May 18, 2015

Disney's Unbuilt Urban Entertainment Center

Unbuilt Disney attractions are like urban legends. They grow in scope and potential as the years go by. Some earn their reputations and actually exceed them. This category includes Imagineer Tony Baxter's unbuilt Discovery Bay for Disneyland and Marc Davis' epic Thunder Mesa which included the now legendary Western River Expedition for Florida's Magic Kingdom. Others in this realm are Beastly Kingdom at Disney's Animal Kingdom and of course Westcot, the proposed second park for Anaheim before the suits cheaped out with California Adventure 1.0. (You can find many posts on these attractions with concept art on this blog.)

Smaller projects that have been abandoned are less celebrated but perhaps carry just as big an impact had they been built. In this category we sadly find Disney's "Urban Entertainment Centers". These regional centers were designed to offer a taste of Disney parks. Just enough to get folks took to book that longer extended vacation to Walt Disney World. Imagine a building of several stories, perhaps 5-7 of them, filled with unique dining experiences, shopping aplenty, and a couple of smaller scale but still Disney quality impressive attractions. A Downtown Disney of sorts, if you will.

This very real, fairly advanced idea was discarded around 2008. Yet, as you can see from the art above, it could have been an impressive projects that would have broadened the Disney experience across the country. Perhaps the failure of Club Disney, their beautifully designed but discarded kid's entertainment center, (we had one in Denver), led the Disney suits to dropping this Urban Entertainment Center. Too bad. Would have been a great way to spend an evening.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

No comments: