Disney: From Ride to Film

With the The Jungle Cruise recently sailing into theaters, I wanted to look at the other films based on Disney rides and attractions.

Tower of Terror (1997)
The first on our list was based on the ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. This made-for-TV-movie debuted on The Wonderful World of Disney in October, 1997. Starring Steve Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst, the film has them solving the mysterious curse placed on the Hollywood Tower Hotel in 1939. Since the ride is a drop tower, much of the story came from the ride's preshow and backstory, but no aspect of The Twilight Zone were used. The Hollywood Hotel exterior and lobby were used for scenes in the film.

Mission to Mars (2000)
Mission to Mars was a show in Disneyland (1975-1992) and Magic Kingdom (1975-1993) that simulated a space trip to Mars. The circular seating area gave guests views of Mars from screens on the floor and ceiling. Besides the ride name and general premise, that's all the connection to the film. Directed by Brian DePalma (and a score by Ennio Morricone), it has a disastrous mission, rescue and Martian encounter. When the similarly themed ride Mission: SPACE opened at Epcot, Gary Sinise played the Capcom in the preshow.  That ride also contains film props in its queue.

The Country Bears (2002)
Turning the Country Bear Jamboree made sense - the audio-animatronic musical revue had humor, heart and a furry cast of characters. It was an opening day attraction at the Magic Kingdom, and ran in Disneyland (1972-2001). The film has Beary Barrington try to reunite the Country Bears rock band and save their old theater. There are tons of musician cameos, and several show characters appear in the fascinating/interesting Jim Henson Creature Shop bear suits.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
With Pirates of the Caribbean, they finally got a hit. We join the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow and the rest of the newly created characters. The film has plenty of references to the ride's locations, scenarios and signature song. Of course, this would lead to sequels in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2017. In 2006, animatronics of Jack Sparrow and Barbossa were controversially eventually added into the original rides as well as main theme from the score.

The Haunted Mansion (2003)
For the film version of the The Haunted Mansion, we get Eddie Murphy as a realtor coming to the New Orleans-set Gracey mansion.  The plot is new, but of course we see Madame Leota, the singing busts, famous lines recreated and "Grim Grinning Ghosts".

Tomorrowland (2015)
Not based on a specific ride, Tomorrowland uses Walt Disney's vision of the future as inspiration. The opening sequence takes place at the 1964 World's Fair and It's A Small World. In the alternate Tomorrowland, we see references to the modern spaceport look, steampunk Jules Verne style and Space Mountain in the distance.

Jungle Cruise (2021)
Another opening day Disneyland attraction, the Jungle Cruise film adds action adventure into the riverboat cruise around the world's rivers. Dwayne Johnson takes the role as the skipper, with some of the ride's signature puns. We get a few references to the ride, Dr. Albert Falls and scenes with Trader Sam.

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