Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lost Imagineering: A Happy, Fun American Adventure

An American Adventure not unlike El Rio del Tiempo or It’s a Small World?

Interestingly enough, one of the early ideas for World Showcase’s host pavillion, was a far cry from the elaborate theater presentation that Imagineers ultimately produced.

In an interview a few years prior to his tragic death in 1990, American Adventure show producer and Disney Legend Randy Bright said this about one of the attraction’s abandoned concepts:

“We went through six abject failures before we got to an American Adventure that we all felt comfortable with, which ultimately became what we have today. For example, one designer decided that the American Adventure should be a happy, fun ride-through with audio-animatronic vignettes of characters singing patriotic American songs as you go through”

Concept art featured a more comical Ben Franklin as part of a fireworks display, Paul Bunyan with his blue ox Babe, and an odd scene of a cowboy and Indian shaking hands while a movie camera films in the background.

Most Disney fans are more familiar with the Imagineers’ original intention to have Will Rogers serve as the show’s third host, along side Ben Franklin and Mark Twain, with each one representing a century in the country’s history. Bright told of how they took that idea to a college class consisting of 150 political science students, of which only five knew who Will Rogers was. Rogers was then quickly relegated to a small supporting role. Roughly three hundred other historical figures were considered before they ultimately gave up on the idea of a 20th century host.

3 comments:

Klark Kent 007 said...

Wouldn't Walt have made a good 3rd host?

Jeff Kurtti said...

I was told many years ago that Walt Disney was among the figures considered.

Not only was this project in development less than a decade after Walt's death, many of those working on EPCOT Center had worked with him.

Ron Miller is Walt's son-in-law, and still a major power at the Studio at the time, and the idea was quickly dismissed because it was a bit too morbid.

Today, forty years later, Walt seems more of an historical figure. Then, he was a close friend, colleague, adored mentor and in some cases a relative. You can see why such an idea never took wing.

Louis said...

Excellent entry as always, Jeff P.!

I have also spoken to a Disney Legend who stated that Walt, for a short time, was under consideration for a part in the AA, confirming what Jeff K. stated

(BTW, I love your books, Jeff!! I'm a huge fan, especially of Since the World Began! Please email me at lou@disneyworldtrivia.com if you read this, as I would love to send you copies of my books.)

It was also felt that one person could not adequately represent the 20th Century alone. I'm sure that fear of appearing narcissistic also came into play. It was also stated (or justified?) that Twain's satire and witty personality would play off well against Franklin's more serious tone. (Maybe those guys can head on over to Tomorrowland and help work on material for the Laugh Floor Comedy Club. LOL)

I also agree with you Jeff about how our perceptions of Walt today must differ greatly from those of the early 80s. I believe that for those people that really knew Walt well, those sentiments still hold true. Having spoken recently with Ralph Kent, you can see that when he talk about Walt, there is not only a sense of reverence, admiration, friendship and respect, but still one of great loss and sorrow.