Disney Parks' Secret Society Tipped for Big Screen Debut

October 14, 2022, 1:03 PM · Disney reportedly is developing a movie based on its Society of Explorers and Adventurers theme park franchise, in addition to a previously revealed television series.

Ryan Reynolds' company Maximum Effort is set to produce the film, which will be written by "Raya and the Last Dragon" co-writer Qui Nguyen, who also wrote and co-directed the upcoming "Strange World" for Disney.

"This new take on the SEA mythology will pursue alternative angles in present day by adding a new supernatural element to the history and following new characters not present in the original lore," according to Deadline's report.

Supernatural elements have been part of the SEA story at least since Tower of Terror opened at Tokyo DisneySea in 2006. SEA member Harrison Hightower's collection of plundered artifacts from around the world includes Shiriki Utundu, an idol that gets the action going on that version of Disney's indoor drop ride, which does not have a Twilight Zone theme. [Who is Disney's Harrison Hightower?]

The supernatural also drives what is perhaps the most acclaimed SEA-themed attraction, Hong Kong Disneyland's Mystic Manor, where an enchanted music box unleashes the attraction's adventure. [The Imagineers behind Hong Kong Disneyland's Mystic Manor talk about their award-winning attraction]

In SEA narratives, the supernatural serves as a metaphor for the unknown, or unknowable. Those who are open and accepting of the unknown as represented by supernatural, such as Henry Mystic, survive and find some measure of enlightenment, while those who do not accept or respect the unknown, such as Harrison Hightower, suffer the judgment of their fate.

As a result, the central conflict that drives the SEA is that between those who explore to confirm their world view (and enrich their wealth) and those who risk their wealth to challenge their world view through exploration. Ultimately, it's the battle between those who seek control and those who seek truth - an existential struggle that resonates throughout history, including today.

That conflict seeds a rich vein of stories for Disney's creators to mine for an SEA Extended Universe across movies, television, and theme park attractions. Last year, news broke that Disney had brought on showrunner Ron Moore to create a series for Disney+ around the SEA, one set in the emerging Magic Kingdom Universe. [Disney Parks' Secret Society Might Be Coming to Disney+]

I argued nearly a decade ago that the Society of Explorers and Adventurers represented one of Disney's potentially most valuable franchises. [Look east - far east - for Disney's best response to Harry Potter] So I hope that Disney really does bring these SEA projects to the screen... and that they reflect the engaging story themes that have made Disney's secret society such an appealing property for so many theme park fans around the world.

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Replies (3)

October 14, 2022 at 1:56 PM


October 14, 2022 at 11:35 PM

I hope that Disney really leans into this and gives it the richness, detail and quality that a concept of this magnitude would warrant. Maybe one day there will be a SEA section when you boot up Disney+?

October 16, 2022 at 4:08 PM

So the society built a treehouse?

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