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Hear Me Out: Why It's Time For An Aliens Attraction At Disney Parks

The alien queen in Aliens
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Walt Disney World and Disneyland are places where you can experience your favorite movie properties as if they were quite real. From Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to Toy Story Land to Avengers Campus, there’s a place that you can go to make you feel like you are inside your favorite movies. Soon we’ll be able to enter the worlds of Tron and Moana at Walt Disney World, but it’s time for Disney Parks to go in a slightly different direction and make an attraction based on the Alien franchise.

Ridley Scott’s Alien was a revolutionary film that gave us one excellent sequel, and several more sequels and prequels that not everybody loves quite as much. But the fact that so many Alien movies continue to be made show just how much people still love the franchise, so bringing it to life in a theme park attraction would be perfect. Now is the time for an Alien attraction to happen at one of the Disney Parks.

Alien Encounter attraction sign

(Image credit: YouTube/Defunctland)

We Almost Had An Alien Attraction Already, Twice

Back in the halcyon days of The Walt Disney Company under Michael Eisner, the CEO was looking for ways to bring more teenagers into Disney Parks by creating attractions they would like more. It was from this we got rides like Star Tours, Indiana Jones Adventure and Splash Mountain, but Disney also acquired the theme park rights to the Alien franchise from Fox. 

Initial plans for an action-heavy Alien attraction were dropped after some in Walt Disney Imagineering convinced Eisner the concept was too scary for Disney. Instead, we’d only get an Alien animatronic sequence as part of the now-defunct Great Movie Ride at the then new Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park. 

However, the concept of an Alien attraction would be considered again as part of a Tomorrowland redesign in the 1990s. The idea was to repurpose most of the existing Mission to Mars attraction for something that would get guests up close and personal with a Xenomorph. Imagineerers, this time with the help of George Lucas, would eventually convince Eisner that Alien, being an R-rated movie, was too mature for the Magic Kingdom. In the end, Eisner agreed to not make the new attraction based on the franchise, and Lucas worked with Imagineers on a new original concept that would still be scary, but a bit more Disney.

The new, original attraction, ExtraTERRORestrial: Alien Encounter, opened in 1995. The attraction is generally regarded as the scariest attraction ever created for Disney. Alien Encounter would have to put warning signs outside to alert guests to the experience, and while many loved the ride, it would only last eight years before closing due the audience not widely embracing it. It was seen as too scary and not Disney enough, but quite a lot has changed since then.

The Queen Mother in Alien.

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox.)

The Alien Queen Is Now A Disney Princess... Basically

The first thing that’s changed is that The Walt Disney Company owns 20th Century Fox. This means that Disney no longer needs to pay to license an Alien attraction because it already owns the franchise. While we haven’t seen Fox IP completely invade the Disney Parks yet, as with Star Wars and Marvel before it, it’s only a matter of time before that happens. 

R-rated or not, Disney is going to want to exploit the IP it owns in whatever ways it can, and that’s going to mean theme park attractions for Fox properties. We know that a new Alien series is on the way, as is a new Alien movie, and while it won’t have the Disney name attached formally, we all know that’s ultimately who is creating the show. Disney is making Alien content for one place, so why not another?

charlie cox daredevil netflix

(Image credit: Marvel)

Disney’s Brand Is Changing 

The fact is that seeing a new Alien series or a new Predator movie like Prey coming from a Disney subsidiary is starting to feel a lot less weird. In recent months, we’ve seen Disney move the collection of Marvel shows from Netflix, which were all far more mature than the films, directly to Disney+. Today, you can find movies like Logan and Deadpool on the streaming service as well. 

While Disney will always be a name synonymous with family entertainment, we’re seeing the wall between that and “adult” content fade away. If a movie that is clearly meant for mature audiences can be on Disney+, why can’t an attraction meant for mature audiences be in the Disney Parks? It seems like only a matter of time before this rule is broken as well.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters After Dark sign

(Image credit: Dirk Libbey)

One Scary Attraction At Disneyland Is Already A Hit 

To a certain extend, the rule has already been broken. At Disney California Adventure during Halloween, guests can experience Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters After Dark, a special Halloween edition of the Marvel-themed drop tower attraction. The ride is scary enough that, like ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter before it, it has signs out front which, while remaining in the theme, are still designed to make sure guests know what they're getting here is a bit different than the standard ride.

While Monsters After Dark isn’t as scary as Alien Encounter was, it’s clearly seen by Disney as scary enough that guests need to be prepared, but nobody is really arguing that the ride is too scary to be in the park. If nothing else, the Halloween Guardians ride gives us a new baseline for what is acceptable in the Disney Parks when it comes to scares. Now that we’re here, we can probably push things a little further.

In the end, while the Alien franchise might be full of R-rated movies, there's no reason an attraction would need to be quite so mature. Certainly, any guests were allowed to experience Alien Encounter, and the same would likely be true of any potential Alien attraction. It can be scary without being something inappropriate for younger guests.  

There’s also nothing wrong with having attractions that are too scary for some guests. Lots of theme parks have experiences like that, and just because Disney is Disney does not mean the company needs to avoid such things. In the same way that new fans have always seen Marvel and Star Wars movies as part of Disney, the day will come eventually when everybody knows that some of Disney’s content is only for mature audiences. That will be the case on the big and small screens, and it can be the case at Walt Disney World and Disneyland too. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.