Which Amusement Park Almost Built A Massive Myst-Themed Adventure?
Answer: Walt Disney World
Back in the 1990s, Walt Disney World was searching for the mythical “next big thing” for the park. Specifically, Disney Imagineers were looking for a double whammy of a project: they wanted to use an 11-acre island on Disney’s Bay Lake and they wanted to create a deeply engaging attraction that differed from the standard sit-and-watch models that drove popular exhibits like Pirates of the Caribbean .
Could there be a better fit for an interactive island-based exhibit than an attraction based off the wildly popular Myst game series? Disney entered in a long business courtship with the creates of the Myst series Rand and Robyn Miller, the creates of the series. Eventually Richard Vander Wende (their partner for the popular sequel Riven) was brought into the project.
The goal was to turn the Bay Lake island into a massive interactive Myst-like experience where park goes would explore the island, solve puzzles, gather artifacts, and uncover mysteries about the inhabitants of the island. Every guest would have a unique experience as there simply wasn’t a set way to explore.
The project bounced around the halls of Disney for years, with Disney investing quite a bit of energy into proving to the Millers and Wende that they were serious about the project and respected the artistry of the game. Disney’s publishing houses releases a series of books about the games including a beautiful coffee-table style book showcasing the artwork of the Myst series.
Eventually, and rather unfortunately for fans of the game, the project sunk under the weight of its own demands. Constructing a massive exhibit on a tiny island requires, rather impractically, the ferrying of all equipment and workers to the island. Further, the kind of technology that the project demanded in order to really create a Myst-like experience was prohibitively costly even for Disney’s deep pockets.