With Disney’s Haunted Mansion opening this weekend, it’s the studio’s latest foray into taking one of their iconic theme park rides and turning it into a movie. Of course, the first ride to kick it all off was Pirates of the Caribbean, which turned into a hugely successful movie franchise that reinvigorated the studio and movies based on its own IP. On the other hand, there were also attempts like the 2015 flop Tomorrowland.
Still, with the right script and the right people behind it, Disney has shown that it can take its rides and turn them into high-concept, family-friendly films that stand the test of time. Now that Haunted Mansion is up, we thought it would be fun to take a few more rides and experiences at Disney that could also be turned into fun movies.
Fantasmic! technically isn’t a ride, but an attraction. Still, it’s one of the longest-running and most beloved at both Disneyland and Disney World. Mickey and all his friends – meaning all the Disney characters – come together to fight some of the studio’s most infamous villains. The showstopper scene is Sorcerer Mickey squaring off against Maleficent in her dragon form. It’s a big, audacious, bold show of crossover characters, dazzling laser lights, music, and pyrotechnics. We’re picturing a version where a kid gets sucked into a magical realm and they have to team up with all the various Disney characters to defeat the villains and save the land.
Disney World’s Expedition Everest (or Matterhorn Bobsleds if you’re in Disneyland) already has a great premise for a movie. The roller coaster ride takes viewers on a journey through “Tibet” and up through the Himalayas, but they may just meet a legendary mountain cryptid along the way. While Disney would likely never do full horror, a snowy monster horror movie could be something fascinating. But if they wanted to go the more family-friendly route, an adventure movie with a family discovering a Yeti in the Himalayas could be just the thing.
Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom park takes guests on a safari experience through the Harambe Wildlife Preserve. It’s a lovely, tranquil park that takes a piece of Africa and drops it right into the middle of Disney World. While guests ride through the preserve, their guides point out animals like elephants, hippos, giraffes, cheetahs, wildebeests, lions, and more. There was even a previous storyline that involved poachers kidnapping a mother elephant and her baby, and it was up to the safari guests to track them down and recover the elephants. That’s a story that could easily transfer to a movie as an action-thriller. And with Disney’s well-documented history of nature conservation and environmental documentaries, it would be great to see the Disneynature arm of the studio cross over to live-action adaptations.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Okay, hear us out. Swap out Aerosmith for another band and you’ve got the makings of a great movie premise. The concept of the ride is a simple but fun one. Set next to the Hollywood Tower Hotel (a.k.a. the Tower of Terror), the roller coaster ride is set up to appear like a music recording studio that has seen hundreds of famous musicians and bands pass through its doors. The band Aerosmith is recording at the studio, but they’re running late for their concert. They all pile into a limo and rush through traffic to make it to their show on time. Granted, most young audiences won’t know who Aerosmith is, so Disney could easily swap them out for a more popular band (BTS reunion, anyone?), or even a fictional band from one of their previous TV shows or movies. We’re thinking of a movie where a simple ride to a concert turns into a night of unexpected adventure.
Granted, the Maelstrom ride at Epcot’s Norway Pavilion hasn’t been around since 2014, when it was replaced by the Frozen Ever After ride. Even so, it would make for a great movie. The original log flume ride wove together a tale of Norway’s history and mythology, with riders stepping onto a car designed as a Viking ship and sailing past polar bears, oil rigs, tricky trolls, and more. If Disney wanted to do a period-set movie similar to Pirates, a Viking-era movie could be it. Imagine a story of villagers in a small, cursed Norwegian town coming together to fight off monsters from Scandinavian folklore, like trolls, the Kraken, elves, the Draugen, the Nokken, and more. Perhaps they could even enlist the help of the Valkyrie in their fight. We’re thinking it could be a great deal of fun as a movie.