It’s a common thought among Disney Park fans that villains are tragically underrepresented throughout Disney’s theme park property. We’re just finding out that not only does Disney know this, but they actively tried to correct it back in 2007. Plans were specifically made for Disneyland Resort’s California Adventure Park to include a Disney villain roller coaster!
You, reading this in 2023 and never having heard of a villain coster in Disneyland, can probably gauge that these plans never went through. However, Cabel Sasser, a Disney lover and blogger, bought at auction a tantalizing package called “Paradise Pier Imagineering Project Scope.” And lucky for us, he shared his magical find!
The document outlines the “original planned improvements to Paradise Pier” at Disneyland’s California Adventure, now known as Pixar Pier. There were some seriously different plans for the California Screamin’ coaster of 2001, now known as the Incredicoaster after Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles movies. Apparently, this was initially hoped to be a funhouse-style Disney villain roller coaster!
The designs show a boardwalk entrance through the gaping mouth of Ursula from The Little Mermaid (1989) and a ride entrance under Cruella de Vil’s (One Hundred and One Dalmatians, 1961) crazed face. The sign reads “Villains Funhouse Roller Coaster.” Sasser shares notes of interactive queue games featuring Pain and Panic from Hercules (1997) and the Old Hag from Snow White (1937) dispatching ride vehicles with Hades’ face on them.
One piece of concept art for the ride design shows guests launching “right through Chernobog’s (Fantasia, 1940) mouth and into a now-enclosed launch tunnel!” More drawings show Jafar from Aladdin (1992) in snake form, waiting to swallow riders whole as they reach a hill peak along the track.
Fans surely would’ve loved this addition and ode to some of their evil favorites. Sasser includes former Imagineer Jim Shull’s explanation of why the Disney villain roller coaster was ultimately abandoned.
The idea driving the queue design for the Villains Funhouse coaster was to build a covered conditioned queue and merge that with elements of a classic funhouse. Research into classic funhouses revealed that due to guest capacity and safety issues building a true funhouse would have been impossible. However, taking elements of funhouses and fusing those in a queue was possible. The budget to re-do DCA was large, but simply not large enough for every idea. Cars Land and Buena Vista Street would take up the bulk of the money.
Even if we can’t enjoy the villains to their fullest in the Disney theme parks, at least Sasser let us in on this little bit of Disney history to show that if it was a possibility, then it could be again in the future!