Sometimes things happen for a reason, but sometimes things don’t happen for a reason. The fact of the matter is that Imagineering comes up with new ideas every day, but we only ever see a fraction of it. Here are just a few of my favorites that have been abandoned.
Have you ever looked closely at the Animal Kingdom sign? There’s a bunch of animals on it, but right smack in the middle is a dragon. That’s a little weird considering there are no dragons in Animal Kingdom. But there was supposed to be.
Beastly Kingdom was supposed to be in the initial creation of Animal Kingdom, but due to their budget, they had to scrap it, at least for a while. In its place was Camp Minnie-Mickey, which ultimately became a slapped together campground that obviously costs a lot less than Beastly Kingdom would have.
The never-built kingdom would have been one of the most dynamic expansions ever created by Disney, and likely the darkest. Upon entering it, guests could choose to walk two paths. On the left would be a path leading to a medieval town. On the path would be charred armor and abandoned lances in the middle of a dark forest. It would lead eventually to the “Dragon’s Tower,” a dark ride/roller coaster hybrid, a much darker ride than Disney had done before.
The other path would be brighter, with the area mainly being taken from Disney’s 1940 classic, “Fantasia.” There would be a dark ride based on the movie. That area’s biggest ride was “The Quest of the Unicorn,” a gigantic maze that challenged guests to find five golden idols.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s likely that you have been to Universal Studios’s park, Islands of Adventure. As I said, Beastly Kingdom never happened. It was supposed to eventually replace Camp Minnie Mickey, but now Pandora will fill that role.
Instead Beastly Kingdom seems to have been replicated in a specific area of Islands of Adventure called the Lost Continent. Over the years, there have been Imagineers who have jumped ship and joined Universal. Suddenly, Universal had a park that included a dragon-themed ride through and around a castle, a Unicorn-based ride, and a medieval village. Now the Lost Continent has been around since 1999 so Disney can’t afford to build Beastly Kingdom and risk looking like they copied their rival.
Expansions for the World Showcase Pavilion
In 1981, Disney announced that Venezuela and Spain would join the pavilion. Of course that never happened. They later rescinded the statement, citing complications when new governments took over and they lost their “friends” in the countries.
They worked to sign a deal with Switzerland, the Soviet Union, and Kenya and they actually did sign a deal with Israel. It was all scrapped. The lesson here is that if Disney announces that they will be adding new countries to the World Showcase, they probably actually aren’t.
Have you ever noticed that Pizza Planet (now PizzeRizzo) looks a lot like MuppetVision 3-D and not at all like the Pizza Planet from “Toy Story”? It’s because it was actually supposed to to be the Swedish Chef’s Cooking School, a restaurant based on the Muppet’s famous bumbling chef.
When Jim Henson died, Muppet Studios, a Muppet-themed area next to the Streets of America in Disney’s MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios), was already underway. They had already completed MuppetVision 3-D. But when Disney tried to continue working on it and make a deal with the Henson family, their plans fell through. By the time they did get the rights to the Muppets in 2004, Muppet Studios was no longer a high priority and it was already pushed to the side.
Dark Kingdom/The Shadowlands
The Dark Kingdom would have been an entirely separate park, dedicated to the villains. It’s centerpiece would have been Maleficent’s castle. Obviously, an entire park dedicated to villains might be a little much.
The Shadowlands would have been a sort of compromise. It would be a section of Magic Kingdom. Not too much is known about it except that there would be a Dumbo-like ride based on Ursula (so you’d probably be flying on tentacles). There would also be a Villain Mountain that would be a log flume similar to Splash Mountain.