Disney World Attractions That Ultimately Got Scrapped

in Park Secrets, Walt Disney World

Concept Art for Mount Fuji Coaster_feature image

Not every Disney World attraction hopeful makes the final cut.

If the scene at Disney World (Orlando, FL) over the last several years has taught us anything, it’s that plans change. Think back to the 2019 D23 EXPO when all those new Park concepts and future attractions were revealed. Four years later, that once-abundant list of Disney World attractions has been significantly reduced. Some ideas remain on hold indefinitely, while others have had confirmed cancellations. We’re also left wondering about the future state of some abandoned Disney attractions throughout various Parks.

Yet canceled Disney rides and attractions are more frequent than many realize. The Company is, after all, known for spinning out countless ideas and visions. Therefore, it goes without saying that not every concept makes it past the drawing board phase.

Here at Inside the Magic, we’re reviewing some of the best Disney World attractions by Park that initially got scrapped before ever coming to fruition.

Related: Ungranted Wishes: The Disney World Attractions That Never Were

Magic Kingdom Park

Villains Mountain/Bald Mountain

Following the closure of Magic Kingdom Park’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction in 1994, opening a Disney Villains-inspired attraction onsite was once up for consideration. Inspired by Bald Mountain from Disney’s Fantasia (1940), the dark ride would have featured several villains from various works of Disney Animation. According to concept art, Guests would have ridden along in longboat rafts through Chernabog’s Mountain, where they would find villains discussing who was the evilest of all…and other menacing matters, such as taking over Magic Kingdom Park! Perhaps earlier ideas for what could have been will be revisited if Disney decides to move forward with that previously teased Villains Land expansion we heard about at the 2022 D23 EXPO.

Concept art for Bald Mountain attraction
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Imagineer Confirms Villain Park in the Works

Fire Mountain

Another Mountain was set to come to Magic Kingdom in the early 2000s, with one potential location again being the site of the former 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction. This would have been a volcano-based roller coaster themed after the then-upcoming 2001 Disney animated movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire. It would have utilized a unique hybrid system that combined the elements of a traditional roller coaster with a hooked suspension track, in which there would be an included flyby through caverns.

Due to the film’s underperformance at the Box Office and with tourism already low following the 9/11 attacks, Disney ultimately decided not to move forward with the ride. Recent rumors have since emerged, however, alluding to the possibility of revisiting the ride concept with a Moana theme based around Te Ka. But there has been no official confirmation of this from Disney.

Western River Expedition

It’s hard to believe that Disney World almost decided to forego establishing its own version of Pirates of the Caribbean. Because the Disneyland ride exists in its exclusive New Orleans Square section of the Park—one that Disney World lacks—the idea was to establish an equivalent yet distinctly different wild-west ride-through attraction. Plans for Walt Disney’s Riverfront Square in St. Louis, MO, folded before Disney World came to life. But it was decided that one attraction hopeful intended for the former, the Western River Expedition (earlier named the Lewis and Clark River Expedition), would make a welcome addition to the Magic Kingdom. But fans of Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean were vocally adamant about recreating the attraction at Disney World instead. So, Disney listened and decided to give the people what they wanted. As a result, the Western River Expedition never happened.

Related: Disney Park and Resort Ideas That Got Axed

Hollywood Studios

Creatures’ Choice Awards

Before the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Hollywood Studios, previously known as Disney-MGM Studios, had a very different horror-based attraction in mind. It was to be a creepy, comedic animatronic show presented as an awards ceremony for classic movie monsters. It was set to feature “Eddie FrankenMurphy” (Eddie Murphy) as host, and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, as one of the presenters. The primary subplot would focus on Godzilla, the guest of honor and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award, and his adventure from Japan to Walt Disney World. His progression would be shown on the main screen before his imminent crashing arrival onsite.

The idea was later scrapped due to budget concerns and the fact that it didn’t fit with the kind of horror homage the Park was going for. Instead of comedy, they wanted a thrill ride sure to get Guests screaming.

Concept drawings for Creatures' Choice Awards featuring Eddie Murphy and Elivira
Credit: Disney

Monsters, Inc. Door Coaster

Following the popularity of Disney-Pixar’s Monsters, Inc., there were serious considerations for bringing a themed indoor roller coaster inspired by the movie to Hollywood Studios. The ride would have been based on the film’s well-known escape scene through the Door Warehouse and would have undoubtedly been something plenty of fans would have loved. But the main issue was bad timing. This concept coincided with a time when Hollywood Studios was looking to pitch more family-friendly attractions that all ages could enjoy. A ride of this nature would have certainly come with size restrictions and the potential to be too intense for some children. Therefore, it never happened.

EPCOT

River Cruises in EPCOT Pavilions

You’ve heard of Maelstrom, later rethemed as Frozen Ever After, and the still beloved Gran Fiesta Tour, but what about the other boat-based attractions intended for the World Showcase at EPCOT? One working concept was to feature a river cruise in the Germany Pavilion, which would cover such famous waterways as the Rhine, Tauber, Ruhr, and Isar. There were also plans for a Thames River Cruise to be an included attraction at the United Kingdom Pavilion. The Italy Pavilion was also set to include a gondola-based boat ride along with a Roman Ruins walkthrough attraction.

Japan’s Bullet Train

EPCOT’s Japan Pavilion was set to have a couple of attractions too. One would have been a bullet train Disney concept, which would have welcomed Guests to board the passenger compartment for a recreated scenic riding experience. The interior would have vibrated, giving the feel of high-speed motion, and the windows would have been enacted screens, showcasing changing scenery. Even though plans for Japan’s bullet train never emerged, I’d love to see the concept revisited as a future Zootopia attraction featuring Judy’s ride through the city.

Concept art for the planned bullet train in Japan
Credit: Disney

Related: ‘Zootopia’ Attraction Rumored For Disney World

Mount Fuji Roller Coaster

Another high-speed ride originally intended for the Japan Pavilion, this was to be Walt Disney World’s answer to Disneyland’s famed Matterhorn Bobsleds. The plan would have been to feature the coaster at the far end of the Japan Pavilion. The ride would have included both inside and outside components to send Guests racing through the mountain as is traditional of all Disney mountain-based attractions.

The real reason why this ride never happened, though, can be blamed on a conflict of interest. Sponsorship for the Mount Fuji Roller Coaster would have come from Fujifilm, a known competitor of Eastman Kodak—the already renowned sponsor for EPCOT’s Journey into Imagination attraction.

Animal Kingdom Park

The Excavator

Before the now-defunct Primeval Whirl came on the scene at DinoLand U.S.A. at Animal Kingdom Park, there was the idea of featuring a wooden runaway mine car roller coaster titled “The Excavator.” The plot would have centered around those same college students connected to the Restaurantosaurus storyline. In this scenario, though, they’ve restarted an old mine car, taking them through an abandoned dinosaur dig site to gather and collect dinosaur fossils. While the initial idea would have arguably held more promise than the settled-for Primeval Whirl, the slated budget for carrying it out initially drove the idea to early extinction.

Concept art for Excavator
Credit: Insights and Sounds

Related: Guests Weep as Disney World Closes DinoLand

Tree of Life Carousel

Can you imagine the Tree of Life as anything other than what it is today? Disney’s original intentions, though, were far different. The goal was to establish an elaborate triple-decker carousel in which the first level would have featured aquatic animals in a pool of water. The second level would have been a traditional carousel with land animals (horses and more). Then, the very top would have included a Dumbo-style spinner component themed after flying birds.

Beastly Kingdom

Current reviews of Animal Kingdom sometimes garner mixed results regarding whether or not Disney made all the right decisions about the lands they initially went with. For instance, there is still much debate surrounding whether the original Beastly Kingdom Disney concept should have made the final cut.

This would have been a new section of the Park focusing on mythical, fictionalized creatures. Concept art shows that it would have been divided into two separate sections—one focusing on good creatures and the other on darker, more menacing beasts. With these divides came at least three unique attractions. On the good side, “Quest for the Unicorn” would have been an anchoring feature—a maze-like venture leading to a grotto and a magical unicorn. The good section would have also hosted a “Fantasia Gardens” attraction inspired by Disney’s namesake masterpiece film Fantasia. The dark side, however, would have been site to a harrowing roller coaster thrill known as “Dragon’s Tower.”

Over the years, the unfinished section of the Park intended for this land was used for Camp Mickey-Minnie before being transformed into another mythical creature-based land. This is where Pandora—The World of Avatar eventually opened in 2017.

Side-by-side concept art for Beastly Kingdom's Quest for the Unicorn and Dragon's Tower

Related: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Was Supposed to Have Unicorns and Dragons

Which attractions on this list would you have liked to experience personally? Let us know in the comments.

in Park Secrets, Walt Disney World

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