When Magic Kingdom opened in Florida in 1971, it was, to a large extent, a clone of Disneyland. But it wasn’t a complete clone. Famously, for example, the Florida park had no version of Pirates of the Caribbean - an “oversight” that was corrected several years after park opening. But Pirates wasn’t the only ride not to make the cut. It’s interesting to consider what was left out - and why.
For reference, here’s an old Disneyland park map from 1972 (close enough):
I love old park maps like this. The style of this one particularly reminds me of the maps from Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center from when I was a kid.
Taking a look at the roster of attractions available to Imagineers to “port” over to the East Coast, there are several that didn’t seem to make it:
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
Adventure Thru Inner Space
Carousel of Progress
Motor Boat Cruise
Alice in Wonderland
Mine Train thru Nature’s Wonderland
Columbia Sailing Ship
Pirates of the Caribbean
Primeval World Diorama (Railroad Train Tour Around Disneyland)
The list feels surprisingly extensive to me! Now some of these eventually DID make it over, of course. The Carousel of Progress was literally packed up and moved to the east coast, and Disney World’s Tomorrowland got its own version of the People Mover when Space Mountain opened. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln probably felt redundant given that the Magic Kingdom had a full-scale “Hall of Presidents.” But why leave out all the others? Budget and time were surely important factors, but why did the east coast get, say, the Swiss Family Treehouse but not Alice in Wonderland? It’s interesting to consider.
Several of these attractions were destined to close in the decades to come - Adventure Thru Inner Space, the Mine Train and Pack Mules, and the Motor Boat Cruise. Perhaps these attractions were already kind of unpopular, and it was figured nobody would miss them. (I’m not sure anybody complained, even though Inner Space definitely had a California fanbase.) I suppose the thought of riding a donkey through a simulated desert in the Florida heat didn’t really thrill anybody.
But some of the other cuts hurt a bit more. The Matterhorn was Disneyland’s only thrill ride at the time, and it was definitely popular. Why the heck wouldn’t you build it in on the east coast? According to various sources, there were plans at different times to install a Matterhorn at the Magic Kingdom (or at a Swiss pavilion in World Showcase), but for some reason this just never happened. The idea that the Matterhorn was considered redundant with the upcoming Space Mountain seems kind of dumb, as Disneyland built both and no one seemed to mind having two coasters. There are rumors that Disney thought Floridians were mostly sleepy and old, and consequently wouldn’t take to thrill rides, but again, Space Mountain was planned early on, so I’m not sure I buy that either. Probably the mountain was just too big an expense for so early in the park’s lifetime.
But the lack of the Columbia Sailing Ship feels weird to me, especially as Magic Kingdom always had a greatly truncated Frontierland and a new area called Liberty Square - which would’ve been perfect for an old-time sailing ship. A big steamboat would’ve been out of time in the 18th century, which is why they reconfigured the riverfront of Liberty Square to hide the steamboat as it passes by. But in Disneyland, the steamboat was always considered the main “weinie” (visual draw) of the land, visible as you came in to the land from the central hub. Why hide your weinie? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to trade the steamboat for the Columbia, have the sails towering over the land as you enter, and make Liberty Square feel a bit more majestic?
And then there are three classic Fantasyland attractions that didn’t make the cut - and are STILL missing from Magic Kingdom while they have survived in Disneyland to this day. Was Alice in Wonderland nobody’s favorite? Did people figure Casey Jr. and the canal boats were stopgaps until they could come up with something cooler to fill all that space? I admit that Storybook Land is a “love it or hate it” kind of attraction - floating slowly past miniature recreations of animated film locations isn’t the most exciting thing in the world for some people. But a lot of people absolutely love it - for some it captures the essence of Disneyland. For me, I’m not a big fan, but it seems to me that Magic Kingdom could really use the Casey Jr. Circus Train over in our new (and kind of lackluster) circus themed area. How hard would that have been to port over?
Anyway, it’s fun to look at old maps like this. If it had been up to you to design Magic Kingdom off of Disneyland, what rides would you have prioritized or left on the cutting room floor?