Disneyland began as a modest park with just a few lands. But within ten years, the park grew at an incredible rate, nearly doubling its attractions, dining, and entertainment. And for every great idea, there are ten others that never see the light of day. Over the years, Disney Imagineers have designed incredible lands, rides, and restaurants that were ultimately scrapped in favor of other projects. The following is a breakdown of Disneyland’s largest abandoned ideas: lands that never were.

Big City USA – Disneyland first planned to expand on the north side (behind Fantasyland) all the way back to the mid-70s. Imagineers envisioned a counterpart to Main Street, this time set in New York. Big City USA was to include some shopping and dining, but its noteworthy feature would have been a huge Broadway-inspired theater with live performances. The idea was scrapped in the late-80s, when Imagineers ultimately decided the park needed an area primarily for small children (Toontown).

Discovery Bay – Disney first announced plans for a new western land in the 70s. Discovery Bay was a Jules Verne and H.G. Wells-inspired San Francisco, tucked on the northern end of the Rivers of America. Attractions would be all about different kinds of exploration, from the California gold rush to deep sea diving (complete with an underwater restaurant!). The movie that would “kick start” the new land, The Island at the Top of the World, bombed at the box office, and that was the beginning of the end for the land. Much of the land’s budget was redistributed to fund Fantasyland’s expansion, and the scope of the project kept changing. Discovery Bay finally disappeared off Disney’s radar in the 1980s, but has remained a kind of folklore for Disney fans ever since.

LandsThatNeverWere1 Source: Pin IMG

Edison Square & Liberty Street – Main Street USA has always been the entryway leading to the castle, but at first, Disney didn’t plan on having the street be such a streamlined land. Imagineers envisioned an offset street, with an entrance to the left of the Main Street Opera House. Liberty Street was to be a colonial Philadelphia street, complete with a miniature harbor. At the end of the street, guests would then step into Edison Square, a small plaza set in a generic American city at the onset of the electric age. But in the 60s, Disney had way too many other projects going on, including the It’s A Small World and New Orleans Square, so the Square and the Street were scrapped. Liberty Street went on to become Liberty Square in Walt Disney World, and Edison Square was repurposed into the Carousel of Progress.

LandsThatNeverWere2 Source: Theme Park Tourist

Hollywood Land – After Mickey’s Toontown opened in 1993, Imagineers were inspired by the Hollywood setting of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, a movie famous for its toons. They envisioned a new land straight out of film noir, which would be a celebration of classic moviemaking. The land fell to the wayside in favor of other projects, but resurfaced and actually came into fruition in California Adventure.

Lilliputian Land – One of Walt Disney’s first ideas for a land was a miniature village, complete with animatronic residents. He imagined a boat ride where guests could pass through the village, and this plan later evolved into a canal boat ride within Fantasyland, rather than its own land (the ride is now the Storybook Land Canal Boats).

LandsThatNeverWere3 Source: Jim Hill Media

Mythica – Little is known about this mysterious land, including when it was actually in development. At one point, Imagineers gave some thought to a land of myths and legends, with scenery, rides, and dining inspired by Greek and Roman mythology.

Tomorrowland 2055Tomorrowland is far and away Disneyland’s most frequently renovated land; there is almost always something new going on in the space. But in the early 90s, Disney planned to do the land’s most dramatic overhaul yet; a 2055-themed world much more heavily focused on aliens and extraterrestrial technology. But issues with other parks (particularly Disneyland Paris) forced Disneyland to slash their budget, and the project was abandoned (though Tomorrowland got a smaller makeover in 1998).

LandsThatNeverWere4 Source: BP

2 comments on “Lands That Never Were”

  1. That Greek mythology land would have been cool. But it doesn’t really fit with everything else I don’t think.

    • Haha I can’t really picture it either, Angela! But I agree; out of all of the lands that never became real, I think I would’ve liked to see that one the most.

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