Welcome to Jim Hill Media - Entertainment News : Theme Parks Movies Television

Let's take a stroll around Discovery Bay

Jim Hill

Jim's musings on the history of and rumors about movies, TV shows, books and theme parks including Disneyland, Walt Disney World. Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Let's take a stroll around Discovery Bay

Rate This
  • Comments 3

This past week, Leslie C. dropped me a line. Which said:

Jim --

I really enjoyed Friday's "Why For." Particularly that story about the "Young Indiana Jones and the Adventure Spectacular" stunt show. But one thing about that article really bothered me. You mentioned some expansion area for Disneyland called Discovery Bay that I'd never heard about before. So could you please provide me with some additional information about this proposed addition to the park?


Leslie C.

Alright. Let me see what I can pull out of my files ...

Here. This should give a better understanding about what Discovery Bay was supposed to like. It's a WED memo from October 1976 that gives a nice overview of what this proposed addition to Disneyland would have been like:

Discovery Bay
Themed expansion Area for Disneyland
October 12, 1976

Story Background

Along the Rivers of America in the northen portion of Frontierland lies Discovery Bay. Having as its roots a "San Francisco of the 1850-1880s," the theme area would bring to life a time and place that climaxed an age of discovery and expansion.

Discovery Bay would reflect the influx of opportunists, dreamers and adventurers that poured into this cultural melting pot after the discovery gold. The railroad link with the East had brough with the beginnings of culture and luxury, and the area was now earning its reputation as a "city of myths and eccentricities."

With these parameters established, a Western port city would be a logical and exciting addition to Frontierland.

Such a debarkation point would be a natural for many of our exciting show concepts, as well as some exciting new ones. The flexibility of this once-only-place in time can best be demonstrated through brief sketches of some attraction possiblities.

The area would fan out around a bay inlet from the Rivers of America. Standing on a rock outcropping, the old lighthouse keynotes the styling for this age of mechanical marvels. Here the Columbia would dark, as well as several "set piece" crafts, giving a feeling of international adventure to this frontier port.

Copyright 1976 Walt Disney Productions

Along the docks would be a traditional Chinatown. This version would recreate a Chinese settlement in the days of the Western Frontier, with its exotoc food dishes, merchandise, and an unusual attraction called the Fireworks Factory. Here guests could test their marksmanship -- bursting skyrockets, pinwheels, and various firecracks as they move through a whimsical assembly line.

In another corner, a group of opportunists have set up shop. Among the promises and allures offered are those a French aerial explorer. He promises brave adventurers a trip aboard a fantastic flying machine to an Island of paradise located at the Top of the World.

With this set-up, we could effectively integrate a very exciting show that has been difficult to fit into the logic of the Park's existing realms. This "Island at the Top of the World" adventure and several others are not really fairy tales for Fantasyland, nor backwoods frontier adventures. But they do date from the late 19th Century, and could use the Discovery Bay location as a debarkation point for adventure.

Another example, the motion picture "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" has its beginning in exactly this type of place. Perhaps a new version of the old Disneyland attraction could be developed. Guests might view the workings of the Nautilus and Nemo's secrets, before dining in an undersea Grand Salon.

A time machine or "dimensional" adventure also works nicely with this 19th Century port, so often the period of time depicted in the writings of Verne and Wells.

Returning now to the streets of Discovery bay, the facades might include elaborate gaming halls with crystal chandeliers and plush interiors, while the shop windows could reflect the runaway inflation of the golden economy (eggs - $18 a dozen, Room & Board - $100 a day) -- a parody on today's economic situation. Actual shops might include "The Model Works" featuring Disney oriented scale reproductions, and a scientific supplies office.

At the other end of town would be the Railroad Station and the site of Discovery Bay's most unusual attractions. Dominating this area is The Tower, a wild structure that takes guests down a dizzy spiral and into a giant magnetic structure where the forces of magnetism are demonstrated in a most exciting manner.

Also a part of this sector is the great Western Balloon Ascent and Professor Marvel's Gallery, a fascinating visit with the foremost collector of the erotic, weird and whimsical from all over the world.

The cornerstone of this development would be the completion of Big Thunder Railroad. This will allow access to the new area and provide a glimpse of the gold rush fever that paved the way to the land of adventurers and dreamers -- Discovery Bay, Frontierland.

Sounds pretty cool, huh? As to why Discovery Bay never actually got built ... Well, that's a story that I actually owe to all the nice folks who took part in last year's donation drive who then signed up for the JHM newsletter. So let me toss that tale their way first, and then I'll share that saga with you guys, okay?

Your thoughts?

Blog - Post Feedback Form
Your comment has been posted.   Close
Thank you, your comment requires moderation so it may take a while to appear.   Close
Leave a Comment
  • * Please enter your name
  • * Please enter a comment
  • Post
Page 1 of 1 (3 items)