Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL has seen many different attractions come and go over the years, but one of the most intriguing ideas for the park has to be a tie-in with the graphic adventure game sensations Myst and Riven. Back when multimedia CD-ROM experiences were the hot new kid on the block, Disney struck a deal with Myst creators Rand and Robyn Miller as well as Richard Vander Wende to create a new kind of tourist attraction. One of Disney's defunct properties — Discovery Island (formerly Treasure Island) — sat alone and abandoned in the middle of Bay Lake just waiting for a revitalization, so the idea was hatched to transform the island (which had previously been a place for guests to observe wildlife in a precursor to Disney's Animal Kingdom) into something unprecedented. Work began on recreating Discovery Island as Myst Island which would challenge guests to solve the mysteries of the island's previous inhabitants. Jim Hill Media has an excellent summary of the plan and the lengths that Disney reached to try and make it all happen.
Inspired by the Millers' & Wende's best selling CD ROM games, "Myst Island" would have attempted to duplicate the look and feel of the award winning computer games. Only a limited number of guests would have been allowed out onto the fog shrouded island each day. They'd have been dropped off by boat early in the morning and then picked up in the late afternoon. Their mission was to explore the ruins scattered around the 11 acre island and try to figure out what happened to the island's previous occupants.
This day-long adventure would have been unlike anything that Disney theme park guests had ever experienced before. Just like the CD ROM games that inspired it, "Myst Island" would have no linear storyline. Guests could only discover the various puzzles scattered around Myst Island by exploring all its weird little nooks and crannies.
Depending on which path they took, which artifacts they uncovered as well the order in which the guest discovered them, different secrets of the island would have been revealed. Theoretically, no two guests could ever have the exact same adventure as they wandered the terrain.
Imagine that; a theme park where guests become the protagonists of a video game adventure... and without the need for Super Mushrooms, Master Swords, or arm cannons! Unfortunately, Myst Island remained on the drawing board once common sense kicked in and those involved with the project started to realize the cost of constructing the new attraction to Disney's traditional high standards. Hauling all of the construction equipment and crews to Discovery Island wouldn't have been the most cost-effective thing to do, plus the special effects to realize the vision behind Myst Island may have been too expensive to create without hiking ticket prices up way beyond acceptable levels. Negotiations and planning broke down in 1999 and the project was set aside. Discovery Island still sits empty and abandoned today. While the Myst branding may not keep up, I wouldn't be surprised if the general idea bounced back one day if and when the cost of building the island adventure becomes reasonable. Who knows? Maybe Disney can try again as Lost Island.
(photo via Jim Hill Media; copyright 1976 Walt Disney Productions)