats.
You may have already guessed the flaw with the premise. Disney’s artificial mountains take a beating due to guest usage and inclement weather.
That shiny candy mountain would have turned gross quite quickly. As such, maintenance on the place would have proven resource intensive.
Had Disney built this, two rides that you know would have looked much different.
The Casey Jr. Circus Train and Storybook Land Canal Boats would have passed through the mountain.
Perhaps the strangest part is that the final scene would have celebrated Dorothy’s birthday, as Walt Disney had just acquired the rights to the Oz series!
Alas, there’s no place like Rock Candy Mountain because it would have made everybody sick to ride through it or even look at it.
So, that’s six rides of various excitement levels that never got built. However, I’ve only scratched the surface here!
Please consider this article the first of a series, as I’ve still got plenty more would-be E-ticket attractions to discuss.