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The World that Never Was: Fire Mountain

by Josh Taylor

One of Disney World’s most beloved and widely missed attractions has been 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Since its closing in 1994, people had hoped they would bring back the lagoon and the former attraction. Of course, now we know that the New Fantasyland expansion encompasses that area, but back in the late 1990s and even the 2000s, many had speculated as to what would become of the Jules Verne inspired area.

Imagineers were hard at work on several new possibilities to fill the spot, however two main attraction ideas came to the forefront, Bald Mountain and Fire Mountain. Bald Mountain was a shot in the dark as it was based solely on Disney villains and was named after the devil scene in Fantasia. The other project which was brought up, Fire Mountain, had a massive push behind it. The Fire Mountain attraction was to be a one of a kind roller coaster, switching tracks half way through the ride experience.

In the mid-1990s, Disney was looking to bring thrill seekers to their once not-so-thrilling Disney World. It was a time period when every town’s smaller amusement park was gaining steel coasters with corkscrews and loops all over the place. The solution for Disney was to use Fantasyland, a more kid friendly area, and create buzz with a state-of-the-art, fast-paced attraction right in the middle of Fantasyland.

Of course, as plans often change, the new Fire Mountain attraction moved from a centerpiece of Fantasyland to being part of an expansion of Adventureland, where it seemingly fit into a story better. The new attraction would either be between Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain or between Pirates and the Jungle Cruise. (The latter would reroute and change the Jungle Cruise attraction.) Fire Mountain would be part of a new subland in Adventureland called Volcania. The attraction would be large and would be seen from anywhere in Adventureland with its large volcano coming up over the Jungle Cruise attraction.

The attraction itself would be the first of its kind as the original idea was to take guests on a trip in a steel roller coaster. While guests would board the attraction sitting in a car with the track railing underneath them, the ride would later change to a flying coaster with the track switching and being above them to avoid the “lava” that they would have to fly over to complete the journey on the attraction. The rest of the attraction would fly through and around the volcano before ending with guests sitting back upright, leaving guests in line without a clue that they would be flying half way through the attraction. Due to budget constraints, the grand idea for the attraction would later change to being simply a Superman-style flying coaster with the track always above guests instead of switching half way through.

Unfortunately for Fire Mountain, it was shelved, leaving the lot in Fantasyland empty and Adventureland untouched. This shelved attraction would eventually get nixed as Disney World later announced the renovation and expansion of Fantasyland in 2009. The need for a new roller coaster thrill ride would be met with the announcement of the Seven Dwarves Mine Car roller coaster that would better tie in with Fantasyland.

What are your thoughts of Fire Mountain? Would you have liked to have seen it built? Would it be better in Fantasyland or Adventureland? Let us know your thoughts and keep the conversation rolling.

Be sure to follow Josh Taylor on Twitter at @kidredo. You can read more from Josh at www.disneyparkhistory.wordpress.com