Disney Unbuilt

A Pocket Guide to the Disney Imagineering Graveyard

by Chris Ware | Release Date: December 5, 2016 | Availability: Print, Kindle

Mickey's Attic

For all that Disney has built, there's so much more it hasn't built. Here's your nickel tour of the parks, lands, attractions, restaurants, and hotels that hatched from the fertile minds of the Disney Imagineers, from the 1950s to the present, but that you'll likely never see or experience.

Okay, mouse fans, time for some straight talk. This book is a pocket guide. You can't fit an encyclopedia in your pocket. If you're looking for definitive scholarship about Thunder Mesa and Beastly Kingdom and Muppet Studio and the many other well-known abandoned Disney projects, you won't find it here. Far from it!

What you will find, and what makes this book so unique, is that it's all here, every serious and every whimsical notion that Imagineering ever put in a blueprint, or on a napkin, in little digestible slices of Disney magic.

Did you know that Disney once planned:

  • A "Tower of Terror" based on Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein—and then on the novels of Stephen King
  • A brand-new theme park about the "history of America", with such things as a Civil War fort, a Dust Bowl farm, and a World War II airfield
  • A new pavilion in Epcot all about the weather and sponsored by ... the Weather Channel
  • An "Australia" section of Animal Kingdom to go along with the existing Africa and Asia sections

And I'm just getting started. The most obscure, the most truly forgotten Imagineering wishes and fancies are here in this sampler of might have been.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Parks

Chapter 2: Lands

Chapter 3: Attractions

Chapter 4: Restaurants

Chapter 5: Hotels

Chapter 6: Mousellaneous


Disney has made many dreams a reality. While we all are familiar with what Disney did make, many of us are not familiar with are the projects that never made it off the drawing board. Together we will look at all the parks, lands, attractions, and restaurants never built.

We will see what could have been. We will learn why these dreams never became real. We will also see that with Disney a good dream never dies, but often gets incorporated into other something else.

You are sure to find some great ideas you wish Disney had built and some others that you’re glad they never did.

Chris Ware

I have been a writer for over a decade, and a contributor to a local paper for a few years.

I grew up 10 minutes from Disneyland and have been a Disney fan all my life. I also have made a successful business selling Disneyana collectibles.

Still lost: Atlantis. And the Atlantis Expedition, too.

The Atlantis Expedition was going to be a replacement for the Submarine Voyage. While there was a tent put up with an announcement stating the ride would open in the future, it was not approved by management and only placed by the Imagineers. The ride would have been themed to the Atlantis: The Lost Empire animated film. The subs would have had hands that you could use to grab gold and gems you found. Unfortunately, guests would encounter a leviathan which would attack the sub and even cause a leak in the sub. When you finally got back to the surface safely, you would have lost most of your treasure except for a coin for each guest.

For those of you who even recall the movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire, you will remember it didn’t make much of an impression on most people or the box office. Disney was not going to spend the money on a ride for a movie that did not do well.

Atlantis would not get a ride, but the subs would ultimately return themed to Finding Nemo. In DisneySea, while you don’t get to control a mechanical hand, you do get to control a flashlight.

Continued in "Disney Unbuilt"!

Confucius say: try the special, it's really good.

The Confucius Restaurant was planned to be a part of Disneyland’s Chinatown which was discussed earlier. It was to be a Chinese food restaurant. What would make the Confucius Restaurant so memorable would be the use of an audio-animatronic Confucius. Many may be surprised to learn that this was actually before Mr. Lincoln. It was just after the second attempt at an animtraonic and the first life-sized audio-anamatronic based on a human.

The Confucius Restaurant started out without the animatronic as just a Chinese restaurant as a way to showcase other ethnic groups of California. However, once work on the Confucius figure began, Walt was so impressed he wanted it to be included, and even an animatronic dragon was to be added as well. After the dragon was added, it was decided that audio-animatronic birds would also be added.

The audio-animatronic Confucius only ever made it so far as a head, but it was an early and often overlooked piece of animatronic Disney history. The Imagineers liked the idea of using Confucius for a variety of reasons. First, he was old so he would not be expected to move much and could simply sit down. Second, he could wear baggy silk clothes which would not look out of place but would allow for more room for the mechanics inside.

While Chinatown and the Confucius Restaurant would not make it off the drawing board, the animatronic idea would. Also, as we already discussed, Confucius would directly lead to a president audio-animatronic which would end up being Mr. Lincoln. While the Confucius Restaurant may not have been built yet, as Confucius said the trip of 1000 miles begins with a first step.

Continued in "Disney Unbuilt"!

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