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The Kingdom That Never Came : Disney World expansion plans circa June of 1982

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The Kingdom That Never Came : Disney World expansion plans circa June of 1982

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This is one of these stories that I'm sure is going to depress a certain portion of JHM readers. Mostly because it gives a glimpse of what might have been at Walt Disney World. Particularly if Ron Miller had remained in power at the Mouse House.

Anyway ... The following is a transcript of an article that ran in the June 6, 1982 issue of the Epcot Center Construction News.

 Copyright 1982 Walt Disney Productions. All Rights Reserved

This was a weekly newsletter that was distributed to the more-than-10,000 construction workers that were toiling at the Epcot Center job site. So that these folks could then be brought up to speed about what Walt Disney Productions was up to.

The following interview with Dick Nunis (Who was then president of the Walt Disney World Disney) ...

 Dick Nunis, president of the Walt
Disney World Resort (1980 - 1991)

... was supposed to give these construction workers some idea of the projects that they'd be tackling after Phase One of Epcot Center was complete.

Q: Will we ever expand Epcot Center?

A: Very definitely. Epcot Center will never be complete. We want to go ahead with the Seas pavilion and we feel there is a need for a Life and Health pavilion. Beyond that, there should be a Space pavilion. But we've put that on hold for now because the space industry is changing so rapidly.

Copyright 1982 Walt Disney Productions. All Rights Reserved

In World Showcase we have nine countries to begin with: Canada, Great Britain, France, Japan, the United States, China, Italy, Mexico and Germany, and there are eight other spaces available. We think they will fill up rather rapidly. We've signed a contract with Spain, and we're negotiating with Israel. We'll have an African pavilion. We'll probably have a Scandinavian pavilion someday and we've also been talking with Venezuela. Now you see why I think those eight spots will fill up very rapidly.

Copyright 1982 Walt Disney Productions. All Rights Reserved

We also have a blue sky dream. On both sides of the American Adventure (pavilion) there is enough room to make a cut through and create another lagoon on the south side of World Showcase where there are about five good building sites. The concept involves building a hotel in Australia for instance. If you're staying in this hotel then you're in World Showcase already. If you're a day guest, you could take a cruise down to Australia or to the South Seas or other parts of the world. I think it's a good concept and would be another way to generate more hotel space.

Copyright 1978 Walt Disney Prdouctions. All Rights Reserved

Q: Let's talk about our plans outside Epcot Center. Do we have any plans of expanding the Magic Kingdom?

Copyright 1990 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

A: Very definitely. The Magic Kingdom will continue to grow. It's designed to expand to the north of Fantasyland and I'd like to bring the Matterhorn to the Magic Kingdom (currently a popular attraction in California's Disneyland park). It'd be the tallest mountain in Florida! Our concept would be to put the Matterhorn over the train, creating a blizzard scene with real snow. Can you imagine people in July and August riding the train to get cool?

Q: Do we plan to expand our hotels?

A: Estimates say that this area is between 15,000 and 19,000 hotel rooms short. We're worried about it. Right now we plan to expand the Polynesian Village, Golf Resort and Walt Disney World Village resort areas.

 Copyright 1990 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

We also have in design three hotels. The Mediterranean will be located between the Transportation & Ticket Center and the Contemporary Resort. The Cypress Point Lodge will be west of River Country (in Fort Wilderness) and be themed as a western hotel. It'll include log cabins along Bay Lake.

Copyright 1987 The Walt Disney Company. All Rights Reserved

The third one, the Grand Floridian, we'll build on the old Asian site on Seven Seas Lagoon (near the existing Polynesian Village Resort). It will be a replica of the great Florida hotels of the 1900s. Our creative people came up with an absolutely beautiful design.

In addition, we have some dreams for the Walt Disney World (Shopping) Village. From the Empress Lilly (restaurant), we're going into a New Orleans street, and you'll walk right into a beautiful New Orleans hotel.

Those are the kinds of things we can continue to do in the future here at Walt Disney World ... I think the sky is the limit.

Of course, a few of the projects that Dick mentioned did eventually make it up out of the ground. The Living Seas pavilion. The Grand Floridian. Cypress Point Lodge (i.e, That name was abandoned in the late 1980s in favor of Wilderness Lodge). But as for that Matterhorn in the Magic Kingdom and/or that Australian pavilion that was to have included a hotel that WDW guests could have stayed in ... These, plus the Africa, Israel and Spain pavilion never actually made it off the drawing board.

Out of all the projects mentioned here, is there one that you really wish Disney had actually put into construction?

Your thoughts?

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  • Some really cool concepts there.

    The World Showcase stuff sounds the best, especially the Austrailian Resort pavilion.

  • they should consider Australia again but not for Epcot but for DAK.

    The Scandinavian pavilion sounds very interesting.

    Spain is another one that should be reconsidered.

    Ath this point its time they consider filling in those eight spots.  World showcase has become stagnant

  • Good old days when WDW occupied pride of place in terms of future attractions and expansion plans.

  • I think I've read elsewhere that the Matterhorn also could've gone in the Scandinavian pavillion (if one came to be)...part of me likes the idea of Disneyland and WDW having some different attractions, but a Matterhorn-type attraction would be really fun.

    Also, all the other countries in World Showcase would be really fun, too.  I wonder if they ever will expand World Showcase.

    This is the kind of article I love to read, Jim!  Great job, and thanks!

  • This is the earliest I've ever heard the Grand Floridian mentioned by name.  For some reason, I assumed that the theme for that hotel was some mid-eighties conconction.

    Jim, I have to hand it to you.   This is the kind of stuff you do great.  A big step up from the wild projections or the Pixar beat-down.

  • In addition to the specific projects Jim mentioned at the end of the article, it looks like a few other projects "morphed" into something else.

    Wonders of Life Pavilion is (was?) a Life and Health pavilion.

    Horizons had a lot to do with space exploration, and of course Mission: Space is a space-themed attraction/pavilion.

    Like the Movies Pavilion concept, the African Pavilion became a large part of Animal Kingdom. (I do concur with those who want to see more nationalities represented around the lagoon, though!)

    The hotel/resort area isn't themed like WS, but the resort areas around EPCOT took off not long after the Swan/Dolphin experiment showed some sign of success.

    Did New Orleans Street become Pleasure Island? The geography seems right to say that it did.

    And, of course it is not the Matterhorn, but I can't help but think that Imagineers were looking at Expedition Everest as WDW's version of "The Matterhorn on Steriods."

    Thank you, Jim! I love reading the "world that never was" type of articles you write.


  • One enjoyable aspect of a Disneyland vaction is the ability to walk from your resort hotel to the theme parks. If you need a mid-day break from the parks you can be back in your hotel room in minutes. This situation is not as easy at Walt Disney World. Long walks combined with bus transportation can cause the shortest trips to take up to an hour. I like the idea of additional themed hotels located behind world showcase. Actually, any themed hotel that is walking distance to a theme park is a benefit. Monorail and boat transportation continues the "magic" of a Disney vcation because they are modes of transportation that we don't experience in our home cities. The busses really need to go. So, it's time for a real Hollywood Hotel adjacent to the Studios Theme Park.

  • The mention of the Empress Lily choked my up a little. I was sad to see that beautiful upscale namesake of Lilian Disney get sucked into a Borg entity franchise, Fulton's Crab Shack. I'm all for progress, but it seemed that the 90's were all about turning a unique shopping experience (The Disney Shopping Village) into a mall with stores that are available in most major cities. That is Downtown Disney. I love most of the renovations that went on there, but somebody lost sight if what imagination means. It went from, "Let's make something nobody else has" to "Let's put in all the hot franchises!" That's why Downtown Disney/Pleasure Island is Rainforest Cafe (replacing of Chef Mickey's), The Lego Store, Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop, Planet Hollywood, The House of Blues, etc, etc.

    And How I would have loved to have seen an Australian pavilion in place of the Swan & Dolphin that now dwarf the Eiffel Tower.

    But I suppose the direction they went did make more money after all, and kept them ahead of the competition of Universal and Church Street Station.

  • These are the types of articles that got me coming to JHM in the beginning ... good stuff, Jim. Although in fairness I know you can't write these all the time. You'd run out of material pretty quickly!

    Anyway, lots of good stuff here. If Iger was smart, he'd dust off some of these plans and get 'em going again. Especially the stuff for World Showcase. I agree with Micky ... WS is getting pretty old. There's really not much going on there of interest anymore.

    If I thought they still needed more hotel rooms, I'd say adding one adjacent to a theme park (a la Disneyland) would be a good idea, too. Maybe they could raze one hotel and move it someplace else!

  • Where exactly are there 8 slots in World Showcase? Between the current pavilions? Anybody know?

    Bulldoze the Swan and Dolphin and build the Australian complex !! Let's start a movement !!!

  • Ahhhh, so much imagination and attempted entertainment originality wasted.  Isn't that the story of the Disney Company the last 20 years?   The Eisner years?

  • I think that's unfair to Eisner, Kbene.  He wasn't alone in frittering some great WDW visions into uninspired realities.  The deal with Tishman for the Epcot Resort hotels was inked just after Epcot opened, long before Eisner.  Prior to that, grand ideas for all new Migic Kingdom attractions like Thunder Mesa and a trio of dark rides were shelved for proven Disneyland formulas from Fantasyland and Pirates.  And don't forget that it was during the mid-seventies that the oil crisis spooked Disney management into freezing development of all those cool hotel concepts along the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.

    I'm no Eisner apologist, but regrets can be shared all-around.

  • Some sort of Mountain over in Fantasyland would be a welcome addition.  Has anyone noticed the HUGE vacancy left over from 20K?  And the best they could do is fill in 5% of that space with a cheesy playground that should be part of the Disney Employee Daycare?!  REALLY?

    I, for one, am all for Florida expanding it's mountain range.  It may be a while since Everest just opened... but hopefully soon.

  • Jim... to be honest i am kind of disappointed with the article. It was really short with no real extrapolation on the concepts or ideas. The article only contained 860 words and out of those only 260 were yours.

    Jim... i think this is half assing it a little bit. Its like watching a home run slugger hit a homer and stop at first base.

    I can only hope and assume that you are working on some larger more time consuming essay that will completely enthrall and keep your readers riveted.


  • Good article Jim. Reminds me of the good 'ol days.  ;o)

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go fantasize about riding the train through the Matterhorn while REAL snow flies around me.


    Happy thoughts.

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