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.
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…
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.
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!
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:
Here’s an unusual concept for Tomorrowland from very early on; it looks like Fritz Lang meets The Wizard of Oz:
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.
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.
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?
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.
Then there were a number of proposals to transform Storybookland into something called “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…
… 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.
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.
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.
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:
Hey, not everything can be Western River Expedition!