Amongst the Blue Sky concepts presented by Chairperson of Disney Parks and Resorts Josh D’Amaro at this year’s , none ignited the imaginations of Disney Parks fans like the announcement of a potential at the and/or the .
For decades now the Disney Villains have been a popular brand for Disney, and they have appeared in numerous media ranging from endless amounts of clothing and merchandise to direct-to-video movies, video games, and even the popular Descendants franchise of Disney Channel original movies. However, when it comes to attractions at the Parks, the villains have often played second fiddle to their more heroic foes.
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Fans are thus left wondering what to expect from a . What would such a place look like at a Disney , especially the ? How could it retain the innocence and magic of the and while still focusing on evildoers?
Based on how the Disney Villains have appeared at the Parks historically, we can make a few guesses as to what we might see from ‘s vision of (focusing solely on the villains of and ignoring potential appearances from and MCU villains)!
Halloween All Year?
Perhaps the most notable use of the Disney Villains at the Parks comes each year at Halloween time (well, in August and September and then Halloween time). They play a central role every year at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, where this past year, for example, they popped up in Mickey’s Boo To You Parade and in the Hocus Pocus Spelltacular.
What we can learn from these appearances of the Disney Villains, en masse? Well, as the name implies, they’re ultimately not so scary. The villains’ Halloween antics – like those of the ghosts in the – err on the side of silly and sinister rather than scary. They ride the line between creating a spooky atmosphere and maintain a child-friendly Park, and we should expect no different from a full .
Other clues to might be found in the attractions that have featured the villains in various Parks throughout the years, including:
•Fantasmic! – The nighttime spectacular is perhaps the Villains’ biggest ongoing showcase at the Disney Parks, and though they might get a bit frightening at times the emphasis is ultimately on Mickey’s ability to overcome their evil with the goodness in his heart and power of his imagination.
•Villains Tonight – This variety show, found on the ships of the Line, is a straight-up satire, featuring Hades summoning up some of Disney’s biggest villains to help him become more evil. . . only for all involved to wind up in a variety of musical numbers and comical situations instead.
•Gaston’s Tavern – The appearances of Gaston in Fantasyland are the stuff of online legend, with epic pushup contests, arguments with little girls, and a general hilarious send-up of toxic masculinity. Using the heightened reality of the to point out how his or her flaws are reflected in our own society might be a difficult line to walk, but it’s one that Gaston pulls off masterfully.
•Snow White’s Scary Adventures – Though this ride has now been replaced or re-imagined at both Disneyland and the , Snow White’s Scary Adventures was perhaps the scariest attraction at any , ever. Because it was originally envisioned by and his team of Imagineers to be an experience that put into Snow White’s shoes, the star of the attraction ended up becoming the , who provided numerous scares along the way while also summoning up sinister skeletons, alligators, and living trees to terrify many a young Guest. This approach to a would certainly emphasize the scariness, but it’s perhaps telling that the attraction was replaced in Florida and tamed down in California.
•Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour – The other, lesser-known contender for the scariest attraction at a would be the Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour walk-through that ran from 1986 to 2006 at Tokyo Disneyland. What begins as a tour of a fairy tale castle becomes a journey into its dungeon when the Magic Mirror intervenes, leading to encounters with some of the scariest Disney Villains, including Fantasia’s Chernabog and The Black Cauldron’s Horned King. It might even be the only attraction in Disney history where a character flat-out threatens ’ lives! The attraction was played completely straight, without any camp, and, like Snow White’s Scary Adventure, shows just how dark an attraction feature the Disney Villains could potentially get.
Descendants. Like, a Lot of Descendants.
If you’re above a certain age and don’t have children, you might be forgiven for not knowing what Descendants is. The rest of you – whether you love it or hate it – are certainly well aware of the franchise of Disney Channel original musicals featuring the children of Maleficent, the (from Snow White), Jafar, and Cruella de Vil,
These films are . . . well, exactly what you’d expect from a series of Disney Channel original musicals aimed toward tween/teen-focused audiences. Picture High School Musical, but with Disney Villains and a bit of action-adventure, and you get the idea.
What’s important to know, though, is that these films have proven enormously popular. The original film was viewed more than one million times on the Watch Disney Channel App before it even aired, and then still went on to become the fifth most-watched original movie in cable history. With two full sequels and multiple spin-off specials and miniseries, plus a series of novels and countless pieces of tie-in merchandise, Descendants is a full-on sensation.
This means that, in a land dedicated to Disney Villains, we should expect to see their teenage children singing their hearts out in one form or another. Plus probably a store. And a meet-and-greet. And themed food offerings.
With all that said, though, Disney Parks fans have learned to always expect the unexpected. So perhaps instead of something like anything described above, will be a wickedly surprising, unique, and original experience.