These Incredible Disneyland Attractions Were Never Actually Built

Walt wanted to build a Chinatown, a Rock Candy Mountain, and a Garden of the Gods

A new edition of The Disneyland Encyclopedia hits stores this week. Author Chris Strodder made his first visit to the park as a kid in the 1960s—and he must have been taking notes. The hefty guide is packed with more than 500 pages of immersive minutiae that make you feel like a real Disney insider. The encyclopedia digs deep into familiar places, but it also helps explain some of the less visible elements that make us love the place so much; the little histories of the long-gone shops on Main Street that sold things like greeting cards and children’s shoes are charming and wonderful. In addition to the history of Disneyland’s lost attractions, Strodder lays out plans for those that were never built. These are some of the most whimsical plans that never made it off the drafting table.

Adventures in Science

Year proposed: 1958
Location: Tomorrowland
Built in its place: Space Mountain

The first Tomorrowland was a lot like a world’s fair, with exhibitions of new products and walk-through dioramas. This one would have sent visitors to an alien planet on a “tour of scientific discoveries.”


Year: 1950s
Location: Main Street
Built in its place: Starbucks

The original Market House on Main Street wrapped around the corner onto Center Street. In this scheme the building would have have morphed into a neighborhood of bustling Chinese restaurants, including one with an animatronic Confucius and singing birds.

Discovery Bay

Year: 1970s
Location: Frontierland
Built in its place: Big Thunder Mountain

The 1974 movie Island at the Top of the World inspired an idea for a giant airship housed along a new lake with a waterfront inspired by the 19th century Barbary Coast of San Francisco.

Duck Bumps

Year: 1954
Location: Fantasyland
Built in its place: King Arthur Carrousel

The earliest concept drawings of this land included a lake filled with bumper boats, each one adorned with the head of Donald Duck.

Edison Square

Year: 1958
Location: Main Street
Built in its place: Backstage area

Thomas Edison was one of Walt Disney’s heroes, and this two-block extension of Main Street would have been dedicated to him and the story of progress through electricity. Some of the ideas migrated to the Carousel of Progress, which still spins at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Garden of the Gods

Year: 1960s
Location: Fantasyland
Built in its place: Fantasia Gardens

The Motor Boat Cruise ran on a lake located between the Matterhorn and It’s a Small World. Imagineer Marc Davis came up with a plan to add elements based on the film Fantasia—Olympian statues, new fountains, and swan boats—but his vision never came to be,  and the Motor Boat Cruise itself was shuttered in 1993.

Lilliputian Land

Year: 1953
Location: Fantasyland
Built in its place: Storybookland Canal Boats

Walt Disney loved miniatures. He collected them from around the world and eventually built a scaled down railroad in his backyard. Lilliputian land, inspired by Gulliver’s Travels, would have featured small buildings and a miniature train. Today’s Storybookland Canal Boats cruise by tiny replicas of the homes of Disney characters.

Peter Pan Crocodile Aquarium

Year: 1953
Location: Fantasyland
Built in its place: Matterhorn

Guests would enter the proposed exhibit on sea life by walking through the jaws of the reptile that terrorized Captain Hook.

Rock Candy Mountain

Year: 1950s
Location: Fantasyland
Built in its place: Storybookland Canal Boats 

Burl Ives sang the 1949 hit Big Rock Candy Mountain that inspired this idea for a sugary peak with a Wizard of Oz theme inside.

Liberty Street

Year: 1958
Location: Main Street
Built in its place: Backstage areas

This was to be a tribute to 18th century Colonial America complete with a silver shop, printers, and blacksmith. The idea for a Hall of Presidents was eventually realized at Walt Disney World.