Friday, April 08, 2011

Disneyland That Never Was: Pt. 4

Mickey’s Madhouse, 1976: Dumbo’s Circusland, which was on the drawing boards at Imagineering before Toontown was conceived, featured “Mickey’s Madhouse”—essentially a “wild mouse” roller coaster in a dark ride environment, set in the world of early black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoons (think of the former Mulholland Madness at Disney California Adventure, but indoors, with no clear view of where the track ahead was going). Ward Kimball, one of Walt’s legendary Nine Old Men, was involved in the planning of the prospective land, which is hardly surprising since he considered “Dumbo” his favorite Disney film.

Discovery Bay, 1984: Set in the Victorian Age of Invention, Discovery Bay was to be a new land in the ranch area behind Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Conceived as an inventors enclave north of San Francisco, it truly was a decades-early precursor of the current “steampunk” trend in science fiction. Attractions inspired by Disney movies included an undersea restaurant aboard the Nautilus from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and a ride aboard the Hyperion airship to The Island at the Top of the World and other mythical lands, as shown below. Other attractions included a fireworks shooting gallery, a huge greenhouse filled with a botantist's exotic experiments, and a boat ride through time. One character, the proprietor of Professor Marvel’s Gallery of Illusions, eventually became Dreamfinder in Journey Into Imagination at EPCOT.

Hope you enjoyed this very cool series put together by the folks at D23. If you haven't joined yet...what are you waiting for?

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Major Pepperidge said...

I know that Discovery Bay was one of Tony Baxter's pet projects; it's hard to tell from concept sketches, but it could have been cool. Not sure about the "Island at the Top of the World" ride, just because that is not a particularly good movie.

Cory Gross said...

Great post... I love the old Mickey toons, so that ride would have been great. And I've never seen that concept art for Discovery Bay before!

Major, the Island ride would have differed substantially from the movie. It would have been somewhere between a Peter Pan-style ride and a simulator, and would have had you exploring the Arctic to find a frozen over valley with the remains of a viking civilization. It's one of those cases where even if the movie was middlin', the ride would have been cool.

It would be substantially different by now, but I will eternally keep my fingers crossed for a Discovery Bay in Frontierland. Even if it was a simple as importing Paris' Cafe Hyperion and Mysteries of the Nautilus, and Tokyo's 20,000 Leagues, I would love it.

TokyoMagic! said...

I remember as a kid, hearing about Circusland and Discovery Bay. Mickey's Mad House was described as a tribute to the days of black and white MM cartoons and I think something about ragtime music was mentioned, but in all these years, I've never heard a description of what type of ride it would be...or seen any artwork for it. Thanks for posting this, Dave!

Davelandweb said...

I agree with Cory, Major - sometimes a bad movie can yield a good attraction. And (unfortunately), the reverse can also be said (but I ain't naming names!).


man I can't even begin to tell you what that Disneyland Preview Of Coming Attractions had on me and my life (Thanks TONY!!!) From my 5 year memories of the WDW Thunder Mesa Runaway Railroad model in the Dumbo's Circusland and Discovery Bay models. In the late 70's and early 80's I was obsessed with Discovery Bay and Dumbo's Circusland. In jr. high school I even did a presentation on the future expansion of these proposed "lands".........My teacher was so impressed I was sent to other classes to duplicate the same presentation. Everyone was so excited! (I had to draw my own pictures of the renderings and models I had seen so many times).......they were then projected with an overhead projector thing that was the size of a Xerox machine!

I think most of the attractions would have been popular weather or not the films were successful or not---------the “Island at the Top of The World” attraction would be able to stand on it’s own just for the sight of the Hyperion Airship and the effects and flight simulation……..

It’s sad how so much of what can get into a Disney park is decided by non-designers like marketing people and merchandise managers………..not Imagineers.

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