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The Dark Kingdom Was Disney’s Failed Plan for a Theme Park Based on Villains

Ian Harvey
Photo Credit: Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket / Getty Images and Leigh Caldwell / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo Credit: Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket / Getty Images and Leigh Caldwell / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

When one thinks of Disneyland the next word is “fun.” There are Disney parks all over the world including Florida, California, Japan, France, and China. Park administrators are always coming up with new ideas to make them even better. Usually, the new ideas are successful but there are quite a few that never came to fruition. The most interesting failed plan was the Dark Kingdom proposed for Walt Disney World in Orlando.

The Dark Kingdom

Cinderella's Castle.
Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World. (Photo Credit: Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket / Getty Images)

According to, the emphasis would have been on Disney villains such as Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, Captain Hook from Peter Pan, Ursula from the Little Mermaid, Jafar from Aladdin, and Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians. Maleficent’s Castle would have been the centerpiece, with other attractions including Villain Mountain (or Bald Mountain from Fantasia) and an Ursula the Sea Witch ride. New spins on current attractions were also scheduled to be built.

Where the idea started

A woman in a Maleficent costume.
Portrait of Disney villain character Maleficent during the seasonal Halloween theme at the Disneyland Resort in Hong Kong, China.(Photo Credit: Miguel Candela / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

The idea started in 1986 when the Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour opened at Tokyo Disneyland. The tour was based on the Sleeping Beauty Castle Tour in Disneyland, but a bit more intense. In fact, cast members were to warn visitors that what they were about to experience might be too scary. Details of the tour included portraits mutating, flying spirits, and looks into the spooky rooms of Disney’s top villains. 

The end of the tour saw visitors “vanquishing” the Horned King from The Black Cauldron, allowing participants to leave on a high note and showcasing that engaging with Disney villains could be just as fun as with heroes. 

Other failed Disney ideas

David Copperfield holding cards, and young girl  pointing at one.
Magician David Copperfield allows an audience participant, to select a card during his performance at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston on Oct. 2, 1984. (Photo Credit: Jim Wilson / The Boston Globe / Getty Images)

Another scrapped idea was Beastly Kingdom, was envisioned to feature mythical animals from folk stories and fairy tales. Dragons, unicorns, and sea monsters would have been surrounding Dragon Tower in which guests would be treated to a roller coaster ride through the dilapidated castle. Budget cuts and layoffs of staff were some of the reasons these two attractions were never built. tells us that some of the other scrapped plans included twin restaurants in New York City and Orlando. The themes were to focus on the magic of David Copperfield. Guests would have entered through a hallway set to look like a dungeon and proceed through a library before entering the dining room. Magic acts would have been performed in several places in the restaurants with the guests participating in the acts. However, the funds for building the New York City restaurant ran out, and the plans for both were discarded.

A three tiered merry go round, dinosaur safari, and an Asian boat safari were also shelved, as was a Jules Verne area in Adventureland. In California, a Dick Tracy ride through 1930s Chicago, The Nightmare Before Christmas ride, and a villain ride were taken out of consideration.

New resorts that never happened

The inside of the Millennium Falcon ride.
General view of the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride at the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Walt Disney World Resort Opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 27, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo Credit: Gerardo Mora / Getty Images)

At Walt Disney World, there were three planned resorts to be built in the early 1970s. The Venetian Resort was to be modeled after Venice, Italy and placed in the Seven Seas Lagoon. Disney’s Asian Resort would have featured themes from Thailand, and Disney’s Persian Resort would have been built to specifications given by the Iranians of authentic ancient Persian buildings. The oil shortage in 1973 canceled these plans.

New theme parks that were considered include Walt Disney’s Riverfront Square which was to be built in 1963 in St. Louis, Missouri, and would have included a Lewis and Clark adventure; Disney’s America, a patriotic themed park to be built in Haymarket, Virginia; Tokyo DisneySea, a winter snow and ice theme park; and Jolly Old England, designed to make guests feel as if they were in 1900s England.

Read another story from us: Disney-Themed House With Mickey Mouse Shaped Pools Up For Sale

Some of the newer attractions to the Florida Disneyland include a Metroville city block based on The Incredibles, the Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge themed area, and the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run ride, which has guests piloting the Millennium Falcon in a chosen mission that ends differently for each person depending on their actions during the mission.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News