These Never-Built Theme Park Rides Would Have Delivered Massive Thrills

See realistic 3D renders of unbuilt theme park rides from Universal and Disney.
IMAGE Best Kid Stuff

Here at Esquire HQ, we're hooked on superfast theme park rides, overpriced burgers and fries, and big-headed mascots. We’ve explored the mystery of the abandoned Fantasy World in Batangas, ventured into the remains of Water Fun in the Paranaque, and dreamed about the upcoming Studio Ghibli Theme Park and the recently opened Super Nintendo World in Japan.  

Now, our favorite source of what-could-have-beens, Best Kid Stuff, provides us with more of that good stuff—concept art for unbuilt theme park rides by Universal and Disney. With its knack for realizing crazy ideas, from Polly Pocket versions of TV and movies to superhero pitches by children, the website has taken “mysterious scraps of design history that never quite made it to production” and turned them into five realistic 3D renders.

For one reason or another, these exciting theme park rides were never built, but now you can dream more vividly about escaping into the worlds of Batman, the Joker, Superman, and more informed by the art below.

Joker’s Madhouse (Universal Theme Parks)

Photo by Best Kid Stuff.

The unbuilt attraction centered on DC’s villainous murder clown satisfies both thrills and scares. You enter the theme park ride via the dark maw of the Joker, make your way through his warehouse, and then hop on the rollercoaster. You then go through “a psychedelic vision of Gotham” and soon find yourself “hurtling towards a dead-end.” That good ol’ clown didn’t finish the ride.


Superman - Project X (Universal Theme Parks)

Photo by Best Kid Stuff.

According to Best Kid Stuff, the back story of this unbuilt ride is this: Universal’s Island of Adventure in Florida was supposed to house a DC Comics park with a Superman attraction, but it instead partnered with Marvel and so the Superman concept was used for The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride. The original intent is similar to Spidey’s present storyline: A ride on the Daily Planet’s "telecopter" leads to an encounter with “Lex Luthor’s flying death machine.” 

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Batman vs The Penguin (Universal Theme Parks)

Photo by Best Kid Stuff.

Children, before the mess of the current Batman movies, we had the superior Tim Burton Batman films with Michael Keaton donning the cowl and, in the 1992 sequel Batman Returns, Danny DeVito as the Penguin. This particular take was so good, an entire ride was dreamed up for the hero and villain: Two suspended roller coasters (you choose between the BatWing or PingWing) manage “several carefully choreographed near-misses.”


Space Jetpack Ride (Walt Disney World)

Photo by Best Kid Stuff.

This one is a doozy. Secured in a jetpack, you are suspended from overhead rails… and then away you go on a soaring two-mile spacewalk. The jetpack, according to the website, is a replica of NASA’s Manned Maneuvering Unit. The attraction would have replaced Horizons in Disney’s Epcot theme park in Florida. (We’re not sure if we would’ve had the courage to ride this one.)

Fantasia Gardens (Walt Disney World)

Photo by Best Kid Stuff.

Time to slow things down. This musical boat ride based on the beloved animation classic from 1940 has had several attempts to bring it to life. It was first dreamed up in the ’60s and later considered as a replacement for the Swan Boats in Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park in the 80s. There were plans to include it in the Beastly Kingdom of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park in Florida, too. None of these happened. Which is a shame because the concept art of the theme park looks so chill and dreamy—just what we need right now.

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Clifford Olanday
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