Typhoon Lagoon’s newest ride quietly pays homage to one of Disney’s most forgotten films

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Lost kingdom of Atlantis from “Atlantis: the Lost Empire.” Photo courtesy of Disney Wiki

Back in 2001, Disney had a brand new franchise underway. With a cast led by Michael J. Fox, “Atlantis” was supposed to hit. Called a “monumental treat” and “worth it” by the New York Times and given 3.5 out of 4 stars by Roger Ebert, it critically was a hit. And yet it was a box office bomb.

Having banked on the movie’s success, a tv show was already in the works and, instead, the company struggled to cut the first few episodes of the show together to release a direct-to-video sequel, “Atlantis: Milo’s Return.” They still had clothes and toys and pins that they were ready to sell, but none of which sold particularly well. And with that, “Atlantis” was forgotten.

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Window display from Main Street in Disneyland from 2002. Photo courtesy of Geoff Carter on Flickr.

For the most part, at least. If you were to ask many millennials their favorite Disney movie, you’ll likely hear a movie that they grew up watching, something that was released in the late 1990s or early 2000s. In that block, you might expect “Lilo and Stitch” or “Monster’s Inc,” but every now and again, someone will give you the surprising answer of “Treasure Planet” or “Atlantis.”

Disney knows this. One thing that Disney is really good at in their parks is to build off story lines and to have little surprises for their guests. Consider the people who stand in line for the “Haunted Mansion” rather than use Fastpass just so that they might be able to try to find the bride’s ring in the ground. Or the people who spend all day in the parks looking for hidden Mickeys.

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A hidden Mickey on “Mission: SPACE” in EPCOT. Photo courtesy of Edward Russell on Flickr.

The story of Typhoon Lagoon’s newest ride, Miss Adventure Falls, involves the artifacts of treasure hunter, Captain Mary Oceaneer, which have been thrown on land due to a rough typhoon. Disney Parks Blog has been giving their audience a sneak peek of some of these artifacts which include this dive bell.

Underneath, any “Atlantis” fan could tell that the Atlantean alphabet is present, which gives the rider an idea that the captain might have had an adventure in the lost empire. Although some hoped that the bell would lead to a deeper story line in the ride about the forgotten film, it’s rather hard to have an in depth story ride on a raft ride. Still, it pays homage to the movie, as well as the ride that never was. Disney had planned for “Atlantis” to overlay the “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” ride in Disneyland, but they cancelled the plan when the movie bombed.

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The closed “Submarine Voyage” ride that “Atlantis” was supposed to replace. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. 

It’s very unlikely that at this point “Atlantis” would come back into Disney’s plans. It won’t be getting another sequel or a tv show or a ride, but they managed to give a nod to fans of the forgotten franchise and a reminder that the lost empire isn’t totally lost in Disney.

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