Haunted Mansion: 10 Other Disney Rides That Should Get Their Own Movie
Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion aren't the only Disney Park rides that should get a movie.
Walt Disney Studios is responsible for some of the most popular stories ever told, but many might not know that this storytelling expertise even makes it into their famous theme park attractions. What separates the Disney parks from every other theme park in the world is that each ride is a self-contained story and world. Imagineers, the designers behind the Disney theme parks, don't just design roller coaster tracks and park layouts. They are storytellers, responsible for immersing guests into a brand-new world once they enter through the park gates.
Many of these rides tell a story unique to Disney's existing IPs, and they have translated several of these popular experiences into live-action films in the past. Most notably, Pirates of the Caribbean and the recent release of Haunted Mansion showcase just how much potential these stories have. With that in mind, here are 10 more famous Disney theme park rides whose stories deserve to be adapted for the big screen.
As guests approach the Animal Kingdom park in Walt Disney World, Orlando, one sight stands out above the rest: a familiar snowy mountain peak nestled in the forests of central Florida. This artificial mountain is situated in the India section of the park and represents the peak of Mount Everest. Former explorers to this summit have built a track, so that explorers can more easily access the mountain on their quest to find the elusive Yeti. However, the Yeti will not come quietly, and with the track destroyed, your group of explorers must race down the mountain in order to escape the monster.
Expedition Everest is a new classic. Built in 2006, the ride is one of the most thrilling experiences in the park, with a specific coaster drop that sends guests flying backwards as they are hunted by the Yeti. While the story is not explicitly told on the ride outside the broken track and the shadows of the monster hunting you, the details in the queue tell guests exactly what they are in for. While this isn't the most well-known story in the Disney parks, Expedition Everest is one of the most thrilling. As a movie, the ride could become a thrilling, Indiana Jones-esque action movie, with protagonists racing through ancient Hindu temples, through Nepalese villages, and up the famous, icy mountain.
From thrilling roller coasters to quaint musical theater, the Enchanted Tiki Room is another of the original rides built for Disneyland in 1963. Guests are ushered into a cabin built on a Hawaiian island. In the center, four birds greet them in perfect English as they find their seats, and as they begin to sing, the plants, tikis, other birds, and the island itself come to life. Blessed by the tiki spirits, the island is full of magic, making wishes come true.
The Enchanted Tiki Room is an icon of the Disney parks, as old as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean rides. With so much history and popularity around the experience, it only makes sense that Disney should make a film out of it. It wouldn't necessarily have a lot of room for drama with the singing birds and guests to the magical island, but a musical comedy? There is definitely a foundation established for that style of film. Directors could even take inspiration from the Disney Kingdoms Enchanted Tiki Room comics from Marvel, wherein guests learn to be careful what they wish for on the magical island.
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Chances are, you might have heard of the previous two rides on this list, given their massive popularity. However, Journey Into Imagination doesn't quite have the same pedigree. Nevertheless, its story is just as iconic and worthwhile as the others on this list. The original iterations of the ride introduced guests to the Dreamfinder, a mystery person who collects and shapes ideas. Before the guests' eyes, he shapes a little, lovable dragon named Figment, and together, they bring the guest on a journey through the world of Imagination. Newer versions of the ride have removed the Dreamfinder, but Figment is still present, leading guests on a tour of the Imagination Institute.
Journey Into Imagination is one of the more obscure items on this list, but Figment has become an icon of the Epcot park in Disney World. He and the Dreamfinder even earned their own Disney Kingdoms comic titled Figment, showcasing their popularity. A live-action movie starring these characters could be stunning, allowing artists to go crazy with details and bizarre worlds. The limit to a Figment and Dreamfinder story is literally the imagination, so anything is possible. ImagineAlice in Wonderland, just more incredible.
Opened in Disneyland in 1979 and then migrating to nearly every Disney Park around the world due to its popularity, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was one of the park's first big thrill rides. The story of the ride is set in the American Southwest, where a gold rush around a particular mountain inspired the creation of a boom town. However, their desecration of a Native American burial site cursed their projects and caused a natural disaster to destroy the town. Years later, people discovered that unmanned mining carts were zooming around the mountain at high speeds. Seeing an opportunity, a business called Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened up to allow people to ride the possessed mine carts through the old tunnels.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a no-brainer to adapt to the screen. Not only is there already such a deep narrative associated with the ride, but the high-thrill story is just perfect for the big screen. A Western with a supernatural twist or even a kid-friendly The Descent horror film would work great. There is definite potential for those types of stories, especially given that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad received its own Disney Kingdoms comic book. Marvel saw the potential behind this story, so it only makes sense to bring it to life.
Space Mountain was conceived early in the Disney Parks' creation, becoming the first thrill ride to join the park. Situated in the Tomorrowland area of Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Paris Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland, there isn't actually that much story around the ride. Guests enter spaceships and are sent on a journey into hyperspace. The dark ride sends riders through the hollow center of the metal mountain, the planets, and other spaceships speeding by around them.
While there isn't an intricate story involved with this ride, two movie adaptations have been in development in the past, with the most recent starting in 2020. While the status of this second film is unclear, Disney clearly sees the potential in this ride to thrill audiences as much as it thrills park guests. While Space Mountain doesn't have a clear storyline like the rest of the entries on this list, a deep space adventure story like Treasure Planet would fit perfectly in Disney's pantheon of films.
What most people don't realize when they hear about Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park is that it is a conservation and animal rescue site. Animal Kingdom is the largest of any Disney theme park by area, but about 75% of the park isn't even accessible to guests. That is because the vast majority is reserved for the animals and their care teams. Imagineers spent great time recreating the environments that these animals come from, giving them large areas to roam free. One way that guests can experience Animal Kingdom's beastly inhabitants is through the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Guests board a safari truck and drive out into the wilderness to experience the daily lives of these animals. Your truck may be stopped by a passing giraffe or zebra, and you will likely see dozens of different species as you pass through each zone. The story behind the ride mirrors the real life conservation efforts of the park; the guest is transported to Africa, where they are invited to witness the stunning animals protected in a wildlife preserve from poachers. While a documentary film about the real life work of the Animal Kingdom conservationists would be interesting, the filmmakers could also go a fictional direction, depicting the dark reality of poaching on the African savannah.
Less a ride and more a monument, the Tree of Life in Disney's Animal Kingdom is the centerpiece of the park. Built to resemble a tree, the structure of the icon is based on an oil rig platform, with steel girders supporting a concrete exterior. The Tree represents the entire meaning of the Animal Kingdom park, the unity of life and the balance of nature. Carved into the trunk are the faces and bodies of dozens of animals, each twisted together to create a stunning mosaic of nature's beauty.
While the Tree of Life isn't a ride per se (admittedly, its hollow center does hold a theater), its importance to the Animal Kingdom park and its uniqueness as an icon of Disney World make it prime material for a filmmaker. Perhaps, the film could be a fantasy adventure into the heart of the jungle to find this mystical tree. No matter what direction the film would take, though, the Tree of Life deserves that spotlight because it represents the conservation efforts and mission of the Animal Kingdom park.
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From stunning symbol of the beauty of nature to scream-inducing thrill ride, the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror is a bit of a departure from the last point, even if it has become the icon of Disney's Hollywood Studios in recent years. Based on Rod Serling's beloved Twilight Zone anthology series, the Tower of Terror tells the story of a unique California landmark. One night, a bolt of lightning struck the tower as guests were riding the elevator. Those guests were never seen again, and since that time, the elevators have misbehaved. Reports suggest those guests didn't just disappear. They became a part of the hotel itself.
The Tower of Terror is one of the must-do rides at Hollywood Studios, dropping guests several stories in the haunted elevator cars. While it does carry the Twilight Zone branding, a film based on the tower would still be possible. A dark, serious horror story following a new set of guests to the hotel would be thrilling for audiences and give this icon a chance to appear on the big screen. Given the popularity of this ride and the fact that its story is already so well constructed, it only makes sense to bring the Tower of Terror to life.
Moving halfway around the world, we arrive at Tokyo DisneySea, Japan's wholly original Disney park. Set on the ocean and framed by a raging volcano, DisneySea has been a hotspot for Disney fans since it opened in 2001. In 2005, a new rollercoaster opened that was meant to rival the popularity of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Called Raging Spirits, the story of the ride follows two explorers who stumble on an ancient lost city in Peru. These explorers discover several ancient artifacts, but due to their meddling, they enrage the gods. Guests must board the train and race through the ruins to escape their violent wrath.
While not the most popular Disney ride in the world, Raging Spirits has a story that would be perfect for the big screen. Not only would it be an exciting fantasy narrative with the two gods going to war against the human invaders, but it would be a startling discussion about cultural appropriation and the unethical excavation of native landmarks. This would act as new ground for Disney, introducing new and pertinent themes to the parks. Given that the ride is also inspired by the Indiana Jones thrill rides around the world as well, it could lead to a fun archeological expedition film that could mirror those beloved films.
Built in Hong Kong Disneyland as one of their first original rides, Mystic Manor is often written off as another Haunted Mansion clone. However, while it takes the general structure of the ride, the story is completely unique. Guests to the manor are introduced to Sir Henry Mystic and his pet monkey, Albert. Mystic is a renowned member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, and through his adventures, he has uncovered and collected several magical artifacts. As guests explore his collection, Albert gets up to some mischief and brings the objects to life.
While Mystic Manor is inspired by the Haunted Mansion, the original experience is unlike anything seen in any of the Disney Parks. In fact, it takes a lot of inspiration from Walt Disney's original conception of the ride, known as Seekers of the Weird. With Haunted Mansion haunting viewers with its 999 happy haunts, it would be a fun contrast to see the mischievous and hilarious artifacts of the Mystic Manor come to life.Walt Disney StudiosHaunted Mansion-Enchanted Tiki Room , Twilight Zone