The Impact of Western River Expedition on Other Disney Rides: Never Built Magic Kingdom

Never Built Magic Kingdom

Horse Ice Truck Scene World of Motion Epcot Center Walt Disney World

Western River Expedition was one of the early rides planned for the Magic Kingdom, but it was canceled after the entire attraction was planned, and multiple elements had already been built for the ride.

Due to its scale and status as one of the last projects designed by Imagineer Marc Davis, various other Imagineers began to find ways to put parts of the Western River Expedition in other Disney rides, ensuring some of the work lived on.

Big Thunder Mountain, the attraction that took the land for the Western River Expedition was based on the roller coaster set to be a part of the plaza for this attraction, and it would incorporate a similar theme.

Splash Mountain was inspired in part by this ride, as a similarly themed western style water attraction, and it also used characters designed by Marc Davis, from both Song of the South and America Sings, another Marc Davis designed attraction.

Some of the animatronics originally built for this attraction were utilized in Living With The Land in the desert scene.

Some scenes in Western River Expedition were recreated under different contexts in the Epcot Center ride World of Motion.

Much of the backstory of this ride was reincorporated to the Disneyland Paris version of Frontierland, which also took the name of the intended home of Western River Expedition, Thunder Mesa. A scene in one of the rides of the land, Phantom Manor, was even directly inspired by the ride.

Much of this, but not all of this, was done by Imagineer Tony Baxter, who salvaged some of the plans for this ride when he designed Big Thunder Mountain, and then reutilized many of the designs into his future projects.

No good idea ever dies at Disney, and even if it cannot be built as originally intended, if Imagineers fall in love with an idea they will ensure it ends up in the park in some way.