Head for the Mountains
No, this isn’t about (Busch) beer. It’s about Disney mountains at Walt Disney World. You know, Space, Big Thunder, Splash, and the latest, Forbidden mountain, which is where the legendary Yeti resides. But, it’s not really about those mountains. It’s about what I think are the missing mountains of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood studios.
Epcot has actually had at least a couple of mountains on the drawing boards at different times over the years, but sadly, that’s as far as they ever got. Once upon a time there were plans for a Swiss pavilion which would include an east coast version of the famous Matterhorn twisting thru it much like the one at Disneyland.
There were also plans and models built that would bring Mount Fuji to the Japan pavilion at Epcot. Jim Hill has more details and some pretty neat photos on his site here.
So, the question comes up, why weren’t either of these built. The short answer is money. The longer answer involves sponsorship, or lack thereof. It’s too bad really that they were never built, as I believe either one or even both of them would still be great additions to Epcot. Perhaps someday these ideas will be resurrected from the Imagineering archives. Until then, we can just drool over the photos and dream.
While I don’t know if a mountain has ever been considered for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, one should be. Think about it, think about Hollywood and what image comes to mind almost immediately?
Pictured above is Mount Lee and the famous H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D letters overlooking Hollywood, Ca.
You probably weren’t familiar with the name of the hill, until now, but you’ve probably seen it hundreds of times on tv and in movies. It’s an instantly recognizable landmark for the city of Hollywood and the movie business. DHS would seem to be a perfect park to have a replica of this mountain in it. In fact, the park would almost seem to be missing this famous icon. I mean, how can they have a park that is dedicated to movies and even has the name in it, and not feature this hill and those letters? The imagineers did a fantastic job in theming and building this park, especially in the front of the park on Sunset and Hollywood boulevard’s re-creating the look and feel of California, but in my opinion, this one icon is strangely absent from the park.
I would love to see Mount Lee built-in DHS, in one of 3 possible locations in the park.
- The first, which would seem to make the most sense, but be the most complicated would be at the end of Sunset Boulevard behind Tower of Terror and Rock N’ Rollercoaster. This is probably the least advantageous location because most of the view of the mountain would be blocked. However, there would also seem to be lots of room in the area to build it.
- The second location would be at the end of Hollywood boulevard in front of, or on top of the Great Movie ride building. I’ve heard various reasons/rumors over the years as to why the sorcerer Mickey hat was built in front the Great Movie ride. Most fans seem to think that it was built to hide the face for Grauman’s Chinese theater due to a licensing issue, however, I don’t know that I agree with that, as I think Disney could have just as easily changed the face of the building if that was the issue. Regardless, most of those fans seem to agree that they dislike the hat and think it should go. Personally, I’m not crazy about it, but I don’t think it belongs there. But, if for some reason they can’t use the Grauman’s image any more, and they were wanting to re-design the theme it would seem to be a great spot to build either a faux backdrop like the one on the streets of New York, or build a full-scale mountain on top of the buildings in this area.
- The last thought would be the area currently know as Catastrophe Canyon and is only accessible to guests via the Backlot tour. It’s been a couple of years since I last went on the tour, but I remember thinking that it’s looking pretty rough and has seen it’s better day. I think building Mount Lee in this area would make for a worthy and very suitable replacement. If done right, they could also make it visible enough to be seen from World Drive as well as the entrance for cars to DHS. They could build it so the letters could be seen on both sides from inside the park and on the outside from World Drive. I really like this idea the best. There is lots of space back there and it would seem to be the area for the most potential.
The only thing left would be to figure out what to put inside the mountain. Several ideas come to mind, but none that I feel strong enough at the moment to support a ride or attraction worthy of it’s name and image. However, I would love to hear your ideas as to what kind of attraction could be built into Mount Lee at DHS.