Contribute to Our Research

Lost Disneylandia

One of the highlights of the recent Destination D event was a great presentation by Imagineer Dave Fisher about the creation of Disneyland, with a focus on attractions that were planned but never built. This is always a rich topic for discussion, as could be seen in Fisher’s presentation; while some of these lost attractions were things I’ve heard of before, several turned out to be complete surprises. Others were projects that are publicly known, but for which art has never been released. Here are a few of the more interesting pieces of artwork that I managed to photograph.

We’ll start with some ideas dating back to Disneyland’s construction. Many concepts were thrown out in those early days, as WED Imagineers attempted to get a handle on what, exactly, this new park was going to be. No one had seen a Disneyland before, and these concepts show just how different things could have been.

This concept for a “Crocodile Aquarium” is reminiscent of some of the great old roadside attractions in Florida
Rendering of a proposed Ferris Wheel based on The Old Mill for Fantasyland. While never built in Disneyland, a similar attraction was installed at Disneyland Paris but it has been inoperational since 2002.
Here’s yet another member of the pantheon of abandoned circus attractions proposed for Disneyland; note the pink elephants, the Tweedles on the high wire, and the rather unsettling GIANT EAGLE on the left
While the spinning Teacups did make it into Disneyland on opening day, this early concept featured an animated centerpiece with the Mad Hatter and March Hare

The majority of the abandoned concepts seem to have been developed for Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. These two lands were hit hard by the financial constraints that overshadowed Disneyland’s construction; Walt at one point actually decided that Tomorrowland’s debut would be delayed until after the park’s opening. When he decided that the park should have a full roster of lands on opening day after all, there was a concerted rush to fill those show buildings with… something. Anything, actually. Disney, in an attempt to fill that empty space, contacted a number of American industries to see if they’d sponsor corporate displays and exhibits in the park. That’s why Tomorrowland in those early days was filled with oddities like Crane’s “Bathroom of Tomorrow”, the Kaiser Aluminum Hall of Fame, Monsanto’s Hall of Chemistry, and, of course, the American Dairy Association’s “Dairy Bar.” There’s a reason why Tomorrowland had two major renovations in its first fifteen years. Still, though, there were some ideas that didn’t make the cut…

Western Union Intrafax Exhibit

This proposed display would showcase Western Union’s “Intrafax,” an early implementation of fax technology developed in the 1950s that could transmit documents within offices or over short distances.

Meteorite! Construction block of the universe! Behind the “pebble from outer space,” note the sign proclaiming “See The Moon Now – Special Vacation Rates.”

If these exhibits proved a bit too tame for your tastes, how about this rendering for a Tomorrowland Uranium Mine? Guests would surround the planter space and scan for uranium with their very own geiger counters!

Mining for uranium in Tomorrowland

This next one might be my favorite. Why don’t they have this today? Solar Nescafe – make it happen, Disney!


And here’s a swanky kiosk for Coppertone, which looks like it probably was developed during a later era:

Cancer made by the sun!!

Here’s an unusual concept for Tomorrowland from very early on; it looks like Fritz Lang meets The Wizard of Oz:

Off to see the Wizard!

It’s well known that a number of ideas were developed over the years to expand Main Street U.S.A. International Street and Liberty Street were proposed for the area off of town square next to the Opera House, while Edison Square would have connected to the Plaza between the former Red Wagon Inn and Main Street. Apparently a later proposal was to reimagine that concept as Gay Nineties Square, which was news to me.

A rendering of the “Hall of the Declaration of Independence,” one of the two shows intended for Liberty Street
A map of the proposed Edison Square expansion

Edison Square would have featured a series of dioramas depicting Thomas Edison’s laboratory and his great discoveries. It would also showcase a series of walk-through displays showing innovations in home appliances – an idea that would soon evolve into the Carousel of Progress.

One diorama from Edison Square would show Edison’s laboratory in Menlo Park
One of the scenes in Edison Square would have been this “contemporary interior” – a penthouse apartment in New York City with a roof garden
The facades of Edison Square would resemble different turn-of-the-century cities, including Chicago (shown here). Other facades included San Francisco and New York City.
Gay Nineties Square, a concept developed from Edison Square. The exhibit buildings were themed to St. Louis, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and New York.

Of course, aside from these major expansions, there were a number of other attractions proposed during the years. How about a ride that would make use of all those giant dinosaurs returning to Disneyland from Ford’s Magic Skyway at the 1964/65 World’s Fair?

This proposed boat ride would have used the prehistoric scenes from Magic Skyway

Or how about this crazy idea for a very early simulator attraction that would take guests into a swirling hurricane? Many, many years later this idea would resurface as StormRider at Tokyo DisneySea; its ride system even resembles that park’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea dark ride. Sometimes it’s scary how forward-thinking WED was.

Capsule for hurricane ride
Guests ride into the “hurricane”
View from the ride vehicle in the hurricane simulator

Then there were a number of proposals to transform Storybookland into something called “Garden of the Gods”:

Garden of the Gods ride vehicle
One can see how the layout of Garden of the Gods would have matched the current Storybookland; it would have always featured a lot of fountains!
A snowy village from Garden of the Gods
“Look kids, Hades!”
Even Chernabog made an appearance in Garden of the Gods!

As time went on, Imagineers sought to mine current Disney films for new attractions. After Walt’s death, they were almost never successful. When even hit films like The Love Bug couldn’t get an attraction greenlit…

Families leap between buildings in The Love Bug. Where exactly did WED think this attraction should go? On the other hand, it would have actually been appropriate for California Adventure as it took place in San Francisco.
Ride vehicles would split in half for the ride’s finale

… then what hope did a film like The Black Hole have? Expecting the movie to become a big hit, WED designed this ride-through shooting gallery based on the robots from the film. When The Black Hole flopped, the idea was adapted for another upcoming sci-fi film, TRON. When that didn’t become a hit either, the concept lay dormant until it was revived as Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

Concept for The Black Hole shooter ride
Um, where’s V.I.N.CENT?

There was even a boat ride proposed for the animated flop The Black Cauldron! One can see how the designs for this attraction influenced EPCOT’s Maelstrom.

“Thou art not the first to pass this way!”

Lastly, there were a number of concepts created in later years to fill the Carousel Theater in Tomorrowland (which I hope some of our resident super-geniuses will elaborate on). The one shown below would have re-themed the building as the “Star Palace” theater featuring an alien musical revue. One concept, developed in the Captain EO era, even included a moonwalking Michael Jackson animatronic.

Exterior of the remodeled theater
The alien show inside the Carousel Theater
P.T. Quantum was one of the proposed hosts for the show
Look, it’s Harmon Nee from the Star Palace! Don’t forget the “boyish freckles”…
And Mel O’Dee, the “Irish Micronaut!”

It’s time to discuss sexual dimorphism in Micronauts, as depicted by Mel O’Dee – the “Irish Micronaut.” Because, apparently, every planet has an Ireland. So you won’t have to squint, here are her features as described in the stylesheet: She has a smaller nose and softer features overall! She sports an aviator’s scarf and lambskin collar, and the back of her jacket has an alien war campaign insignia reminiscent of Disney’s WWII bomber nose art! She’s “fun and feisty” – a “Marion Ravenwood type,” as indicated by her “sexy pelvic tilt!” Note her “more delicate” “female fingers” and toes, and “higher waist, slimmer body!” Dimorphism! And if you couldn’t tell, “She plays the raucous stuff; he, the softer, prettier passages.”

And, if you weren’t sold on the concept, there’s this:

“Wild and Untamed Huge Hooters from Hoth”

Hey, not everything can be Western River Expedition!

Related Posts...

8 comments to Lost Disneylandia

  • Adam S

    Cool stuff. Thanks for sharing.

    The snowy village reminds me of the house and forest from Peter and the Wolf.

  • RO93461

    This is a great post. So much interesting art. Bruce Bushman was the artist on many of the early DL sketches along with Herb. I saw copies of them in a file drawer in the office of David Bradley, a kiddieland operator Walt hired to help design the park. Bradley claimed “the Hub” layout was his idea, and that Bruce for a time worked with him. You can see how Disneyland was growing out of an overlay of old Amusement rides. Ryman must have been out there cranking out “fishing lures” for the sponsors. The “uranium” play area concept is my favorite. You’ll never lose your kids in the park when they glow. Celebrated Comic artist William Stout did the character art for the Carousel theater you see there. That version was under the direction of Rick Rothchild, as there were many takes on the Carousel as a traveling show. I worked on one too back when it was part of a Lucas driven Tomorrowland.

  • Wow! So much concept art I’ve never seen before! Would love to have experienced a Black Cauldron flume, despite the film being dismal.

    This is a fantastic post. I like the dimorphism analysis… very funny.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Johnny D

    The “Coffee Made by the Sun” kiosk is just too cool…my dream refurb of Tomorrowland is towards a more natural/sustainable urban prototype. This kiosk would be great near the Fantasyland border, environmentally friendly, technologically advanced, yet quite whimsical.

  • jill baratta

    I have a sketch of the Little Tug Boat by Bruce Bushman…signed,1954 and cannot find out if it is of value,,, anyone know about it.. E mail me,,, it is a fantastic sketch

  • […] considered for rides, and concept art for some (Black Cauldron, Love Bug, etc.) can be found here: Lost Disneylandia | Progress City, U.S.A. Reply With […]

  • Joe

    Didn’t they incorporate some of the Black Cauldron stuff in the original Tokyo Disneyland Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour?

  • […] Michael at Progress City, U.S.A., who got it from a presentation by Disney Imagineer Dave Fisher in […]

Leave a Reply