Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan's Flight, It's a Small World, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad... these are all beloved rides we all associate with the Disney Parks. The gifted minds of Disney's Imagineers are responsible for giving the world some of the most recognizable amusement rides anyone has ever seen. But as wonderful as they all are, there are still plenty of rides that didn't make the cut.
Even for a company as magical as Disney, not all ideas are going to be winners. Some get tossed in the wastebasket, some don't even make it out of storyboards, and some evolve into better attractions. Let's take a look at some of those rides and attractions we never got to see.
10 Western River Expedition
Despite Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean being so popular with guests, the Disney Imagineers originally had no plans on bringing the attraction to the Florida park. Our question: why?! Instead of incorporating a boisterous bunch of buccaneers, they were planning a more Americana themed attractionwith scenes of prairie dogs, the mighty Mississippi, and a western town.
This would have essentially been a gunslinger-themed version of Pirates of the Caribbean featuring scenes straight out of a John Wayne film, even including a shoot out with a gang of desperados. Test audiences wondered the same thing we would have, where were the pirates? Of course, this idea fell through and we got our pirates in the end.
9 The Atlantis Expedition/Atlantis Voyage
Can we all agree that Atlantis: The Lost Empire is one of Disney's most underappreciated films? While the adventures of Milo Thatch and company were in development, Disney was looking to replace the Submarine Voyage at Disneyland. They were hoping to use the popularity of the film to finance a much-needed upgrade for the then 40-year-old attraction.
Unfortunately, this did not come to pass as Atlantis did not do so well at the box office. What would have been an amazing hybrid of submarine and monorail through the mystic world of Atlantis before departing into the heart of the kingdom itself was later repurposed into a Finding Nemo ride. Smooth move, Disney. How will we face the Leviathan now?
Before Stitch escaped into the Magic Kingdom, before the nightmare fuel that was ExtraTERRORestrial, there were plans for an attraction simply called "Nostromo." At one point, Disney was working in partnership with Fox to bring guests aboard the titular vessel from Alien, resulting in an attraction and encounter with the Xenomorph creature. Then they saw the movie.
Since Disney didn't want to be associated with such a violent and horrifying film, the theme and story were changed to give us ExtraTERRORestrial. Though the alien did get an appearance in the Great Movie Ride, we can't disagree with Dinsey's move on this one.
7 Godzilla Bullet Train
In its developmental days, the Japan pavilion at Epcot was originally supposed to have a ride or some form of attraction. Rides inspired by the famous bullet trains were considered, including one with an encounter with Godzilla in Tokyo bay. That's right, at one point the King of Monsters would have been featured in a Disney Park.
The ride would have been a race through Tokyo to safety with the plasma-breathing lizard towering over the passengers. Sounds pretty intense for a Disney ride, doesn't it? Though the idea fell through, it would later be used to inspire Expedition Everest. It's all a matter of monsters.
6 The Great Muppet Movie Ride
After Muppet Vision 3D, a whole Muppet-inspired area was in the works for Disney's Hollywood Studios. One of the unmade attractions for this area was The Great Muppet Movie Ride, a strange hybrid of tribute and parody to Disney, great moments in movie history, and a little Muppet madness thrown in for good measure.
What would have been a Muppet-fied version of The Great Movie Ride starring all our favorite muppet characters was interesting in terms of concept, but ultimately not to be. As much as we'd love to see them reenact famous movie scenes a la the original Muppet Show, the Muppetland idea fell through. At least we still have Muppet Vision.
5 Critter Country 500
Speaking of interesting concepts that should have come to pass, let's talk about the unmade Critter Country 500. Though the Country Bears still call Disney World's Frontierland their home, the Disneyland counterpart was replaced by another famous bear on Disney's payroll. One of very little brain.
After The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh came to Disneyland, Country Bear Hall was closed. The Country Bears, however, were almost given a second life in a dark ride which would put them all in a race through Critter Country. Henry, Wendell, Shaker, and Big Al would have all been featured in this crazy kart race to the finish line, but it was unfortunately scrapped in favor of other projects.
4 Museum of the Weird
Though not a ride, this add-on to the famous Haunted Mansion would have been worth a visit. What would have been the exit experience to Gracey Manor was a gallery worthy of a Rod Serling series. It was a perfect end to a goofy and ghoulish ride.
Imagineers Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey would have designed a Museum of the Weird featuring a collection of artifacts and materials that evoke a strange and uncanny nature. Items like a coffin clock, a candle man, African shrunken heads, and a living gypsy cart were just a few pieces that would have gone into this marvelous attraction. Though it was never included as a whole, some artifacts did make it into the final version of the ride.
3 Sleepy Hollow Ride
Speaking of the Haunted Mansion, there was a time where Disney World was not going to have one. Instead, Imagineers wanted to fit in something that would match the theme of Liberty Square. Not too many New Orleans plantation houses exist in colonial America. So, they figured they'd incorporate a certain famous ghost story that just happened to fit the setting, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Guests would have taken a dark ride into the shadowy embrace of Sleepy Hollow. They would have followed the adventures of Ichabod Crane before the climactic encounter with the horrifying Headless Horseman. Sadly, this did not come to pass. But we did get a larger and arguably improved version of the Haunted Mansion.
2 Quest of the Unicorn
One of Disney's most famous unused concepts was Beastly Kingdom, a portion of Animal Kingdom dedicated to mythological beings and creatures. One of its main attractions was to have been Quest of the Unicorn, a labyrinth with encounters featuring magical creatures, including the Unicorn herself.
The attraction would have featured an interactive maze with griffins, gargoyles, and a gaggle of other creatures before engaging in an audience with an animatronic unicorn. Concept art of this attraction still exists and is one of the most magical things dreamed by Disney. However, it was only half of the Beastly Kingdom's main attraction. Where the unicorn would have been the force for good, she had a very evil and frightening adversary.
1 Dragon's Tower
Where the Unicorn was the shining force for good, the dragon was the force of evil. The dragon would have been the face of the Beastly Kingdom. A large, firebreathing monstrosity surrounded by the scorched ruins of a castle was the icon for what would have been Disney's most thrilling ride yet, Dragon's Tower.
Dragon's Tower would have been Disney's first hanging rollercoaster in which guests would have aided a party of bats who sought to dethrone the dragon and steal his treasure. The biggest feature would have been a giant animatronic dragon that would give Chernabog nightmares. Due to poor planning and financial issues, the Beastly Kingdom was not to be, however, remnants of the dragon can still be seen in Animal Kingdom today.