I am a huge Disney Parks nerd. No, really. I have an entire bookshelf given over to books about the history of the parks and the development of the attractions, the walls of my home are covered in art of the parks, and I can tell you the names of the tracks that play over the sound system in EPCOT before and after the nightly fireworks show. One of them was even the song we picked for the first dance at our wedding.
That being said, I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when the Disney Kingdoms imprint arrived at Marvel comics a few years ago. Disney Kingdoms produces short story arcs of around five issues based on the characters and attractions found in Disney theme parks. Don’t expect to find Mickey Mouse or Cinderella in these pages. Instead, you’ll meet Figment the Dragon (Figment), the Hitch-Hiking Ghosts (The Haunted Mansion), and Abigail Bullion, heiress to the Big Thunder Mountain gold mine (Big Thunder Mountain Railroad).
The comics produced by Disney Kingdoms so far have been wonderful, The Haunted Mansion being my favorite so far, not that I, with my Haunted Mansion themed dining room, am biased… Now that the latest arc, The Enchanted Tiki Room, is coming to a close, I’ve been thinking about which other attractions would make for interesting comic series. These are my top five picks for attractions I’d love to see make the leap from park to page.
1. The Jungle Cruise
There has been talk of a Jungle Cruise movie on and off for many years now, but so far it has yet to come to fruition and nothing has been heard in quite some time. A comic series with each issue focusing on one of the five rivers the ride traverses (Amazon, Congo, Nile, Veldt, and Mekong) would allow for the whole ride to be featured during the run.
There are many instantly recognizable scenes during the ride that would translate well to a comic strip—the rhino chasing explorers up a pole, elephants bathing by a waterfall, and pith hat-wearing gorillas raiding a tent—although perhaps some of the less politically correct moments from the ride involving the natives could be left out. You could also easily tie in some of the characters from the now lost Adventurer’s Club at what was Downtown Disney: Pleasure Island.
I would especially love to see the spooky temple scenes from the ride illustrated by Jorge Coelho who produced stunning work for last year’s Haunted Mansion series. ConGaloosh!
2. Expedition Everest
This might well be the ride I would most like to see featured as a Kingdoms series now that my beloved Haunted Mansion has had its turn. The amount of backstory that went into the Expedition Everest attraction was so vast that a documentary was produced to highlight all the research that was done, showing the Imagineers visiting Tibet.
The storyline of Expedition Everest is that a tourist filled train expedition (with you on board) goes awry when the yeti rips up the train tracks in order to protect its sacred mountain home, sending the train plummeting into the caverns below. You have to admit that this story is ripe for even deeper exploration in a short comic series?
3. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror is one of just a few rides that have had movies successfully developed around them. Just like its fellow “creepy” ride, The Haunted Mansion, the movie was pretty awful and we shall never speak of it here again.
The story behind the Tower of Terror is uniquely disturbing for a Disney attraction. Four hotel guests and a porter stepped into an elevator in the Hollywood Tower Hotel. As they rode up, a lightning bolt struck the building, “causing an entire wing and the guests to vanish” into the Twilight Zone. The story would make an awesome comic series with a bunch of new guests or daredevil kids explore the deserted hotel, braving their way through the lobby and guest rooms before finally ending up at the dreaded service elevator…
4. Mission: Space
A Mission: Space series would allow Disney Kingdoms to explore science fiction with a story set around a fictional Mars exploration team. More than that, a comic series could allow us to explore the history of the ISTC (International Space Training Center) the fictional space agency riders join up with on riding the attraction.
As guests move along the ride’s queue, a wall displays a row of plaques celebrating “75 Years of Human Spaceflight: 1961 – 2036”. The names and faces of real astronauts are shown, beginning with Yuri Gagarin, the First Man in Space, and moving through other notable events such as the First Woman in Space, First Man on the Moon, and First Space Shuttle Flight before moving into fictional missions such as the First Family in Space—who, I think it is worth noting, are depicted as a black family (plus a dalmatian called Sunspot)—and finally the First X-2 Deep Space Mission. Some of these stories would make for fascinating chapters in a broader story, perhaps as tales passed on to the new generation of astronauts headed to Mars, with other issues covering the events of the attraction itself.
One final attraction with obvious scope for more storytelling is Animal Kingdom’s Dinosaur! In this attraction, guests sneakily board Time Rover vehicles owned by the Dino Institute at the behest of a rogue scientist determined to capture a dinosaur from the past, and bring it forward into the modern day for research.
Guests go on a hunt through a dinosaur-infested forest, searching for an iguanodon while avoiding both a hungry carnotaurus and the asteroids peppering the landscape as the fateful meteor shower begins. It’s easy to see how easily the story would convert into an exciting and action-packed mini-series.
There are dozens of other Disney attractions that would make excellent comic series; which would you most like to explore next?