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

Ian Harvey

When one thinks of Disneyland the next word is “fun.” There are Disney parks all over the world including Orlando, Florida; Anaheim, California; Tokyo, Japan; Paris, France; and Shanghai, 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.

Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World. Photo by Matt H. Wade CC BY-SA 3.0

Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World. Photo by Matt H. Wade CC BY-SA 3.0

According to wdwinfo.com, 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.

Maleficent with the Queen of Hearts, and Captain Hook during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2009. Photo by Leigh Caldwell CC BY-SA 2.0

Maleficent with the Queen of Hearts, and Captain Hook during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2009. Photo by Leigh Caldwell CC BY-SA 2.0

According to Theme Park Tourist, Cinderella’s Fairytale Hall counterpart would have been Cinderella’s Hall of Torture in which the two stepsisters have their eyes pecked out by birds at Cinderella’s wedding, the Queen from Snow White is forced to wear hot iron shoes until she dies, Pinocchio’s cricket friend insults children until Pinocchio throws a mallet, killing it, and The Little Mermaid’s Ariel is given the opportunity to turn back into a mermaid if she kills the Prince.

Unable to do so, she returns to the sea where she dissolves into seafoam.

Another scrapped idea was Beastly Kingdom, was envisioned to feature mythical animals from folk stories and fairy tales.

Walt Disney drawing Goofy.

Walt Disney drawing Goofy.

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.

Wdwino.com 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.

Copperfield performing for the 1977 ABC special.

Copperfield performing for the 1977 ABC special.

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.

The funds for building the New York City restaurant ran out, and the plans for both were discarded.

Walt Disney (center) showing Orange County officials plans for Disneyland’s layout, December 1954.

Walt Disney (center) showing Orange County officials plans for Disneyland’s layout, December 1954.

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.

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.

Anaheim, CA USA – September 3, 2015: Disneyland 60th anniversary celebrations. On this day the park celebrated with fireworks and over 150,000 people. People are exiting the park after a long day of fun and celebrations.

Anaheim, CA USA – September 3, 2015: Disneyland 60th anniversary celebrations. On this day the park celebrated with fireworks and over 150,000 people. People are exiting the park after a long day of fun and celebrations.

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, which 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.

An aerial view of Disneyland in 1956, with the Disneyland Railroad route visible.

An aerial view of Disneyland in 1956, with the Disneyland Railroad route visible.

According to Florida Today, new things that were realized and will be included in the Orlando park for the 2019 season include these: A city block transformed into the neighborhood of the Incredibles that will be opening on January 18th, the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge ride, and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

Smuggler’s Run allows guests to pilot the Millennium Falcon in a chosen mission which ends differently for each person depending on their actions during the mission.

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

There is also a Star Wars themed hotel with guest rooms designed to look like they are on a spaceship. The opening date of the hotel has yet to be announced.