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  • [Fun] How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

    If you're a true Disney theme park fan, you've certainly heard about the legendary Marc Davis attraction project "Western River Expedition".



    What you may not know is how this attraction was almost built in early 1990's in Disneyland Paris' Frontierland.



    The Western River Adventure attraction was a Marc Davis project originally designed for Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom. Marc designed the attraction and characters in the form of drawings and models over a five-year period. Although the attraction had a significant cost, Disney executives such as Dick Irvine and Roy Disney both liked the idea when presented with Davis' concepts.






    Originally, this flume ride attraction was located both inside, outside, and around an architectural feature in Frontierland known as Thunder Mesa mountain. Guests would have enter a cave marked "Western River Shipping & Navigation Co" which led to a canyon in perpetual "twilight" lighting. After boarding in a boat - similar to the boats of Pirates of Caribbean although with a different theming, of course - the boat would have glided softly in the canyon where was located the different scenes. The ride's narrator, Hoot Gibson (an audio-animatronic owl) would have explained first the ride's safety instructions....

    The full article with LOT of Western River Expedition rare original artwork is available on MiceChat partner site - Disney and More:
    Disney and more: How Marc Davis legendary " Western River Expedition " attraction was almost built at Disneyland Paris

    Then return here to discuss this attraction and whether or not you think it should have been built and perhaps still should.
    http://disneyandmore.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

    I love how on the raft heading for the island, there is a guy sitting. It's like, "hey guy, I am pretty sure this is one of the most amazing things you have ever seen, let's stand and show some respect."

    Just look at the skipper at the tiller, look at the gnarly look he has on his face as he stares at this non-impressed guest. Ugh!
    Ah, how strange! The molecules are so active now!

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    • #3
      Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

      Wow that's very neat.

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      • #4
        Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

        Absolutely incredible. If only it were possible, I'd go out of my way entirely just to ride this attraction! It's a real shame this hasn't been realized.
        Keep moving forward
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        • #5
          Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

          Alain,

          It has been said that the graveyard scene in Phantom Manor was inspired by the Marc Davis Western River concept art. Have you seen any examples from your concept art that this is true?

          Dusty
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          • #6
            Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

            Couldn't they still build this in Disneyland at Anaheim, west of the berm or north of the berm? There is still quite a bit of land taken up by storage and maintenance buildings that could be relocated.
            Last edited by Bob Weaver; 10-22-2009, 12:57 PM.

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            • #7
              Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

              I'd love to see this in DCA!! It would need a bit of changes to the background scenery to look more like California gold country than Midwest badlands, but it never ceases to amaze me that there is no gold-rush themed ride or roller coaster in DCA. I guess they figured that ground had already been covered in Frontierland, but I think it glosses over a 1) integral, 2) picturesque, and 3) eminently attraction-ready portion of California's history.

              Also, DCA is in desperate need of some quality AA's...basically, it's own answer to pirates. I hope TLM will make some progress on this front, but still--couldn't hurt to have another, eh? I wouldn't mind seeing the Challenge Trail go to make room for something like this.
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              • #8
                Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

                Originally posted by AGD View Post
                I'd love to see this in DCA!! It would need a bit of changes to the background scenery to look more like California gold country than Midwest badlands, but it never ceases to amaze me that there is no gold-rush themed ride or roller coaster in DCA.
                The likely ride that could easily fit a gold rush theme (with minor modifications) would be Grizzly River Run. Welcome to Micechat

                What is interesting is the mention of the owl. I wonder if the owl in Splash is a private dedication to Marc.
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                • #9
                  Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

                  ^ I like the national park approach they're taking in that area. Better yet transform a bugs land into a giant warehouse that would house the rethemed mining WRE and have all of the farm area become a mid 1800s San Fran. I had an elaborate plan thought out for it a while back.
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                  • #10
                    Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

                    Originally posted by techskip View Post
                    The likely ride that could easily fit a gold rush theme (with minor modifications) would be Grizzly River Run. Welcome to Micechat

                    What is interesting is the mention of the owl. I wonder if the owl in Splash is a private dedication to Marc.
                    Thanks for the welcome!

                    I would love to see Grizzly get some plussing, but I don't think it could fully do justice to the gold rush concept all by itself...

                    I'd certainly expect Splash's owl was heavily influenced by WRE. The Jim Hill article also mentions:

                    "While the desert may seem beautiful at sunset, it can be a pretty dangerous place too. To re-enforce this image, two vultures would sit in a tree on the opposite side of the river. Below them lays the bleached bones of a dead steer. The vultures' heads turn to track the boat - and its passengers - as they head downriver."

                    I seem to remember that popped up in Splash Mountain too!
                    My Armchair Imagineering threads:
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                    • #11
                      Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

                      Originally posted by MistaDee View Post
                      ^ I like the national park approach they're taking in that area. Better yet transform a bugs land into a giant warehouse that would house the rethemed mining WRE and have all of the farm area become a mid 1800s San Fran. I had an elaborate plan thought out for it a while back.
                      I guess the trail never struck me as fancifully designed enough for Disney...it seems like just a pale reflection of the real thing rather than a fanciful rendering of it.

                      I agree San Francisco has been woefully abbreviated in DCA! When I first visited the park, I was convinced that the perfect DCA roller coaster would be based on the 1906 earthquake...right where TLM is going right now. I guess it would be a little politically-incorrect, but how fun!
                      My Armchair Imagineering threads:
                      ______________________________________
                      ~America Swings!~ ~Screamin's Scream Tubes~ ~Holiday Show in Hollywoodland~

                      Collaborations:
                      _______________________
                      ~A Cinema Adventure~ ~A Cops & Gangsters Chase~
                      . . . . by MistaDee . . . . . . .by Peoplemover Priit

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                      • #12
                        Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

                        The longer that the clock ticks, the less likely this will ever be built. Not just because of imagineers' egos and corporate synergy mandates. Not just because they need movie budgets to help pay for tie ins. But because the way Native Americans and settlers are represented seems anachronistic, politically incorrect and increasingly offensive in this day and age.

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                        • #13
                          Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

                          That looks like it would have been a cool attraction!

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                          • #14
                            Re: How Western River Expedition Was Almost Built At Disneyland Paris

                            Originally posted by Dustysage View Post
                            Alain,

                            It has been said that the graveyard scene in Phantom Manor was inspired by the Marc Davis Western River concept art. Have you seen any examples from your concept art that this is true?

                            Dusty
                            Other than the concept art shown above, there are a couple pics of other conceptual art in the book The Disney Mountains:Imagineering at It's Peak by Jason Surrell on pages 60-64. (I would post them if I could, but alas, I have no scanner) I don't see anything with graves on it, but it doesn't mean it didn't exist.

                            If Disney would just fork over the dough for an original attraction, it would definitely pay off. But, I agree with California Adventurer in that the Native scenes are too offensive for our P.C. society. Plus, since many of the elements involved were used to be the foundations for BTMRR and SM, I think making the ride would seem like a cheap re-hashing of what we have already seen.

                            I would personally love to see 'em build a HUGE ride with this depth and detail in Tomorrowland. Longevity would be the main problem with spending so largely in that area, since it will inevitably need to be updated often (unlike POTC or HM).
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