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Walt Disney once said, “It's kind of fun to do the impossible.” Well, my fine-mustachioed icon, it may have been fun, but sometimes it is simply impossible. The Disney theme parks had their fair share of true never-lands and rides—and here are 12 of them.
1. Lilliputian Land (Disneyland)In 1953, Roy O. Disney took a sales pitch to New York to raise money for this little land inspired by Gulliver's Travels. The idea was to build a miniature Americana village populated by 9-inch-tall singing and dancing mechanical people. One of the main attractions of this land would have been a ride on a 17-inch-tall locomotive, just like Lemuel.
2. Edison Square (Disneyland)Photo courtesy Imagineering Disney Designed in the mid-1950s, this location—designed as a 1920s suburb, complete with a statue of Thomas Edison—would have been a side land to Main Street USA. A main attraction called Harnessing the Lightning would tell the history of electricity and its effects on the American family. This idea was scratched for another similar idea, the Carousel of Progress, which Walt Disney brought to the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
3. Israel Pavilion (EPCOT)In 1980, the State of Israel signed a deal to officially become part of Epcot. The proposed Israel Pavilion would have featured a menorah in the center of the courtyard, along with archaeological artifacts from The Jewish Museum in Tel Aviv. But due to possible security issues and boycotts, the Pavilion wasn’t built. Still, Israel was featured in an exhibit at the Millennium Pavilion from 1999 to 2001. It featured a simulator-movie ride called Journey to Jerusalem, a virtual tour of historic holy sites.
4. Mt. Fuji Roller Coaster (EPCOT)This ride was planned for the Japan Pavilion at Epcot, but it was thrown out not long after it was suggested thanks to protests by Eastman Kodak, the sponsor of the Journey into Imagination ride. Kodak didn’t take kindly to a ride sharing the name of their biggest competitor, Fujifilm.
5. Atlantis Expedition (Disneyland)Photo courtesy Imagineering Disney This premise was a reinvention of the Submarine Voyage ride. Patrons would use a mechanical arm that extended into the water, so they could get a chance to grab some doubloons and gems. It was based on the animated film Atlantis, but due to its failure at the box office, the ride never came to fruition. In its place now is Finding Nemo’s Submarine Voyage.
6. Bullet Train (EPCOT)Image courtesy Jim Hill All aboard would stand in a Japanese simulated bullet train, looking out through the phony windows while taking a gander at all the fake scenery of Japan’s historic sites.
7. Iran Pavilion (EPCOT)Hop on a ride through Persian history inside a replica of Golestan Palace! ...Or not. The Iran Pavilion was called off when the Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979.
8. Soviet Union Pavilion (EPCOT)Photo courtesy The Neverland Files Developed in the 1990s, this location would have featured recreations of St. Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square. The proposed area had two rides: a sled journey through the Russian scenery, and a ride-through attraction based on Russia’s famous folk tale The Fool and the Fish. The story is about Ivan, a young fool who spares the life of a fish, specifically a pike. It just so happens that the pike is magical, and in return, Ivan is granted wishes from the pike.
9. Hotel Mel (MGM/Hollywood Studios)Photo courtesy The Neverland Files The original Tower of Terror, but with everybody’s favorite Jewish grandpa, Mel Brooks. The premise: Guests would be told they were on the set of a horror film, directed by Brooks, that was being filmed inside an actual haunted hotel. The plot of the ride revolved around the idea of the guests auditioning for a role in the film and boarding studio golf carts. Gags would then ensue, such as Quasimodo as a bellman, Dracula attempting to shave in a mirror, and Frankenstein in a bathroom stall without TP next to the Mummy.
10. S.S. Columbia Showcase of Nautical Marvels (Tokyo DisneySea)Photo courtesy The Neverland Files The idea behind this "haunted swing" ride was that guests had booked a trip on the maiden voyage of the S.S. Columbia. It was promised to be the safest, fastest, and most comfortable Atlantic crossing ever, thanks to the ship's "Gyroscopically-Stabilized Self-Leveling Anti-Turbulence Lounges." Once seated for a demonstration of this new technology, the ride was designed to go haywire—the seating would swing up to 30 degrees, and the room would rotate 360 degrees—to disorienting effect. The ride was never built because designers didn't feel it pushed the envelope enough.
11. Industrial Revolution Roller Coaster (Disney’s America)Photo courtesy of The Neverland Files Due to be part of Disney's America, a proposed theme park in Haymarket, Virginia, this roller coaster would have traveled through a turn-of-the-century steel mill. The high point of the ride would have been evading a vat of molten steel. Sadly, the park was never built, and neither was this coaster.
12. Nostromo (Magic Kingdom)This ride was based on the film Alien. Guests would embark on a rescue mission, entering the ship's corridors to find its missing crewmembers in armored vehicles strapped with laser cannons. Instead, the ride evolved into Alien Encounter, a much tamer version with an original storyline—but Regis Philbin still thought it was scary. This post originally appeared in 2012.
May 06, 2014 - 10:12pm