Usually, unless you’re still a toddler, the “Games & Activities” section of Disney DVDs is the weakest of them all, but this time Disney have tried something completely different. They’ve taken the “Virtual Safari” idea from The Lion King’s DVDs and transferred the concept to a real Disney theme park attraction… almost. See, the attraction featured never actually made it off the drawing board, which makes this all the more interesting. Better still, this attraction was supposed to originally find its home in Paris, before then being transferred to other resorts if successful. Alas, like Discovery Mountain, the Indiana Jones Jungle Adventure, Splash Mountain, Toon Town and the Beauty and the Beast animatronic show, this expensive attraction was cancelled as soon as Euro Disney hit financial trouble.
Before this Autumn, the closest look we’ve had at the atraction was a quick glance at concept models during the Euro Disney Grand Opening TV special, the “F-File” articles at DLP.info or the attraction’s showbuilding on Euro Disneyland’s grand opening map (seen above). Luckily, then, Disney have dug through the archives to put together one of their most eagerly anticipated DVD extras – a full, CGI ride-through of “the attraction that never was”, running 4 minutes 15 seconds. But that’s not all – the DVD also includes the option to exprience the ride-through in a split-screen version, with an Imagineer (no less than Euro Disney legend Tony Baxter himself) riding alongside, describing details and showing concept art. Finally, a featurette running 5 minutes 53 seconds features Imagineer interviews and discussion about the attraction.
In design, the ride is not all that different from the very popular Peter Pan’s Flight. It feels very much like a real Disney park ride (complete with English and Spanish announcements after departing the queue area), though there are a few obvious differences: you don’t get to pick what you look at, but it moves slow enough to allow you to appreciate every detail (something that’s definitely not true of most of the brisk Fantasyland attractions). Also, there is no FastPass, but amazingly enough, there is no line whatsoever.
The commentary — another neat, unique touch — is provided by Tony Baxter, senior vice president at Disney Imagineering, who explains the thought that goes into designing a ride like this, from different effects to making sure that guests’ eyes are able to adjust to the dark setting. Concluding this sub-section is “Behind The Ride That Almost Was with Disney Imagineers” (5:53), a featurette which puts it all into context. Here, lots of informed interview subjects explain traits of the ride (which was put on hold in 1992) including the little touches that normally don’t get appreciated after your vehicle comes to a stop.
The “Platinum Edition” DVD will be released in the UK on the 4th November, Netherlands on 18th October and Germany on 2nd November, but is already available in France and the US, where it sold a staggering 4 million copies in its first week.