Which Attractions Should Be Made Into Disney Parks Movies Next?

With the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and of the Dwayne Johnson/Emily Blunt-starring Jungle Cruise, there’s been a lot of noise lately about which attractions will be made into Disney Parks movies next (and that’s not even mentioning the unsuccessful ones like The Country Bears and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride!).

Credit: Disney

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Some of that noise has come from announcements at the D23 Expo and elsewhere, with films based on the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, the Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain, and Journey Into Imagination’s Figment all in at least some stage of production (which would be the second version of films for the Haunted Mansion and the Tower of Terror – and good luck bettering the Steve Guttenberg/Kirsten Dunst/Jan-from-the-Office made-for-TV Tower of Terror)!

It might seem like all the biggest original Disney Parks attractions have already been mined for cinematic gold – especially since most of the newest rides and shows over the past few decades are already based on Disney-owned IP – but that’s where a little bit of imagination can go a long way toward finding the Walt Disney Company‘s next big Disney movie franchise!

Let’s take a look at several other Walt Disney World Resort attractions that could be adapted into fantastic Disney Parks movies, either theatrically released or on the Disney Channel or Disney plus!

The Enchanted Tiki Room (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)

Although there are no humans in sight and a fairly flimsy storyline, The Enchanted Tiki Room has all the other elements necessary for translation into a feature film – characters with names and personalities, an aesthetic not too dissimilar from the already-successful Jungle Cruise, a recognizable and popular theme, and several other catchy songs ready to be plugged into a musical!

Of course, that’s not to say such an adaptation wouldn’t face a few problems. Audio-animatronic birds, plants, and tiki idols would in no way translate to the silver screen, meaning that the film’s stars would have to be animated via CGI or traditional hand-drawn animation. Given the throwback nature of the tiki theme, the hand-drawn option might be the best way to go, especially since that would allow for a vibrancy of color and tone that could look garish in CGI.

The other issue a Tiki Room film might face is the insensitivity of tiki culture in general. This is something that Disney could get around by hiring a creative team helmed by – and heavily consisting of – peoples of the South Pacific to ensure that cultural representations reflect accurate and specific nations, cultures, and islands (much as the company did with Moana), rather than an imagined pan-Pacific “tiki culture” aesthetic.

Disneyland Resort

Credit: Disney

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Red Car Trolley (Disney’s California Adventure)

Perhaps the most abstract attraction on this list, the Red Car Trolley found at Disney’s California Adventure couldn’t quite directly translate to a film, but it could certainly inspire one. This transportation ride – which runs through Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Land – is based on the Pacific Electric Railway’s “Red Cars” that at one time crisscrossed much of Southern California, particularly Los Angeles.

A Red Car Trolley film, then, could be set in the golden age of Hollywood, telling the stories of wannabe starlets, down-on-their-luck screenwriters, abusive directors, and mobbed-up producers. It could focus on one film’s behind-the-scenes story or even work as a kind of interweaving anthology – a la Shortcuts or Magnolia – to provide a full picture of early 20th-century Los Angeles.

Heck, it could even tell the story of the hidden conspiracy behind the Red Car Trolley’s decline, a tale of how unscrupulous parties bought up the trolley system to dismantle it and pave the way for the freeway system.

Oh, wait. That’s already the plot for Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Oops. (But it’s also something that actually happened, except the real-world culprit was automobile companies and not Judge Doom!)

Red Car Trolley

Credit: Disney

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Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (Disney’s Animal Kingdom)

Along with The Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror, a movie based on Animal Kingdom‘s Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain could join the Disney Parks stable of horror-tinged movies. The giant, frightening Yeti – in its intended form, not the “disco Yeti” version we’ve been stuck with – would prove a terrifying antagonist for a group of climbers who get lost in the Himalayas.

Picture a survival horror movie crossed with a monster movie, capped off with a dramatic train chase through the snowy mountains, and you can see the potential of such a film adaptation.


Credit: Disney Tips

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Grizzly River Run (Disney’s California Adventure)

It’s been a while since the silver screen saw a big-budget white water rafting adventure film, and California Adventure’s Grizzly River Run might just provide the inspiration for one.

The attraction’s storyline focuses on the impact of deforestation on the environment, so a movie adaptation would need to keep that same message, perhaps featuring a group of kids (and their pet grizzly bear?) trying to save a stretch of forest from unscrupulous loggers working for Kevin Bacon. Because you can’t make a white water rafting movie without Kevin Bacon.

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The Carousel of Progress (Magic Kingdom)

The attraction that you go into to rest your feet and cool off for twenty minutes might not seem the most exciting option for a blockbuster film, but consider the science fiction potential of a family that lives through the entire 20th century, barely aging the entire time.

Such a conceit could go in two directions.

The first is the most direct – a family of semi-immortals who watch the technological and social changes that take place over the course of the century. The metaphysical backdrop could serve as a piercing examination of the social issues of today as seen through the lens of yesterday, potentially creating the first Oscar-bait film based on a Disney Parks attraction!

The other direction is a bit more of a “popcorn flick.” Instead of starting at the turn of the 20th century, the story begins with the Carousel of Progress’ central family living in a future where inroads are finally being made into time travel. The mother, a noted chrono-scientist, brings her family to visit her lab, when something goes wrong and an explosion scatters them through time. Now she must rescue her husband, son, and daughter from various eras throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries, each time visiting distorted versions of the family she knows and loves. Ultimately, she has to use technology from each era to fix her mistakes and bring her family back together.


Credit: Disney

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Eddie Murphy will not be asked to audition (though Steve Guttenberg might)!

About Andrew Friedenthal