The proposal was called The Enchanted Forest and it was essentially a multi-zoned, interactive play experience built around three UK literary works, and one English legend, that led to Disney film treatments: Alice In Wonderland, Mary Poppins, Winnie-the-Pooh and Robin Hood. It would have relied heavily and landscaping and topiary sculptures, along with character greeting areas and a few fully-realized architectural works to make the worlds of those characters come to life in a walk-through environment. At the end of the trail was an open-air tent entitled Mouseterpiece Theater, with a stage for live entertainment and (at least in the rendering above) a Mickey Mouse Revue-style Mickey-as-conductor topiary. The Enchanted Forest also would have brought the United Kingdom a badly-needed vertical feature in the form of a scaled-down Big Ben, which on its flip side would have held a “rooftop stage” where petulant chimney sweeps could dance around to the probable consternation of an unseen Admiral Boom.
Scans of the three concept pages are available in their entirety above. Although not dated, there are a couple clues as to the time period during which this would most likely have been up for consideration. The first clue is the Cheshire Cat hedge maze, which is a spot-on variation (minus the Queen of Hearts’ castle) of the maze found in Euro Disney’s Fantasyland, which opened in 1992. The second clue is that the proposal references “EPCOT CENTER” in the same font as the park’s original (1982) logo vs. “Epcot ’94” or “Epcot” (1995-present). I figure it’s from 1992, when WED was most likely finished with the heavy lifting of Euro Disney’s design work and looking for ways to transpose some of those recent undertakings stateside, much as some background music loops for WDW’s Magic Kingdom were updated in late 1991 with tracks bound for Paris.
The attraction looks like it could have been approached from two different directions but had its main entrance in the space between Canada and the United Kingdom’s northernmost boundary … the Hampton Court restrooms and, originally, toy shop. That entrance is where a Mary Poppins setting, including Big Ben and a topiary of the nanny herself (just like versions that once appeared near and within the Magic Kingdom), would flank a stone and iron gateway. Beyond this a gardened path led into the first of the four themed zones.
Five minutes looking over the above scans will better enable you to grasp the various elements, which are simple, charming and diverse, that might have been found between that gate and the Enchanted Forest’s tunnel exit on the Alice In Wonderland / south side, than my further written account which is both nonexistent and not needed. Do any of these ideas hold more intrigue than Tony Baxter’s concept for a Mary Poppins ride, which he envisioned for WDW’s Magic Kingdom prior to that park’s opening, and which could have fit into the space behing the UK Pavilion? Do they seem more fun than Disneyland’s split-level Alice in Wonderland ride? Not to me, but they would have made for a fun and respectable addition to World Showcase as a whole.
At present it looks like the UK pavilion is going to stay the same for a while, since satellite photos show a kind of pupa-shaped building (I have no idea what it is … haven’t been out there in a while!) behind it and there is of course the park’s second entrance, the International Gateway, in what was once open space to the south. There may be room for a mid-sized ride back there, however, and they could still go upward if they wanted to. We’ll see about that. Expansion or no, Alice and Mary Poppins can often be found at the UK greeting guests and smiling for the cameras. For some people that’s enough, then they move on to Canada or France.
Additional UK Pavilion Images – click on any of the thumbnails below for larger images
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