A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Missing Mountains of Walt Disney World
By Dave Shute
THE NEVER-BUILT MOUNTAINS OF DISNEY WORLD
By Jim Korkis
Walt Disney World is famous for its many mountains: at Magic Kingdom, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain and at Disney’s Animal Kingdom the Forbidden Mountain.
However, over the decades, other mountains were planned for the WDW parks as well, including having a Matterhorn bobsled ride similar to the one at Disneyland for a proposed Switzerland pavilion at World Showcase near the Italy pavilion. The real Matterhorn is located between Italy and Switzerland.
Another mountain that was proposed was Mount Fuji for the back of the Japan pavilion where a roller coaster would have raced around the outside and inside of the iconic mountain. Fuji film was ready to sponsor the attraction but Disney already had an existing sponsorship agreement with rival film company Kodak.
Fire Mountain was planned for Adventureland in the area between the Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain attractions. Fire Mountain was to be a gigantic, forbidding volcano with guests soaring around and through this erupting menace.
It was originally considered to be built in Fantasyland but was felt that it would blend in more appropriately with the theme of Adventureland and the volcanoes of the Pacific Rim. In fact, there was even discussion to expand the entire area into a subdivision called Volcania.
The twist on being just another roller coaster was to have a unique switch in the middle of the ride. Guests would board the vehicles with the track railing underneath them as in a traditional coaster but as the ride progressed, the track would shift to being above them. This switch would give the guests a more up close experience as they dangled over the bubbling lava that was threatening to erupt. The track would switch back before the end of the attraction.
Disney even floated a balloon high in the air to mark the top of the peak of the mountain to see if it could be seen on Main Street USA. While it was not visible to guests in that location, it was clearly visible to guests at the Polynesian Resort.
Eventually, it was decided that such a massive investment might not translate into the extra attendance needed to compensate for the expenditure.
Bald Mountain (from the Disney animated feature film Fantasia (1940) that was the home of the demon Chernabog) would have been in Fantasyland on the location of the closed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction. Plans were even discussed to make this part of the park a section themed to the Disney villains who were not just popular as characters but were generating a new lucrative merchandise franchise for the company.
In ride vehicles modeled after Hades’ River Styx boats from the Disney animated feature film Hercules (1997), guests would take a harrowing water journey where they inadvertently interrupted a meeting. The notorious Disney villain characters were deciding who was the most evil of the group to lead them in taking over the Magic Kingdom.
Once discovered, it was a wild race to escape the villains trying to prevent the guests from revealing their sinister plans and ending with a massive water flume plunge down the side of the mountain.
One of the reasons this particular attraction was never built was that the idea of constructing a fifth WDW theme park based on villains was being considered and so the idea was withdrawn in order to be included in the park proposal that never materialized into actuality.
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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!
In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Gremlin Trouble! The Cursed Roald Dahl Film Disney Never Made, Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.