What's the Next Disney Theme Park Ride to Become a Movie?

October 9, 2020, 7:14 PM · Looks like Disney is hiring a screenwriter to create a movie based on (pulls slot machine lever)... Space Mountain.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Disney is turning to Joby Harold to write a live-action film inspired by the Tomorrowland roller coaster. Harold currently is working on the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+.

Of course, Space Mountain is your basic wild-mouse-in-the-dark ride, with no characters or narrative to speak of. So Harold has a lot of, uh, space to work with here.

Space Mountain

It's been clear for some time now that Disney is looking to cultivate franchises across its entertainment businesses. The company wants IP that can work as movies, TV shows, merchandise, and theme park attractions. That means that current theme park rides and shows that are not connected to a movie IP either need to inspire movie of their own (e.g. Pirates of the Caribbean) or they'll be converted to a Disney movie or TV theme (e.g. Incredicoaster, Frozen Ever After, The Seas, etc.)

Now just because Disney has commissioned a script for a Space Mountain movie, that's no guarantee that the film will be coming to a theater near you — whoops, I meant Disney+ — anytime soon. I have lost track of how many writers have been attached to a new Haunted Mansion movie at some point, for example. Disney went through plenty of attempts at a Jungle Cruise movie before it got the upcoming Dwayne Johnson/Emily Blunt film to screen. Disney had signed writers to develop a filmed version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but I haven't heard anything about that one in a while.

But clearly, Disney is ticking through its theme park inventory as it looks for new movie franchises. So what's next? Looking through our list of top Disney theme park rides, here are a few picks for attractions that Disney could consider to next.

If you've been around here for a while, you probably could guess that my top choice for a movie treatment would be Hong Kong Disneyland's Mystic Manor, or anything from the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Yeah, I've made this point before. And I will cheer louder than you've ever heard before if it ever happens.

Keeping with the international parks, Disney made its name on adapting classic legends, so a movie based on Sindbad's Storybook Voyage at Tokyo DisneySea would seem a easy choice, especially if it recycled Alan Menken's amazing "Compass of Your Heart" theme song. Or if Disney's having trouble making a Haunted Mansion movie work, how about giving it an Old West spin and doing a film based on Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor?

Taking it back to classic Disneyland attractions, how about a movie version of the Enchanted Tiki Room? Disney's attempt at Walt Disney World to overlay movie characters on the show bombed miserably, so Disney could give a movie based on the show a try, instead. With Splash Mountain getting remade to "The Princess and the Frog" and Thunder Mountain slated for its own production, the new script for Space Mountain leaves Matterhorn Bobsleds as the last remaining Disneyland mountain needing its own moment on screen. Yes, the coaster is based on the 1959 film "Third Man on the Mountain," but almost no one knows that. Next, I would suggest a movie based upon Autopia, but I feel like Pixar's Cars franchise pretty much drove over that ground. (My pun game is awful today, I know.)

But the ride I suspect is next on Disney's list for big screen treatment is the one that I suspect many of you fear most. So in the spirit of October and this Halloween season, I leave you with this horrible thought.

Imagine, if you will — "It's a Small World: The Movie."

We wanted you to read this article before we make our newsletter pitch, unlike so many other websites. If you appreciate that — and our approach to covering theme park news — please sign up for our free, three-times-a-week email newsletter. Thank you.

Replies (25)

October 9, 2020 at 7:36 PM

Dear God no... Can we please just have original IP that’s not tied to a freakin’ movie?? Pirates and Haunted Mansion have not been improved by their movies (I realize that some could make an argument for POC, but I personally think the ride would have been just fine without the Johnny Depp connection)...

October 9, 2020 at 7:37 PM

I'd love it if this new film was based on Paris' Space Mountain, and therefore the works of Jules Verne. A Victorian-era space adventure would be a nice contrast to what we usually get.

October 9, 2020 at 7:38 PM

Soon, Disney will begin making musicals based on adaptations of theme park rides, and then they'll begin crunching into the pull of their own gravity until the entire Disney empire disappears within itself.

October 9, 2020 at 7:49 PM

And it would be themed to "The Black Hole," of course.

October 9, 2020 at 8:15 PM

MAXIMUM RESPECT for "pulls the slot machine lever" ... Could've been tea cups.

October 9, 2020 at 8:56 PM

Coming this summer, its the epic movie of a generation:

Dole Whip, the Movie.

October 9, 2020 at 9:11 PM

I'm still waiting for the Peoplemovie, followed by a failed reboot.

October 9, 2020 at 10:02 PM

@Chad H, I would absolutely watch a Dole Whip movie....and so would you!

October 9, 2020 at 10:33 PM

Honestly, if Disney's going to do attraction-based movies, Space Mountain is one of the better options since it's so open ended. That said, I hope they put in plenty of references to the attraction. Make it about a journey to the end of the universe, put in an action sequence where the space travelers are dodging cookie asteroids while surf guitar music plays, and have the climax be an encounter with the nebula ghost. It likely wouldn't be a great movie, but it could definitely be an entertaining one.

Personally, I think a Frontierland/Big Thunder movie holds the most promise, especially if the premise drew upon the mythos of Disneyland Paris's version. There's a lot there that could be woven into a creative story, and it could be done more in the action style of Pirates of the Caribbean rather than the comedy style many attractions would require (though for a comedy film, Enchanted Tiki Room wouldn't be bad).

As for It's a Small World, imagine...in a pre-industrial time, a voyage sets sail around the world and discovers that the best way to communicate with other cultures is through song.

October 10, 2020 at 12:02 AM

Journey into Imagination with Zach Galifianakis as Dreamfinder! The comics could serve as a pretty good foundation for a movie.

October 10, 2020 at 2:40 AM

Living with the Land

October 10, 2020 at 5:22 AM

Great idea! Why not? Pirates was nothing to do with the ride but is my absolute favourite film franchise so a Disney film, or franchise, called Space Mountain seems fine to me.

Robert, the "Black Hole" comment gets more genius the more I think about it.

October 10, 2020 at 7:05 AM

The movie tie in ruined Pirates of the Caribbean. The scene's could evoke many different stories created by the guests but now it's just the Depp movie tie in.
It's truly sad as Disney doesn't understand that they have 1 thing above Universal and that are unique rides.
But if they need one, Monorail the disaster movie. A greedy company doesn't care care of it's fleet of monorails and disasters start piling up. Well it could also be a nice documentary.

October 10, 2020 at 11:48 AM

BTW, before anyone asks, ABC tried a pilot for a "Big Thunder Mountain" TV show years ago....You can find the script online.

October 10, 2020 at 11:50 AM

• Disneyland Railroad: The Movie
• it's a small world: The Movie (I could actually think of ways this COULD work, but it would take a slightly different world than the one in which we currently live where it's an argumentative world after all)
• The Great Movie Ride: The Movie: Remember When Movie Theaters Were a Thing? Watch it on Disney+!
• Roger Rabbit's CarToon Spin: The Movie (just a re-release of the original Who Framed Roger Rabbit film in which marketing doesn't mention that it originally came out in 1988)
• As many babies were made on the PeopleMover (or, as Disneyland cast members sometimes called it, the PeopleMaker), I gotta say no to a PeopleMovie. As much as I loved the attraction, I don't think a film based on it would be suitable for general audiences.

October 10, 2020 at 12:31 PM

As long as they get Michael giacchino to do the score and the visuals hold promise, then I think it’ll do fine. Story wise? These theme park ride movies haven’t been doing so well so my expectations are low.

October 10, 2020 at 12:57 PM

I don't blame you, Postcott, but I'll take an attempt at a movie based on Space Mountain over "let's remake yet another classic animated movie in live action" any day.

To me, though, The Black Hole is a movie that I consider the companion to Space Mountain.

I wonder how long it will be until they may an Autopia tie-in...or does "Dad, Can I borrow the Car?" already fit that bill?

October 10, 2020 at 1:10 PM

Disney actually according to rumors years ago on ITM has been toying around with the idea of a movie based on it's a small world. ??

As for Monorail the disaster movie, didn't the Simpsons already do that ??

October 10, 2020 at 1:44 PM

Sorry, Yeowser, the mob has spoken.

Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine, bona fide
Electrified, six-car monorail.

In other words, the Simpsons DID do it, because those are quotes from the show. Then again, what have the Simpsons NOT done at this point?

But a Small World Movie, while I could see one happening, would take a different world environment than we have now.

October 10, 2020 at 3:27 PM

Phantom Manor, from Disneyland Paris would make for an interesting movie.

October 10, 2020 at 4:44 PM

South Park already did it's a small world: https://youtu.be/7LFWqnUVeNo

October 10, 2020 at 7:12 PM

@80's Man

>>@Chad H, I would absolutely watch a Dole Whip movie....and so would you!

I would. And its sequel... Dole Whip 2: The Return of the Turkey Leg

October 10, 2020 at 7:59 PM

Churro Cart: The Movie. An avante-garde film set in both Paris and Orlando where two churro carts struggle to find their true purpose in life. Adventurous Cholate yearns for warm sunshine and boisterous customers while cultured Cinnamon is looking for art and sofistication. Their paths eventually cross and it is revealed that they were actually switched at birth.

October 11, 2020 at 7:58 AM

@Chad H @ Tortuga_Mickey, Disney food based movie franchises are an entirely untapped market.

LeFou’s Brew: The Movie
Cake Pop Musical
Indiana Jones and the Quest for Mickey’s Ice Cream Sandwich (it’d be better than Crystal Skull!)
LeFou’s Brew 2: Electric Boogaloo

I think we’re on to something, here!

October 12, 2020 at 12:38 PM

I'm with Robert, give me anything SEA and preferably a SEA Cinematic Universe which leads to the inevitable dedicated theme park land featuring a new and improved Adventurer's Club.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive