Disneyland’s Scariest Ride Began as a Tribute to Mel Brooks

Disney almost built a Mel Brooks-themed haunted house
Disneyland’s Scariest Ride Began as a Tribute to Mel Brooks

While Mel Brooks has directed movies, staged successful musicals, won multiple Oscars and created beloved TV shows, he never made a single amusement park ride. But he came pretty close. In fact, we very nearly got a Brooks-themed attraction at the Happiest Place on Earth (if you’re not a parent battling a migraine): Disney World.

According to Disney historian Jim Korkis, back in 1989, then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner asked Brooks to collaborate on a new Disney theme-park attraction, with the real goal of luring him into the corporate fold to make movies for Disney. At the time, Disney was working on creating MGM Studios, a park expansion that would boast new movie-themed attractions such as a planned Dick Tracy ride where children would pretend to murder gangsters with a machine gunFor some reason this project never came to fruition.  

Instead of just incorporating the characters from Blazing Saddles into Frontierland, Disney’s first idea was to make “Castle Young Frankenstein” based on Brooks’ classic 1974 comedy, which would have even boasted a nearby “Bavarian village area” — would families have been able to buy plastic pitchforks and torches for $99.99 each? Now we’ll never know.

This pitch eventually evolved into ​​”Mel Brooks’ Hollywood Horror Hotel,” although Disney’s Imagineers simply referred to it as “Hotel Mel.” Which beloved Mel Brooks movie featured a horror hotel? Well, none. The premise of the ride would have been that Brooks was “directing a new comedy horror movie” in an abandoned, possibly haunted hotel.

Guests would then get the chance to visit Brooks’ “set” and ride on golf carts that would take them through scenes featuring various animatronic characters, including witches with a boiling cauldron in the hotel kitchen, and a visit to a men’s room where Dracula is attempting to shave despite having no reflection in the mirror, and Frankenstein is trying to use the Mummy’s wrappings as toilet paper. 

But the Imagineers were having a tough time coming up with a “coherent story to tie it all together” and Brooks soon became busy making Life Stinksso the project was ultimately scrapped. But even after the comedy aspects of the ride were abandoned, the haunted hotel concept stuck around, and was repurposed for Disney’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride, which featured a bunch of creepy references to the classic TV series, a terrifying drop and precisely zero scenes of Frankenstein taking a dump. 

Today, the ride is themed around the Guardians of the Galaxy characters and set in a futuristic structure that still kind of looks like an old hotel. 

In the end, Brooks never got his own Disney theme park attraction — although MGM Studios, which is now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios, does contain a subtle reference to the comedy legend. One of the fake shipping crates at Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner is “addressed to Max Bialystock” from The Producers. Which isn’t as good as an actual ride. I mean, Spaceballs Mountain was right there. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 


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