Welcome to the thirteenth post in the Imagineering Awesome series on Mouse on the Mind! You can access all of the posts by clicking on the link at right.
Today’s post is from Katherine from Food Fitness Fantasy.This one isn’t inspired by one of the most famous Disney films, but it is an exciting attraction driven by a childhood passion that I can totally relate to. Now, googles down …
When I was a little kid, I was obsessed with “The Rescuers.” I mean really obsessed, to the degree that I remember forcing my little sister to play the part of the two Rescue Aid Society mice, Bernard and Bianca, who come down to Devil’s Bayou to rescue me, Penny, a kidnapped orphan who had been tasked with retrieving a giant diamond from an ominous cave.
It had been years since I’ve seen the film so I was happy when I recently discovered it was streaming on Netflix and I immediately settled in to watch it. Though I remembered the important parts of the movie accurately, I was shocked at how many details I’d forgotten — and how dark, scary and sad parts of it seemed, even though it has a happy ending.
Honestly, it was more compelling than I expected it to be, and I couldn’t believe how detailed and rich every scene felt. I wondered why it didn’t really have a presence in the Disney parks — and then I realized how easily it COULD have a presence.
Disneyland is home to New Orleans Square, a themed land that could very easily be the host to Devil’s Bayou, where little orphan Penny is brought after she is abducted by evil pawn shop owner Madame Medusa and her henchman Mr. Snoops, who want to use Penny to search for the Devil’s Eye, the world’s largest diamond.
While you might argue that New Orleans Square is too crowded, it would be easy to clear out some space on the other side of the Disneyland Railroad tracks and build … The Rescuers’ Devil’s Bayou Adventure, a multipart, immersive experience combining the thrills of a roller coaster with all the excitement of Splash Mountain!
We’d begin in a queue that functions as a call to action for the Rescue Aid Society. Guests in line would be recruited as honorary RAS members. There’d be missing child posters of Penny, perhaps some criminal, “Undesirable No. 1”-type posters of Madame Medusa and ads for her pawn shop interspersed with video screens of news reports of the missing Devil’s Eye, as well as Bernard and Miss Bianca explaining the mission: board a flight with Orville the albatross to Devil’s Bayou, then hitch a ride with Evinrude and his leaf boat to rescue Penny from the clutches of Medusa and Mr. Snoops.
The queue would bring guests to the first part of the attraction: the ride down to Devil’s Bayou with Orville. Guests would board a roller coaster car shaped like the bumbling albatross and his makeshift, sardine-can seating arrangement. After buckling up, Orville and his guests would begin an ascent into the sunset-colored clouds while Shelby Flint’s haunting songs from the film’s soundtrack would play. Then the sunset would turn to dusk … and guests would plummet downward into a tube that goes underwater, like that roller coaster in Japan!
After emerging from the underwater tube, the atmosphere is the murky, dark Devil’s Bayou. Guests disembark from the Orville coaster and enter a queue that looks like Medusa’s houseboat on the bayou, walking past rooms that feature her sinister pet alligators Brutus and Nero. Voiceovers let guests hear Medusa’s plans to lower Penny into a cave to find and retrieve the Devil’s Eye from a pirate’s skull, then take it and abandon her. After walking through the boat queue, guests board leaf-shaped flume-type boats with a friendly, buzzing dragonfly Evinrude attached to the back, wings fluttering.
Guests float down the bayou in a Splash Mountain type of experience, seeing the friendly animatronic bayou creatures from the movie like Digger the mole, Gramps the turtle and Ellie Mae and Luke the muskrats, who vow to help find Penny and rescue her. They warn guests that they’re approaching the cave and that there will be a steep drop, and the best thing to do is grab Penny and the diamond and flee before Medusa and her gators get her.
Suddenly guests are on an ascent again, and they see animatronic Brutus and Nero crawling sinisterly alongside the leaf boat while Evinrude buzzes nervously behind them. There is a booming voiceover of Medusa cackling and screaming about the diamond, and at the top of the climb, they’ll see the friendly bayou creatures again, shouting that the only way to get Penny and the diamond before Medusa does is to increase the speed into the cave. There is a brief pause at the top of the climb, and a long flash of lightning illuminates what’s at the Splash Mountain-length drop below — a cave with Penny dangling in her bucket, clutching a huge diamond.
Then, the drop.
It’s dark and it’s crazy wet, and then there is the “emerging victorious” part of the ride, where fireworks are set off (like in the movie — a bit late, but whatever), Medusa clings to swamp debris while being circled by her sinister gators, Mr. Snoops is laughing at her on his makeshift raft, while on the other side of the bayou, Bernard and Bianca thank the guests for rescuing Penny and say they’re taking the diamond to a museum and Penny to get adopted. A rousing version of the Rescue Aid Society theme song plays, and guests, of course, exit through the gift shop.
Sure, maybe the later half of the ride is too similar to Splash Mountain, but in my mind, there is really no way to improve on a flume ride. Plus, the roller coaster first half, while short, will bring an exciting new experience not just to the parks, but to the country with its underwater experience … not to mention that the vivid, amazing characters, themes and settings of “The Rescuers” will get to live on and likely find a whole new audience while seamlessly fitting into an existing part of Walt’s original park.
Wing flaps down … And here we go! Sounds like a great adventure of a ride, doesn’t it?