March 23, 2012

Wizard of Oz to Debut in Fantasyland?

Will Frank L. Baum's beloved book The Wizard of Oz finally make it to Disneyland? Could be.

Disney Imagineering has been trying to bring something from his series into a park for several years- decades, actually.

Naturally, the minds of fans go right to the Munchkinland scene at Disney's Hollywood Studios' Great Movie Ride. Although the attraction is in desperate need of repair and revamping, the final Wizard of Oz scene is the ultimate showstopper in the park. When the Wicked Witch of the West appears, she does with such panache, that all eyes are riveted to her.

Beyond Disney-MGM Studios, er, Hollywood Studios, one scene from the Wizard of Oz does appear at Disneyland Paris. The very lovely cruise, Le Pays des Contes de Fees, known as the Storybookland Canal Boats in Anaheim, includes this little piece of the film Return to Oz. The 1985 flop was an attempt by Walt Disney Pictures to capture a bit of Oz magic.

Apparently, Disney is at it again with a new film starring James Franco. I see some potential here, as the smash musical Wicked seems to have brought new interest to the story.

The boards at MiceAge/MiceChat are buzzing with discussion about what this means for Disneyland. All that unused space out by Toontown that backs up into Frontierland? Could this be the project that finally gets built there? Who knows! But it will not be the first time Disney has thought about building something "Oz" like or related in the park. They tried at the very beginning of the park's creation!

Directly above is a piece of artwork for a proposed "Rainbow Road to Oz" attraction for Fantasyland. Nice, huh? And thanks, Alain, at the excellent Disney and More blog for a look at it. But there is more...

At the top of this post is a proposed entrance for the park's very first version incarnation of Tomorrowland. (Yes, I said Tomorrowland.) Can you see where the Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz was the inspiration here? I sure can. Can I see a whole new mini-land themed to the new movie? Perhaps, but I'd rather have a genuine Frontierland expansion that brings back more of the Wild West. Not enough space for both!
(Concept art copyright The Walt Disney Company)


Chris said...

Did the Oz-in-Frontierland rumor originate from MiceChat's In the Parks column?

At least its not another PIXAR franchise marketing gimmick.

Also, if this happens I hope Disney is faithful to this: "There were no poor people in the land of Oz, because there was no such thing as money"

Mark Taft said...

Hi Chris, Yes the rumor started from the MiceAge In the Parks column. I agree- at least its not another Pixar thing,

Pelter Unbleat said...

WDI did a big Oz proposal (headed by Tony Baxter) but from what I hear, the whole thing has been canned. I'm surprised that the decision has already been made, what with the film being so far away still. I for one, can't imagine their Oz film being anything than an attempt to capitalize of Wicked's success. This means not only will it have the hindrence of having to overcome people's perceptions of the MGM Oz film (a nearly impossible task when it's a family audience) but it will also have to fight the "Wicked Rip-off" stigma. Why any studio would even attempt to make a film with such large roadblocks, I can't even imagine. But who knows. I for one, like the Wicked mythology, and the original film, but can't see myself getting excited about this land. If it were based soley on the 1939 film, that would be cool, and for all I know the new Oz film will tie into the 1939 film, in which case maybe what I said above is moot.

Mark Taft said...

Tony again, huh? Sounds as if anything new he presents is stopped from being green lighted. Any Oz film will be critically risky. Yet, with two Snow White remakes coming out, the success of TV's Once Upon a Time and Grimm, perhaps the world is ready for fairy tales once again.

Pelter Unbleat said...

Yes but keep in mind, the world has had 80 some years of "other" Snow Whites, and "non Disney" versions of these classic Fairy Tales to remind them that Disney didn't invent them. I think Oz is a bit different, with the MGM film being the only real version of it in anyone's mind. Wicked might have been less successful had it started as a film- by debuting in a book, and then as a stage musical, it was protected a bit from direct comparison. People were able to view it as it's own vehicle, albeit with somewhat familiar characters. It's not that Disney's Oz can't be well done, but seeing their track record lately, and suspecting that their initial motive in making it might be so flawed (let's capitalize off Wicked!), I have my reservations.