What rides at Disneyland and Disney World have the shortest lines? These do…because although they were planned, they were never actually built.
“Submarine Voyage” was one of three Tomorrowland attractions that opened in 1959. (The other two: the Matterhorn and the Monorail.) Guests boarded a submarine in a pool, and it gave the impression of a deep-sea voyage. When the ride closed in 1998, plans were made to refurbish it into “Atlantis Expedition,” a new deep-sea voyage based on Atlantis: The Lost Empire, a Disney animated movie set to open in 2001. Coming in the wake of a string of smash hits—The Lion King, Pocahontas, Tarzan, and others—Atlantis was expected to be a massive hit.
It wasn’t. Disneyland executives then canceled the ride, and “Submarine Voyage” remained closed. Fortunately, in 2003 Disney’s Pixar Animation released Finding Nemo. That one was a huge hit, and in 2007 “Submarine Voyage” became “Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.”
In the early 1980s, Disney acquired the rights to make a scary ride based on the 1979 horror-science-fiction movie Alien. Mirroring the plot of the movie, riders would sit inside armored vehicles on a rescue mission to find the missing (and presumed-dead) members of the Nostromo spaceship crew, as they were being chased by a gigantic, horrific alien. George Lucas was brought in to help develop the attraction, but Disney bosses forced developers to scrap the ride.
Reason: they were afraid that because the R-rated Alien was so scary, the ride would be too scary for family-friendly Disneyland.
Mary Poppins’s Jolly Holiday
Of the major animated movies released by Disney during its 1930 to 1960s heyday, only one has never been turned into a ride at Disneyland or Disney World: Mary Poppins. Even getting the movie made was difficult—Walt Disney only persuaded Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers to sign off on the rights after 20 years of asking.
Travers hated the film and refused to sell Disney the right to make any sequels. That’s also what prevented “Mary Poppins’s Jolly Holiday” from being constructed in the late 1960s. Proposed for Fantasyland, guests would have ridden on a turn-of-the-century carousel, in upside-down umbrellas. It never got past the planning stage.
Mount Fuji Roller Coaster
Epcot, part of Disney World in Florida, is home to several pavilions representing the cultures of various nations around the world. The Japan pavilion features a traditional pagoda, Japanese gardens, and Japanese restaurants. For its opening in 1982, designers planned an indoor roller coaster housed inside a gigantic replica of Japan’s Mount Fuji. And like the Matterhorn at Disneyland, with its mechanical Abominable Snowman lunging at riders, the Mount Fuji Roller Coaster was set to feature a Godzilla-like lizard scaring patrons. So what stopped the ride from getting built? Its name.
Kodak, one of Epcot’s largest sponsors, objected to Disney building a ride with a name so similar to that of Kodak’s biggest competitor, Fujifilm.
Part of the pitch used to interest potential investors in the original Disneyland was an attraction called “Lilliputian Land.” Named after the race of tiny people in Gulliver’s Travels, this area of the park was intended to be a tiny village, populated with nine-inch-tall singing and dancing robots. The area was going to feature a miniature train that guests could ride to see the sights of the little town and an Erie Canal barge to take passengers on a scenic tour of “the famous canals of the world” (in miniature). Ultimately, though, Lilliputian Land was called off. Reason: Disney technicians couldn’t figure out the animatronics to make the miniature robots work.
This article was originally published in Uncle John’s Canoramic Bathroom Reader.