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Disneyland Article
Rare Disneyland Concept Art Shows Off Unused Anything Can Happen Land Elements
Nick Venable
An ever-present subsection of theme park fandom revolves around the excitement over ideas for rides, attractions, and lands that never happened. Understandably, a recent Disney-fueled auction featuring tons of concept art from the 1950s and ‘60s seemed like a slice of heaven, as it featured quite a few original drawings for the never-realized Anything Can Happen Land. And I would have lost my mind over one or two of these attractions as a kid.

Heritage Auctions recently made a wealth of top-notch items available for its “Art of Disneyland - Featuring the Marc and Alice Davis Archive” auction, and it’s no surprise that many of the singular and rarely seen offerings secured top-dollar bids. (If only the money brought in could be used to fund the construction of some of these ideas, or at least an official Disneyland LEGO set or two.) In particular, I’m absolutely loving a sealife-related design that would have used Pinocchio and/or Peter Pan creatures in a fun way.

For those unaware, Anything Can Happen Land was inspired by a weekly segment on The Mickey Mouse Club TV series, and was conceived as a pretty straightforward way to honor Mickey, Donald, Goofy and other beloved characters from the theatrical shorts. (Not entirely unlike Walt Disney’s O.G. plans for Mickey Mouse Land.) With younger visitors in mind, the area would have featured walk-through locations such as the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Pluto’s Doghouse, Steamboat Willie, and much more.

But the attractions that I’d have been most interested in, both as a kid and as a current non-kid, would have been the untitled spaces featuring giant enter-able versions of Peter Pan’s toothy croc and Pinocchio’s monstrous whale for a trip down to some mini-aquariums. Here’s how the official auction’s description put it:

The first is a walk thru underwater viewing station in the shape of Peter Pan's Tick-Tock the Croc. Guests were to enter the crocodile's mouth and descend below the waterline of a lagoon to view marine life. The second iteration of this concept features Monstro the Whale from Pinocchio.

While I can also see how this concept might have created a couple of nightmarish tantrums from literal-minded toddlers believing they're in danger, it still sounds like the grooviest way possible to get park-goers to appreciate water-dwelling creatures throughout the world. Aquariums are already fun, and I'm a sucker for walkways that are completely surrounded by water, so to have that experience while inside a famed Disney character would have been aces.

That goes double if the attraction designers would have filled the underground areas with references to the films, and you know they would have, since Disney goes harder than anyone on theming. I can easily imagine there being some kind of reunion moment between Pinocchio and Geppetto within Monstro's belly, as well as some key Captain Hook and Smee iconography inside Tick-Tock. (And if it were built now, there would definitely be a TikTok area.)

According to the Heritage Auctions description, the plans for one or both of the marine life attractions were scrapped whenever plans for Anything Can Happen Land were shelved. But unlike a lot of other timely ideas that were left by the wayside over the years, I kinda think this notion would still work quite well if it was implemented today, though presumably with Avatar or Moana theming to keep things more current. Both franchises have new projects coming, too...

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