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Classic Rides That Would FOR SURE Have Character Overlays If They Were Built Today

4. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea... with Finding Nemo

Image: Disney

In 1959, Disneyland debuted the Submarine Voyage as an E-Ticket expansion of the park's Tomorrowland. By time designers were ready to plug the ride into the new Magic Kingdom, subs were far from futuristic. That's why the ride was reimagined to fit within Fantasyland, instead, taking on the aesthetics (and a few key scenes) from Jules Verne's 19th century adventure novel, creating the Lost Legend: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Submarine Voyage.

Both sets of Subs bit the dust in the '90s thanks to a particularly penny-pinching regime in the era. Disneyland's ride resurfaced thanks to the surprise success of Pixar's Finding Nemo (see our Disney•Pixarland feature for the full story there), but by then, Disney World's lagoon had already been filled in and turned into a Winnie the Pooh playground. 

Image: Disney / Pixar

Even though Jules Verne's adventure stories are chocked full of characters, compelling plots, iconic settings, and recognizable moments, Disney doesn't seem to count the tales as valuable intellectual property. So even if Magic Kingdom's subs were still around, there's essentially zero chance they'd still be themed to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We'd like to think that if Magic Kingdom's sub ride had just been able to hold on a few more years, it, too, might've been approved for the Nemo overlay (which is mostly screen-based, but better than losing the unique underwater ride system altogether).

5. Country Bear Jamboree... with Toy Story

Image: Disney

The full story of the Modern Marvel: Country Bear Jamboree and the artist-turned-Imagineer who created it is one of our favorites, culminating in the debut of the Audio Animatronic bear band in Magic Kingdom's Frontierland. In fact, the bears were so popular, the show became the first ever to originate in Florida before being duplicated back in California rather than the other way around. Today, nearly 50 years later, the Country Bear Jamboree feels like an inseparable part of the Magic Kingdom experience.

That hasn't meant that the show is safe... in fact, recent rumors signal that Disney is interested in retiring the Country Bears in favor of Sheriff Woody, Jessie, and Bullseye. If whispered rumors turn out to become reality, the fictitious 1950s kids' television show "Woody's Round-Up" could come to life at Magic Kingdom, stylized as a marionette show in the theater. No doubt such a singalong stage show would include the "Woody's Round-Up" theme song and "You've Got a Friend in Me."

Image: Disney / Pixar

While the idea would likely draw the ire of fans (for some good reasons), there are at least two inarguable points that must be made:

  1. "Woody's Round-Up" – in the Toy Story universe, the 1950s black and white TV show that Sheriff Woody dolls were made to promote – is an allusion to real 1950s shows (like The Lone Ranger, Zorro, and Howdy Doody) that really had shaped American pop culture. Those shows lead to a generation defined by Western films, summers playing "Cowboys & Indians," and... Walt's decision to include a "Frontierland" in Disneyland! So even though the show is fake, its backstory is kind of a clever nod to the mid-century frenzy that created Frontierland to begin with.
  2. While fans balk at the continuity-shattering idea of a 1950s TV show from a 1990s CGI movie in a 1860s frontier town, it's technically no more outlandish than a singing bear band spoofing modern country songs originally designed for a ski resort's restaurant dining room...

Disney probably wouldn't open a family Audio Animatronics show today anyway, but at least we can all agree that if they did, the Toy Story characters would absolutely have been a part of it from the start.

6. Mission: SPACE... with Guardians of the Galaxy

Image: Disney

The choice to replace the Lost Legend: Universe of Energy with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has been one of the more controversial announcements at Epcot lately (and that's saying something). It's especially odd given that just next door is Mission: Space.

Before Mission: Space opened in 2003, it was believed that the technological marvel thrill ride simulating the real physics of a space launch would become Disney's next big franchisable attraction, quickly being duplicated in their parks across the globe. After it opened, the Epcot ride turned out to be too intense, with a sustained 2.5 Gs of force making it one of the world's most viscerally extreme experiences in any theme park. In fact, Disney has repeatedly gone to great lengths to convey the to guests just how poerful the experience is, reduced the ride's intensity, and created an alternative "mission" with much less movement.

Image: Disney / Marvel

Inducting the irreverent and ragtag Marvel superhero team into Epcot's ranks is inherently controversial for fans, but it's odd that Disney didn't choose to overlay the intergalactic heroes on the Space pavilion, where they feel like a more logical fit. After all, Star Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax spend much of the film in starships, blasting through outer space. Put another way, if Mission: Space were opening for the first time today, we feel confident that the Guardians crew might've been baked into the ride from the get-go.

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