Yesterland

Disney Never Lands:
Things Disney Never Made


A book from Jim Korkis

It’s been less than three months since the publication of Secret Stories of Extinct Disneyland: Memories of the Original Park, a new book by Disney historian Jim Korkis. It’s been getting excellent reviews.

Now, there’s an even newer book from the prolific Mr. Korkis: Disney Never Lands: Things Disney Never Made. It’s about Disney destinations, theme park lands, TV programs, and films that the company planned, but that never saw the light of day. Jim details over two dozen projects. Each has its own chapter filled with quotes, facts, and why it didn’t become a reality. (Usually, the reason is financial.)

The images in this article are not from Jim’s book (it’s not a picture book). But they provide an idea of a few of the projects.

If you click on the Amazon link, there’s a “Look Inside” button that lets you read the table of contents, the introduction, and a sample chapter about a Disney destination that could have been built in Southern California.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, August 9, 2019

 
UPDATE: Amazon has now released Disney Never Lands: Things Disney Never Made as a Kindle edition. It costs less than the paperback, and you can get it instantly. You’ll find Amazon links for both, below.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, August 14, 2019



 

Disney Never Lands:

Things Disney Never Made

by Jim Korkis

Publisher: Theme Park Press   |   Publication Date: August 2, 2019

  Disney Never Lands: Things Disney Never Made

 
 

Paperback
 

Kindle

How do you write about things that Disney never made? It’s hard enough to research and write about things that Disney actually completed.

Some of the projects in this book were announced with lavish publicity. Others were only revealed informally. When projects became inactive, official information from Disney usually stopped entirely.

Often, the only published details were the original publicity announcements or newspaper articles from when a project was active. Since most work is done behind closed doors, there’s not much public material. Jim knows how to do research and put the details together. Jim was also able to draw on the many interviews that he’s done over the decades with Imagineers and animators who worked on the projects. Some of these people retained written work and concept art as souvenirs, and showed these to Jim.

Jim’s book is filled with topics such as Port Disney in Long Beach, California, with its DisneySea theme park; amazing WESTCOT Center, planned for where Disney California Adventure would eventually be built; Jim Henson’s The Little Mermaid Island television show for the Disney Channel; never-used animation for Danny Kaye’s first feature film, The Beastly Kingdom fantasy realm at Disney’s Animal Kingdom; abandoned plans for World Showcase pavilions; proposed feature-length Roger Rabbit sequels; and even the three Ward Kimball Tomorrowland outer space Disney television shows which had been approved personally by Walt Disney, but never produced—including one on UFOs.

“Future” Edison Square at Disneyland Park

excerpt from Disneyland wall map, 1964 © Disney © Disney

“Future” Edison Square at Disneyland Park, between Main Street and Tomorrowland

“Future” Equatorial Africa at Epcot Center

excerpt from EPCOT Center wall map, 1982 © Disney

“Future” Equatorial Africa at Epcot Center, between China and Germany

“Future” Equatorial Africa at Epcot Center

art from Walt Disney’s EPCOT (Harry M. Abrams, Inc. 1982) © Disney

Concept for scene of animals coming to drink at an African water hole

Especially in past decades, the business case for any major addition to a Disney theme park normally called for a corporate sponsor. That makes sense when you think about what it costs to develop, construct, maintain, and operate a major attraction—and that park admission prices were much more modest than today. Unfortunately, when sponsors couldn’t be found, amazing ideas remained forever on the drawing board. So we didn’t get filmmaker George Lucas’ droids battling each other in an arena above Disneyland’s Carousel Theater, or a Dick Tracy interactive ride through the streets of gangster-infested Chicago of the 1920s at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, just to name two.

Then again, proposals such as these can sound more amazing than they might have turned out. Unreasonable deadlines, cost-effective budgets, limitations of technology, and input from other departments wanting their imprint on a project can all lead to compromises.

Concept for Disney-MGM Studio Backlot, Burbank

rendering from Walt Disney Productions Annual Report, 1987 © Disney

Concept for Disney-MGM Studio Backlot, Burbank, California

“Animal fantasy area” concept for Disney’s Animal Kingdom

rendering from The Making Of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park (Hyperion, 1998) © Disney

“Animal fantasy area” concept for Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Concept for Spacestation Earth, the focal point and icon of WESTCOT Center

rendering from Disneyland Resort Preliminary Master Plan, 1991 © Disney

Concept for Spacestation Earth, the focal point and icon of WESTCOT Center

Disney Imagineer Eddie Sotto worked on many things that never got made. One of these was Lafitte’s Island for Disneyland’s New Orleans Square. It would have tied Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Tom Sawyer Island together as a cohesive story, with guests visiting the re-imagined pirate island of Jean Lafitte by journeying through a story-filled tunnel below the Rivers of America. It’s all detailed in one of the chapters.

Eddie Sotto told Jim, “The unbuilt pavilion concepts never suffer budget cuts and always have the unfair advantage of being flawless in our imagination! There are always more ideas than there is room to put them or budgets to pay for them.”

Jim hopes the book sells well enough so he can produce a sequel to squeeze in all the stories he couldn’t include in this volume—including the S.S. Disney (a theme park on a converted oil tanker which would have docked at different ports for two months at a time), Independence Lake Ski Resort (proposed after the Mineral King Ski Resort collapsed), the Reynard the Fox animated feature film (beloved by Disney animation legends Marc Davis and Ken Anderson), and a Disney Channel animated series never made (including one with Horace Horsecollar as an outer space hero).

You can’t visit Disney destinations that were never built or see films that were never made. But you can let Jim tempt you with dreams of what might have been.


 

Paperback

Kindle

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Would you like to read about other books from recent years? Then check these Yesterland lists:

 

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Updated August 9, 2019.