Western River Expedition: Never Built Magic Kingdom

Never Built Magic Kingdom

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Ghost Town Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World

One of the most elaborate never built attractions in the history of Walt Disney World is the Western River Expedition, which was planned as part of a never-built expansion of Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

This attraction was originally planned to be the Walt Disney World version of Pirates of the Caribbean, designed to use a similar ride system, but to tell a storyline about the old west instead of about a pirate raid.

On this ride, you would board a boat similar to Pirates of the Caribbean, and much like Pirates of the Caribbean, you would begin the ride with a calm natural setting before entering a series of scenes with audio-animatronic characters.

The ride would then enter a series of small vignette-style scenes. Like Pirates of the Caribbean, this ride would not have a specific storyline and would instead merely feature several scenes tied together by the common theme and setting with only tangental story ties between them.

Caretaker Animatronic Haunted Mansion Disneyland

This was a common style for original Disney dark rides at the time, and classics from Pirates of the Caribbean to Haunted Mansion took the same approach.

This was one of the last major projects of Imagineer Marc Davis, the mind behind iconic scenes in attractions from Jungle Cruise, to America Sings, to the Haunted Mansion. As such, it was a favorite within the company.

The ride was initially delayed, as Magic Kingdom was not built with Pirates of the Caribbean due to the intention of building this ride, but widespread public complaints caused a version of Pirates of the Caribbean to be rushed into construction at Walt Disney World, delaying Western River Expedition.

Various other projects would continually be prioritized over this attraction, causing it to be indefinitely shelved, and eventually permanently canceled altogether with no chance of getting built once Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was planned on its intended location.

But, due to how far into planning this attraction was, much of its elements had already been built prior to its cancelation, including animatronics and some set pieces. Imagineers who loved the ride then found ways of incorporating elements of this attraction into various other Disney rides throughout the next few decades.

In next week's article, we will go over all the various attractions that had parts of Western River Expedition incorporated into them.