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A JHM Coming Attraction: David Copperfield's Magic Underground

A JHM Coming Attraction: David Copperfield's Magic Underground

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Maybe you remember seeing that billboard that used to stand outside the entrance of Disney-MGM Studio theme park.

Photo by Jeff Lange

Or maybe you saw some of those promotional pictures that the Mouse had taken back in December of 1996. The one with David Copperfield (right), Michael Eisner and a floating set of blueprints ...

Copyright 1996 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Or how the one with Disney Attractions President Judson Green (left) , Mickey and Copperfield that was actually taken inside the studio theme park.

Copyright 1996 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

That billboard & these photos were all part of the Walt Disney Company's effort to initially get the word out about this exciting new restaurant that was coming to Disney World in the Summer of 1998: David Copperfield's Magic Underground, a 500 seat eatery that was supposed to have inserted WDW visitors into this highly themed environment that was filled with illusions.

Now everyone knows that the Disney World version of Copperfield's restaurant never got built. But what about the NYC version? The restaurant that was supposed to have been the very first in the Magic Underground chain? Construction on that eatery actually got very far along.

"How far along?," you ask. So far along that -- by the summer of 1998 -- work on the exterior of this highly themed structure (Which was located just a block or so away from Times Square at the corner of Broadway and 49th) was virtually completed. As was a lot of the work on the restaurant's interior.

Photo by Jeff Lange

"What do I mean by 'highly themed,' Jeff?," you continue. "All I see is the exterior of the now-closed 'Noche.' Which looks to be a pretty standard NYC brownstone." Well, take a look at these close-up shots of the building's exterior.

Photo by Jeff Lange

Notice those cracks in the stoneworks?

All of those "cracks" are fakes. They were deliberately carved into the exterior of NYC's Magic Underground. To give the people passing by the sense that truly strange is happening inside that building. Something that could cause the restaurant's exterior walls to crack and/or bow outward.

"Well, that sounds pretty cool," you say. "But what was the interior of the Magical Underground supposed to be like?" Well, you'll find a clue in this logo.

Now how many of you remember when -- as part of a 1983 CBS TV special -- David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear? Well, the interior of this eatery was supposed to look like a waterfront warehouse from the 1880s. Where the pieces of Lady Liberty were stored before the statue was complete.

Don't believe me? Then follow this link to the website for ShowMotion, Inc. A Norwalk, CT.-based company that produces large-scale props and set pieces for Broadway shows. (FYI: Among the shows that ShowMotion has created scenery for are "The Producers," "Hairspray" and Disney's own "Aida.")

Once you get to that webpage, scroll down the left-hand column until you come to: New! [For Sale]. Then click on that. Then scroll on down to the bottom 'til you find this picture.

Copyright 2004 ShowMotion, Inc.

Click on the line just above that. And then you'll learn how you can buy your very own Magical Underground souvenir. A 2000 pound replica of the face of the Statue of Liberty. Which was originally built to decorate the interior of the NYC version of Copperfield's restaurant chain.

Copyright 2004 ShowMotion, Inc.

"But ... But ... But," you sputter."If all this work was done on NYC's Magic Underground, then why didn't David Copperfield restaurant ever get around to actually opening?"

Ah, but that's a story that the boss should tell. Jim tells me that he's already got a Magic Underground story in the works. Here's hoping that it doesn't wind up mysteriously disappearing. Just like this magic-themed restaurant chain did.

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