Tomorrowland is out this weekend, so what better opportunity to remember all of those (mostly) forgettable ride-to-movie adaptations Disney tried before it?
1. Tower of Terror
A 1997 made-for-TV movie, Tower of Terror has the dubious honor of being the first Disney film based on a theme park ride (although it never hit theaters). Originally a Wonderful World of Disney release, the movie starred Steve Guttenberg and a young Kirsten Dunst, and interestingly, was shot primarily on location at the actual ride in Disney World.
2. The Country Bears
This 2002 musical was Disney’s first theatrical attempt at adapting one of their theme park attractions. Despite featuring a crazy roster of musician cameos including Elton John, Willie Nelson, Xzibit, and Queen Latifah, the movie didn’t do a whole lot with them, and it was a pretty big flop at the box office.
The original theme park attraction meanwhile, Country Bear Jamboree, is still going strong at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
3. Mission to Mars
Mission to Mars was a relatively short-lived attraction in Tomorrowland that closed in the early 90s. Designed alongside NASA, the ride/show simulated a trip through space to the red planet. It was eventually replaced by ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, another shuttered attraction that is now the current home of Stitch’s Great Escape.
The movie was made seven years after the ride closed, and while it does follow the same basic story of the first manned mission to Mars, it also introduced a bunch of sci-fi elements that weren’t present in the attraction.
4. The Haunted Mansion
This 2003 comedy starring Eddie Murphy was not exactly an instant classic, but Disney seems to think there’s still a lot of material to mine for another Haunted Mansion movie.
About five years ago, the studio began work on a remake of the film, with none other than Guillermo del Toro writing the script. The last we heard about it, Del Toro was considering directing, with Ryan Gosling in talks to star no less. In the meantime, you’ll be able to see yet another Haunted Mansion project on the small screen, with a made-for-TV movie coming to the Disney Channel soon.
5. Pirates of the Caribbean
By far the most successful (certainly commercially at least) theme park adaption, the Pirates franchise has so far spawned four films, and created one of Disney’s most recognizable characters in Captain Jack Sparrow.
Aside from a few winks and nods, the films have little to nothing to do with the original Disneyland ride. In a weird case of life imitating art though, the Pirates of the Caribbean attractions at Disneyland and Disney World have since been updated to include appearances by Jack Sparrow.
What’s next for Disney rides-turned-movies? We know a Space Mountain adaption was briefly on the table, and there’s currently a comic based on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Aside from that, there really isn’t too much more that Disney can tap into. Jungle Cruise? Autopia? The Monorail?
All right fine, I would love to see what a Monorail movie would look like.