Home Movie Each Disney Film Primarily based on a Theme Park Attraction, Ranked

Each Disney Film Primarily based on a Theme Park Attraction, Ranked

Each Disney Film Primarily based on a Theme Park Attraction, Ranked


Within the late Nineties Michael Eisner, the previous CEO and Chairman of Disney, had considered one of his good, harebrained concepts – to adapt a number of of Disney’s hottest theme park sights right into a sequence of big-budget, “occasion” movies. For years, the Disney Parks had been locations that tailored or accommodated IP from elsewhere within the firm. The parks are the place sights, dwell leisure and themed eating may very well be discovered based mostly on, amongst different issues, Disney’s newest animated marvel, the celebrities of a massively fashionable soundtrack tie-in or, for a time, the cleaning soap operas that populated ABC’s daytime programming line-up. This was a novel idea; Eisner would now be pulling concepts and characters out of the theme parks, which might then trigger renewed curiosity within the sights. It was an ideal, synergistic loop, the sort solely Disney might engineer.



And for such a novel, thrilling idea, the initiative didn’t final very lengthy. Barring the Pirates of the Caribbean motion pictures (of which there are two extra entries being developed now), there hasn’t been a theme park-based function in additional than 5 years (and even that movie, Brad Hen’s Tomorrowland, was solely tangentially linked to the land that features Area Mountain). It was additionally the one venture that wasn’t green-lit by Eisner’s administration and the cluster of exercise across the flip of the millennium.

Hopefully, there shall be extra options based mostly on theme park sights within the not-too-distant future (able to share my ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter script) and that the present Disney management will perceive that with out unique properties developed for the parks, there shall be no alternative for these sorts of thrilling reverse variations.

10. The Nation Bears (2002)

The Country Bears Beary Barrington
Picture through Disney

To let you know how little the Disney Firm cared about The Nation Bears film (and the way little it believed in its personal unparalleled synergistic advertising talents), the Nation Bear Jamboree attraction in Disneyland closed a number of months earlier than the film opened. The idea behind Nation Bears is fairly good – the film photos the Nation Bears as a well-liked hillbilly rock band who went their separate methods and now their previous house base/music corridor is being earmarked for demolition by an unscrupulous banker (amazingly performed by Christopher Walken). In an effort to save their venue, they staff up with a younger bear (voiced by Haley Joel Osment) and go on a cross-country street journey to gather the opposite members of the band. However the execution is so slack, with a number of uninspired musical numbers (with everybody from Brian Setzer and Elton John) and solely a tenuous connection to the unique, completely entertaining attraction (initially deliberate for Walt’s canceled Mineral King ski resort, it wound up an inaugural attraction at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom), together with a passing point out of the bears characters there (mercifully, Large Al is represented within the film).

There are, certainly, issues to take pleasure in in Nation Bears, together with a genuinely gonzo efficiency by Walken and spectacular audio-animatronic characters courtesy of the Jim Henson Creature Store which might have been much more spectacular if that they had drawn extra closely on the unique Marc Davis designs. However the total aesthetic is so unappealing and the course so slack that it’s onerous to have a lot enjoyable, even in a bizarro wtf-is-happening early-2000s time capsule means. What’s fascinating is that director Peter Hastings by no means directed one other function movie however he did direct the pre-show movie for Mission: SPACE, starring Gary Sinise, which was based mostly partially on one other film on our checklist. We must always simply be grateful that Nation Bears didn’t kill the based-on-a-theme-park-attraction initiative earlier than we acquired Pirates of the Caribbean.

9. Mr. Toad’s Wild Experience (1996)

Picture through Disney

This one is type of a cheat. When Mr. Toad’s Wild Experience was first launched stateside in 1997 it was underneath its unique, British title – The Wind within the Willows. However Disney didn’t do a lot to market and even distribute it actually; it solely performed in a handful of theaters for a number of weeks. After they lastly launched it on VHS (and later DVD) they modified it to Mr. Toad’s Wild Experience and even packaged it with different based-on-theme-park-attraction titles like The Haunted Mansion and The Nation Bears (I ought to know, I purchased the little field set). Like the unique attraction, the film relies on the turn-of-the-century novel by Kenneth Grahame, and the solid is comprised of the remaining members of Monty Python (minus Terry Gilliam, who was too busy filming 12 Monkeys to take part) in little-to-no make-up, despite the fact that they’re all taking part in anthropomorphic animal characters. (Terry Jones, who additionally wrote and directed the film, performs Mr. Toad and is merely smeared with inexperienced paint.)

There’s undoubtedly an emphasis on Mr. Toad’s vehicle obsession and far of Disney’s advertising for the film (on house video anyway) centered on this ingredient to attract extra direct parallels between the film and the attraction. However it is a comparatively small portion of the particular movie, which is at turns each charming and exceptionally annoying, with a very abhorrent aesthetic and sub-BBC particular manufacturing values. (A few of the songs, just like the creepy “Secret of Survival,” sung by the Weasels, are unusual and memorable, like one thing out of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Others … usually are not.) The film was warmly reviewed upon its preliminary launch, with critics questioning why it wasn’t extra enthusiastically marketed or proven. However actually this looks like an oddity misplaced to time that’s precisely the place it belongs.

8. The Haunted Mansion (2003)

The Haunted Mansion 2003

Disney had tried to make one thing out of The Haunted Mansion, one of many final theme park sights that Walt Disney was personally concerned in (it opened a number of years after his demise in 1969), for some time. At numerous factors, it has taken the type of a Disney Channel Authentic Film (or DCOM), Halloween particular and, lastly, a live-action theatrical movie. With out Eisner’s initiative, The Haunted Mansion most likely would nonetheless be caught in improvement hell (like Guillermo del Toro’s remake, first introduced in 2010). Sadly, the Haunted Mansion that we acquired is way from the movie we deserved. A part of Eddie Murphy’s run of middle-of-the-road family-friendly movies, he stars as a workaholic actual property agent who will get seduced into placing the creaky manor available on the market after which drawn right into a convoluted ghost plot that entails, in Murphy’s phrases, a ghost “getting jiggy with my spouse.” Directed by The Lion King filmmaker Rob Minkoff, who limply makes an attempt to convey a number of of the important thing moments and characters from the attraction into the realm of big-budget live-action filmmaking with decidedly combined outcomes.

There’s one enjoyable second the place Murphy and his youngsters are pushed by way of the graveyard, the place various gags from the experience are faithfully recreated (together with an prolonged bit with the hitchhiking ghosts) and Jennifer Tilly is a hoot as Madame Leota (the fortune teller whose head resides inside the magic ball). And whereas there are some dedicated performances (from individuals like Terence Stamp and WallaceShawn) and regularly beautiful Rick Baker make-up results (there’s an excellent scene the place Murphy and his daughter are being attacked by ghouls), the frantic tempo and find-the-widget plot mechanics are an actual bummer. (The screenplay by Elf’s David Berenbaum acknowledges items of the storyline from the unique attraction however doesn’t supply any attention-grabbing exploration of the mythology that has made it a favourite for over 50 years.) Additionally, spoiler alert, on the finish Stamp will get eaten by a hearth dragon and dragged to hell. Del Toro’s film, at one level starring Ryan Gosling, would have set issues proper. Sadly it stays a haunting what-if.

7. Tower of Terror (1997)

Tower of Terror Elevator
Picture through Disney

Dopey and earnest, Tower of Terror initially aired as a particular episode of the revived Great World of Disney for Halloween 1997. It was the very first movie based mostly on a Disney theme park attraction. (This additionally signifies that it was most likely prefaced by a foolish Eisner intro however, expensive reader, I’ve but to trace that down.) Tower of Terror relies on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction in what was then Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World which had opened only a few years earlier, though the film completely disregards any connection to the Rod Serling traditional, as an alternative specializing in a tabloid reporter (Steve Guttenberg) who groups up together with his younger niece (Kirsten Dunst) to resolve a Hollywood ghost story – the disappearance of a number of unfortunate souls on Halloween 1939. The opening sequence, set in 1939, approximates a number of the key visuals from the experience’s pre-show – a swanky lodge, an odd group in an elevator automotive that’s struck by lighting, sending the riders into an alternate actuality (not the Twilight Zone) and it’s actually fairly enjoyable. The fashionable-day thriller is much less ingenious and visually exceptional; as an alternative of being a younger woman one of many characters that disappeared in 1939 is definitely a Shirley Temple-style baby star, and there’s proof that the lighting strike was introduced on by (of all issues) black magic. (Components of the film had been filmed on the attraction in Florida; for some time Disney-MGM was advertising itself as a working movie studio.)

Innocent Halloween-time enjoyable, Tower of Terror is the one movie based mostly on a theme park attraction that had a extra prestigious filmmaker helm the attraction’s pre-show. Joe Dante, of Gremlins and The Howling fame, directed that pre-show, within the type of a fake episode of The Twilight Zone (he helmed one of many segments of the Twilight Zone: The Film) and it’s wonderful. Supposedly John August is engaged on a brand new model of the idea. Is it too late to assign directorial duties to Dante?

6. Dinosaur (2000)

Aladar from Dinosaur (2000)
Picture through Disney

“However wait Dinosaur isn’t based mostly on a experience!” you’re undoubtedly screaming. Besides, sure, it was. Countdown to Extinction opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom together with the remainder of the park in 1998 and for some time the film and the attraction had been being developed concurrently, with Eisner eying the film as a cornerstone for the brand new theme park’s advertising marketing campaign. At one level Dinosaur was even titled Countdown to Extinction and after the film was launched, the attraction was renamed Dinosaur! The 2 don’t share a lot connective tissue, though the attraction was barely reworked after the film was launched in 2000, including extra emphasis on the Aladar character (footage from the movie was built-in into the pre-show and a large statue exterior the attraction was changed with a reproduction of the character; the unique statue is means cooler however sadly is barely seen in the event you go backstage). The film is means much less thrilling than the experience, save for a breathless, dialogue-free prologue that’s simply as lovely because the opening to The Lion King (yeah I mentioned it). The remainder of the film, which mixed photo-real dinosaurs and lemurs (dealt with by Disney’s short-lived animation unit/results home The Secret Lab) with dwell motion plate pictures, was an interesting experiment but it surely was saddled with a weak storyline that allow you to chilly, emotionally, which is saying one thing contemplating the characters had been dealing with down literal extinction. Additionally, Countdown to Extinction is a a lot cooler title for an attraction – it’s a disgrace they modified it to the extra generic Dinosaur.

5. Mission to Mars (2000)

Mission to Mars is exclusive within the Disney theme park-to-feature movie transition for a variety of causes. For one, it was the primary theatrical movie to be launched using the idea (Tower of Terror was a TV film and Mr. Toad’s Wild Experience went straight to video). For one more, it was based mostly on an attraction that was not working in any of the Disney theme parks. (The attraction, a pseudo-redo of Flight to the Moon closed at Disneyland in 1992 and Walt Disney World in 1993.) It additionally has the distinctive place of inspiring a completely separate attraction, EPCOT’s Mission: SPACE. That new attraction featured props and screen-used automobiles from the movie (together with the massive cylindrical fuselage from the Van Halen “Dance the Evening Away” sequence) and had a pre-show that featured Gary Sinise, primarily taking part in his character from the film (he was changed by Gina Torres in 2017). And the Mission to Mars film, nimbly directed by Brian De Palma is an underrated romp, an journey to the pink planet that’s thrilling and enjoyable and kind of dopey too (however in an earnest, admirable means). Sinise leads a staff of astronauts (together with Tim Robbins and Jerry O’Connell) as they journey to Mars to rescue their stranded colleague (Don Cheadle). The set items are, after all, expertly crafted – from a sentient twister on the floor of Mars to a nail-biting area stroll sequence (all scored by Ennio Morricone’s organ-heavy instrumentation, years earlier than Hans Zimmer did the very same factor on Interstellar). Mission to Mars’ emotional climax is undercut by some crummy results and a very laughable alien design (De Palma claims they merely ran out of cash). However the film’s optimistic outlook on the long run, emphasis on area journey and combination of science and science fiction had been hallmarks of the unique attraction – and Disney’s imaginative and prescient for Tomorrowland generally. Mission to Mars by no means acquired the appreciation it deserved. However there’s at all times tomorrow.

4. Tomorrowland (2015)

Tomorrowland (2015)
Picture through Walt Disney Studios

Not one of the different movies based mostly on Disney theme park sights have ever acknowledged Walt Disney or the theme parks. However Tomorrowland, tangentially based mostly across the unbelievable, futuristic part of Disney “fortress parks” for the reason that opening of Disneyland in 1955, does. On the planet of the movie, Walt Disney was an unique member of a bunch of futurists referred to as Plus Extremely, who created an alternate actuality the place inventive ambition and technological experimentation might flourish with out the interruption of capitalism or politics. One of many gateways to this utopian society was situated within the it’s a small world attraction on the 1964 World’s Honest, which is the place the story begins (making Tomorrowland the one theatrical based-on-a-Disney-theme-park-attraction film to have filmed inside Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom). One minute you’re observing childlike dolls singing a tune of peace the subsequent you’re zapped to a glossy world stuffed with robots and rocket ships.

Author/director Brad Hen and co-writer Damon Lindelof place Tomorrowland as much less of a bodily location and extra of a philosophical excellent, with valuable little time spent within the precise area (save for a thrilling, super-long shot). However as soon as we’re there, it’s fairly thrilling, and you may see structure paying homage to the unique design of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, in addition to iterations from the next revamps of the land (together with one in 1975 within the Magic Kingdom and 1977 in Disneyland the place Area Mountain was added). It’s a movie that’s good and irritating . Whereas the small world sequence stays, any direct homage to Walt or the theme parks was oddly eliminated (you’ll be able to nonetheless see the sequence within the deleted scenes; it takes place on the retro junk store). In some ways, Tomorrowland is barely aloof and a bit of too brainy for its personal good. And George Clooney, as an exiled inventor who longs to return to Tomorrowland, seems like each theme park obsessive within the yr 2020. Ah, however for the style of a Mickey ice cream bar and a experience round Area Mountain.

3. Jungle Cruise (2021)

Jungle Cruise Cast

A gap day attraction at Disneyland, Jungle Cruise has made its solution to 4 totally different parks over time, and the tacky jokes and animatronic wildlife make this nonetheless a favourite Disney experience after virtually seventy years. Very like Pirates, Jungle Cruise takes the premise of what labored within the experience and principally succeeds at increasing this right into a big-screen journey. Skipper Frank Wolff, performed by Dwayne Johnson, is fast with the horrible gags, and along with Emily Blunt‘s Dr. Lily Houghton, the 2 create a dynamic that is sort of a extra action-oriented The African Queen—which was additionally a serious inspiration for the experience itself. Jungle Cruise does sometimes go off the rails, exploring immortal curses, the Tree of Life, and sort of kind of possibly introducing Disney’s unifying universe of explorers often called S.E.A. However to steadiness that out, Jungle Cruise is usually as quirky and foolish because the experience, with Jesse Plemons as a bonkers German prince, and the absurd Nilo Nemolato, performed by Paul Giamatti with a cockatoo. Jungle Cruise may not be as unbelievable because the bottom of water, but it surely’s not a nasty adaptation of this foolish river journey. — Ross Bonaime

2. Haunted Mansion (2023)

Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, LaKeith Stanfield, Chase W. Dillon, Tiffany Haddish, and Danny DeVito on the poster for Haunted Mansion
Picture through Disney

The experience so good, Disney tried to adapt it twice. For followers of the experience, 2003’s Haunted Mansion definitely left a lot to be desired, however Justin Simien‘s 2023 adaptation has a whole lot of enjoyable bringing these 999 glad haunts to life. Simien—who used to work at Disneyland—and author Katie Dippold, each present an affinity and love for the experience, making this not really feel like a set of Easter eggs, however slightly, becoming beloved favourite moments into a movie that expands the lore of this wonderful experience. And whereas Haunted Mansion definitely has the Hatbox Ghost (Jared Leto), the terrifying stretching room, and the hitchhiking ghosts, what makes Haunted Mansion work is the wonderful ensemble. It is nice to observe LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, and Chase W. Dillon play off one another (along with a number of moments with Jamie Lee Curtis‘ Madame Leota), and this turns into a movie about this unlikely bunch, and the household that arises from this unusual bond, greater than concerning the numerous ghouls that hang-out them. But the combination works, and whereas it is not almost as wonderful as our primary, Haunted Mansion is completely a step above the earlier adaptation. — Ross Bonaime

1. Pirates of the Caribbean (sequence) (2003 – 2017)

Pirates of the Caribbean- The Curse of the Black Pearl’ (1)

That is it. The alpha and the omega of the movie-based-on-a-Disney-theme-park-attraction subgenre. The primary movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl set the desk, mixing well-known iconography from the unique theme park attraction (labored on by Walt Disney himself and opened in 1967, a yr after his premature demise) with a lovably roguish lead character in Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and heavy supernatural components that introduced the scares and pleasure. The next two movies (Lifeless Man’s Chest and At World’s Finish) explored the difficult mythological backstory established within the first movie and supplied much more outrageous set items (elaborately choreographed by returning director Gore Verbinski). The 2 motion pictures after the trilogy, directed by Rob Marshall and Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg respectively, continued the story whereas largely forgoing references to the unique attraction. (You possibly can learn our evaluation of the complete franchise, together with what the films took from the attraction, proper right here.) The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are capable of transport audiences to a far-off, fantastical world stuffed with ghosts and sea creatures and undead pirates, bringing the swashbuckling expertise to numerous visitors who had by no means skilled the attraction. It additionally profoundly impacted the unique attraction, with Barbossa and Jack Sparrow being inserted into the experience in a while and galvanizing one of the awe-inspiring, technologically superior sights in any Disney theme park – Shanghai Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. (It has impressed far more in numerous theme parks world wide, together with stage exhibits, interactive scavenger hunts, and different experiences.) With two extra Pirates of the Caribbean installments being spit-balled on the studio, it is a franchise that might go for a lot of, a few years to return. In a bizarre means the movie sequence has develop into simply as beloved because the theme park attraction it was based mostly upon.



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